Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Lollapalooza Recap

After 3 exhausting days and the day off yesterday to recuperate, it's time to take a brief look at my 2008 Lollapalooza experience. As usual, Lolla proved to be a relatively well-run, if not overwhelmingly large, festival with only a few minor hiccups. The weather proved to be far superior than expected, making for a much more tolerable outdoor experience than, say, Lolla 2005. The north half of the festival was much more enjoyable than the overwhelming south half, with smaller stages and smaller crowds overall; I'd make a point to spend more time there in future Lollas if the line-ups warrant it. The food options were tasty, local and relatively cheap. The smaller Citi stage made it possible to see bands amongst a much smaller audience; it felt more like being at a street festival than at the behomoth that is Lollapalooza.

Having seen Radiohead 5 times now, I'd put their Friday night performance near the bottom when compared to previous experiences- I knew In Rainbows would be emphasized over other albums, but the focus on new material was a bit excessive; when a band has 7 albums and tons of B-side/EP material, they owe it to give fans a bit more of a career overview, which they have in the past. Still, any Radiohead show will always be at least good, and the fireworks/helicopter/cloud moving overhead during the encore (I'm now convinced Radiohead can also control the weather) were nice touches, even if not always intentional. Meanwhile, I'm only a passing Wilco fan, but watching them with friends on a beautiful, cool night with the skyline in the background can't be beat. And Kanye West was just complete, Obama-free sensory overload.

Other highlights and lowlights:
- We apparently arrived at Lollapalooza at the exact same time as 75% of the crowd on Friday (2:00pm), because the line to the front gate was astronomically long. Friends that showed up just 2 hours later reported flying right through the gates. It would have taken us well over an hour to get through, so we paid some high school kid $20 to let us stand in front of him (which, I will admit, made us feel pretty cool, and probably made him feel pretty cool, so everyone won). It still took us 30 minutes to get through the gates, meaning I only made it for the last 4 songs of Yeasayer. Oh well, it sounded good anyway.
- During Wilco, a guy in front of us who happened to have a lot of space in front of him decided to use that space as his own personal toilet. After everyone around him realized this and made the space around him even larger, a poor girl walked right into his path before anyone could stop her. After realizing she had just been pissed on, she started screaming at him for pissing on her, saying it could be seen as sexual harrassment; but just before a serious fight could emerge, he produced a joint for her and suddenly, all was well! She brought out a flask, they laughed about how he has pissed on her, she went up for the high five (completely forgetting where that hand had been 2 minutes earlier), and then went on her merry way, while 15+ people around them watched this entire exchange in shock and awe. This was the most ridiculous 5 minutes I have ever experienced at a festival. I have concerns that this was positive reinforcement and that gross guy may start using that tactic to pick up women in the future.
- Walking into the festival Sunday evening, a golf cart beeped behind us and passed to reveal it was carrying Perry Farrell. He looks exactly the same in person.
- Gnarls Barkley covering Radiohead was pretty cool.

And now a break from festivals until the Hideout Block Party. Back to watching shows in actual venues, starting with She & Him tonight.

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