leave your inhibitions at the door
Lollapalooza 2012 happened two weekends ago and I lived to tell about it. (For a primer on the fest, check out my rundown of last year’s which had a history of the event, a gag about carbo loading, and McLovin! ) When the line-up was announced earlier this year, I was a little less than enthusiastic about it because the headliners of Red Hot Chili Peppers, Jack White, Black Keys, Black Sabbath, Avicii, and Florence + The Machine didn’t exactly speak to me. The only hope was that I’d find some bands on the verge of greatness during the daylight hours – it’s happened before, but it’s not always guaranteed. That diminished enthusiasm, along with some bad timing and a passing monsoon, led to my missing half of the fest.
Let me explain. On Friday, some real nasty stuff came up at work and I was a little late getting to the park when gates opened at noon. And by “a little late” I mean 6pm. So – BAM! There’s more than half of the first day missed. Next, on Saturday, I couldn’t get my ass in gear and didn’t get there until around 2, which isn’t that bad. However, at 3:30, they did the unprecedented move of evacuating the festival because of a monster storm rolling through Chicago. According to organizers, they evacuated 60,000 fans plus 3,000 staff and artists in a mere 38 minutes. It was definitely needed since that storm had the fury of a 17 year-old boy who’s about to lose his virginity to Katy Perry. And the staying power, too – it passed through in a blink. But it was enough to cancel some bands and make the place a muddy mess.
On Sunday, I left Chicago to go see another monster concert event – my daughter’s band concert at Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp in scenic (not really) Muskegon, MI. The concert started at 9:30 am and it takes 4.5 hours to get there from Chicago. Add in the one-hour time change and that meant I (with my mom in tow) had to leave at 5 am. Ugh. I took it easy Saturday night, but we still got on the road about 30 minutes behind schedule. To make up time, I fought thousands of years of Asian genetic evolution and drove at breakneck speeds. Boom Boom called at about nine and I was about 30 minutes away, which would’ve put me there on time.
So you can guess what happens next, right? About 20 minutes after she called, I noticed my GPS said I was an hour and ten minutes away. I had missed my exit and had to backtrack. Double-Ugh. I finally got to the camp at 10:15 and was pulling into a parking spot when Boom Boom called to inform me the concert was over. What’s that word I’m looking for? Oh, yeah… #FAIL. After some lunch, we headed back and rolled into town around 4pm.
OK, enough of my sob story. Here’s a rundown of who I saw.
– Die Antwoord – Saving the best for first! Every year there’s a daytime concert that ends up blowing my mind and THIS WAS IT. They are a “rap-rave” group fronted by a guy named Ninja and his baby mama Yo-Landi Vi$$er. They hail from South Africa and they’re the whitest people I’ve ever seen. They were absolutely nuts on stage. If I were to venture a guess, I’d say they were on a mixture of amphetamines, crack, Red Bull, high fructose corn sugar, and Ecstasy. And thrown in a coffee enema for good measure. As for the music, judge for yourself –
– Head and the Heart – meh
– The Shins – I like them a lot and they sounded great, but it was a little mellow for a Friday night.
– The Black Keys – We caught a few songs from them and they sounded really tight. Great energy. Posted a clip of “Tighten Up” here.
– Black Sabbath – My nephew Bugnutz and I really wanted to check out Ozzy because we were pretty sure this was going to be our last opportunity to do so. When we got there our suspicions were confirmed – the band sounded great, but DAMN he’s old. He barely moved and his singing was labored. The bright spot was an EPIC drum solo by a guy about a third of the age of the rest of the band. After about two songs, we we went back to The Black Keys. We did get to see Iron Man, so that was worth the walk. I posted a video of it here.
– Delta Spirit – It was hotter than Hades when Bugnutz and I pulled up for their set. I first heard them last year and thought they sounded good, but a little out of their element on such a big stage. This year, they were a lot more energetic and put out a much bigger sound. Way better.
– Neon – From what I saw, meh. After two songs, we got the announcement about the evacuation.
Rain Interlude – A bunch of us took shelter in a friend’s condo a couple blocks away where we watched the Olympics as the rain and hail was coming down sideways. The best part? My cousin, El Douchebag, shuffling.
On the way back in, we saw this guy.
– Fun. – They were scheduled at the same time as B.O.B. and, in pre-fest deliberations, B.O.B. edged them out. So when the rain canceled B.O.B., this was a no-brainer. Not too bad. They did the smart thing and saved “Some Nights” and “We Are Young” for last so people stuck around. Check out We Are Young here.
– Franz Ferdinand – Ummmm. Don’t remember.
– Walk Off the Earth – Posted about this in last week’s Guilty Pleasures.
– Calvin Harris – I caught a little but of Calvin Harris, but it was way too muddy. Call me high maintenance.
– Bloc Party – Meh.
– Red Hot Chili Peppers – I caught the first 30 minutes of their show and soon remembered why I didn’t want to see them. Not only do all the songs end up sounding the same, they’ve become a jam band. EVERY SONG had a ten minute interlude with Flea and John Frusciante improvising long solos. It’s cool the first time, but after a while it’s like “OK, Flea, we get it. You’re the best bassist ever. Now get on with the f-ing song.”
– Frank Ocean – Only caught a couple of songs from him, but I wish I saw more.
– Avicii – I had never heard of this Swedish DJ before, but it was a blast. Lots of energy on stage and in the crowd. Pretty cool set-up with him atop a giant white head..
Here’s a great video from someone else that captures that energy.
– J Cole – Huge show in the afternoon sun. He was a beast in concert and the crowd went nuts. Here’s a brief clip that features Sh!tshow (my niece) in the front row a few times –
– Toro y Moi – meh
– Monsters and Men – I wasn’t into their hit “Little Talks” before this, but they’re performance made me a fan. Definitely same kind of vibe as Mumford & Sons. Not bad for a bunch of Icelanders.
– Florence + The Machine – They’re really peaking now as evidenced by the biggest crowd I’ve ever seen for a non-headliner. I’m torn on what I think of her. She seems to be the “It Girl” amongst the music elitists, but she strikes me as being a little full of herself. Sure she’s a great performer and her voice sounded wonderful. But for every soaring melody sung with a haunting voice, you also got some silly almost-Gregorian chanting with her spinning around like some Stevie Nicks wood nynph. But they won me over when the endings of Dog Days and Shake it Out the band went techno with Flo jumping around on stage, getting the crowd into it. Here’s someone else’s video of it.
– Jack White – He’s not much vocally, but the guitar playing was sizzling and the band was really tight-knit. Unlike the Chili Peppers, his solos were contained which kept the energy up. I thought that this was probably what it was like seeing Led Zeppelin in their heyday. Yet I left.
– Childish Gambino – Energetic crowd and it would’ve been cool to stick around, but this old man did a lot of driving and was EXHAUSTED.
It wasn’t the best of Lollapaloozas. Yet even with the questionable lineup, rain cancellations, and my missing half the show, I still had a blast. Gettin’ ready for next year!
Stay tuned for my Lollapalooza food post…