Saturday, August 06, 2011

Lollapalooza 2011


I'm attending Lollapalooza this weekend for CHIRP. For the first time, our station got approved media coverage. So I'm just doing my thing. Tomorrow I'll start the day with a Friendly Fires interview, and some water in a carton. Whatever. It's free for media. Give me a break.

Had it not been for scheduling a couple artist interviews, I definitely wouldn't have gone to the festival this year. I don't pay for shows anyway, so if I'm not on a list, I'm not there. This goes for an international music festival as well as an Empty Bottle show. It's just the pact I keep with myself these days.

Lollapalooza is a funny one though. It's mostly white suburban high school and college kids who got tickets from their parents. The kids can run around Grant Park and try to find beer or someone to make out with, and hopefully the parents just enjoy a nice glass of wine and dull conversation somewhere with less noise.

It's weird being a solo married dude in the midst of all this. I can tell when the girls are making attempts to flirt, and it's always slightly awkward. They come stand directly in front of me or to my side while i'm watching a band, and they dance. And then between songs they try to either make eye contact, or ask if I have a light for their cigarette. No to both. As always, I appreciate the attention though. I'm a self-conscious dude, so it's nice, yknow?

But speaking of self-conscious dudes, the most fascinating show I saw today was Bright Eyes. At some point during the last 10 years, since he was my very first '18 and up' show (at the Metro of course, 2002) Conor Oberst turned into quite the rock star. I have no idea when this happened, since I stopped caring about Bright Eyes sometime in college. But he's no longer a little emo singer-songwriter. He does that wild tornado move with his guitar, just spinning around and around whenever he's really getting into the music. It's like MxPx or something.

And his backing band is tight. Highest production I saw all day, with two drummers, a keyboardist, horn player, and a whole mess of other musicians that couldn't miss a beat if they wanted to.

The fascinating part though, was Bright Eyes' crowd. Take a look at this picture:


I know the composition is lousy but it wasn't my point here. Looks like a relatively "old" crowd, right? Most notably the dude with his hand up. He was really getting into "Lover I Don't Have To Love," one of Bright Eyes' "hits" off of the 2002 album, "Lifted." Notice the blonde tips AND bowl cut. But most importantly, notice the bald spot. I promise, he was not being ironic. If any one individual can sum up Lollapalooza in a haircut, it's that guy right there.

Lollapalooza is an old idea, which was cooler a long time ago but is still telling itself and everyone else that its still got it. Kids keep coming, so it must, right? The kids never lie...

Sure enough, during a Bright Eyes song that I hadn't heard before (apparently one of his newer "hits"), I saw one of those old Warped Tour moves where a few fists shoot up in rhythm with a particularly shout-able lyric. You know what I'm talking about, like those Jimmy Eat World lyrics "Are you listenin', (put your fists up at this part:) WHOA-OH-OH ohahoh!"

These were young fists. Teenage fists. And the old, blonde-tipped, bowl-cutted balding man had no idea to take part. He was unaware of the new stuff too.

So here's Conor Oberst up on a monstrous main stage, playing as earnestly as a post-emo depressed dude with a shitty attitude can manage, and his crowd doesn't know if it's appropriate to crowdsurf, sing along, or just feel kinda bummed for some reason. And then I heard a kid say, "Is this guy from England?"

And that really is Lollapalooza right there. A confusing mix of old and new "cool", brought comfortably together by money. But you might find some fun nostalgic stuff while you're there. Coldplay played "Yellow," Crystal Castles sounds like Nintendo, Girl Talk is the nostalgia bank, Ratatat is my own personal trip back to college, and Muse, well... actually Muse sucks. I don't know how anyone likes Muse, seriously.

I did get to say hi to Elijah Wood backstage though. I told him he was really good in Eternal Sunshine. He seemed appreciative. Beautiful eyes, too.

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