Lollapalooza 2007 got off to a sad start.
Not 10 minutes into the first act of the first day, The Fratellis, someone behind us asked the question that, if not on everyone’s mind, was certainly on mine: “Where’s Beatle Bob?”
A festival just isn’t a festival without Beatle Bob’s manic dance moves, primarily made up of snapping his fingers, rolling imaginary dice, pointing, grinning and, when the music hits just right, the occasional leg kick and twirlaround. He’s a whirling dervish in a mop top and sport coat, and we needed him on stage.
“I heard he died,” another voice said.
And while the music on stage did not stop, in mind it did that movie trailer trick in which the record stops and the needle scratches the vinyl. This can’t be. The Beatle cannot be dead.
I did the only thing I knew to do: I danced a mournful dance in memory of Beatle Bob.
I enjoyed the rest of the Fratellis’ set, but not nearly as much as I would have had The Beatle been Bobbing along on stage. After the performance, I drifted across Grant Park to see Son Volt, knowing their melancholy brand of rock/country would probably best suit my mood.
And then, at 2:08 p.m., the figurative clouds figuratively lifted, and I literally danced and shouted and began a mad texting spree to anyone who might be interested and even those who weren’t.
Oh, it was official. Lollapalooza 2007 could now commence to rocking.
Unfortunately, the next bands playing were Jack’s Mannequin and The Polyphonic Spree, neither of which inspire much rocking (or interest) in me, although I have to admit I enjoyed the few songs I heard by the Spree. At the very least, they seemed to be having a good time, despite the immense heat and their black military outfits.
Really doing what we can to make the rock begin.
Not feeling much love for Sparklehorse or moe., Katie and I opted to leave the park in search of food. I knew of just the place, having talked about the greatness of the pizza and wings for the past year. Exchequer (although I will only refer to it as Excelsior) serves without a doubt the best pizza and wings I’ve ever had, so we made a quick trip up to Wabash for a small pie and eight wings.
Having satisfied my hunger (and momentarily stopped my near-constant praise of Excelsior), we headed back to Lolla for The Black Keys, a two-piece blues band from Akron, Ohio. A larger-than-expected crowd showed up, but we secured good spots near the sound booth, and it proved to be one of the better performances of the weekend.
We skipped Femi Kuti & The Positive Force, although their African tribal gear and dancing was infectious, causing me to want to dance as we walked past their stage. We milled about for an hour or so before heading back to catch part of Ben Harper’s show, only to wind up leaving early from a combination of boring music and aching feet.
Note: We arrived the day before and spent the better part of the afternoon, evening and night tromping around Chicago, visiting as many stores as possible on the Magnificent Mile both before and after enjoying the best steaks either of us had ever eaten. But after all that food, shopping, walking and, of course, tromping, we were exhausted and paid the price on the first day of the festival. I’m not complaining, though, because I finally found the red jacket I’ve been looking for and ate a cupcake from the Hershey store. In addition to the food at Excelsior, the Hershey store cupcake from last year was high atop my list of Favorite Things from Chicago and Lollapalooza, Food Category. It did not disappoint, and neither did the chocolate truffles we also purchased.
Really, I think this whole trip was just an elaborate ruse to allow myself to pig out on various foods because now that I think about it, I ate like a champ all weekend. It’s a good thing we walked about five miles a day at the festival or otherwise I wouldn’t have fit on the airplane back to Lexington.
Other notes from the first day:
• On our ride to from the airport to the hotel, we managed to get into a cab that featured neither English nor a working air conditioner. As I sweated through my clothes, I texted this to Cory, whose simple response said it all: “Welcome to Chicago.”
• There were no major fashion trends this year, unlike last year when almost every other person was wearing one of those Castro hats that are popular with the kids and the young crowd. At one point, we tried to count them all, but we gave up after realizing that would occupy most of our time. Plus, we also saw a bearded guy that looked like the original Castro, and we feared a little bit for our safety.
And while not exactly a new trend, this year, I spotted a bunch of Chuck Taylors, which should pretty much be the official shoe of Lollapalooza. Of the 200,000 or so people estimated in attendance, I’d bet that 199,981 of them had on Chucks.
I bought my pair on Tuesday. I’m so ready for 2008.
Also, it appears Ray Ban Wayfarers are making a big comeback, as we saw them on several faces and noggins throughout the three days. I like those sunglasses and really wish I could pull off that look, but I just look ridiculous I them.
• There seemed to be more marijuana smoked this year than at last year’s festival. Granted, there was plenty of weed floating around in 2006, but it seemed to be mostly at the night shows and even then, it wasn’t all around us.
This year, though, it started early and often at shows featuring young crowds. I was a bit shocked to catch a whiff at Matt & Kim. Not so much at Ben Harper, The Roots and Pearl Jam.
• In searching for information on Beatle Bob, I found this: www.myspace.com/beatle_bob, which now means I have a new friend.