Tuesday, August 08, 2006

chautauqua


there are two things that i like doing most of all, and are, i would daresay, all i would do if i wasn't obligated to do things like have a job and sleep. they are hanging out with my friends and going to see bands. i try to do both as often as possible, and of course it only makes sense that i often do both at the same time. what made lollapalooza weekend so spectacular is that not only did i get to do my two most favorite things, but i also got to participate in other much-loved activities, including people watching, drinking beer, sitting in the sun, and smoking cigarettes. if only the concessions area had a corndog stand, i do believe that it may have very well been the best weekend i have ever spent.

there were downsides, of course: it doubled in size from last year, so instead of the intimate and homey feel of last year, when two bands would play at opposite corners of the field at the same time and it was very easy to find your friends if you should happen to wander away, it was much too large. it took up all of grant park, from the portillo band shell all the way down to the softball diamonds. if you saw a band on a stage at the south end of the park and wanted to catch the next one on the north end, you would have to spend a solid 20 minutes walking (due to both distance and the fact that large crowds tend to shuffle). the price was a downside for most people (but not me, due to jms' quick work in securing us pre-sale $45-for-the-entire-weekend passes), and the weather was very sunny and hot (but no where near as heat-stroke-inducing as last year).

there were a lot of lame people there, sure, which is to be expected, but they are easy to avoid. i didn't really want to fully avoid them - like i said, the people-watching was fantastic. i love playing games when staring at throngs of passing people - ag and i played "mom or lesbian?" at the monuments in dc (best place to catch middle-america moms who dress and cut their hair in older-lesbian style - really, it's fun, you should play sometime) and jmk and ang and i counted green skirts at pitchfork fest (more than you'd think you'd see on an average day). jmk will say "she's french" if a beautiful girl (sophisticated-beautiful, not blonde-jogger-beautiful) walks by, and "they're foreign" if they're weird. i believe that bad dressers are, a third of the time, actually german tourists. the worst were the people that were dressed like clowns/mimes/ravers-with-face-paint. please. that shit is so lame i can't even describe how much i hate it. like, NO ONE LIKES CLOWNS. okay? NO ONE. so stop it.

also, any desire i ever had for a tattoo has been erased by the scads of horrible ink i saw this weekend. really. everyone has a tattoo, it seems, and they all varied from cheesy to completely horrifically terrible. i do not doubt that it is possible to have a great tattoo, but all of the tribal bands and celestial scenes and inspirational phrases and meaningless shapes were not what i would classify as being worthy of lifelong adornment. i plan to make my vast fortune off of the two-year-tattoo ink i am going to invent, btw.

best t-shirt i saw all weekend: "your t-shirt says princess but your face says troll."

jms drove out from brooklyn for the weekend, and brought his wonder showzen dvd for us to watch. holy shit, that is so amazing. i'll have to find some clips to post later. my favorites are the "beat kids" segments. wonder showzen : lollapalooza 06 as salad fingers : lollapalooza 05. next year's entertainment is going to have to be completely mind-blowingly surreal for it to surpass hsb introducing me to salad fingers and jms introducing me to wonder showzen. how did i not know about these before?

anyway, here are the bands that i saw and some photos that i took.

Editors - very cool. the singer has a great voice. they're very joy-division-without-the-suicide.

Raconteurs - jack white is a total rock star, and this band is better than it has any right to be. it's not a vanity project, because they are awesome. their cover of gnarls barkley's "crazy" was pretty rad - i have a mashup of "crazy" with "steady, as she goes" (called, of course, "crazy, as she goes") by the legion of doom that works really well.

Sleater-Kinney - i am very sad that they are splitting up but very happy that i got to see them again at one of their last shows. corrin tucker is rad. all three of them are rad, but i love her voice. if i were in an all-girl band, i would want to be half as awesome as they are.

Ween - walking to the far-south stage while listening to the strains of "mister, won't you please help my pony?" was priceless. they pulled out all sorts of psychorock songs that i love - "the h.i.v. song" and "piss up a rope," as well as an extended and highly-danceable version of "voodoo lady." these guys are unheralded geniuses. i wish they had played "spinal meningitis got me down."

Cold War Kids - i'm glad i caught them - they were cool. i downloaded a few of their tracks off of some mp3 blogs a while ago so i knew that i was interested in hearing them, and now i will have to buy their album. see, RIAA? that's how it works. i get a few free mp3s, i pay money to see them live, and then i decide to buy their album. if i hadn't heard the mp3s i never would have bothered to look into them and therefore the band would be losing a sale. see? we all win.

The Go! Team - i was worried that this was going to suck, since the album is so sample-heavy and fun. it didn't suck at all - the lead singer is super-energetic and they played a lot of random instruments to create their noiserock.

Wolfmother - a return to classic stoner rock - the who and led zep and maybe even some black sabbath thrown in. they fucking rocked. almost made me wish i still smoke up.

Gnarls Barkley - cee-lo has a gorgeous oldskool r&b gospel voice, and danger mouse is cool. i don't have this album so i didn't know all of the songs, but i wasn't alone - i would guess that 60 percent of the crowd left after they played "crazy." which i think is a shitty thing to do, but typical.

The Dresden Dolls - it was sort of a hot day to be wearing white face paint, but theirs was more in the mime/raggedyann vein than in the crow sort of way. i like their songs, but it was strange to see them playing the portillo music shell in the middle of a sunny and hot day. i like "coin-operated boy" a lot. that would have been the crowd to look for cutters in.

The Flaming Lips - worth every penny i paid for the entire weekend. i cannot overstate how much i adore them. i seriously think that the soft bulletin is the most gorgeous rock album to ever be produced, and "do you realize??" is the most perfectly life-affirming song i have ever heard. also, wayne coyne is my hero. he's creative and surreal and seems super genuine and real, and i also think he's hott. this recent article from rolling stone is great. i could go on and on about how much i admire them and love seeing them live, so i'll just say that i was super happy - loved the giant bubble that he walks over the crowd in, loved the streamers and dancing aliens and santa clauses and his singing nun puppet. he somehow makes being joyful and childish and silly - things i don't want from music - translate really well into being about embracing how awesome it is that you get to go through life, even when it really sucks. if that isn't the definition of perfect art, then i don't know what is.

The New Pornographers - neko case has a solo album out this year so they had a faux neko on stage singing her parts - she sounds quite a bit like her, but she is no neko case. i loved hearing "my slow descent into alcoholism" - such a fun song.

Kanye West - huge crowd. it was fun. tb disses kanye because he saw him open for U2 and says that "he raps about his grandma." of course i don't think kanye is as amazing as he thinks of himself, but he was great to see. there were sound problems for the first few songs, which kanye bitched hardcore about - something about how embarrassing it was to come home to chicago and have the sound all fucked up, and how someone was going to lose their job. take it easy, buddy. the sound issue was cleared up, but it was disappointing - he had done "the new workout plan," which i love, and a-track had started mashing it with the eurythmics' "sweet dreams" but the sound cut out and it just sort of dropped, which was lame. he brought out common (also from chicago and much-loved by his city) and twista, who holds the world record as being the fasted rapper (kool) and some guy named lupe fiasco. i wish he had done "gone," my favorite kanye song, but i liked his set.

Hot Chip - hot shit. for reals. i want to see them play a dark crowded club and i wanna get down to their indie dance tracks. i likey.

Andrew Bird - he's from chicago, and it was just him and a drummer. he has a great voice and i really like his album the mysterious production of eggs. he played my favorite track off of it, "fake palindromes," so i was fully satisfied. did i happen to mention that all of the sets were at least 45 minutes long? that is key for rock festivals - it just becomes a commercial transaction when they play three songs before the next band comes out.

The Shins - the worst set i saw all weekend. the sound was way too low, and the shins are boring anyway. to respond to zach braff, no, they did not change my life. i do love that remy zero song you put on the garden state soundtrack, though, so thanks.

Wilco - jeff tweedy's scraggly beard made him look, as tb observed, "like teenwolf." chicago loves wilco and jeff tried to express his gratitude, but he is awkward when speaking (as he fully admitted from stage). it was a great show, with a few new songs, and what's interesting is that wilco can be alt-country and very studio-rock sounding on their albums but totally rock out in front of an audience. it was sweet when he thanked his wife for putting up with him (and his beard, i would guess) and played "i'm the man who loves you." i was really happy to hear "a shot in the arm."

Broken Social Scene - i only caught the tail end of their set, but they were playing "anthems for a seventeen-year-old girl," which i adore, and had brought feist out to play with them. v good.

Red Hot Chili Peppers - whatever. boring. zzzzzzzzzzzz. this is how i felt about festival-closers death cab for cutie last year - after a weekend of sun and beer and crowds and constant music, something awesome is required. no one likes the chili peppers' new album but that didn't stop them from playing seemingly the entire thing, all downtempo and blah. they're all very talented blah blah blah but i totally lost interest.

so that's that. a great weekend, and always fun to hear new bands and see some of your favorites. for the first time in months i don't have tickets to any upcoming shows. gonna have to fix that soon.

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