Lollapalooza Day 2

27Aug08

Day 2 is what my partner in crime called Concert Day. This was our day that we actually enjoy as many shows as possible being the perfect balance between being not drunk enough and black out wasted. The day started with Does it Offend You, Yeah? as I’ve heard oh so much about them. Once I heard, “Let’s Make Out,” I was less offended and more bored to tears. However two bands I had heard little about but were absolutely highlights of the entire festival: Margot and the Nuclear So and So’s and Foals. Margot, etc. was a 8 piece rock conglomeration that, surprisingly, utilized every members’ talents perfectly. They were the perfect mesh with no one overstepping their bounds and everyone performing with absolutely ferocity. And they’re all nice guys (and girl). Foals rules. I cannot wait to see them again, their set in an entirety. Obviously taking their set seriously, their indie dance music really strikes a chord. Hell, it might just be the sound of that snare drum, but they’re definitely doing something right.

I saw “Who the fuck is Dierks Bentley?” flyers and shirts and signs all over the place the whole weekend, and quite frankly, I avoided him at all costs simply because of the marketing scheme that I’ve seen all too often. Though in hindsight it quite makes sense, or at least from the story told (“what was zany lollapalooza doing booking a country act, wahoo?!), at the time, I couldn’t give two shits. Sorry Dierks. Instead I saw the Gutter Twins. They are hardly twins at all actually, a band that basically is stooped on the shoulders of two men who were in bands that you were supposed to know. Their music is the epitome of build-up with no climax. I’ve been with girls like that, but at least you can write them off to inexperience, not a lack of interest.

The show of the weekend was with no surprise Explosions in the Sky. They came out, said who they were, what they were doing there, and thank you and then rocked everybody to the bone. No banter, no wishy washy bullshit, nothing but the music they knew was good enough that every possible second of their set should be filled with fucking rock. The soft moments leading up to heart wrenching climaxes all with no use of voices. And this is no novelty act like many instrumental bands today tend to become. These guys are rock music. They deliver every fucking time. I don’t know a single song name, but would buy a ticket to see them anywhere in a 30 mile radius: inside, outside, on a fucking curb.

Okkervil River has good songs, in fact they have a bunch of them. Their live performance from a distance of waiting for Broken Social Scene, however, seemed less than impressive, though because of their quality of songs I would certainly like to see what they have to offer again as it could have been my distance that kept me from enjoying their performance fully. That i didn’t enjoy Okkervil River was a slight disappointment, but not nearly as much as Broken Social Scene. I’ll probably get some slack for saying anything about the band that has in the recent years had nothing but acclaim. They were…just boring. I believe at least part of their massive “super band” crew (which I don’t believe is a super band at all, just a bunch of artists forming as a collective who all happen to have bands on the side, and have all subsequently become at least partially famous because of the fame earned by BSS) was not present, and that may have accounted for the lack of energy. I was planning to watch the entire show, obviously as I had staked out a position instead of watching other shows, but grew bored within 20 minutes, and decided to sit through Lupe Fiasco to get a good spot for Rage Against the Machine.

I could write a thesis on Rage and this performance alone. It was a surreal experience beyond what may have been covered in the blogosphere (which by the way is the most disgusting word in any language, including German). About 100 feet away from the main stage, people were peeing in water bottles and leaving them on the ground without tops. An hour at least before the band came on, you were already standing closer to strangers than you’d think possible but that didn’t stop people from trying to get in front of you. Every other minute there was a surge of some hundred people pushing to get closer, followed immediately by a surge the opposite direction. It was more of an angry mob waiting for something to set them off.

The lights dropped, and the air changed, for a brief minute it got colder somehow, and everyone screamed. The same members as back in the 90’s stood before us, just now jacked. the drummer and bassist must have gained 50 lbs. of muscle each, and looked like machines more than men, the bassist with a half sleeve tattoo plain black with what looked like a pivot point left flesh toned on his shoulder. They played everything exactly on point, every single fucking note was perfectly timed and tuned, and every drum hit was precise and 7 times harder and louder. The mix of songs enlightened those to all the amazing songs they had made in their tenure, a mix of tunes that only people planning on seeing Rage would recall.

So they were great. Right? Maybe it was that I was staring at the onslaught of beautiful women throughout the entire weekend such that I hadn’t noticed the massive amounts of assholes around. They all were pretty centralized for Rage, you could point them out as they were the ones starting moshpits around people who had no interest in moshing, pushing crying girls into the center of pits as they were just trying to get out of harms way. It was clear these people had no idea what moshing was about or that by and large it was dead. The idea is to pick people up when they fall on the ground so no one gets trampled, not throw defenseless people into danger. The thousands of people pushing to get close to the stage, even the band noticed how fucking crazy the crowd was as shown by the 4 seperate times they had to stop the show. Stop the show, almost unable to continue and ask people to step back 5 feet. “Take that shit out on the streets!”

Rage Against the Machine at their prime was more than a band ever could be. They weren’t the most famous band in the world though their message permeated America. They weren’t the most talented band ever, though you’d be hard pressed to say that combined they didn’t bring a new level to rock. They were self aware, smart, and knowledgable. They used their music to spread messages about their political beliefs. Their hardcore fans sought knowledge about politics both here and abroad, about wrong doings locally as well as globally, and to take action. Somewhere in the obscurity of the proverbial frat house, their message of dissent for peace was lost.

What I heard from this crowd was astonishing. Upon hearing De La Rocha ask the crowd to step back, as people in the front were getting crushed, I heard utterances of “So this is the day that Zach goes soft.” The crowd was surprised that he wanted to help people get out of harms way and allow everyone to have an enjoyable experience. “Please, brothers and sisters, if you could just take a few steps back. If you don’t we’ll have to stop and we don’t want to do that. We want to play everything we have for you,” and people were still getting crushed towards the front. As a result of all this crowd pandemonium, the band gave up some energy. They tried to get things going, but just like a drunken make out session at a party that gets thwarted by interupting partygoers, this performance couldn’t get off the ground like it should have.

As for the third day of the festival…truthfully I was hung over. I was exhausted from the weekend and battered from Rage, certainly not enough to qualify into an entire nother post. So here goes.

Blues Traveler Ruled. I was surprised as anyone else, though I have in the enjoyed several of John Popper’s works and think him to be very talented. The crowd that he drew was unbelievable though, thousands of people watching him, and everyone dancing. It was a very cool scene. Beyond that, Nine Inch Nails and Kanye were competing. I started watching Nine Inch Nails set, who began very strong with Closer somewhere near the beginning, just as it started getting dark and accompanied with a very cool light and tv show, but dwelled about 30 minutes in. I walked over to see Kanye’s set out of sheer curiousity. Ugh. “The Most Amazing Light Show Ever,” huh? I walked over there as he was just preaching some bullshit about some shit I couldn’t care to listen to. I somewhat recall him refering to himself on the same level as Michael Jordan or Jesus or Stevie Wonder. It’s great he thinks so highly of himself. I nothing him. And as such choose not to comment on his music.

I hope to see all the beautiful women back there next year.

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