best first band to watch on a sunny friday afternoon, sipping the first of many beers and slathering spf 15 onto shoulders: son volt
best use of tap dancers, as well as a certain aesthetic and sensibility that, as my friend cd said to me the first time we saw them, back when they were still rocking the colorful choir robes, that this is what would have happened if all of those branch davidian kids hadn't been burned to death and grew up and formed a band: the polyphonic spree
best band that i had never heard of and will never bother to look into again: against me! (please note the exclamation point is part of their name, which i do not condone, unless you're !!!, in which case i love your punctuation)
best backstory to what could easily be dismissed as trendy dancy mashup throw-away music but is actually really political, activist and awesome. you wont ever hear someone as vapid and shitty as fergie or gwen stefani write a song with a chorus of "pull up the people, pull up the poor": m.i.a.
best blues by two midwestern white kids who aren't the white stripes: the black keys
best (and most obvious, as they're always playing at his house) segue into seeing daft punk: lcd soundsystem
best performance by robots: daft punk
best indie rock band that my friends got to open for once - tapes n tapes
best underestimation by festival planners as to how many people will go see this band on a small stage: cold war kids (rm and i stood behind waist-high shrubs the entire show)
best hip-hop show featuring a tuba: the roots
best redheaded slightly weird piano-playing singer-songwriter who isn't tori amos: regina spektor. couldn't fucking hear or see, gave up and plan on trying to see her in a club sometime. wrong venue for her. too bad lilith fair died. btw, we saw tons of middle-aged lesbians this weekend. i couldn't really decide who they were there for, but patti smith would be a good guess. on the flipside, i counted zero dudes holding hands, and rm counted a grand total of like 15 black people (artists performing did not count). as a total aside, check out how dated the 1999 lilith fair website (still up and running?) is - i love how much better web design has become in 8 years.
best avant garde but still somehow accessible and fun performance: the yeah yeah yeahs
best set for me on saturday, despite a downpour, because i got to hear "the beast and dragon, adored" and "they never got you" - spoon (photo above)
best bombastic britpop with a lightshow and borderline cheesy video effects, so i essentially felt like it was 1996 all over again, which i liked: muse
best band that i had never heard of and will actually look into again: rodrigo y gabriela. phenomenal classical guitar with a hardcore rock twist. i stared at their hands on the screen in awe - they move them like they're boneless
best strange juxtaposition, and not just because she's an anorexic jewish brit with sailor tattoos and a drug problem who sounds like a 1964 black girl from detroit, but because her set was at 2:30 in the afternoon on a 95-degree day and all of her songs are about crying, losing and hurting: amy winehouse
best spazzy but also somehow hott dancing: !!! (check out the photo above)
best use of a children's orchestra, as well as a candyland-inspired backdrop while wearing dapper purple suits: my morning jacket
best band i only got to hear from the bathroom and beer tent lines: tv on the radio
best band that i don't even like yet somehow knew 80 percent of the songs they played, as well as best appearance by dennis rodman: pearl jam
best moment i wasn't there for: when js and sf met britt daniel wandering around the field on friday afternoon, and they stopped him for photos, and he took pictures of them with his iphone (see photo).
best example of how my parents are bizarre: they came to chicago for the day on sunday because it was their 35th anniversary and db was in town from denver, so they really really wanted to see us. i don't think they understood when we kept telling them that there were going to be SEVENTY THOUSAND PEOPLE in grant park that day, but they got it when they saw. we were able, surprisingly, to find eachother and hang out for an hour or so outside the park.
best nyc friends (a title that shall remain theirs until others come visit me): rm and jms
best festival food and drink: i have to say that the vegan soy chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream was amazing. and the chicken on a stick was tasty, as well. the chicken tenders, not so much. the xxx vitamin water was good when i wasn't drinking actual water, and i drank some bud light (only beer choice) but got mighty sick of that shit after three days. plus they cost $7 for a 20-oz cup. BUT it was a souvenier cup. of which about 30,000 of them were left scattered across the field as we were leaving sunday, and a self-righteous hippie kept yelling at people "you brought trash in, so take some out with you!" he was right, but annoying.
best t-shirt i saw this weekend: "stop wars" in the star wars font. also, a picture of che and the words "suburban white kids unite"
best overall thing about lollapalooza, besides the music: people watching. seriously. one of my hobbies, and tens of thousands of people to see. their terrible tattoos are astounding to see, as well as the sad folks who dress up as cats and vampires and peter pan so that people will notice them because hey, any attention is good attention, right? check out the dude's tat in the photo to the left, if you can avert your eyes from peter, who's probably calling his mom for a ride - is that an unfinished insane clown posse tattoo, or just a run-of-the-mill scaryass gnome?
best guess for next year: i will forget all about how utterly sick to death i got of all of the fucking people, dropping all that money, walking miles in horrible weather, standing in long lines for the privilege of buying gross beer or peeing in a gross plastic box, and how it's fun to see bands at festivals but nowhere near as fun as actually going to a proper rock show.
special thanks to df for the photos. sorry that britt daniel is gonna steal your wife.