Monday, August 06, 2007

It's Not Easy Being Green!

Lollapalooza 2007 tried to be green this weekend...and unintentionally turned me a lovely shade of it too! I can only hope the sheer lack of resiliency of any of the inks used on festival schedules, wristbands and environmental graphics was due to their being soy-based and not 'cuz the promoters wanted to cut costs for another buck or two! (The lovely emerald pallor on my shoulder was courtesy of an informational tower slimeing me whilst I crouched against its shady bosom!)

It was a pretty excellent weekend overall, especially at the discounted price of $60; that was thanks to incredibly lovely gal H deciding to be out of town again this year and letting me and Bosco buy her tickets off her for a donation to her Grand Canyon Leukemia & Lymphoma Charity Hike.

Friday started out pretty low-key, having snagged a day off work I preferred to sleep in instead of rushing down to see any of the morning newbie acts. Sauntering in around 2pm netted me a few delightful tunes by Ted Leo and the Pharmacists which was every bit the tuneful energetic punk-pop that the reviews had suggested. After snagging a couple of day-glo orange personal necklace fans at the AT&T "Media Center" I headed over to catch the end of Son Volt---yes, the pitiful attempt of a mammoth and unhip corporate sponsor to beg for my business was obvious as their "cool" graphics circa 1997...but it was a free pocket fan; I'll walk through air-conditioned gimmicky pandering for that on a hot day!

Amazingly, I ended up at the Son Volt stage just as Jay Farrar launched into "Drown" one of my faves by them a hooky alt-country strummer. After another tune or two, they closed down set and I headed over to Charlie Musselwhite, the supposed "inspiration" behind Dan Akyroyd's Elwood persona. Not to spoil the rest of the post, but this was my most favorite set of the weekend, hands down! Hard-grooving blues harmonica in hand, dressed from head to toe in black (a ballsy move for a sunny day in the high 80s!) he rocked, shimmied and tooted his way through one hell of a set. I was shocked to be standing within 15 feet of the stage for such a superb performance--in this case it worked to my advantage that the hipsters were all off seeing the "it" band of the moment, leaving me this soulful morsel to digest! It should be also noted at this point, that I was a little taken aback that all my musical choices to this point were heavily attended by males aged 25-40 (almost exclusively all-male at Charlie Musselwhite)---it made me question how exactly my tastes were so seemingly masculine!

There was, as always seems to be, a sound-bleed problem and the end of the set when The Polyphonic Spree took the stage to the North---I did head over there eventually to check out the spectacle the claim to be and I must admit I turned away at the shear volume, it was WAY too loud (yep, get those old folks jokes at the ready!) and I hadn't thought to bring ear foams. I retreated shady spot close to the fountain and nearly 250 ft away where I could still hear them perfectly clearly to catch up on some short story reading and await Bosco's arrival from work. They did a really atrocious Nirvana cover of "Lithium"---I believe the Chi-Town Trib called it "optimistically inspired" a weekend with more covers than bikini-clad nymphets it was a campy attempt at globbing onto a song from a groundbreaking album that came out while most of the audience was learning how to love from Barney.

Bosco showed up to join me briefly for moe. who seemed promising from the downloads, but ended up turning their set into a jam session---an all too common occurrence for Lolla bands, both this weekend and when I went in '05! We caught a bit of G. Love and Special Sauce (always a personal fave!), but ended up cutting things a bit short as the sun was right behind the stage and quite warm, instead opting for some really bland tourist chow from the closest restaurant on Michigan Avenue we could find.

Upon our return, we thought getting close to the sound system for Daft Punk would provide both great audio and close enough to see anything that needed seeing; this quickly was show to be faulty logic, as the crowd grew, and grew and GREW! Their collective intelligence, did NOT as people squished and crawled and continued to plow forward towards the stage. It was uncomfortably close as the performance started and after 1.5 songs and 1 butt grab, I voiced my fears of being slammed against the metal fence and puncturing a lung or severely disfiguring the next pseudo frat boy that found my posterior an acceptable armrest. Bosco agreed and we retreated back about 50ft---which was actually a better view to the whole electro-dance-techno-art performance which featured both bandmates in full helmets and black leather suits ensconced in a huge pyramid spinning samples and even larger triangle scaffolding on which laser graphics were projected. While I never did quite get the whole "must see" attitude of the crowd, it was amusing to MST3K the graphics as to what video game they were ripped from; we hit Tron, Asteroids, Space Invaders and even Tetris before we packed it in to beat the crush to the bus home.

STAY TUNED: Saturday and Sunday's exciting concert reviews and hijinks (some even illegal!)coming tomorrow!


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