Two ridiculously hot weekends in a row of wall-to-wall music have utterly exhausted me, and I'm glad to find myself show-free for at least the next month to let myself recover. Still, the past two weekends of music have been a blast.
The stark contrast between Intonation and Lollapalooza was evident fairly immediately- walking into Grant Park, the setting for a festival was almost unbeatable, with the Chicago skyline westward and the lake to the east, Buckingham Fountain to the north, and plenty of gardens and tree-lined paths within the grounds. If Intonation was the little Indie Festival That Could, Lollapalooza showed what money and corporate sponsorship could provide, and to be honest I appreciated getting to be a part of both. Intonation's self-involved hipster crowd was replaced with a more varied group of fans to go with the generally more mainstream lineup (not that I'm complaining- I can only take so much pretension at once). Though I wouldn't have paid more than the $35 I spent on Lollapalooza tickets, credit must be given where credit is due, and Lolla was impeccably run. Lines to get in were short, the grounds were beautifully decorated, every band starting on time, and the sound was consistently great on the festivals four (corporate-sponsored) stages. [I'd like to emphasize that fact that I have no problem with corporate sponsorship if it means they are using their money for good (putting on cool music festivals) rather than evil (donating to right-wing political candidates)]. They were also very well-prepared to deal with the 100+ degree heat of Sunday, bringing in cooling buses and misting tents throughout the grounds. Hopefully this means that Grant Park will be used for many more large musical events in the near future.
I got the chance to see more music on Saturday due to the far more bearable temperatures, starting with M83 at 12:30. What I love about M83 is seeing them recreate their albums (made entirely with keyboards) on the live stage with a full band. I also love how French they are- Anthony Gonzalez never said anything other than "Merci Beaucoup" and "Thank you, this was a nice festival" at the very end. They were also one of the more unique and least-known bands to appear.
My third attempt at enjoying ...And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead made me realize my problem with them is that I only like "Source Tags and Codes," and they never seem to play anything from it. They also act like a bunch of frat boys in a band, using extensive use of the word "fuck" in between songs and throwing their drum kits into the crowd at the end of the set. Breaking shit is cool! Actually, it was entertaining, but I think their creative juices may have been spent in 2002.
Billy Idol is nearing 50 and needs to put down the microphone for good. Not that he doesn't still look great- I don't think he's really aged much physically, if at all- but other than "White Wedding," "Dancing with Myself," and "Rebel Yell," he played a bunch of crap from an apparently upcoming album and made reference to the time in "'82 when he had his finger up Madonna's ass." I missed Blonde Redhead for this? Meanwhile, in the distance we watched two giant blow-up rubber duckies emerge on Primus' stage.
The Pixies continued the Longest Reunion Tour Ever by playing the hits, including "Here Comes Your Man," "Bone Machine," "Debaser," "The Lady in the Radiator Song," and an encore of "Where Is My Mind." Kim Deal is so cute, she looks like a soccer mom who drove to Lollapalooza in her keyless-entry minivan, when you know she's probably done a shit-ton of drugs.
Finally, Weezer closed out the night with the biggest crowd and the trademark giant W on stage. I only wanted to hear songs from the Blue album and Pinkerton, because everything since has been pretty lame. Somehow, Rivers Cuomo heard my cries and essentially split the set into two parts- Part 1: songs the old fans like, and Part 2: songs the new fans like. So in the first 20 minutes or so, we were treated to "Why Bother," Say It Ain't So," "No One Else," "El Scorcho," "Undone (The Sweater Song)," and more. Then I was able to tune out until they ended with "Buddy Holly" and "Surf Wax America" for the encore, making this set a very pleasant surprise.
Day Two was somewhat condensed due to my desire not to die in the heat, and the pictures sort of reflect my inability to hold a camera steady, but I trudged on. I heard Dinosaur Jr. from the shade of the porta-pottys, recognizing only a cover of the Cure's "Just Like Heaven." We left for air-conditioning as we passed Tegan and Sara, who we later learned cut their set short when Sara ran off the stage to vomit. The Arcade Fire wowed the crowd as expected with their energetic live show, which they managed to pull off while all wearing close to full suits and occasionally a motorcycle helmet or two. They left me with just enough energy to chill on the grass during Spoon as the sun finally went over the horizon and eventually set during Death Cab for Cutie, making it the fifth time I'd seen both bands.
Wish I'd seen had it not been so unforsakenly hot: The Black Keys, more of the Dandy Warhols (though I did walk by just as Anton Newcombe joined Courtney Taylor on stage for a song, a delight for anyone who'd seen the movie "Dig!"), Los Amigos Invisibles.
Check out the photoblog for another visual review of the weekend- getting good pictures was difficult in the heat, but I did what I could!