Lollapalooza 2008: Radiohead and shoulders

I had my doubts.

After consecutive summers of full-out rock courtesy of Lollapalooza, I just didn’t see how, despite the stellar lineup, anything could compare to the last two years. Sure, the main acts would be good (how can any chance to see Wilco be bad?), but the smaller acts left a bit to be desired.

I was wrong.

Oh, man, was I wrong.

Ready to storm Lollapalooza!

I sang. I danced. I yelled. I sunscreened. I sunburned. I hatted it up. I bandana-ed it down. I ate wings. I ate pizza (God bless you, Excelsior!). I made new friends.

And to think I did all of this with nary a single Beatle Bob sighting, well, it’s downright unbelievable.

The past two summers, my recaps have been filled with wacky misadventures, but oddly enough, nothing too outrageous happened this time. Maybe Cory and I are just too old and boring, but for some reason, the usual absurdity that seems to follow us kept a reasonable distance in Chicago.

So, instead of the epic blogs of years’ past (sorry, Tasha, but thanks for driving us to the airport), I’m offering just general thoughts on the festival.

Oh, and Toby Keith sucks. That has nothing to do with the festival, but it’s worth noting.

Day One

Suzy Brack and the New Jack Lords played Kidzapalooza, kicking things off with some blistering guitar work courtesy my friend (and Georgetown’s own) Brad Elswick. You can have the Slashes of the world, Heather. I’ll stick with Brad.

OK, that’s a total lie, and I’m really sorry, Brad, but come on, if Slash made me pick, you’d understand.

With a real-life rock star, Mr. Brad Elswick

While I caught the tot-sized performance, Cory ventured over to see Bang Camaro, a Boston-based group described as being like this: Def Leppard +10 lead singers + nothing but choruses – sucking = Bang Camaro. He was sold. Almost immediately upon arriving at the stage, he sent me a text along the lines of “Dude, this is unreal. You have to see this to believe it.”

Cory and about one-fourth of Bang Camaro

I managed to catch the final few minutes of their set, and I’m pretty sure their general mayhem pretty much melted my face. I absolutely loved it. I texted Aaron, who has a fondness for loud music, telling him I found his new favorite band. I later found out Cory did the same, so clearly Aaron has a definite taste in music.

While at that part of the park, I ran into Whitney Matheson, author of USA Today’s Pop Candy blog. She posed for a couple of pics and made small talk before scooting off to see more shows. (Note: she, too, was quite impressed with Bang Camaro; score more points for Whitney).

Just a couple of new kids on the blog … sorry, that was bad, even for me

After catching The Black Lips (good show, but all I can remember is the heat in the blistering mid-day sun), we headed over to see Butch Walker. I’d read about him, and he has produced/written for some big names (Avril Lavigne, Pink, Lindsey Lohan, Fall Out Boy and Pete Yorn). Plus, I heard an online cover of Bruce Springsteen’s “Born to Run,” and I was hooked.

Walker delivered one of the top shows of the weekend, belting out lyrically strong rock n roll that at one point brought on cold chills as he hit a passionate note in his final song, “The Best Thing You Never Had.” Cory and I both agreed he was the real deal, and I hope to see him again in a regional club.

Next up, Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy played an amusing solo acoustic set on the kids’ stage, never losing his wry sense of humor even when surrounded by toddlers. (See clips on previous post for more on Tweedy). One added bonus was seeing The Terrible Twos just prior and getting to enjoy a song called “Pizza and Chocolate Milk.”

Cory’s view for The Black Keys …

I caught part of The Black Keys, but the Lolla sound was sucky, so I left to secure a decent spot for Radiohead, who was still almost four hours away from taking the stage. Cory and I had gone separate ways, so I held out hope of bumping into him, but those dreams were dashed when the AT&T connection repeatedly failed. This became increasingly gyp when you realized we were about to watch performances on the AT&T Stage. Next year, guys, how about you spend your money on improved connectivity technology instead of fancy-schmancy rock festivals?

Bloc Party proved to be an entertaining hour of music, but I was more than ready by the time Radiohead took the stage at 8. By then, I had made friends with Becky and Natalie, two local Chicago girls, so I at least had someone to talk to as we waited for Thom Yorke, et al, to play.

All three of us – and the 74,997 others around us – were treated to a great Radiohead performance, complete with a light show, unexpected fireworks and awkward Yorke dancing.


5 thoughts on “Lollapalooza 2008: Radiohead and shoulders

  1. There is simply no way to explain what a perfect storm of crap that Black Keys show turned out to be. I’ve tried repeatedly to get into the band, but just can’t seem to do it for whatever reason. This was their chance to win me over… which didn’t happen.

    To the credit of the Keys, they can’t control the horrible sound, oppressive sun or giant afro in my face… but they should have tried. They should have tried.

  2. Cory’s view was hilarious.
    Um, saying someone produced for big names like (Avril Lavigne, Pink, Lindsey Lohan, Fall Out Boy and Pete Yorn) is stretching it a bit no?

  3. And if I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a hundred times.
    You may have had a good view of the concerts, but you are the most undeservedly tall man that has ever lived.

  4. Pingback: Lollapalooza 2010: Sorry bands, but it’s about the food « So … there I was

  5. Pingback: Lollapalooza: The Dork Knight Rises | So … there I was

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