Lollapalooza 2009

Grant Park

Day One: August 7, 2009

Opened the first day by seeing a band called Hockey on the Playstation Stage. First song, their synth track didnt play, but they soldiered on. They got it working for the second song, but about halfway through the third song, the power went out. Being a neo wave band, they had no acoustic instruments, so they did what any good band would do--5 minute drum solo. When the power still had not been restored, they went off stage, came back on and proceeded to throw beer into the crowd. Power came back on, played one more song, power cut out again, but this time, there was no beer left. A pity, because they were actually good.

Manchester Orchestra was unimpressive, so we went over to the small BMI stage to check out Gringo Starr. With a name like that, you'd expect like spanish covers or something, but no, they were a jazzy, rockabilly-y band filling that niche for old time western saloon piano playing. Meanwhile, The Knux were tearing up the Citi Stage. They were a rap/rock band that actually worked. The crowd was pumped and a good time was had.

From there we went down to the Chicago 2016 stage to see the Gaslight Anthem. Great blues/rock band. The only thing that detracted from them was the fact that it was pouring down rain, and I had no poncho or umbrella.

Back across the field to see Bon Iver, who was a lot better than I expected, but still not really my cup of tea. Ben Folds was next, but I had to skip out. After being in the rain for the better part of the day, I was soaked, and had to go change into some dry clothes. Got back to the fest just in time to see The Bloody Beetroots absolutely rule Perry's.

Fleet Foxes were awesome, but because Im seeing them in an aftershow, I skipped most of their set. The Decemberists were also a pleasant surprise, as I really didn't know what they were about either. Andrew Bird was next, and he was an absolute maniac. All in all the bands so far weren't super exciting for me, but thankfully the closers were up next.

I had to flip a coin, well actually I flipped my hotel key, to determine which headliner I was going to see. Kings of Leon prevailed. They were awesome, and although we were slightly too close to the stage compared to where we usually hung out thus putting us into close contact with everyone around us, Mike managed to entertain us with his plan to get to know everyone he was touching, or could be touching during the show.

Day One Highlights: impromptu mud wrestling by a few crazies, the Hockey beer toss, and the Kings of Leon's set.
Lowlights: the all day rain.

Day Two: August 8, 2009

The first band I saw on day two was the last part of Band of Skulls' set. Big energy trio, reminicent of a trio that I saw last year, The Blakes. Dirty Sweet was next and put on an awesome show. The San Diego quintet had a sound reminiscent of good old fashioned rock bands like The Black Crowes. Even their slow song rocked. From there, I went to meet some friends over at the Citi stage, where Constantines were wailing. They had a post grunge sound with screaming guitars. So far three bands, three winners. I could hear Miike Snow (no thats not a typo) on the next stage over, so I went down to check them out, and was not disappointed. I havent seen an electro band go crazy on the drums like that since The Chaingang of 1974.

On my way back across the field to go see Los Campesinos! I stopped and checked out Ida Marie on the Citi stage. She was awesome at first. Emotionally charged screaming about whiskey and getting drunk, but then she played a slow song and sang it inthe same screaming voice, and was terrible. When I got to the Bud Stage, Los Campesinos! were going crazy. Who knew glockenspiels could be so fun. They kept joking that they were playing their songs too fast and wouldnt be able to fill up their whole time slot. Their lead singer sang the last song from the crowd, which is a crazy thing to do at a festival like lolla. Tons of fun.

Chairlift was the next band I saw, back over on the citi stage. If I've said it once, I'll say it again. Slow, sort of ambient music, whether it be post rock or this synth rock that Chairlift was putting out, does not translate to the festival stage. Chairlift may be a decent band, but their live show just put us all to sleep. Speaking of being put to sleep. Arctic Monkeys was next, and was completely uninteresting. Watching some hippie in front of me stare into space for 45 minutes was more entertaining. I regret not going to see Coheed and Cambria, who were playing across the field at the time, at least their music is interesting. Santigold took the playstation stage next and was terrible. The only notable thing that came out of that set was that security forgot to keep people off of the soundbooth or electrical building (i dont know what the thing actually is) and before long 50-60 people were up on top of it. That went on for two songs, until security finally cleared it off.

Rise Against played across the field on the Chicago 2016 stage and got everybody pumped up. Sure they came off as a poor mans Rage Against the Machine, but their angry punkish rock was just the thing everyone needed after Santigold with her DJ hitting the laser button on his keyboard after everytime she said something. Animal Collective took the Vitamin Water Stage across the south field, and nobody even noticed. Much like the Toadies the year before, they got stuck playing the stage across from the headliner, and played completely different music. Ambient electronica was just background noise in between Rise Against and Tool. In fact, they were still playing when Tool just had enough, and started their set. Tool was awesome live. I never got into Tool's albums and probably still wont, but between their screen show and awesome set list, we all had an unbelievable time.

Day Two Highlight: a morning of awesome young, up and coming rock acts
Day Two Lowlight: Santigold.

Day Three: August 9, 2009

Day three opened with catching Alberta Cross on the Vitamin water stage. They were an awesome band, playing a bunch of songs in 6/8, and who doesn't love 6/8. Then it was across the field for Ra Ra Riot. Wtith a name like Ra Ra Riot, I wasn't expecting a band that looked (and sounded) like it was put together by middle school music nerds. Completely unimpressive, so I headed to the Citi Stage where the next band was about to start. That band ended up being Davy Knowles and Back Door Slam. The DJ that introduced them said that they were opening for Chickenfoot. If I went to see Chickenfoot (had they not cancelled the Pittsburgh date), and Davy Knowles played like he did at Lolla, then Chickenfoot would have to pull out all the stops to beat them. The guy sounds like Hagar and shreds like Satch. Easily the best new discovery of the festival. It's amazing that with all the interesting and eclectic styles of music represented at Lolla, a blues rock band would be the most impressive.

Speaking of Blues Rock, The Airborne Toxic Event was up next on the Chicago 2016 stage. Although the originally reminded me of Love and Rockets, they kept getting better and better through the set. The only downside was that the temperature was in the 90s and the south half of the field provided no shade. So we went over to the trees by Perry's and took in the sounds of The Hood Internet. They were ok, spinning 80s beats, most notably mixing up Chromeo with Michael Jackson.

From there it was back to the Chicago 2016 stage for Vampire Weekend. Seeing as they always come up on Amazon whenever I buy any music, I thought I would give them a chance. Again, I was unimpressed. Their style just seemed to be too eclectic for me. Larry and I headed to the Playstation Stage to see Dan Auerbach. Thankfully Neko Case was finishing up her set, and we were able to get pretty close to the stage. I didn't really get into the Black Keys last year thinking them alright, but Dan Auerbach's band was awesome. Raw garagey blues rock, much like Jon Spencer. I really don't know how the drummer in the Mexican poncho didn't pass out in the heat, but thankfully the sun went down as they finished up their set.

Not really being too particularly interested in seeing Lou Reed or Snoop Dogg, I went over to Perry's where Boys Noize was finishing up his set. High energy trancey beats that kept the crowd going. MSTRKRFT was next, and the whole place exploded. It was a pity that I could only stay for half an hour. But make the trek back across the park I did, and met up with everyone for the Killers. Silversun Pickups were playing the dreaded slot before the closer, but they managed to actually draw a giant crowd. Big enough that I could make it to everyone else without weaving through people standing shoulder to shoulder. We joked before The Killers started wondering if they were going to play Human. As it happens they opened with it. They put on a great set, Somebody Told Me, Bones, For Reasons Unknown, Read My Mind, Mr Brightside, Spaceman, This Is Your Life, and of course All These Things That I Have Done. The Killers live on stage are incredibly better than hearing their albums. I don't like Sam's Town or Day and Age nearly as much as Hot Fuss, but hearing the songs live, no matter what the album, the song sounded awesome. Can't wait til next year

Day Three Highlight: Davy Knowles. Buy his stuff. Now.
Day Three Lowlight: The incredible heat, still better than the rain of Friday