Sunday, August 23, 2009

Cage the Elephant, Schuba's, 8/8/09

We met up with my friends in the bar at Schuba's shortly before doors opened. We hung out near the door so that we could be the first ones in. Of course, my friend and I were front and center.

Cage the Elephant

It was a wild show. I knew they performed with a lot of energy, but every description of their show did not prepare me for what I saw. The lead singer went into the crowd several times, and never seemed to stop moving.

Cage the Elephant

When it came to choosing an after show for Saturday night, we had to consider The Raveonettes vs. Cage the Elephant. I don't remember which of my friends said it, but one of them said Cage the Elephant might be a better choice because they would be such a great bar band. Given that the venue was Schuba's how could I not agree?

Cage the Elephant

They have the perfect sound for a bar. I think it would be amazing to see them open for The Hold Steady. That would be an awesome show.

The most interesting moment of the weekend: The lead singer took a stage dive to crowd surf, and he didn't quite clear my face. After I realized my nose wasn't broken, I was concerned that I'd have a big bruise on my nose and eye. My boyfriend assured me that I did not, though I was still concerned that maybe it just wasn't showing up well because my face was sunburned. Turned out I was fine. Now I think it is kind of funny.

After spending two days at Lollapalooza, a pre-show and now two after-shows, we decided to go home and sleep instead of staying for Dan Auerbach. To be honest, we bought the tickets to this show to see Cage the Elephant, and while I have nothing against Dan Auerbach, it was the opening act I really wanted to see.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Lollapalooza Day 2

Leaving the Arctic Monkey's show the night before was a good idea, as I had a lot more energy to get myself through the day on Saturday. My feet no longer hurt, I wasn't yawning, I was ready to go.

Band of Skulls

We got there early, and met up with some friends to catch Band of Skulls. All of my friends who came in from out of town was really looking forward to this set. We were discussing Band of Skulls Friday morning while we were at breakfast, and someone (I forget who) brought up the fact that this band was getting no Lolla hype whatsoever. Whenever any of us read recommendations from various professional music writers about who to catch at Lollapalooza, Band of Skulls never came up. Why? They are great!

Band of Skulls

They had an early, crappy time slot, but they rose to the occasion. Their set was amazing, one of my favorites of the weekend. It must be difficult, as a touring band normally playing night shows, to be full of energy and play outside at 11:15 AM. But they did. I would love to see them in a tiny venue like Schuba's.


After Band of Skulls we wandered over to catch thenewno2. Why do I continue to be surprised by crowds at Lollapalooza? First I was surprised to see how big of a crowd they drew. Then I was surprised to see people singing along. This was another band that didn't really get much press before the festival. They were really good. A bit dancey, a bit mellow. We hung out in the trees and listened.

Living Things

One of the things that makes festivals fun is to go check out a band that either you have never heard of or wouldn't normally see, and make a discovery. This year, that band for us was Living Things. We checked out the music on their MySpace page earlier in the week, and liked it enough to decide to see them. The lead singer reminded me of Mick Jagger, both his lips and his swagger. Their music was a bit harder but still danceable. The guitarist was nice to look at. I had been debating between them and The Constantines, and almost changed my mind at the last minute. I'm glad I didn't.

Originally we planned on checking out Miike Snow next, but we were hungry and thirsty, and decided to get lunch instead. We wandered over to the beer garden, where I was glad to see they had my favorite summer beer, Land Shark. We grabbed some beer and some pork chop sandwiches, then sat and listened to Kaskade at Perry's. Kaskade was pretty cool, especially when the Chicago flags started waving.

After that we caught most of Ida Maria's set. She was great again, and I loved that she covered "I Wanna Be Your Dog" by Iggy and the Stooges.

Care Bears on Fire

Curiosity got the better of us, and we had to check out Care Bears on Fire. Interestingly enough, a bunch of our friends were there too. They were so cute! I loved the lead singer's guitar strap - pink skulls! One of my friends remarked how comfortable they were in front of an audience, with their small talk on stage and all. The lead singer asked the crowd if we caught Of Montreal's set from the night before. I would say that their music might not quite be my thing, but man, they were kids! And they did an impressive cover of "Everybody Wants to Rule the World" by Tears for Fears.

Care Bears on Fire

Next was my relaxation time. We sat in the shade of the trees, relaxed, and listened to Chairlift. It was really easy to relax to their set. I don't think I even saw the band on stage. I just sat and listened. It was great.


Although they sounded good, the biggest disappointment of the weekend for me was Glasvegas. I probably was anticipating this set a bit too much because I love the album, and I didn't get to see them at Coachella because they canceled. The first 20 - 25 minutes of the set were great -- exactly what I was expecting. After that, there were a few ballads. For an outdoor set in the afternoon, it was too long and drawn out. They needed to pick the crowd back up, and didn't seem to do so. It got a little better towards the end, but by then I was gone. I wanted to love the whole thing so badly, but I just didn't. The first part was great, though. And I have to give the lead singer props. He made some, um, not so clean statements early in the set. Later on he apologized, saying that he now saw that there were a lot of small children in the audience, and he didn't realize that. I apologized for the inappropriateness of his earlier comments. That was cool of him.

We went and grabbed some dinner, then sat on a curb and listened to Lykke Li. Like Chairlift, we never really saw her on stage, we just listened. I liked her a lot more than I expected to. She seemed more upbeat live than I remember the album being. She covered a Kings of Leon song, but now, for the life of me, I can't remember which one it was.

Next we scoped out our spot for Tool. Unfortunately, that required sitting through Animal Collective's set. What was that? It was awful. I have to admit, the only Animal Collective album I ever listened to was Strawberry Jam. The didnt' really enjoy it the first time I heard it, but I thought maybe I wasn't in the right mood. I tried a couple of more times, and it didn't take. I had been reading blogs and reviews proclaiming it one of the best albums of that year, and I thought I must have been missing something. I was comforted when I found out that a lot of my friends, people whose taste I admire, felt the same way I did. I was hoping that maybe they would be good live, and maybe I would hear something I was missing. Oh no. It was just noise that went on and on and on and didn't stop. And they went long, and didn't stop when Tool took the stage. Granted, maybe Tool should have waited a few minutes before starting, but still. They just needed to stop. Ugh. Worst set of the weekend, hands down.

Saturday Night - Tool

Tool, on the other hand, sounded amazing. Everything was right on, and it was just what I needed to cleanse my palette after Animal Collective. I was so excited for my boyfriend, as Tool is one of his all-time favorite bands, and this was the first time he was seeing them live. He loved the set, except for the fact that, like Depeche Mode the night before, the screens mostly showed videos instead of the band. We were far back, and although we could see the stage, we couldn't see it clearly. But they sounded amazing, that was the important thing. And, like the night before, we headed out a bit early to check out another show.

Monday, August 17, 2009

I lied. I did take a picture on Day 1.

And here it is.

Friday Night

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Lollapalooza Day 1 and the Arctic Monkeys after show

I took no pictures on Friday. When I was close enough to stages to take pictures it was raining and I didn't want to get my camera wet. When it wasn't raining I was too far back to get any decent pictures.

We started the day with a yummy breakfast with friends at the Bongo Room. Mmmm, pancakes.

The line to get into Grant Park on the first day was really long, and the rain started while we were in line. The first band I wanted to see was Hockey, and we missed the beginning of their set. We heard maybe one song when all of a sudden they stopped. We couldn't really see what was happening because we were sitting under planters trying to stay dry. We left to scope out the two food courts, and eventually heard part of their set while doing that.

Our initial plan was to see Manchester Orchestra over Hey Champ because Hey Champ is local so we figured it would be easier to see them. But we heard the beginning of Hey Champ's set while scoping out food options, and decided to see them instead. We really liked their music, which was very danceable. It was the first of many times throughout the weekend that I said, "I would love to see them at a small venue."

While we were at breakfast some of our friends talked about how crazy The Knux were at Coachella, so we checked out a couple of their songs next. They seemed cool, but after two or three songs were headed over to Black Joe Lewis and the Honeybears. My boyfriend thinks that most of the bands we end up seeing at Lolla every year sort of have the same sound, and since Black Joe Lewis and the Honeybears have a bluesy sound that was different from the other bands, he was really interested in checking them out. It's a large band with awesome musicians, including a horn section. We liked them a lot. A guy behind us said that he had seen them at House of Blues a few months ago. That must have been a cool show.

We left that set a few minutes early to get a good spot for White Lies (and miss Gaslight Anthem, much to my disappointment). In many of the reviews of their set I saw, people were slamming White Lies for sounding like The Killers. And they do. But a lot of bands sound like other bands. I don't know. I liked them. I like their album. I liked their performance. So there.

By this time it was pouring rain, so we found a bench and put our tarp down to sit. From that spot we listened to both Bon Iver and Ben Folds. Bon Iver sounded nice in the rain. It seemed appropriate somehow. And Ben Folds was awesome. For some reason I never paid him much attention. I didn't dislike his music, I actually liked it, but I never focused on it I guess. That should change. He was amazing, which shouldn't have been a surprise, but I liked his set more than I expected to.

Eating and getting merch took longer than it should have, so we didn't really need to consider whether we wanted to see Fleet Foxes or Crystal Castles because we ran out of time. Our initial plan was to see Thievery Corporation instead of The Decemberists because we saw The Decemberists on Thursday. Much to my surprise, my boyfriend suggested we see The Decemberists again. He reasoned that we had seen Thievery Corporation twice, and that The Decemberists were going to perform their album The Hazards of Love. Who knows if we'd get the chance to see that again, and it would be very different from their set the night before. The great thing was I was thinking the exact same thing, so we saw The Decemberists twice in less than 24 hours. I think it was the right decision. The performance of the album was incredible, and although the performance quality was the same, it was just a very different set from the night before. Good call.

After The Decemberists we scoped out a spot for Depeche Mode. In the meantime we enjoyed Of Montreal's set. If there's anything I regret it was sitting in a spot where we couldn't really see that stage. I wish I could have seen, as well as hear, Of Montreal's set. However, we had to cut out early to get to the after show, so the spot we had was perfect.

We were pretty far back, so one of the criticisms we both had for Depeche Mode's set (and Tool's set the following night) was the amount of time the video screens showed videos instead of the performance. Unfortunately I didn't learn the new album enough to really be into those songs. And although I thought they were good, I thought they were better when I saw them a few years ago. We left early to get to Metro, and I heard the two songs I wanted to hear most ("Enjoy the Silence" and "Never Let Me Down Again" - my favorites) from outside of Grant Park.

Eventually we met up with some friends and a cab whisked us off to Metro to see the Arctic Monkeys. I had never heard of the opening act before. They were called Modey Lemon. I'm not sure what I thought of them. I think maybe if I hadn't been so tired (I got 5 hours of sleep - interrupted - the night before, then was at Lolla all day in the rain) I would have gotten into them more. My boyfriend liked them. I just don't think I was in the mood at that point.

I had never seen the Arctic Monkeys before, and I wasn't sure what to expect given that their new album is a departure from their previous ones. It has more of a stoner rock sound, which I like as well as the older stuff, even though it was different. I had heard great things about their live shows before, and I can see how people who had seen them in the past might be disappointed with their performance Friday night. However, I really liked it. Since then I've been wondering what my reaction would have been if I had seen them before, but I really just don't know. And I sort of liked their shaggy look! I do feel that I missed out by not seeing them before. I wish I had.

We left a bit early because we were so exhausted, which was probably the right choice because I ended up having more energy the following day. It's more tiring to deal with being outside, cold, in the rain all day than it was to deal with the heat. At least that was my experience.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Lolla started early - Heartless Bastards and The Decemberists at Metro, 8/6/09

My friends and I started our Lollapalooza weekend a night early by going to the Heartless Bastards and The Decemberists gig at Metro Thursday night.

Hearltess Bastards

I didn't really know what to expect from the Heartless Bastards. I think I had listened to an album of theirs maybe once or twice before the show. My boyfriend watched on of their sets online and wasn't impressed. I hoped for the best, and I was not disappointed.

Hearltess Bastards

It was a spirited set. My friends and I were discussing whose voice Erika Wennerstrom's reminded us of. I thought Nena. A friend thought Liela Moss. I'm picky about female vocalists. They need to have... I don't know, something, or else I just don't care. Unfortunately I can't put my finger on what that exact quality is. Whatever it is, Erika has it.

The Decemberists

The Decemberists. What can I say? They were incredible. So incredible that I used this show to free up a conflict the next day at Lollapalooza and instead ended up seeing them twice in less than 24 hours. But I digress.

The Decemberists

I am ashamed to admit that I don't know their catalog as well as I should. I have listened to their albums, but I don't know, for some reason there was always something else more pressing to listen to. That will change. Now.

Fans were able to vote on the set list online, and they seemed very happy. There were two covers. The first was a little bit of the song "If You Were Here" by the Thompson Twins in memory of John Hughes who died that day, which made me a bit teary. The second was a rousing rendition of "Crazy On You" by Heart, which was just as pounding and loud and awesome as the original.

The Decemberists

If you read this blog before, you know I do not do reviews in a formal sense. Translating my observations into words not a talent I possess. But I can say that both bands sounded amazing.

And thanks to my friend Amber for taking the Heartless Bastards photos!

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Why was this just announced today?

How much would I love to see this??? Here's why I won't:

1. I have already spent a ton of money for Lollapalooza weekend. Festival passes, tickets to a pre-show on Thursday night and aftershows on Friday and Saturday, and any food or merch I want to get. Oh, and cabs to the aftershows. Spending money on another set of tickets isn't in the cards.

2. As I said, I'm going to three extra shows. I will be lucky if I can stand at the end of Sunday night's headliners, so I doubt I will be able to stand through a show that starts at midnight.

But, had I known about this a month ago, you know I would be going.