August 4 2013
Quotes of the Day:
“So many odors...” - Alison
“Two girls just walked into the same port-a-potty; there’s no way they’re peeing right?” - dude in line for the toilets
“We were stabbed by concert goers.” - chick at the Kendrick show
So I decided to hit up a different Subway sandwich shop once I got into the city today, going with the one on Plymouth Ct and getting a spicy italian, again of course without vegetables. Then surprisingly enough, a couple blocks from the gate there was an Avicii truck handing out free iced coffee. I almost grabbed one, but considering I would have had to down it all before heading into the park and pretty much hate Avicii, I decided not too. Trying to kill some time walking around before any of the good bands started, I ended up following my friends as they were drawn by the sounds of The Bright Light Social Hour at the Petrillo Music Shell, a bluesy rock band from Austin, TX. As I’m sure you can tell from their terrible name, they weren’t all that great and best described as my friend eloquently put it, “an early afternoon band.” After that, they were attracted by Pujol, a significantly better punk outfit from Nashville, TN over by The Grove, but that band still didn’t really do it for me.
Luckily, Little Green Cars, an indie folk-rock group I actually kind of like, was set to start soon over at the Lake Shore, saving me from the monotony. I saw VH-1 shooting some footage outside the stage, as I walked in, so that was pretty cool. Apparently, Faye O’Rourke, the other lead vocalist had lost her voice earlier that day, but it sure didn’t show. She was belting out those notes like none other. The main lead, Stevie Appleby came out in a Misfits shirt, which I thought was pretty ironic for the low key tunes they’re known for. As for the rest of the band, hearing them harmonize live was extremely impressive. If there’s one reason to check that band out, it’s definitely that.
Now for some interesting crowd observations. One kid showed up wearing a rubber mask, which I thought was pretty ill-advised considering the hot weather. Another crazy chick was screaming for Faye the entire time because she apparently knew her personally. This same chick also grabbed my upper lip at one point, shouting “Mustache!” at me, started fondling some lady stranger in front of her, lifted up her own shirt at one point, and capped off her performance by playing around with her boyfriend’s suspenders. Frankly, that’s the most action I’ve had all summer, so I was okay with it.
I then made my way over to the Bud Light stage to catch Charles Bradley’s set. He came out in this sick blue outfit with a skull in a sphinx hat in sequins on the back. He even had a lengthy costume change while the band still played on where he returned in all black except for a white leather jacket with that same logo on it. I have to say, it was almost like watching a living legend, although I was supremely disappointed that he didn’t have any female vocalists with him. He was so soulful with that raspy tenor voice of his and had some sick dance moves to boot. He did a killer robot that just blew my mind. The guy did not act 65 at all. Probably my favorite part was when he said, “Do you know what confusion is? It’s when somebody messes with your mind” and subsequently proceeded do some really weird stuff, finishing by acting all coy on his belly at the front of the stage. He followed that up with the succinct statement “That’s confusion.” Absolutely perfect. He ended the set by walking up and down near the railing on the right of the crowd, shaking hands and giving hugs. You could tell that he was just so proud to have finally “made it” as a performer after wallowing in obscurity for the past 40 or so years. Personally, I’m proud to say that I actually got to touch the man.
When his wonderful set was through, I had some time to kill before Unknown Mortal Orchestra, so I decided to follow Justin to the press tent to see what I could see. While walking past Perry’s on the way, I noticed what looked like a giant frat party going down. I was a bit disappointed that I never got an invite, but I do understand that you can’t win them all - not. As for the press tent, I couldn’t even get close. It was time to return to The Grove
UMO was as sick as I expected it to be if not sicker. They always perform wearing all black, which I think is so cool since hardly any bands have a sweet wardrobe theme anymore. Singer and guitarist Ruban Nielson really showed his prowess during the set, extending all of his guitar solos and killing it every time. And the way he played reminded me a bit of Chuck Berry, as he was constantly shuffling his feet and dropping his hips in the smoothest manner possible. I really began to wonder what his popularity would’ve been like if he was playing in the 1950s. I’m sure I’ll find out once I become friends with him and construct a time machine. The unexpected part that I thoroughly enjoyed was when Riley Greare bridged two songs together with a lengthy drum solo while Nielson got his guitar ready. That’s something I’ve never seen before and totally dug. I always love when bands do that, because it gives you an auditory experience that can’t be had by simply staying at home and listening to your playlist of their best songs. I did feel kind of bad though that bassist Jake Portrait didn’t get any solo action, but I guess that’s the territory that comes with being a bassist. I sincerely do hope that this band has a true breakout moment soon, because they are oh so primed for it.
After grabbing a slice of pizza from the Lou Malnati’s stand (which might just be my favorite Chicago pizzeria, as tough of a decision as that is) and meeting back up with some friends, I made my way back over the the Bud Light stage to catch Kendrick Lamar. Considering the last time I saw him, I knew I was in for a wild ride. This time around he had a live band with him, which made everything more awesome than it was already going to be. That show was bouncing from beginning to end with the bass turned all the way up, even though there were plenty of people that were obviously just there to be there, lamely nodding when not taking selfies. But what are you going to do? That’s to be expected of the urban festival scene. The biggest surprise was when he started spitting his verse on A$AP Rocky’s “F**kin’ Problems”, which is easily the best part of that song and the only part I really love about it. I’ve never seen an artist perform a song from somebody else’s album before, even if they’re featured on it, but rules were made to be broken, and it feels great when they are. He actually stopped on a couple of occasions to watch the crowd lift up dudes in wheelchairs and bring them to the front, and when security tried to stop it, he told them to let it happen. Luckily, those two men were able to experience what I’m guessing will be the concert of their lives. One thing that Kendrick is amazing at is keeping the crowd pumped. By reminding you that he needs your energy to put on a good show and continually asking you to take it up a notch, you can never hold back from letting loose. And the way he smoothly links his songs together makes it all the more easier. Finally, I was glad that he kept his tradition of throwing in a freestyle rap; because, I mean, how can you not just love those?
At the outset of the day, my night was to be decided between staying for The Postal Service or heading over to Death Grips since I’m a casual fan of both for the most part. Considering I learned the news throughout the day that the latter act was a no-show for their Lollapalooza aftershow the night before and was subsequently taken off the bill due to their unknown location, being replaced by snowboarder extraordinaire Shaun White’s band Bad Things, the decision was made for me. The Postal Service put on a great show. First off, I’m a big fan of their simplistic stage aesthetic consisting of five silver stripes over a black background repeated throughout, which all came alive with the ultra dope light show over the course of the performance. Jenny Lewis and Benjamin Gibbard’s onstage chemistry was impeccable and it was so fun to watch them play together. It was also very remarkable to see how quickly the two were changing instruments during a song, keeping a sort of suspense present that is pretty rare. Listening to their music, it’s really hard to believe that this blend of electronica and indie rock came about ten years ago, when alternative rock was really in the middle of a rebirth, and most of the popular acts were of either the post-punk or emo variety . It’s superbly progressive, evidenced by the fact that when their only record Give Up was released, Gibbard was worried about how fans would react to seeing a guy manning a computer onstage while touring. Now, if you head over to the aforementioned Perry’s for example, it’s clear to see that it’s become fairly normal. The tenth anniversary of that album seriously couldn’t come at a more perfect time, seeing as the group seamlessly blends the electronic dance music scene with the subdued indie pop-rock scene that have unforeseeably risen to the top in tandem in recent years to create what is best described as an enjoyable amalgam.
This show was not without it’s share of compelling crowd happenstance. Awfully early on, this near middle-aged man just straight up collapsed in what was easily the most scary part of my festival experience thus far. Fortunately, we were able to get a hold of some medics to carry the man off to safety. I sincerely hope he’s doing okay, he really didn’t look good. There were also a couple guys who really just loved The Postal Service, I guess. One was simply ready to party, jumping around and throwing his arms all over the place. Upon getting weird looks from people who were obviously in their 20s around the time Give Up first came out, his response was, “What’s your problem? Are you guys old or something? Are you all just old?” By the end of the concert he was just swinging this tank top in the air like a madman. His mustache compliment lost all respect. This other dude was rocking a Slovakia flag on his back and literally singing all the lyrics while absolutely vibing on the jams. At one point he honestly crouched down, kissed the ground, and pointed to the sky. I’m at least glad he was enjoying himself, and at no expense to others.
What I initially thought was going to be the unexpected, interesting end to this post came in the form of a bro in a basketball jersey (and fellow festival goer) harassing a small asian woman on the late night blue line, which in some aspects was a bit sexual in nature. Apart from simply doing her best to ignore him, I’d have to say her most applicable response was, “You’re so weird!” Yes ma’am I agree, he’s pretty weird for doing what he’s doing at this time of day considering present circumstances. But that wasn’t the end of it; not at all.
When we got to the parking lot and were ready to drive back to the motel, the Honda Odyssey we traveled in was nowhere to be found. It turns out we punched in the wrong space number at the payment booth and the mini-van was subsequently towed for unauthorized parking. We hopped in a parked cab nearby and upon giving the listed address of the impound lot, the cabbie answered with, “So you’ve been towed, huh?” I guess this must happen a lot. When we got there a line had already developed. First was a foreign family who had visited the city for the day and was not used to local customs. Second was a couple who lost their rented U-Haul truck. They were getting charged as if it was at it’s maximum capacity weight limit even though it was empty simply because of the notice printed on the sides. They were none too happy about this considering they were being charged about double the normal rate as a result. They politely argued this point for some time to avoid getting screwed over in a very admirable fashion: they never cursed at the lot attendant, but persuasively pointed out how unethical she was being despite her third shift dead-end job. The only thing they could work out was a possible refund later on if they provided proof of the truck’s emptiness, which we all know will never formulate. After quickly getting our situation squared away, we learned that the group behind us had made the exact same mistake we did. Small world, huh?
We ended up listening to cuts from Kanye West’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy to regain a sense of dignity on the drive back to the room. I am glad to say that the internal debate I’ve been having for the past couple months over whether that or Yeezus is the better masterpiece has finally been settled: it’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. That album is simply too perfect with it’s onslaught of catchy hooks and intricate beats leaving a misstep nowhere to be found and making enjoyment inevitable. That’s something that can’t be said of Yeezus, since you really have to be in the right state of mind to get down to that album.
In a possible blasphemous move, I’m going to go ahead and compare Kanye to James Joyce just for the hell of it. May I inform you, I have been awake for almost 20 hours straight now and am a bit unsure of what’s real anymore. Joyce is best known for his magnum opus Ulysses, a classic novel centered on the journey of one man through Dublin, Ireland during an ordinary day that reflects on a smaller scale the trials of Odysseus in Homer’s The Odyssey. There is nothing exceedingly bad to be said of this book, much like My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. He followed this novel up with Finnegan’s Wake, a largely experimental affair that abandoned convention and was really hard for the majority of the general public to get behind, much like Yeezus. In some circles, the two novels may spark a similar debate as to which does a better job at proving Joyce’s literary prowess, and since Joyce is heralded as an artistic genius, I think it’s truly a testament to what a tremendous artist Kanye himself is that we (or at least I) are repeating this discussion with his work.
I’m out. I hope you don’t hate me.