10 August 2009

What a Weekend

I am seriously dragging as I start to write this, but I wanted to get some of these memories down before I call it a much-needed early night. This past weekend was probably one of my most fun and amazing weekends in a long time. Friday night, caboose and I kept it low-key and just went to Woody's Smoke Shack for some great BBQ, and we even pushed ourselves to finish it with a slice of rhubarb pie this time. Total gluttony, but delic gluttony. Saturday morning gave a little cause for concern because it was a bit overcast with some off and on sprinkling and we had big plans to go out on a pontoon boat on Big Creek with friends for Leslie & Nicole's birthday. Luckily, by the time we got our gang together and overcame a detour and a tire change, the sun was out and ready for us. It was a great time, very relaxing. Lots of sun, lots of sunscreen, and lots of laughs. We spent like seven hours out on the water and I enjoyed every minute of it. Once we got back I stopped in and hung out with Haley & Matt for a bit before calling it an early night so I'd be as fresh as possible to catch my flight on Sunday.
6:50 wheels-up time came early but I was SO excited to be making this trip out to Chicago. I've talked about getting Lollapalooza tickets for like five years now and this year I finally pulled the trigger and got a one-day pass for Sunday. I got into Chicago early enough to stop at my old favorite breakfast spot, the Cozy Corner, to fuel up for the day and then catch mass at St. Stanislaus Koska. It really felt good to be back in the city and without a car to worry about. No parking or traffic problems, just me, my backpack and the CTA. Lollapalooza was amazing. Completely and totally worth the ticket price. I hadn't been to a big outdoor show in a while and never to anything on this scale. The festival sold all 1 and 3 day passes (225,000) for the second year in a row. I did a pretty respectable job of catching all the acts I wanted to see. Luckily everyone I was interested in was on the south end of the festival. I was really impressed with how accessible everything was. The lines for beer, food, and bathrooms were all amazingly short. There was free sunscreen to use and free water to refill with (both of which were crucial). If you didn't see it on the news, the heat was oppressive & relentless. This website's got a great review of the day, but here's my super brief rundown of what I saw:
  • Ra Ra Riot - these guys were playing when we were just getting there and getting organized so we really only caught the last 4 or so songs. I have some of their stuff and I like it. Would've liked to catch more, but I instead chose to get a really good spot at the stage next door for... (setlist)
  • Bat for Lashes - Now I only knew one of her songs and her cover of Kings of Leon "Use Somebody" but I'd read a fair amount of buzz on this girl and wanted to check her out. It was GREAT. Her voice is like a "siren mermaid" according to my Lolla-partner, Guam, and that's a pretty good description. Her outfit was crazy awesome and she is super cute, but her performance made sure those were not the things that people were talking about. I will be purchasing her CD before the night is over. (video)(setlist)
  • Vampire Weekend - After a quick recharge and rehydrating, we wove a long ways up and staked out a great spot for the band I was most excited to see. I love nearly every song on their album ("Blake" drives me nuts) and their music is perfect for a summer party. They did not disappoint. We had a ball during this set. The crowd was great and the band was fun. Super, super, super. (setlist)
  • Passion Pit - This was hard. I hard to sacrifice the first half of Passion Pit's show so I could enjoy the full Vampire Weekend set. We hustled, as much as you can hustle among 30,000 or so people trying to switch stages, over to catch the last half and got there just in time for "Sleepyhead." Lollapalooza is known for having one mistake each year where they underestimate the following of a hot act. Last year it was Girl Talk. This year it was Passion Pit. They were on a smaller stage and the crowd was ridic, overflowing into surrounding areas and everywhere was just a massive dance party. caboose called it on these guys and I've been enjoying them a lot but hearing them live was a whole new level. (setlist)
  • Cold War Kids - We took this time to cool off and sit for a while (after some hilarious 'engagement' pictures by Buckingham fountain) but could hear their show and it was good, but not necessarily incredible. Love their music though.
  • Snoop Dogg - He's definitely got the hits and cranked 'em out, but it is not a type of show or performer that I can dig on too much.
  • The Killers - We found a great spot to watch these glammy headliners from, off to the right, up a slight hill with a great view of the stage and the sea of 40,000 or so fans. Although I thought they took a while to get going, they definitely have a good looking, glitzy show and their encore rocked. (setlist)
When the show ended, we filtered into the stream of 75,000 or so people leaving Grant Park and making their way across the downtown streets seeking transportation, or maybe food or booze. It was bedlam. Traffic cops, crossing lights and even oncoming traffic were powerless to halt the onslaught of the river of people. Getting a cab was out of the question, buses went by that looked like stuffed phone booths and when we reached the red line subway station it was crazy. There were a couple guys playing covers and people were dancing and singing along like they never left the festival. I'd love to know what those subway musicians took home in tips that night. I bet they made serious bank. When a train would come in the crush to get on was frankly a bit scary. We were more scrunched than we had been at any of the shows during the day. Some kid started singing the "We're the three best friends" as we're all smashed in and I just died laughing. Also, let me just say that the heat and stench that wafts out and hits you in the face when the doors slide open to an eL car packed with concert goers that have been sweating for 10+ hours is pretty formidable. But, we made our way away from the loop and after a shower and new clothes, Guam and I proceeded to go out and enjoy the air conditioning and beverages, and later, breakfast, offered by some bars in her neighborhood. It was a truly rock star day. Pictures on flickr.


  1. I give you an A for your weekend, especially the acts you chose to see. If you go next year I'm totally in!

  2. Wonderful summer experience. I didn't realize you had never been. Great effort to enjoy a great time.