Friday, August 7, 2009

Lollapalooza, Day One

Day One was cold, wet, rainy and miserable. It was also fantastic.

I spent Day One with my friends Jeni and Tony, and we stuck to my previously posted schedule, pretty much. My first observation about Lollapalooza? There are a lot of people there. I mean, a lot. The three of us got separated in the rush of the crowd more than once, and by the end of the day, I gave up fighting to get nearer to the stage.

Here's another one: there just isn't enough time to see every band I want to see. My Friday schedule was packed solid, no breaks, from 2 p.m. to 10 p.m. The thing is, I had to leave some concerts early to get to the next show on my list, or risk being stuck at the back of the crowd. While I didn't skip anybody (except Andrew Bird), I did miss the last 15 minutes or so of nearly every set I attended.

I also bought a hat, to keep the raindrops off my glasses. I was soaked through by 2:30, and shivering the rest of the day. But after a while, I didn't even notice.

My favorite show of the day came from the Decemberists, who pulled off a complete reading of my favorite album of 2009 so far, The Hazards of Love. It's essentially an hour-long song, and they played it as such, with all segues intact. The most surreal moment came when the entire crowd, thousands of people, sang along to "The Rake's Song," a tune about a guy who kills off his children one by one. As the guy next to me said, "It's the darkest song I've ever heard, but I'll dance to it."

My second favorite show, oddly enough, was Depeche Mode. They headlined over on the south end (which is, like, 380 miles from the north end), and I was very surprised at how much I enjoyed them. "I Feel You" was just awesome, and "Enjoy the Silence" was magnificent. I'm still stunned at how damn good they were.

Others worth noting: Fleet Foxes were excellent, of course. They come off as a ramshackle bunch of laid-back hippies just goofing around, but when they launch into those spectral harmonies, it's just magical. Of course, I left early to get a spot for the Decemberists show, and missed my favorite Fleet Foxes song, "Mykonos." Typical.

Ben Folds put on the worst show I've ever seen from him, focusing on lame-ass material from Way to Normal, his one bad album. He did give us a swell rendition of "Army," though, so that's okay. And the Gaslight Anthem played for 50 minutes, which was about 20 minutes too long for me. I like their Springsteen-meets-Bad Religion sound, but their new album is about 30 minutes long, and that's just right, as it turns out.

I am sore and tired, but energized for tomorrow. I have to re-think my schedule, though, now that I know how long it takes to get from one end of the park to the other. That's an incredibly long walk!

Quote of the day, said as Of Montreal played one chord over and over again for six minutes to end their set:

Me: How long are they going to do this?

Tony: Until the check clears.

Tune in tomorrow for Day Two!

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