[Concert Review] Saturday at Lollapalooza

lollapalooza2009_largeI have been to some concerts in my day, but none of those one-night shows compare to the feeling of wandering through downtown Chicago on Saturday afternoon through the evening and well into the night just soaking up all the great music that was being played in Grant Park.

There were so many bands playing Saturday that I wanted to see, and to see some just wasn’t feasible, either by a time standard or physically. My entire day was set around seeing Tool live, headlining the Chicago 2016 stage that night. The afternoon was filled with purposeful wandering as I tried to ingest the most music for my dollar. I’ve decided to review the show with some categories that I feel can describe the day best.

The “We benefit a lot from playing on the same stage as Tool one set before” award goes to:

Rise Against

I’ll be honest, the only reason I started listening to Rise Against was because I knew they were playing Lolla, and right before Tool. However, once I found out they were playing the same time as TV on the Radio, my decision was quickly made up. I would have MUCH rather seen TV on the Radio, but the way the afternoon was developing in terms of crowd size made that impossible. TV on the Radio was on the complete opposite side of the park, and seeing them would have forced me to sacrifice a decent standing spot for Tool, which I just could not risk.

However, I was pleasantly surprised with Rise Against’s set. While not a huge fan of theirs, I do like the upbeat tempo of their music, and their lead singer has an absolutely phenomenal set of pipes. They’re obviously a mainstream act now instead of a post-punk underground band, but I can’t say it doesn’t suit them. Their style actually seemed  to benefit from the higher production quality.  Although I was disappointed to have to be skipping TV on the Radio ONLY because it would affect my spot for Tool, I must say Rise Against had a very enjoyable performance overall, full of energy, and it would be hard to argue that they didn’t give a good show.

Rise Against: 7.0/10

The “I wish you guys could’ve played just a little later” Award goes to: Ezra Furman and the Harpoons

In my research for this festival, I was exposed to plenty of bands I’d never heard of before, and this folksy band was one of them. Unfortunately, they played from 11:45-12:30, 12:30 being the moment I finally stepped foot in the park. Hopefully they hit a spot somewhere near me here in Terre Haute soon.

The “Heard, but Barely Seen” Award goes to: Animal Collective

They were playing across the field from Tool, leading into them, and the south field was absolutely packed with human flesh. All I could do from my magnificent spot for Tool was turn around and look at Animal Collective’s stage, and listen from very far away. Their visuals were impressive, even at such a distance, though I wish I would’ve had the opportunity to be a little closer to focus a bit more on their music. As it was, it was a nice way for the hour to pass before Tool, and the lights and sounds produced by Animal Collective really make me want to check out another show of theirs in the future. But, being so far away with such colorful, intense visuals almost added a special layer to the show, being in such a crowd gave it this post-apocalyptic feel that was pretty enjoyable at the time. It was interesting to sit down in the south field and feel the buzz of the music from the stage across the pass.

Animal Collective Score: 6.5/10 (Probably would have been higher had I had a better view)

The “Wow, these Canadians Rock” Award goes to: The Constantines

Just another small band I was exposed to in the lead up to the fest, and they now hold the honor of being the first band I have ever seen at Lolla. Their set was fast-paced and intense and my girlfriend and I had an awesome view of the stage, only a few feet from it in fact. These guys took the stage, and the sun started to peak out, and they just rocked for 45 minutes, a tune of punky blues music in Chicago’s breeze. It was like seeing your favorite garage band play at a huge festival, and play very well.

The Constantines Score: 8.5/10

The “Holy Hell! This is INTENSE!” Award goes to: Los Campesinos!

This set started at 2:30, and it was so freaking intense and in your face for an hour that you could almost feel an electric energy buzzing out of the north field. This huge, almost big band feeling group played some upbeat fun, summer music, and it really created a fun atmosphere. They used violins and xylophones, fast punky beats with a mix of intense male and soothing female vocals. Overall, it was a fantastically blended set, the one that really got the juices going. On top of that, this band just seemed lost for words when it came to thanking the huge crowd that had gathered at their stage, and humble musicians who just seem touched to have a huge following of fans are a really welcomed sight. I’ve had some of their catchy, upbeat songs stuck in my head ever since. Very, very fun performance.

Los Campesinos Score: 9.0/10

The “I’m really sorry, guys. Tool is playing over there in an hour” Award goes to: Ben Harper and Relentless 7

I just reviewed their album a couple weeks ago, and I was very excited to see them. However, I’d already recognized the flow of the festival by this time, and there was absolutely no possible way to see them from 7:30-8:30 and then make it over to Tool. A partial set would’ve been possible, but just wasn’t in the cards. My mind was made up. I needed adequate placement for Tool. Would LOVE to have seen them, though.

The “Wow, there are a lot of people here, I’m a little dehydrated, but this show is AWESOME” Award goes to: Arctic Monkeys

Another band I was recently exposed to, though they’ve been around and well known for a few years now. Hardly underground or indie. What they are is a tough British rock band that plays melodic music with strong lyrics. I was actually surprised at how their live show played out. Their albums are pretty jagged sounding, sharp and concise, but their live show seemed much more melodic with a wonderful flow to it. They blended slower, introspective songs with upbeat, faster songs, and really gave us a good set. This was the first band of the day where I recognized a lot of the songs, and that does add to sentimentality a little bit.

Arctic Monkeys Score: 8.75/10

The “Hey guys, not a lot of time, but you’re still pretty good anyway” Award goes to:

A few bands!

This is just a list of bands I saw for a song or two, while walking to another part of the park. They were all enjoyable in their own little way.

  • Langhorne Slim
  • No Age
  • Gomez
  • Robert Earl Keen
  • Chairlift
  • Animal Collective DJ Set

The entire day was like this human radio where each step I took just brought me to another station where I could stay and listen or just keeping hitting the “Scan” button. Of course, there were some pre-programmed buttons (bands I had to see), but overall I was really exposed to a great deal of fantastic music on this day.

I would definitely recommend going to a festival like this if you like music of all different genres. Check the line-up on the day you want to go, and expose yourself to everything. You’ll get to see a lot of great bands. I only regret not being able to afford the entire 3-day event. There were bands on Friday and Sunday that I would’ve loved to have seen in such an environment. As it stands now, I’m now always going to be on the lookout for quality festivals with a lot of music I want to hear. It was a great way to spend a day.

Also, at this point, you might be thinking “Hey, dickhead. You kept mentioning Tool, and you didn’t even review their show!”

Patience, folks. That show gets its own review!

Overall Lollapalooza Experience: 9.0/10

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