Lollapalooza 2011

Grant Park

Day One: August 5, 2011

Can it be that after dreaming of going to Lollapalooza for years and years when I was a kid, I have now gone to four? Why yes, yes it can. The day started out as any other Lollapalooza--long line to get in, teases of that line being moved forward, the most bizarre security in the world. They confiscated my steel water bottle, saying I could not take it in because it was considered a weapon. So let that be a lesson to you, 500ml stainless steel water bottle? Weapon. 9 foot aluminum flagpoles with random objects placed upon them to be used as beacons? Not a weapon. Thankfully two people siting next to me before Wye Oak started filled up camelbak's with water and left the bottle behind in the grass. I had a new water bottle. But enough of that, lets get on to the music!

Wye Oak was the first band I elected to see, starting out on the Sony Stage on the south side of the park. Technical troubles plagued their set--first their amp broke, then their pedals weren't working right. This was to be a the beginning of a whole lot of trouble on that stage. Wye Oak soldiered on with an abreviated set, but I was seriously wishing I had caught their show in Pittsburgh the other night. Across the field, The Vaccines rocked out for a good solid hour. Their brand of 60s garage inspired quasi surf rock was just what the doctor needed to right the ship.

The Naked and Famous took the Sony Stage next, and also had technical problems. Not to the same degree as Wye Oak (they only had to stall for like 30 seconds) but I was beginning to think that that stage was cursed. The only thing that detracted from TNAF's awesome set were the four drunk guys in front of me that were just at lolla to party. Really? Vodka and RedBull at 1 in the afternoon? But I digress. Delta Spirit was up on the Music Unlimited stage, so I obliged myself to listen to their bluesey rock offerings. While watching, we noticed the enormous crowd that was gathering across the field for Foster the People. I joked that the spot where we were staning might be as close as we were going to get. The sound was really jacked up for Foster the Peoples set. Random keyboard licks came out way louder than others, and the bass would just randomly get loud as well. In the biggest poser moment of Lollapalooza, the crowd (who was dead until they played Houdini) all instantly pulled out cell phones to record Pumped up Kicks. THe set ended with Helena Beat, but nobody seemed to notice.

As we trekked back across the field for White Lies, I decided to go try and grab some food, not realizng that all 10,000 from Foster the People's crowd was also going to get food. And with the new Chow Town setup, it just meant an entire 3 lane road was clogged with people who didn't know what they wanted to eat. Bluh. But I got me some bao and plowed my way through the crowd back to White Lies. Having known nothing about White Lies, I was blown away by their set. That feeling would continue as I headed over to the ever expanding Perry's stage where the Bloody Beetroots were about to start. Perry's has become a true electronic music venue. From a tent that was maybe 100 feet deep back in 2008 it has grown to an airplane hanger of awesome. Of course the only downside to getting that many people under a tent is that it was at least 10 degrees warmer inside than outside (a friend told me they actually delayed Afrojack's set so that people could go out and cool down). Anyhoo, the only words I can use to describe the Bloody Beetroots is "one, two, WHOOP! WHOOP!" I don't know if you have ever been inside a football field size wall of people who say those words from Warp 1.9 in unison and then absolutely go crazy, but you definitely should put it on your bucket list. People leaving from the middle of the wall looked like they got out of a swimming pool.

After most of a day of smooth sailing, I had to make the first decision of the day. As the Lolla gods had decreed, A Perfect Circle was playing at the same time as Tinie Tempah. Based upon the realization that I probably wouldn't ever get a chance to see Tinie again, as I don't see myself the type to pay to specifically see a rap show (same justification for seeing Eminem day two). Tinie was awesome--full band, high energy, so many clothes he puts them in his aunt's house, and of course was able to close with a song that everyone in the crowd knew. I know what you are going to say, you just ragged the Foster the People crowd for only knowing one song. While everyone at the Foster the People show was there to see them play Pumped Up Kicks, the smaller Tinie crowd was there for his show, it was just a bonus to get to hear written in the stars. Plus there's crowd participation in it.

After not being able to see Crystal Castles two years ago, they were back, and in a time slot I could handle. It was just a shame that the sound was still jacked up and you couldn't understand anything. My friend Mike didn't even realize she was singing. Oh well, it was as good as a set with bad sound could be. And then there was Muse. Muse opened with Uprising, finished their Encore with Knights of Cydonia. In the middle somewhere they played Map of the Problemathique. The addition of Supermassive Black Hole, Assasin, and Starlight was just bonus.

Day One Highlights: The Vaccines, White Lies, the Beetroots playing Warp 1.9
Lowlights:still horrible coverage from AT&T. The curses that befell anyone playing on the Sony Stage

Day Two: August 6, 2011

The Chain Gang of 1974 was picked to play lolla this year, and their time slot meant I'd be camping out at the BMI stage all afternoon. I got to the park as Ximena Sariņana was finishing her set. I had no real desire to see her, and was slightly late getting to the show thanks to stoping for some really world class hot dogs at one of the sketchier hot dog establishments in the neighborhood. I went over to check out the FYE tent and was able to catch a bit of Disapears set. They were pretty decent, but I had more important things to do. When I got to the BMI stage, Typhoon was just setting up. When I saw a cellist and two violins on stage, I new things could be bad. If there's any type of music that I hate, it's math rock. Add thirteen people on stage at the same time, and I feel like I'm at a high school band recital. Thankfully Skyler Grey was next.

Not knowing anything about Skyler except that she sings on everybody's hits, I didn't really know what to expect. She put on a good show, not to mention she wasn't bad to look at. Though I think she could probably kick my ass. She ended her set with a medley of Coming Home and I need a Doctor before singing her version of Love the Way You Lie. Then it was time. For those of you following what I do here, this will be redundant. For those of you new, here's the story. 3 years ago Lollapalooza introduced me to Innerpartysystem. A Pittsburgh stop on their tour with 3Oh!3 introduced me to this crazy dude who rocked out harder to a synth track and drums than anyone I had ever seen before. That was The Chain Gang of 1974. Fast forward four years and he's got a new sound, a full band, and label released album. Kam is absolutely amazing at working a crowd. He sang The Devil is a Lady from the middle of the front row, and then crowd surfed to Hold On. It's great to be recognized in a crowd by a band whom you've met one time. When I went to the autograph signing Dale (the drummer) was like "I saw you rocking out in the front." To which I replied, "I don't know if you've ever been grinded on by four 17 year old girls at one time, it's certainly an experience."

In between their set and the autograph signing, I got to catch the last half of DFA1979's set, which was absolutely nuts! Sebastien spent some time rocking out with the lady doing the ASL interpretation of the set which was hilarious. He said something like "I'm staying at the Hard Rock, come over later and I'll show you some signs... none of which say stop.... but they all say yield.... cause I'm dangerous." Ha. AFter DFA1979 the Deftones rocked out on the other side of the field. They had a huge crowd that kept me from getting close enough for it to be awesome. It's amazing how bad the sound on the sub stages are compared to the main stages at either end of the park.

I met up with my friends at Ellie Gouldings set, which was difficult because cell phone reception was the worst it had ever been. But somehow text messages got through and I found them down on the side of the Google+ stage. The memorable thing about her set was two girls dancing on a trash can to the right of us and someone offering ten bucks to anyone who kicked it over. From there we headed south to get ready for Eminem. I'm not at all an Eminem fan, but really only know MMJ because of that episode of American Dad. Plus I figure Pretty Lights is playing Pittsburgh in October (MMJ is playing next week too) and I would never pay to go see a show that was exclusively Eminem. So Eminem it was. Atmosphere was playing on the Sony stage across the way, and none of us were expecting a rap group. Damn you Lollapalooza cost cutting the info portion of the program this year. Yeah you can look stuff up on your phone, but that would only work if you could get data signal inside the park. Eminem was awesome. Once Bad Meets Evil came out to do his collab, we knew it was only a mater of time before Skyler Grey made an appearance. But before that, to the shock of everyone Bruno Mars actually came out to sing about a sky full of lighters. There was a schtick where Em was threatening to drink some vodka just once because of Lollapalooza, but as he drunk from the bottle, water sprayed out of his hoodie Looney Tunes style. Ha. Guess he wasn't going to go on a binge and end up in the river. Best part about Em's set was that he condensed My Name is, The Real Slim Shady, and Without Me into a medley, because nobody cares about Fred Durst or Tom Green anymore. Encore was Lose Yourself. Pretty much everything you could ask for.

Day Two Highlight:THE CHAIN GANG OF 1974
Day Two Lowlight:Lack of bands I really was excited to see, other than the above, and also the worst cell phone coverage yet.

Day Three: August 7, 2011

So another third day of Lolla had dawned. After barely being able to get up off of the air matress this morning (I am getting too old for this. Also, taking a flowerpot to the thigh during a freestyle walking session the night before didn't help), I made the trek over to the park and caught the tail end of Irations set. A little early afternoon reggae was just what the doctor ordered.. From there I headed over to the Playstation stage to see Chicago's own Gold Motel play. They were pretty decent--in the same vein as the vaccines except more refined, and with keyboard. Then it was over to the Bud Light stage for the Norf Wales's own Joy Formidable. They rocked hard for their entire set, leaving me to wonder why they had the gong on stage, until the end of the final song when, for no reason, they inflated giant cats heads on either side of the stage, and the lead singer started slamming the gong with her guitar. Good times were had by all.

Rival Schools took the Playstation stage across the way, I listened for a little bit, but then set out to fill up my water bottle and hang out. I spent some time lounging in the shade until the electronic sound of Deluka pulled me over to the BMI stage. What is it about that stage and dance bands I don't know, but I certainly am not complaining. Saddly I missed the first part of their set. I would have liked to hear more. I made my way across the park to Perry's to catch the Cool Kids. I wasn't really feeling it, so I went back across the park to the Google + stage for Dale Earnardt Jr Jr. The only thing interesting about their set was that they covered I Will Always Love You. Thankfully, Flogging Molly was up next.

Flogging Molly was on a main stage this time, and tore up the joint. We were way up front but off to the left, which gave us a good side show of all the crowd surfers exiting the melee. Most were cool about leaving, except for one dude who tried to jump the fence right in front of us, instead of walking 5 feet to the right. Security tried to detain him but only ended up detaining his shirt. We passed at least one bloody dude on the way to Cage the Elephant. Cage wasn't bad, wasn't amazing either. More attention was being paid to the approaching storm. Like clockwork, as soon as I said to Mike "if it stays like this it won't be bad, it started raining buckets. Mike and I headed for the minimal shelter of the trees and debated staying or leaving while trying to get in touch with the other half of our group. Thankfully the rain stopped after 20 minutes or so, and allowed Nas and Damien Marley to go on. A great mix of reggae and hip hop, the only think missing was them singing I can See Clearly Now the Rain is Gone.

Mike headed over to the other side of the park to meet up with Larry and John at Explosions in the Sky. I stayed to camp for Deadmau5. DJ Mel played a set that started slow, but ended strong and segued nicely into Deadmau5. Just as I texted Mike that I had moved up from where I told him I was going to be, the sky opened up again. I stayed and watched 10 minutes of Deadmau5 in the deluge, but trippy lights and awesome music couldnt make up for the fact that I was soaked to the bone for the second time in two hours. For the second year in a row, I had to leave the festival early, albeit I was into the music this time, just not the weather. Day Three Highlight: Deadmau5's light show spectacular... even in the pouring rain
Day Three Lowlight: The second deluge. One soaking I could handle. Two meant I bolted.