Sunday, August 31, 2008

Lollapalooza '08

Without a doubt, the chance to attend such a glorious occasion is something that only comes around once or twice in a lifetime if you do not live within the Chicago city limits. This was my first concert festival and I thoroughly enjoyed every moment. The weekend was filled to the brim with pizza, walking, beer, sweat, standing around, noise, art, wine, random connections, being shirtless, and of course...rapturous energy from a plethora of musical acts.

Thursday, July 31:

After a long day of work I return home with my bags fully packed. I change into shorts and a tshirt, meet up with John, load my bags into my dad's truck and we are off to the airport to catch our 7 pm flight to Chicago. The excitement quickly turns to sheer terror when upon our arrival to Denver International Airport we are informed that our flight is canceled and there is no other way to get to Chicago that evening. Dread fills our minds as the expensive concert we are attending begins promptly at 11 am the following day. Many phone calls and online encounters later we finally land ourselves on a 6 am flight out of Colorado Springs.

Friday, August 1st:

My alarm begins playing sounds from the ocean promptly at 3:45. I jump in the shower, throw on my cloths from the previous day, we hop in the car and head for my parents house. My dad, being the saint that he is, agrees to drive us to the Springs airport at 4:30 in the AM. Not too much ruckus presents itself at the airport and we safely board the early flight to the Windy City.

Our flight lands around 10ish in Chicago. Armed with only or small carry on luggage, we deplane and head towards the Hertz rent a car location. With exhaustion in our bodies but excitement in our hearts, we drive away from O'Hare International Airport. Already we had decided that no bands that we had any desire to see were going on until after 3.

With time on our hands and adventure at our fingertips we decide to drive past Wrigley Field. I despise the Cubs with the fire of a thousand suns but have great respect for the Field's place in history. It was quite a site to drive past. John then decided that I should have my first true Chicago style pizza experience. We met Brandy and Joanie who were roadtripping from the east coast to SoCal at Giordano's. It was a fun beginning to the trip

Finally we arrive at Grant Park just in time for the Black Keys to take the stage. The twosome from Akron, Ohio did a fine job. It was hard to get excited because I'm only familiar with their most recent album, but I enjoyed the few songs we stayed for nonetheless.

We then took a couple of hours off to simply sit down in the shade with a brew. The early morning flight, pizza and sun definitely was catching up to us. Around 6 we headed back to the stage just in time to see the Raconteurs go on. These guys exhibited a great deal of energy. I expected nothing less from Jack White and crew. My only regret is that we were only able to stay for about half the show. Radiohead played at 8 on the opposite end of the park and we wanted to get there early for a good spot in the grass.

Promptly at 8 pm, the reason we bought the tickets in the first place took the stage. Anticipation had been building up for the past few months. For years I've wanted to experience Radiohead live and it was about to happen. They played for two solid hours, hitting songs from every album except for Pablo Honey. It was enjoyable, but it would be nice to see a more intimate show where they headlined. Seeing a band in this setting was fun, but the view is terrible. Hopefully they'll hit Denver soon.

Saturday, August 2:

After a filling gyro in Greek Town, we headed over to the park. We arrived around 3ish, just in time to see DeVotcKa take the stage. This was one of the best shows we saw. Surprisingly, the band from Denver was incredible live. The sound was great and their showmanship was unmatched. Being that they were at a smaller stage that was on a slant, it was not too crowded and easy to enjoy.

Next we witnessed Explosions In The Sky. I saw these guys in Denver back in March and was excited to see 'em again. Sadly, while playing well, they suffered from what most other Lollapalooza bands suffered from. Shuffle in the crowd, lack of excitement, and competing bands on other stages. I enjoyed them but the intimate setting of the Ogden in Denver was a far superior experience.

Next we hit Jamie Lidell. Neither of us had ever heard him but his bio was intriguing. It was a forgettable experience and we left after 2 songs.

At 6:30 Broken Social Scene took the stage. These guys were far from perfect, but pretty impressive. They put on a pretty decent show.

John and I then separated. Wilco and Rage were scheduled to play on opposite stages. John decided that he could not live with himself if he passed up a chance to see Wilco in their hometown of Chicago, while I decided that a band like Rage who's been on hiatus for 8 years, would not be a wise band to pass up. John stayed put and I headed to the other stage for what would end up being the best show of the weekend.

People were more excited for Zack, Tom and crew than any other act that weekend. The event began with me arriving to the stage about an hour early and pushing my way as far forward as possible. I finally settled on a spot in the middle about 50 yard from the stage. This was relatively close compared to where some would have to stand. The next thing that happened was quite odd. First of all, where I was standing was nowhere near a bathroom of any kind. To relieve yourself, you'd have to risk losing your spot to walk around and find a bathroom. So I'm standing in a crowded area and notice that people are quickly backing away. I then feel a sprinkle on my left calf. I turn around and there is a drunk guy behind me who has dropped trou and proceeded to urinate in front of everyone. What an asshole. If you can't hold it, sucks to be you. Don't piss on everyone else. But I got over it.

When Rage finally took the stage, 60,000 people rushed like maniacs forward plowing anyone in their way. I had no choice but to inadvertently push whoever was around me, carried along with the crowd. It was quite an exciting experience. Zack had to actually stop in the middle of the third song. He stopped his rapping, signaled to the band to quit playing, and addressed the audience. The moshing had gotten so crazy that many people were starting to get hurt. Apparently people were being crushed in the front row near the stage. "Brothers and Sisters," he began, "please respect and take care of those around you. We have tons of our best shit to throw down for you this evening, but we can't do that if you are going to hurt each other. Please, everyone take ten steps back." We obliged. He only had to make this same announcement twice more during the show. Even though it is ridiculous that people would actually hurt each other during a rock show, it was an amazing experience to be a part of. The energy was unmatched. They played all the old favorites and were musically flawless. On top of that, their showmanship was breathtaking. I left an altered person.

Sunday, August 3:

After another Chicago style pizza experience, John and I decided to visit the Art Institute of Chicago before hitting up the third day of the concert. This proved to be a relaxing and moving way to begin the afternoon.

We entered the park around 4, just in time for Iron and Wine to take the stage. Surprisingly, he was plugged in the whole time. No quiet acoustic pieces for the normally low key and lo-fi artist from Miami. It was quite a good show.

Next came one of the best surprises of the weekend. If you had told me that Blues Traveler would have been one of my favorite experiences this weekend, I'd have had words with you. But they put on a hell of a show. They do not take themselves too seriously, they rock hard and get the crowd involved. I loved it.

After the hasbeens, we viewed the dynamic duo of Cee-lo and Danger Mouse, more commonly referred to as Gnarls Barkley. These guys also put on a hell of a show. They are thought of more as a R&B act, but they were there with a full band. They played their best stuff from both albums and closed with a cover of the Radiohead song "Reckoner." They put a smile on my face.

The weekend ended with an arrogant over the top performance from Kanye West. His show was easily the most expensive one all weekend. Needless to say, it was an impressive performance. The crowd was completely enthralled. My favorite part was when he prophetically claimed that he would one day be the greatest of all time. Greater than Jimi Hendrix, Bob Marly, Marvin Gaye, and Michael Jackson. "If I don't speak for myself, who else will?" It was fun.

This weekend proved to be extremely memorable. Even though I'd prefer to see many of these bands in a more intimate setting, it was definitely worth the trip. Being that I love lists I'll leave you with two. The first is the order of the bands I was most excited to see. The second is a list of what ended up being my favorite shows.

1. Radiohead
2. Rage Against the Machine
3. Explosions in the Sky
4. The Raconteurs
5. Kanye West
6. Gnarls Barkley
7. The Black Keys
8. DeVotchKa
9. Iron and Wine
10. Broken Social Scene
11. Blues Traveler

1. Rage Against the Machine
2. Radiohead
3. Blues Traveler
4. DeVotchKa
5. The Raconteurs
6. Broken Social Scene
7. Gnarls Barkley
8. Kanye West
9. Iron and Wine
10. Explosions in the Sky
11. The Black Keys

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Pardon My Absence

I write here now to offer my sincerest apologies to the 2 or 3 of you that read this blog for my month and a half absence. July and August whipped past like a tornado that'd make Dorothy Gale urinate all over those ruby red slippers. Here's what the time period consisted of...

July 4th - 6th:

Spontaneous road trip to visit the Riley family in Orem, UT. Tim was my boss/mentor during my year with SENTREX Exterminator my senior year at APU. He ended up inviting me to be an unofficial member of the family. I cordially accepted. Tim, his wife Glenda, his daughter Catherine, and son Chris all became vital members of my world. They moved to Orem over a year and a half ago. All the while I'd been promising to visit, but never did. Finally, the week before the 4th, I decided that I'd jump in my car that Friday morning. I had the day off from work and wanted to get the hell out of town. It was an outstanding but short trip.

July 10th:

My hard drive goes belly up. It doesn't get fixed until the first of blog entries.

July 11th - 21st:

In Portland for David's wedding. It was a blasty blast. I'll go into detail in a later blog.

July 20th:

Our landlord drops the "you have 30 days to get your asses the hell out of the place you're renting or your souls are mine" email. Ok, I guess it wasn't that dramatic. It came out of the blue and we were in no way prepared to search for a place at that current time. Apparently he had family that had fallen on hard times and wanted to move them into the place for a reduced rate. What a douchebag.

August 1st - 4th.

In Chicago for Lollapalooza! I'll not go into detail for this will be the subject of my next blog.

August 5th - 19th:

Frantically searching for a place to live. We ended up finding one about a block from where we lived the day before our lease was up. We moved in a day and a half. It was unbelievable.

So my focus has been elsewhere these last two months. Hopefully the 2 or 3 readers of this blog found other useless ways to occupy their internet time.