Chicago / Lollapalooza days 1&2

The Beehive - Chicago

The Beehive - I used to work here...

Holiday time, and I’m in back the Windy City for the first time in over 10 years. I used to come out here regularly for work (as head office for Encylopaedia Britannica is here) and it was somewhere I really enjoyed coming. So 10 years later – what has changed? Will I still remember my way around? Do the Cubs still suck?
(answers being “not too much”, “just about” and “of course they do”)

Got in on late Wednesday night after a rather stressful journey (had a connection in New York that I nearly missed thanks to a phenomenally long wait at JFK immigration) and crashed – so it was a hot an sticky Thursday morning that saw me venture out and hit the shops, as usual I brought a half-empty case with me – so was good to wander round and pick up a few “bargains” whilst getting my bearings again. That night I met up with Vanda (who is doing an improv course over here) and her classmates – we hit a couple of bars including the famous Green Mill for a bit of swing music and dancing before heading off and watching an improv show. Lots of messing around and, for some inexplicable reason speaking German on the way back with Lynne.

Lolla – day 1
So Friday arrives and it’s time for the festival – and man, it’s HOT… I’ve come prepared though, factor 35 suncream and a silly hat. As Vanda is studying I’m on my own for most of the day – so I mooch around the various stages checking out bands.
First act up – Ruby Jane, young female singer/songwriter with a sort of country rock thing going on. Usually I steer clear of music with fiddles, but she was very good – so I’ll have to reconsider that policy.

The Vaccines

The Vaccines

Then, off to see The Vaccines whose very British, snide lyrics over some relentlessly catchy rythms and tunes went down well with the crowd (and with me).
The way the stages are organised is quite clever, there are two main areas, but each of those has two stages – so the second a band finishes on one stage it’s possible to walk a couple hundred meters to see another band start. So I did just that to watch The Naked and the Famous – I didn’t know this lot at all, apparently they are from NZ. Happy sounding electropop, but not really my thing so I wandered to the other end of the site (meh).
Grace Potter and the Nocturnals came on, and I didn’t really get them. Apparently they are pretty good, but the first 2 songs didn’t grab me, so I wandered off again to try and find some shade for a bit and cool down some.
I was very keen to get a pic with Tinie Tempah (if only to wind up Paul at work) but the lines at the autograph tents were HUGE and they were forcing you to buy stuff to have signed – and frankly that all seemed like too much effort.
White Lies were good, but I cut them short to watch The Kills and can say NOW I understand why people get excited about Alison Mosshart… 🙂
Vanda finally made it to the site, so we grabbed a bit to eat and then watched OK Go whose colourful suits made me think this is what Teletubbies live must look like. 🙂 They have a lot of very poppy tunes and were great, although their BIG tune (Here I Go Again… the one on YouTube…) they held back presumably so folks didn’t wander off. Well Muse were coming up, so sorry – we wandered off anyway.

So the headliners…. Lolla has 2 headliners each night, one at each end of the site – so the choice was Muse or Coldplay. Not really a question for me. They came on and did their thing – it was loud, singalong stuff. Matt seemed in mischievous mood and looked like he was trying to mess up Dom on drums. Still the noise, coupled with the view of the skyline behind us was a great experience.

Chicago Skyline

Never bored of this view

Getting out the site took a while – there’s no camping so 90,000 people need to get out the site and onto the streets so they drip feed people out by funnelling a lot of the exits. Only about a mile to walk back to the hotel, which was fine until I get to the top of Whacker Drive and realise there has just been a road traffic accident and a girl on a bike has tangled with a truck. She was clearly dead and the truck driver was being comforted by a passer by. The emergency vehicles were just arriving, but it was all too late. It was a rather upsetting end to the day – and is the reason this blog didn’t get written yesterday night. 🙁 Note – I read today about the accident, seems the truck driver was blameless and that the girl had lost balance waiting at the red light, fallen under the truck which then moved forward as the lights changed.

Lolla day 2
Started the day meeting Vanda for breakfast at 11th City Diner which was nice. Vanda is feeling bad as having invited me out here for the festival she’s missing most of it and won’t be coming at all today, ah well – I’ll amuse myself. Luckily the day is *slightly* cooler, there has been a bit of rain (which means a little festival mud) but the humidity is high.. sweltering!

Music Unlimited Stage

Music Unlimited Stage - Day 2

Black Lips were first up, not at all bad… On Thursday I had been tipped to go see Death From Above 1979 but I have to say they didn’t do it for me, so off I wandered and saw Big Audio Dynamite instead – they were good fun, and played all the hits so I stuck around for their whole set before walking to catch 2nd hald of Deftones. To be honest, they were a bit of a let down – they were having massive sound problems… (at least I hope they were)
Ellie Goulding did her very British pop act and was a hit with the crowd, “cos you’re making me smile quite a lot” and then I walked down to watch Cee Lo Green. Cee Lo was great – wearing an outfit that was simply spectacular (spiked shoulderpads) and with an all-girl backing band that were dressed straight out of a 70s exploitation movie. He belted out all his hits to a crowd that I think was feeling the heat, but did so with a lot of energy and humour.
Twat with flags

Here to ruin the view for people behind... Fortunately not so many of these selfish idiots here, let's hope they get banned before it gets like glasto where you can't see a thing

Lykkie Li from Sweden was great – and had packed out one of the smaller side stages. Great songs that I’ll be buying when I get back. And then it was decision time for the headliner…. My Morning Jacket or Eminem. Marshall won… the show begins and we’re all invited to witness Eminem’s RECOVERY. I’m not a huge rap fan, but have to say that he’s clever – and has a back-catalogue bigger than I would have thought. I’m also the only one in the crowd it seems who doesn’t know every word to every song… 🙂 The set is loud and slick – Marshall doesn’t smile much through it, but it’s good to see him back after a long break. Eminem, it DID feel empty without you…

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