Posts Tagged ‘Lollapalooza 2011’

The final day’s line up included Ryan Bingham and the Horses, 80s band The Cars and alt-rockers Arctic Monkeys. I got an early start because I wanted to see Toronto’s own City and Colour. I’ve seen them live twice but have such a strong love for them that I had to see them again. The sun was beating down stronger than any of the other days with zero humidity. Beads of sweat were dripping down from everywhere by just standing still. I’ve never seen them this up close and Dallas and the boys were as heartwarming as ever, giving shout outs to Canada as often as possible, telling stories about how they used to attend Lollapalooza growing up and being humbled by being able to now play it. There’s just something so Canadian about these guys, that for those 60 minutes, it felt like home.

The next few hours consisted of me walking around the park, taking in the atmosphere, checking out the food stalls (anything from gyros to chicken tikka to pulled pork), getting some great swag (I’m a huge sucker for band t-shirts) and experiencing the oh-so-disgusting port-a-potties. Shudder. After a brief rainstorm (not helping the mud puddle situation) during which bands continued to play, and hard core fans remained outside the sun came back out just in time to catch Nas and Damian Marley. Nas was great on the mic, rocking a Blue Jays hat, and Damian even did his own rendition of his father’s “Could You Be Loved”. The Foo Fighters were headlining and though I saw them years ago, I was especially looking forward to hearing them play an acoustic set, specifically for “Everlong”. But about ten minutes in, the skies turned into the apocalypse and within seconds it started to rain like I’ve never seen before, and I got drenched. I was uncomfortable, covered in mud, shivering and had water coming out of my pockets. My co-goers didn’t have the strength to wait it out, but I had to. In a true battle of me vs. the music, the music won.

People were walking around barefoot, others created mud slides, a lot of people losing clothing. I trudged through the mud almost losing a flip flop along the way, and made it over to watch Kid Cudi. The storm slowly became a drizzle and he got the crowd going right away: people were dancing around, feeling the music and it was clear that we were all there for the music. After warming up to a few of his tracks, I made my way over to see Deadmau5. His stage set up was glorious with lasers, Deadmau5 heads and strobe lights flashing along with the beats. The mud had reached my calves by now, I was still soaking wet but as soon as I heard my fellow Canadian remix Daft Punk’s “Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger”, all I could do was listen, take it all in and appreciate every moment.

What a weekend! I realize the idea of standing all day in the blistering heat, sweating, people crowding your personal space and if you’re barely 5′ like me, not having the greatest visibility may not sound like your cup of tea. And of course it’s more comfortable watching shows when you have a seat, when they’re elevated and you’re in your comfort zone. But I kid you not, there is nothing in the world that can replicate the energy that you feel when you’re right in the middle of it all. Sure, you can watch videos, but it’s just not the same. Your heart starts racing and it literally feels like you’re having the time of your life. The whole crowd moving together, singing together and just feeling the music together, is something everyone needs to experience because I can’t even describe it – and that’s saying something.

The air was thick and even more stale and humid because it had rained overnight, the grass was even more wet and mud patches were starting to form. The heat was strong and made you tired instantly. I tried to make it on time to hear the Deftones but just missed them and was then subject to hearing 80s band Ween, for which I have no comment. Other acts included The Pretty Reckless (ie Gossip Girl Jenny Humphrey’s band), Toronto punk rockers Death from Above 1979 and Cee-Lo Green who was horrendously unimpressive but I was trapped as my co-goers took an hour to use the restroom.                                                                                                                                                                                 Now truth be told the main reason I even attended Lollapalooza was for Saturday’s headliner – the one and only Eminem. I’m sure I’ve mentioned it plenty of times, but I am completely in awe of him. His lyrics are angry, personal and honest. Sure sometimes he’s gimmicky and a bit cartoonish but let’s face it, we all know the words to “The Real Slim Shady.” His later work is much more focused and mature than his earlier material and as far as rappers go, there’s no contest. His rhymes are out of control, fast and impactful. He means every word, spits it out that way, and his intensity can be felt miles away. He believes it, and makes you believe it. He was the main event, and I feel for the other bands (My Morning Jacket, Beirut and Pretty Lights) who played at the same time as him because I’m pretty sure every soul at that park was witnessing Eminem.                                                                                                                                                                                                                         We arrived about an hour before he went on stage and made our way as close as possible and waited. My feet and ankles were giving out (flip flops aren’t exactly the most supportive footwear), my spine was aching and the body odor had reached a new level. I was starting to wane, then all of a sudden lights went out, and Eminem burst out on stage. The crowd went crazy, the adrenaline was pumping and all the pain went away – I felt like a new person. Right off the bat, he was engaging and in top form, with incredibly sexy tattoos covering his very well defined arms, winning over the crowd instantaneously. He covered tracks from every point in his career, from “Stan” to “Toy Soliders”, to “Spacebound”, back to “Without Me”, sang a tribute to Nate Dogg, and even brought out Bruno Mars (my arch nemesis) for their new single “Lighters”. Each was a fervent performance full of passion and conviction. Since Eminem has so many tracks and not enough time to do them all completely, he would take a verse/chorus from one song and mix it into the verse/chorus of another song, and the flow was flawless.

For those of you going to any concerts in the near future, just a tip: the band shouldn’t sound exactly like they do on their album – they should be better and take it to such a different level that you can’t re-live it by just listening to their album at home. The whole crowd was singing along, bobbing their heads and waving their arms in unison. He thanked us his fans for sticking with him through his dark days, he talked about his sobriety, and if you listen to his current album Recovery, a large majority of it addresses his previous lacklustre albums, for which he apologized. Well Eminem, you’re forgiven. He closed out the show with “Lose Yourself” (Mekhi Pfeiffer was nowhere in sight) during his encore and I’m pretty sure we were all already gone.

This year marked the 20th anniversary of Lollapalooza, a music festival founded by Perry Farrell of Jane’s Addiction as a farewell tour for his band. The festival started as a tour that visited different cities across North America but over the last few years has found its home in Grant Park, Chicago. Lollapalooza draws hundreds of thousands of fans from all over the place and is a great way to spend a summer weekend. I had the privilege of attending it this year (finally!) and was not disappointed.                                                                                                                                                                                                                          The shows began around noon time and ranged anywhere from indie band Foster the People, to hard rockers A Perfect Circle, to pop sensation Christina Perri and back to DJs Crystal Castles. I was only able to attend in the evening and never having been to a real 3-day music festival I wasn’t sure what to expect. The layout consisted of 8 stages spread throughout the park, some big, some small but music was being played both continuously and simultaneously in an alternating manner throughout the day. No seats, only standing areas in front of the stage meaning, the earlier you get there, the better the view, though sometimes that required being there hours prior with no food, water or bathroom breaks. So much access to music, so little time.                                                                                                                                                                                                                           I made it just about half an hour before Coldplay hit the stage which gave me time to scan the surroundings. They were at the northern most stage right in front of a beautifully set backdrop of Chicago’s stunning skyline. The air was humid and stale, with scents of sweat, body odor and wet grass, mixed with all kinds of smoke. Sounds lovely I know. My co-goers (ie the people I went with) and I worked our way as close to the front as we could without causing a stir and though I have already seen Coldplay live, this was pretty grand. They played classics like “In My Place” and “The Scientist” and more recently “Lost”.

After a few tunes, we headed over to find Girl Talk who was playing at the same time. On our way, however, we ran into Ratatat’s show and by that I mean we thought it was Girl Talk and soon realized it wasn’t. We didn’t stay very long, but in the few minutes we were there, I was mesmerized. It was pretty dark and the stage was hidden amongst many trees, but most interesting of all, there were no vocals – simply two guys rocking out with some electronic influence. Definitely worth checking out. We hit Girl Talk’s stage and I finally realized what all the fuss was about. He’s (yes, He) a mash up DJ: takes two existing tracks by other artists and plays them over each other in an unbelievably creative way. This may not seem difficult, but there are only certain minds that can fully comprehend the way two completely different songs, sounds and productions can co-exist in harmony. The crowd was amped and dancing up a storm, jumping, singing along and awing in admiration to every spin he made; despite the obvious fatigue in their eyes. And so were we. Track after track the mash ups got better and better – we couldn’t see a thing but it didn’t matter, because it was all about the music. We made a half assed attempt to check out Muse but were just drawn right back to enjoy the end of his set. Girl Talk, I’m not worthy.