Sunday, August 04, 2013

First and Last Lollapalooza

On Friday, Mordecai and I got daring and we went to Lollapalooza to see New Order, The Killers, and Nine Inch Nails. I'm not interested in crowded outdoor concerts, nor the culture of Lollapalooza or music festivals, but these were bands he and I wanted to see. I had never been to a Lollapalooza (Mordo has back in the day when it toured) and figured I may try it out with at least two bands I'd want to see; plus, who knows what the future holds that may or may not be commensurable with outdoor summer concerts. So, as I said on Instagram, we went, and the kind of crowd was a bit much for me, but I was glad we went.

I don't know how people do Lolla all day long, for three days long, and with alcohol and/or drugs. I was exhausted after waiting for New Order, waiting for The Killers, standing for The Killers (damn the people around me, who I thought wanted to just chill and sit on the side, but in fact were just waiting for the opening guitar riff of "Mr. Brightside" to begin the set so that they can jump and scream and sing along, thus forcing me to stand up to see anything). I was so tired this morning I couldn't even ask Blathers to assess my fossils for me so I could at least see if I had to donate any of them to the museum or if I could just sell them. When I can't bring myself to continue playing Animal Crossing, that means means I am tired. Ooh wee!

If you don't know, I'm big on pop music, with a penchant for big voices and R&B sounds. I basically grew up on Mariah Carey, Boyz II Men, and production by Babyface, LA Reid, and Jermaine Dupri, and later Diddy. (Now that I think about it, Mariah's divorce and thus venturing away from her innocent pop star image and towards R&B and hip-hop influenced my tastes a great deal. Perhaps I have Da Brat and their friendship to thank for this, or Tupac winking at her that one time or whatever it was.) I largely avoided "alternative" music throughout the 90's and beyond. (Oasis was an exception, and I'm only a little better now thanks to Rock Band.) I encountered cable at my grandmother's in late grade school (a.k.a. junior high in other regions) and I would get so angry that MTV and other channels (and people--remember The Box?!) would waste my precious cable time airing videos of Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit" and basically any other band made of white men with guitars. So, two relevant things here--one is that I did not care to see NIN (I am now fully aware they are not really a band, and that his sound far from relies on guitars) and so I thought it was better for me to see The Killers, and the other is that even though New Order has a dance-y quality to their music (I guess it's called "new wave"), their music seems largely centered on instruments I don't historically care for. Put another way, I don't know if the elementary school Kei would approve of or could accept older Kei loving New Order and demanding them to produce the soundtrack of her biopic.

I don't know a whole lot about New Order (I know how they formed--good premise/story!), but I read that their old bassist Peter Hook either quit or was asked to leave the band as of late, and that they continue to bicker amongst each other. In some interview, Hook described the current formation of New Order as a mere "tribute band," pandering to the masses by just playing old hits. Whether this was a mere "tribute band"or not, I loved hearing the hits live, my physical body completely enveloped and saturated by the music, reminding me that music is not just meant to be heard but also physically felt, as though you could put your hands out towards the speakers and touch what comes out. I'm so not used to live music that I sometimes wonder if I might literally be blown away or moved by it. Bernard Sumner sounds just like he does on the records, but his voice doesn't really match the power of the music. It's like another instrument, and I think this is what makes their music soundtrack-like and what I like about it.
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New Order performed at 6:15, The Killers at 8:15. I wanted to be closer to the stage for New Order, so we were in what might be the third row if there were such civilized things. We got there around 5 or so, after eating chicken tenders, ice cream and a big donut, so people must have been there since the prior band (Crystal something). It rained that morning, so the grounds were muddy.
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Mud tries to suck you in! We were next to a big mud pit, behind two guys who were clearly there to see New Order. (Older, crabbier.) I'm sure there were other New Order fans up there with us, but a lot of the people were there to see The Killers. Their plan seemed to be to stand and wait possibly more than four hours to see Brandon Flowers up close for another two hours during the show. There was a young crowd fine, even happy, to be in the mud next to us, but they got a little rambunctious during some of the most popular songs like "Blue Monday." Among the rather mellow crowd (either because New Order fans are relatively so, or because Killers fans don't care for New Order or their music), one drunk and wild girl started flinging mud in the air, which landed in some people's faces. Her boyfriend was more aware than she was and tried to do some damage control, but he was at least two or three selves short of the job. At one point they yelled, "It's Lollapalooza, people need to lighten up!" which was probably true, but still, "read the air," as we say in Japanese. No one else wants to dance with you and have mud in their faces on your account. They got a warning from the bouncers, who were obviously born to bounce. But during "Temptation"--the soundtrack to all great moments in life whether you're an active participant or not--she flung a little mud in the air again and the people got upset again and got the bouncer to bounce for real this time. She and her boyfriend were lifted above the barricade and were escorted out, to I don't know where. I felt kind of bad for them--my guess is that they were there for The Killers (dunno how that blasted girl was going to make it another few hours)--but this ain't no Woodstock. On the other hand, I don't know what the crabby folk were thinking, coming to an outdoor concert with a lineup of New Order and then The Killers. I was so mad that the two older guys in front of us left after the girl was escorted out! One of them was particularly pissed because he got a decent amount of mud on his face (I almost gave him my towel to wipe his face off was a Yokohama Baystars towel...I shoulda done it...but...maybe next time I'll be a better person...okay there will be no next time, sorry, sir). They should have stayed but I guess they were out of patience and tolerance. Perhaps they were there longer and had to endure other tests and were low, whereas I had just gotten started and was high on patience. I got some mud flung on me, and I was honored since the girl was removed, but I was most of all amazed that I only got a few specks of mud on my white skort (yes SKORT, get one here! As seen on Fashiontoast!). I'm almost thirty and can wear white! I can do it!
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Even from where we were standing, they were pretty tiny. The keyboard lady looked like a bored substitute teacher. The bassist seemed to be proud of his role in the music and perhaps his relatively new job. Bernard did a little footloose-type dance during "Bizarre Love Triangle"! 
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Melodica! (Sorry about the hat. But I remember it was a Detroit Tigers hat!)
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Whoever performed on the Red Bull stage got a nice view of the city's famous skyline. You can see the Sears Tower, also know as the Willis Tower, or also known as the "Williams Tower" according to tourists who asked us on the street how to get to it. Mordecai said, "The Willis Tower?" "The Williams Tower." "Oh, okay, just walk down a few blocks to Adams, then turn right and walk down a few more blocks, you'll see it." 

Mordo and I split up afterwards so he could see NIN and I moved over to the side where civilization resumed. I had a far but decent view of the stage; I was mostly concerned with seeing the screens because there was no hope in trying to see little people on the stage. A group of kids, who I initially thought were in the 8th grade or so but turned out to be at least 15 or 16 suddenly appeared and I heard too much of their non-interesting conversations. They were more talking at or to each other rather than with, though I suspect many 12 to 18 year olds do this to varying degrees. One girl, Bridget, got some beer from some older friend who was not part of the group; once the older girl disappeared, the redheaded girl within the group immediately asked Bridget "what that was all about?!" So they were quite innocent, which I could tell by their system of protecting their cash and iPhones in Ziploc bags. Jake wouldn't stop talking about awesome he experienced first hand, including the best concerts he had attended where he was in the VIP section for Phoenix? (is that the Sophia Coppola husband/baby daddy band?) and it was his 15th birthday, it was so awesome. One girl was upset about not being able to enjoy some performance because nearby people were rude, so she had to leave. "I can't even talk about it, I'm so upset about I'm about to cry." That was sad to see, more so than the people who were upset at Mudflinging Girl, maybe because Rude People weren't called and kicked out.
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This was the best shot I could get; you can't even see Brandon Flowers clearly on the screen. He had a short-sleeved collared shirt on; I think it was a royal blue-ish color with white stars of varying size on it. He looked tan and fit and moved around a lot on the stage. 

These kids loved The Killers, and so did the solo guys around me who seemed to be lounging but suddenly got up, cheered, and recorded from their iPhones when "Mr. Brightside" started. The Killers just performed old hits, which I guess upset some people on Twitter who go to concerts for new music, but the sublimely huge crowd seemed to love it. Brandon Flowers' voice traveled well with the music through eight softball fields. He also seemed cordial, amicable, in his bantering to the audience. I realize it's part of the act, but he seemed appreciative of the gig. He sang "My Kind of Town"; I then realized I had never heard the song all the way through. And you know I thoroughly appreciated that he shouted out both the Cubs and the White Sox when he switched up the lyrics to the song! He also brought Bernard Sumner back out on stage for a cover of a Joy Division song. Today I revisited some of their music videos and forgot how much I loved "When You Were Young" (featuring bucktoothed GACHAPIN), which was their last song of the setlist.

Some Friday and Saturday shows seemed interesting: 2 Chainz, The Cure...2 Chainz...The Cure...I don't really recognize any other names. But no, practically never again. I don't know who would have to be performing or headlining at Lollapalooza for me to go again, to put up with the outdoors and unruly people. I prefer seats, everyone sitting down and golf clapping, a clear view, appreciating sounds and stage presence from a safe distance. Maybe I should go to more concerts in Japan. I know some people go to shows to dance and sing and stuff; I am not opposed to all of that, but at a live show, I would just like to see the performance and observe. I am turning into Steve Harvey: "You ain't gon work my ass half to death! I came here to enjoy the show."