Saturday, August 8, 2009

Lollapalooza, Day Two

In the immortal words of Danny Glover, I am getting too old for this shit.

Today, Day Two, was hot. Very, very, unbelievably hot. That alone would have made for a long slog of an afternoon, but it was also crowded. I am sure you have some idea in your mind what I mean when I say the word "crowded." Take that, whatever it is, and multiply by 10. There were a few terrifying moments today when I could not move in any direction. I was suffocated by people.

Also, today was the day I truly discovered that my schedule is impossible. I was hoping to walk back and forth, from one end of Grant Park to the other, a couple of times. But each attempt at that today took about half an hour, just moving with the slow tide of people. In the end, I chucked the schedule and only caught a few shows. But they were (mostly) superb.

I started the day with Thenewno2, the electro-rock outfit fronted by George Harrison's son, Dhani. They played two long, droning electronic tunes, and then the sequencing computer broke. This was the best possible thing that could have happened. The keyboardist donned a guitar, and the band rocked for the rest of their set. And I mean rocked.

Then, on the advice of Tony Martin, I saw the Constantines, and they were excellent. Sludgy post-punk with some complex instrumental passages, and enough energy to get me pumped for the rest of the day. They were probably my favorite show, until the headliner. I also saw Los Campesinos (and I felt bad, because they knocked themselves out for me, and I stood there bored), Arctic Monkeys and Robert Earl Keen, perhaps the biggest surprise of the day. Keen's Texas country-folk was just the tonic I needed.

I skipped TV on the Radio to get to the south side for Animal Collective. I wish I hadn't. Animal Collective was bad. I'm not sure why I even thought that show would be good. I love the new album, Merriweather Post Pavilion, but have hated everything else the band has done. This was an hour of drum loops and formless noise, with moaning on top of it. Waste of time.

For me, the biggest dilemma of the day was the headliner. Did I want to see the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, or Tool? They could not be more different, and yet, they each feed a unique part of my musical personality. In the end, I picked Tool, for a number of reasons. First, I was already on the south end of the park, and didn't want to make that walk again. Second, the Yeahs were the replacement band for the Beastie Boys, and are, I suspect, not quite ready for the big stage. (Post-show reports bore that out.)

But most importantly, I fucking love Tool. And they did not disappoint. They were amazing. Tool uses the classic minimalist lineup (guitar, bass, drums, vocals), but they compose these astonishing mini-symphonies, full of shifting time signatures and difficult, yet pummeling, instrumental work. I don't know how they keep them all straight live, but they did, and they were astoundingly good. They closed with "Vicarious," from the latest album, 10,000 Days, and the energy of that performance kept me wired on the long walk back to my hotel.

I cannot even describe for you how tired I am right now. Tomorrow is another long one - I am hoping to make Ra Ra Riot's show at 12:30 p.m., but will probably start with the incredible Bat for Lashes at 1:30 p.m. And then it's straight on until Jane's Addiction closes the show at 8:30 p.m. I don't know if I will do Lollapalooza again - it's too hot, too crowded, and too much work. But I'm very glad I've done it this year.

Quotes of the day:

Dhani Harrison: "Have a fantastic "Muertepaloola," and watch out for the furry death, innit?"

Maynard James Keenan: "Thank you for your time and your patience, your enthusiasm and your nudity."

Next update tomorrow!

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