Mark’s Lollapalooza pt.1 [PICS & VID]
I recently spent a week out in Chicago for the 2014 Lollapalooza. Yowza, that was a busy friggin time! My heads still spinnin. Re-live the experience with me won't you!?
Last Wednesday, I flew out to the windy city for this year's Lollapalooza. Turns out there were just under 150 acts in three days. That's a lot of music. PLUS I would take in various other shows before and during the festival. My sched was bananas!
Over the course of the week a lot would happen. I would get upgraded from "media" to "all access", witness possibly the best set all week ten feet away on stage, get pics with people I was told I couldn't take pictures with, live off of energy drinks and granola bars, and wrap up the week with a charged phone.
Bring on the music and the busy-ness! Let's make some action!
Those Cons were brand new before Lollapalooza. Brand new. Let's take the journey of their destruction shall we?
My actual trip there was fair and uneventful. Although the girl I sat next to from JFK in NYC to CHI I would eventually bump into at a club in downtown after seeing an Interpol show. We didn't talk too much. I was sleeping when we landed and the harshness of the land woke me, understandably, and I slightly jabbed my elbow into her arm. A slight brush really. She was cool. Turns out she was an editor at SPIN magazine.
That's a nice thing to see entering your hotel isn't it? Chicago is so cute!
My room at the Blackstone Renaissance was outstanding. Wonderful and comfortable room, even though I wouldn't be there much. There was a TV screen IN the mirror in the bathroom. Nutty! Well, looking out my window I could see the fest grounds. The first area would be the EDM, electronic dance music stage. In the next field beyond that was the field for the Samsung Stage, which was one of the two main stages at Lollapalooza.
I had some time to visit some record stores while I was in CHI, so I ventured out to a few spots I've heard good things about. First up Reckless Records in town location. Their punk selection was nuts. 95% of the bands I've never seen or heard of before. Lotta local and area stuff which was cool. Prices were just ok. Cool store though.
Next up, Dave's Records! Yup, you guessed it, that's the big D behind the counter. Cool shop. Lotta vinyl. ONLY vinyl too. He prides himself on that and I ain't gonna whine about it. Found a couple cool pieces to bring home. Of course, he didn't have any XXL Dave's Records t-shirts. Oh well, more reason to drop some lbs!
Hey what's this?!! Sweet! Portland represented at Dave's. Nice to see. I didn't buy it though. I already own that record of two defunkt Portland heavy music greats.
Haaa, we're surely in Chicago! You don't see this record much out here!
That first night I was there, I went out with some other radio DJ's from around the country and our good friend Risa from Beggar's Banquet (matador, xl, rough trade and 4ad records). We had dinner then went to see one of her bands, Twin Shadow at the Metro. Twin Shadow mixes alternative with dark 80's and a touch of soul. George is the singer and it's really all him. He is Twin Shadow, but has a band too. Ace dude. We talked about Maine. He went to his first concert IN Maine at the Civic Center. A girl brought him and he was all psyched up for it. We joked about how awful the band was and he just remembers hating it. We won't add any negativity to this post. So we'll leave it at that. Bottom line, everyone seems to have some Maine connection. Pretty cool. I drank a bit with George and friends.
As we jumped in a car to take us back I noticed we were a block away from this legendary joint! That was cool to see.
The next night, I was lucky enough to see Interpol play a set at Thalia Hall in downtown Chicago. They played some excellent stuff from their soon to be released new record, El Pintor. This show was stellar. Paul Banks has one of the best voices in alternative music. I was hoping to catch up with keyboardist Brandon Curtis, formerly of Secret Machines, but it t'was not meant to be.
Hey, I was standing next to Michael Shannon though! Great actor and a musician too I found out. He was digging the Interpol set with great interest.
Ok, Friday rolls around and it's time to do the deed! Lollapalooza had arrived!
Got bikes? There must have been space for hundreds of bikes. Lolla was prepared!
Grant Park is a really cool area. Of course it's jammed packed with kids in tank tops and head bands for the next few days, but I tool a minute before entering to enjoy it's beauty and balance of nature and art.
Got my 3 Day Media Pass and it was all thumbs up! Now, where are the rules!!?
Ok... I'm In! Here we go!
The Lake Shore Stage is one of the "medium" sized stages, but for the 3 days it presented some large acts like Young The Giant, Manchester Orchestra, Bleachers, Bear Hands, Chvrches and many more.
About 1.5 football stadiums away and directly across was one of the two main stages, The Samsung Stage. This would house Eminem, Outkast, Kings of Leon, Cage the Elephant and Broken Bells to name a few. When this stage was done rockin, the other stage you just saw the Lake Shore Stage when then kick in and vice versa.
Back in the other direction on the complete opposite side of the grounds was the other top stage, The Bud Light Stage. This pic is cool cause this is prob that most empty that area ever was. Lorde, Skrillex, Arctic Monkeys and many others packed that stage for 3 days. Tens of thousands would watch acts on this stage just like the Samsung stage.
I know, a lot of them right? Well this was taken early. Impressive as it is wait til we revisit this scene later on. It will look a lot different. Trust me.
For the 3 days, I had access to the Media Tent area. Acts would come through and do their radio, TV, web or print interviews here in this section. We had some power, coverage in case of rain and an endless supply of Red Bull, mineral water and granola bars. This area would be a hot bed soon enough. I spent many hours here talking with artists and hanging out with good people in radio from around the country.
Saw this outside the media tent and almost flipped. I figured its Lollapalooza! Maybe this is a surprise act? I wouldn't mind seeing half of Queen. I held in my excitment for about 6 hours until I found out someone was using the truck for their gear. That Queen tour was done so just the truck was there. Or was there more....?
Most people who needed pictures for their publications or a backdrop for their TV interviews or web footage would stand here with whoever they were interviewing.
The Media section kicked into gear real quick as artists starting showing up left and right to meet with those in radio who had interviews scheduled. I was one of those in radio. I had many lined up. Are you read for a quick view of those? Here we go...
JAGWAR MA is from Australia. Cool band that blends soul and trippy hip hop brooves with that vintage Manchester, UK dance style. Cool dudes.
This is Lauren who sings for the electro-alterna-pop band CHVRCHES, from Scotland. Their song, "Recover" was one of the Top Spins of 2013 on Spinout last year. She's small.
Dan Kessler is the guitarist and founder of INTERPOL. I think they're one of the great alternative bands in the world. I like Joy Division alot and they have continued that great sound, but in their own way. With a bit more of a punch and a fuller sound. Great songs too. Well, jeez, you know these guys! I don't need to say all this to you! Haa. I was lucky to see them twice last week.
PHANTOGRAM had one of the biggest songs of the year this year with "Fall in Love". I met the pair who have been around longer than just this year. They have 4 Ep's and 2 albums now to their credit. They're making a new record right now with Big Boi from Outkast. Could be cool. And the answer is yes, she's as gorgeous as she looks in this picture.
Brad Shultz, guitarist for CAGE THE ELEPHANT. Him and his brother Matt have become leaders of I think one of the best bands in the world. I've seen them now in Boston, Omaha, Chicago and of course Portland. They kill it everytime and they're super ace dudes too. I will spend more time with them this week as you'll see in my follow up reports!
Before I interviewed BROKEN BELLS (aka Danger Mouse / who's produced everyone in the world at least once and was half of Gnarls Barkley along with Shins frontman James Mercer), I was told by their reps no pictures, no video. Not for anyone. That's a lame start right? I'm gonna get to meet Danger Mouse! Damn! Well I thought I'm gonna at least sneak this pic in then to prove I got to see him.
Eventually I talked with the guys for an interview piece. We got along fine. Danger Mouse and I joked a bit about Maine and lobsters. Of course. At the end I said, "thanks guys, I appreciate the time. She said no pics, so I'm gonna let you guys move one to whatever you have next". Danger Mouse says to me, "It's cool dude, we can do a picture with you, it's cool."
It was funny it got quiet as we took the pic. Their reps came over and Danger Mouse was like, "it's cool. it's cool. No problem" and shooed them away. The other radio stations were all looking like, "hey whats up with that". I walked away and grabbed myself a mineral water and drank that s... like a boss!!
It was cool to chat with Britt from SPOON for a bit. Killer band and their new record so far sounds fantastic. We talked about that new record, Maine, Bob Mould and yes, lobsters.
Josh Rosenfeld was with Phantogram when we started talking. I didn't realize right away who it was until he said his name. Josh and his label partner started BARSUK RECORDS by putting out the first record by Death Cab For Cutie (they would eventually put out the bands next 3 records and some Ep's too). From that came one of the great current indie labels in America. They've also put out music from Ra Ra Riot, Rilo Kiley, Aqueduct, Harvey Danger and They Might Be Giants to name a few. My conversation with Josh, too long to even partially mention was perhaps the most chill, awesome talk I had all week. We talked about a lot. One of the nicest, real deal people I've met in the music world in many years. It's awesome when the best times aren't necessarily the ones you'd expect to be the best.
That's Lorde sitting in there. When she walked in the room stopped, it was crazy. I was like ok ok she's big and stuff but damn... chill a bit. Other radio people called her, "L". Say what you want about her, but man she did own it when she came into the Media Area. She met with just like two or three outfits for interviews. She did walk by me later with about 7 people in her entourage escorting her around. As she left, she kinda smiled at me and winked in a cool way. Like a "hey, isn't this all kinda silly" type of acknowledgement. Yes indeed mate! It was a cute moment. Anyways, I can't think of many artists I would refer to by one letter. I just don't have it in me folks. That's a level of cool really no one deserves especially after one record.
Remember those porta pottys earlier. The empty ones. This was mid-day and you might not be able to see it, but EVERY ONE of those are 8-10 people deep lined up. That was just one area too. There were more of them on the other side of the grounds.
Here's some video action. Quick spin around the main grounds of the Samsung and Lake Shore stage area. Nice CHI-Town in the background too!
This above was about 60% of the crowd for Eminem. You can't see the other 40%, which seemed to go on forever. It felt like I was about... two and a half blocks from the stage to give you some perspective of where I was here. Bonkers.
This was the EDM stage. All electronic from noon to 10pm. I mean, to each their own but I'd walk by this stage and then again later and I felt like I was hearing the same music being pumped out. That's lame for sure, BUT that crowd was ALWAYS packed. I mean like thousands and thousands there, everytime someone was pushing buttons. The crowds were nuts and the lights and energy was insane I'm telling you. Just look at it! Many of us might not be into that bag but I'll tell you what... the vibes and response and support and fun coming from that crowd was bigger than just about any rock show I've seen in years. Years! Rock people, you have to get off your asses. Watch that above again and do something, please. We need more of a rock n roll fire happenin!
Look at that. Ugh. Anyways, it was cool. And Sad. There was a lot of girls dancing in sexy ways too. That's always an acceptable thing.
Well, that's it for now. Was that enough? Haa. Can you take some more?
Cause there's plenty more where that came from. Part 2 is coming very soon. More people, more bands, more music, more Lolla, more Chicago, more more more!
This right here was my last pic of day one! I would then ignore all porta pottys and retreat to my room for a few hours before starting it all over again!