Tuesday, August 8th, 2006
So I am home, somewhat rested and have finally eaten a meal that is not made of granola and am thus in some sort of condition to wrap up that which was Lollapalooza 2006.
In short, it was an amazing and exhausting experience. The concentration of talent at Grant Park this past weekend was almost obscene, with dozens of bands that could easily sell out medium to large venues on a single bill. For me, the draws were split pretty evenly between favourites I’d seen numerous times before (Wilco, Broken Social Scene, My Morning Jacket) and others I was a fan of but had never seen for whatever reason (Sonic Youth, Built To Spill, The Flaming Lips). And if I could squeeze in some new up-and-comers (Husky Rescue, What Made Milwaukee Famous, Hot Chip), then so much the better.
But festivals do strange things to your attention span. No matter how much you love the band that’s currently playing, there’s that little voice in back of your mind saying, “but you’re going to miss (whatever band is slated to start in ten mintues on the other side of the park)” and for fear of missing out on something magical, that little voice usually wins. Of course, the photo pit policy of three songs and you’re out certainly helped get you thinking about what your next destination was – most times I would just mosey away from the stage while taking in another two or three songs but only a few times did I find somewhere in the audience to plant myself and just enjoy the music. But don’t think I didn’t enjoy what I did see – yeah, I may have missed some of one set but I made up for it with some of another.
And let me also say that the photo pass has completely spoiled me for festivals. Being able to bypass the crowds almost entirely (though the photo pit can get just as crowded as the audience) was a real perk – always front row centre… until they throw you out. Then there’s the free water and (really nasty) energy bars, moderate backstage access, golf cart expresses from one end of the park to the other… yes. Spoiled.
But overall, Lollapalooza has turned me around on the festival thing. No doubt the fact that from my POV it was superbly organized and executed and the weather almost ideal has something to do with it, but for all the negative points I had in my head beforehand – the exhaustion, lousy expensive food, inch-thick layer of sweat and grime on one’s body – I had forgotten the biggest positive, which is the music. I will always love the dank, intimate club shows but there’s something about the right artist on a big stage in front of a huge crowd under the late afternoon sun. It can be something to behold.
I still don’t see festivals like Lolla becoming a staple of my live music diet. The logistics and costs of the American ones (Coachella, Bonnaroo, Sasquatch, ACL, Lollapalooza, Bumbershoot et al) are too prohibitive for me to consider doing more than one or so a year, but the local ones like Hillside, Olympic Island and the upcoming Virgin Festival? Maybe so, maybe so, even though by day three I am more than reminded of my age.
I’d like to say hi and thanks to all the other bloggers whom I hung out with at the festival – Stereogum, Village Indian, Muzzle Of Bees, Scenestars, My Old Kentucky Blog and Can You See The Sunset From The Southside – some were old acquaintances, some new, but all good company and all of whom have their own Lollapalooza coverage up on their sites. And I would be remiss if I didn’t thank those who made the trip possible for me – namely AT&T’s Project D.U. for getting me the press and photo pit access, festival organizers Capital Sports & Entertainment for helping out with lodging, information and probably loads more that I took for granted and AT&T’s Blue Room for providing internet facilities from which I didn’t live blog the fest.
Naturally, reviews of Lollapalooza abound but there’s some more extensive pieces at The New York Times, The Chicago Tribune, The Chicago Sun-Times and CNN. USA Today‘s Pop Candy has some wrap-up lists, LiveDaily has a review and Pitchfork was there (but if that was “fewer ironic t-shirts”, then I shudder to think what a younger audience would have been wearing) and true to form, are the only ones who would declare the Flaming Lips set “a disaster”. In a way I can see where they’re coming from, but come on – lighten up. And local scribe Stuart Berman recaps the festival at Are You Familiar. The Toronto Star was also there.
Work on the photo galleries continues apace – I got a LOT of good shots, another reason to love the photo pass/pit – but in the meatine the Flickr set has been updated again with some crowd shots and general shots from around Lollapalooza. And I’ll be back to regularly scheduled programming tomorrow. Thanks.