The Major Music Festival Quandary

Crowd_2 A little math for you:

  1. One ticket to see Your Favorite Rock Band: $60, plus TicketBastardMaster fees $20 = $75
  2. Transportation: mass transit markets $2 - $10, driving markets $15 for parking
  3. Two beers = $16
  4. A hot dog or some other chemically altered meat/cheese product = $8
  5. All in all, $101-$114 for one person/day

Early ticket buyers for the Lollapalooza music festival this past weekend (Aug. 1-3) could snag a day ticket for $60/day plus all the above, and with 124 bands, it averages out to $1 and some change per band. A dollar to check Nine Inch Nails rock through "Closer" sounds like a sweet deal, right?

With a lineup as sweet as this year's Lollapalooza, it is a tasty-sounding deal, but bitterness overtakes when one is faced with the Major Music Festival Quandary: pick between Nine Inch Nails and, say, Kanye. If you don't like Kanye, this is no problem. That's why at music fests you have the choice of five other bands if you don't like the one. But what if you love both?

Day One of Lolla was picture-perfect, considering Radiohead was the only band to play the last slot of the day. But what about Wilco v. Rage? Sure, the two groups are stylistically different and would draw different crowds, but for the music lover, even retorting "both" is futile: to attend both would be to see dots dance on lit-up square from a million miles away.

Lollapalooza's C3 organizers have a tough job splitting these interests, but also trying to appeal to a broad girth of music lovers. There's 40 bands a day, but (believe us) you only really have a good chance to see eight or nine of them, and that's not even for full sets. You then have the adult pangs of choice.

So what it boils down to: festivals make music lovers greedy. Instead of paying  $60+ to see your favorite band and a decent opener at some amphitheatre, you pay $60+ to see a headliner, live with not seeing the other headliner, and pick between 7-8 other openers, alongside 74,999 other festival-goers. This year's first-ever sold out Lollapalooza weekend was a huge success on a curation standpoint, but for the attendee, much more complex emotions wreck the conscience as we all picked our battles between good and better.

August 5, 2008 in Lollapalooza 2008 | Permalink | Comments (8) | TrackBack

Correcting Your Mistakes At Lollapalooza

20080801_52 We all mistakes. It's OK. You ate the lamb kebab and then slammed Budweiser "microbrews," maybe had a dance at the DJ to Flosstradamus before you realized the combination wasn't the smartest. Here's a few scenarios you could have done different:

  • You saw: Duffy. Duffy is cute as hell and plucks the nostalgia string in our overactive brains. She's comfortable, great to look at and our moms like her. You should have seen: Black Joe Lewis and the Honey Bears (pictured). Soul was the theme this year, with acts like Sharon Jones and Jamie Lidell holding the fort as much as emotive sets from Radiohead, Rage and NIN. But Lewis recalls another soul and funk icon -- James Brown -- and his backing band the Honey Bears could maybe take the Dap-Kings in kickball.
  • 20080802_147 You saw: Brand New. It seems like a brief, teenage hormone-influence dream when we first saw Brand New play small clubs, their own voices squeaking in time with ours. Now they've grown up. Their performances are phenomenal, but we weren't the only fogies crossing our arms in the back, wishing the set was shorter. You should have seen: Spank Rock (pictured) and Amanda Blank. It's always refreshing to see a thoughtful lyricist and performer who doesn't take him- or herself too seriously. C'mon, the dude's got a track called "Shake It 'Til My D*ck Turns Racist." Blank was brilliant, one of the coolest female rappers in the game, and came out dressed like a Pussycat Doll. Simulated drrrty sex, incredible support from the two gents on decks, laugh-out-loud (or LOL, as the kids say) lyrics... Spank Rock leaves his audiences with the thought, "Seriously, did he just do that?"
  • You saw: G. Love & Special Sauce. Really? You should have seen: Flogging Molly. "I like to think redheads are just one step closer to hell," declared legendary frontman Dave King. We like to think the Irish-lovin' band brought us one step closer to heaven.

August 4, 2008 in Lollapalooza 2008 | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack


20080803_372 Spotting celebrities at a festival as big as Lolla has the same likelihood as bumping into famous folk on the streets of New York, only on a much smaller, sweatier scale.

Of our favorite celeb sightings this weekend:

  • Naturally, the omni-present festival founder Perry Farrell (pictured above), who held press conferences, clung from stages and even performed a daytime DJ set. The dude was always smiling.
  • Pete Wentz and his newlywed, Ashlee Simpson, making their way backstage at Girl Talk.
  • Elijah Wood and three friends making their way to a good viewing spot for Radiohead Friday night.
  • Lindsey Lohan and girlfriend Samantha Ronson (whose brother Mark performed on the AT&T Stage Sunday afternoon) backstage at pop softie Mason Jennings. Lohan also had her turn and the swag-happy Hard Rock gifting suite.

August 4, 2008 in Lollapalooza 2008 | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Lollapalooza Extracurricular: Katy Perry

Katyperry Not every artist that comes into Chicago around this time are slated to perform. Current Hot 100 crown-winner Katy Perry took the evening off from her duties at Warped Tour to visit with friends at Chicago's Manor nightclub on the second night of this Lollapalooza weekend. A gorgeously decorated joint with bottle service to the brim, Manor was packed with maybe a hundred late-night partiers as Perry, 23, and her entourage made way to the VIP.

JI caught up with the young singer just prior to her brief vocal performance of "Hot N Cold" and her current hit "I Kissed a Girl." She mentioned how exhausted she was from the Warped festivities, though she seemed at least thankful. "I rarely go out at night anymore. Tonight's an exception. Besides maybe one of these every now again," she said pointing to her champagne, "I'm completely clean. I have to be."

Asked what she does to decompress, Perry explained "I just sleep as much as I can. I work out a lot, too." That's far from OUR minds when we need a good relax.

We imagine singing a couple songs from tabletops at small clubs is by far one of the easiest swaggy gigs stars like Perry can score, but we couldn't help but to notice how much touring tends to wipe out even young acts like Perry.

This is why we are convinced Miley Cyrus is a robot.

August 4, 2008 in Lollapalooza 2008 | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Lollapalooza: Tuning Back Into Toadies

Toadies One of the reasons festivals are such unique live music experiences is the infectious spirit of a one-time-only event. Artists and fans alike are given the chance to see and do things that they never have before. For the reunited Toadies, this meant unveiling its first new material in seven years in front of a massive crowd.

The audience chanted "Toadies!" as the band took the stage Saturday to a brass fanfare and dove right into "Backslider," from 1994's "Rubberneck." They seemed triumphant, throwing their arms in the air and getting huge cheers in return. "We are the Toadies. We are from Texas, and you are all kick-ass," frontman Todd Lewis shouted.

Mark Reznicek's aggressive drumming raced alongside guitarist Clark Vogeler's frantic riffing throughout nearly the entire track list from "Rubberneck," particularly on breakneck versions of "Mister Love," "I Come From the Water" and "I Burn." 

The modern rock radio staple "Possum Kingdom" was played squarely in the middle of the set, perhaps for the folks who planned to head the other side of the field in time to get in position for Wilco. But even those who were in transit couldn't help but shout out the familiar line "Do you wanna die?" along with Lewis.

Tracks from the recent "No Deliverance" like "I Am a Man of Stone" and "So Long Lovely Eyes" peppered the set, blending in perfectly with the old songs, but carrying a more mature sense of melody and pacing. But the oldie "Tyler" was just the right choice to close things out, reminding the crowd one last time of the Toadies' glory days.

The day prior, the group was upbeat in conversation -- mainly, everybody was just happy to be there. Said Reznicek of why it feels right to be playing as Toadies again, "This band is pretty tight." Lewis confirmed, "Even when we're off, we're off together." And as for more new Toadies records, Lewis would only cryptically comment, "I'd like to ride this one out until the time seems right." -- Lavinia Jones Wright

August 3, 2008 in Lollapalooza 2008 | Permalink | Comments (39) | TrackBack

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