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Lollapalooza 2013: Josh's Day 1 Recap

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  • Anthony Souffle / Chicago Tribune

Quotes of the Day:

“...I’ve got muscles, I’ve got veins...” - some aggro, shirtless dude

“...have we even seen any bands today...” - some random girl who passed behind me


So the day got off to a good start when the transit card vending machine was out of order at the Rosemont CTA station, saving me $2.50. All right! I then headed to the Subway on Jackson Blvd once I got into the city, where I was chided for getting a hammy sammy without any veggies (vegetables are overrated, folks, it’s all about the fruit). Unfortunately this pit stop took longer than I expected and I missed San Cisco’s set time. However, I did end up catching the tail end of Deap Vally’s show at the Petrillo Music Shell, a pair of chicks who play some seriously hard rock. The one song I did see them play was pretty kickin’, making me moderately satisfied.

 

I then moseyed around for a bit until it started raining. At that point I took some shelter under the trees outside The Grove. Unfortunately after awhile, Twenty One Pilots came on, so needless to say once the rain stopped, I was out of there. Luckily, Father John Misty was about to start up, so I made my way over to the Lake Shore stage to see him perform.

 

Upon arriving, some lady noticed my shirt referencing Milwaukee and asked, “Have you ever heard of What Made Milwaukee Famous?” Naturally, I responded with, “Yeah. Schlitz, man. Schlitz beer.” This was an incorrect answer. Apparently it’s a band from Austin, TX that takes their name from the Jerry Lee Lewis tune. I guess they even played at the fest in 2008. Go figure. But back to Father John Misty; it’s no wonder the guy decided to leave Fleet Foxes to go out on his own. He absolutely owns the stage and knows exactly how to work an afternoon crowd. He came out with a beer in his hand and a cig in his mouth and proceeded to put on the most apathetic, yet entertaining performance I’ve ever witnessed. Using sarcastic hand gestures while singing, trolling the notion of commercial music festivals and the acts they often choose to play at night versus the day while he spoke in between songs, and just not really caring at all as he did his thing strutting across the stage shaking his hips, it was an extremely admirable way to go about things. Some crazier highlights were him taking a stuffed unicorn head from the crowd and using it as a prop to make out with before finally sending it back whence it came, including a little disco dance break at one point, and going absolutely ballistic at the end of the set, wrapping the microphone cord all over his body while singing and throwing pieces of the drum kit everywhere while he wasn’t. When it was all over I was just in awe: the man was honestly as physically entertaining as he was sonically. One might say that a man crush was developed this particular afternoon.

 

After spending the next half hour unsuccessfully trying to meet up with a friend, I hit the Bud Light stage just in time to catch the second half  of the Band of Horses show. They were about as good live as I expected them to be, included the honorable cover of a J.J. Cale song, and wrapped it all up with an absolutely rocking rendition of “The Funeral,” a thing I’ve wanted to see live for awhile and am glad that I finally did. Once a lot of people expectedly filed out, I made my way to the front to get prepped for Queens of the Stone Age.

 

This is I concert I’ve wanted to go to for the past ten years, but never really thought I’d ever have a chance too. Thankfully, it was everything I could’ve hoped for and more. As soon as they hit the first note, you had sweaty stoners moshing all over the place, the sign of any good show. They played most of my favorite cuts and it was loud and brash, just like I always hoped it would. Frontman Josh Homme was utterly the coolest, new drummer Jon Theodore most definitely proved his chops, and bassist Michael Shuman waved those monstrous bangs in the air like he just didn’t care. In one concise statement, it was perfect. Yet, possibly the most interesting part of the performance was the ASL interpreter. This lady was going HAM, absolutely selling the sign language translations when they were needed and mimicking the way the instruments were being played when there were no vocals. It was almost like watching interpretive dance in a sense, proving to be a very welcome distraction.

 

I decided to cap my night off at the Red Bull Sound Select stage with the main event: The Killers. However, once I reached the expansive mud pit, I was witness to a scene that was the epitome of what I don’t like about festival crowds. A bunch of young adults squeezed into an opening in front of one lady despite her best efforts to keep them out. She decided the best course of action to take was to get catty and pour beer on the open toes of the ladies who cut. This started an extremely passive-aggressive argument, while the lady’s boyfriend just stood there trying to figure out what he was supposed to do in this situation. His decision was to simply stay out of it and avoid any possible repercussions that may come from dealing with these unpredictable women, which turned out to be a mistake. When it was all settled, if you can use that term when the animosity in the air was still pretty pungent, the dude got scolded for not coming in to support his girlfriend when she needed him most. I can’t say I blame the guy for not thinking it was worth it, but I do blame him for proceeding to admit that. I would’ve either stopped it before it started or gone with, “Sorry, but it looked like you had that whole situation handled perfectly from my perspective.”

 

Enough of the digressing though.The Killers are a band I didn’t really like all that much when they were coming up, but still respected. Yet, after they really proved themselves with two platinum records and I happened to catch Live from the Royal Albert Hall on Palladia one day around the time Day & Age came out, I began to come around, mostly for one reason: Ronnie “Papa Smurf” Vannucci, as Brandon Flowers likes to refer to him. Being a student of the drums, I am always able to point out tremendous artistry when I see it, and this guy has it. If you really take the time to listen to their hits, most of them are driven by this man’s bombastic skin-beating, and the band just wouldn’t be the same without him. I also believe that he’s one of the main reason’s why their live show is so compelling. He’s almost like a modern day Mick Fleetwood, going crazy in the back while the rest of the band calmly does their thing. And now that he’s grown a beard, started to lose his hair a bit while still growing it out, and added a massive gong to his kit, the comparison is even more palpable.  I mean, besides the frontman Flowers, he’s the only one with any real stage presence. I can’t tell you how excited I was when he belted out a lengthy solo, and when he was finished, stood up and threw his sticks to the crowd. He knows just as well as I do that he may be the most important, cohesive component to this group.

 

Moving on from my other man crush, the concert itself as a whole was pretty amazing. They opened with their oldest and still most recognized single “Mr. Brightside,” putting the crowd deep in the band’s pocket for the next hour and a half right at the get go. Flowers was getting the crowd involved and pandering to them at every chance possible too, including a rendition of “My Kind of Town” near the end. With his endearing man-child mannerisms, he forms an almost symbiotic relationship with the audience, as he feeds off of them just as much as they feed off of him to give The Killers’ performances the energy they’re known for having. There was really never a dull moment, especially when Bernard Sumner of Joy Divsion came onstage to assist with their version of “Shadowplay.” This was seemingly a foreseeable appearance considering New Order had the stage earlier. And I can’t go without mentioning the presentation of it all. The lights, lasers, and pyrotechnics were all just so sick that I might’ve actually enjoyed watching all of that stuff without any of the music at all.

After that, It was time to head on back to the Rosemont Super 8. It was everything you could ever dream of: a trashed fence surrounding the parking lot, questionable structural integrity, and a crazy Spanish movie depicting a neo-nazi breaking some dude’s back while a sultry seductress spoke in a different room somewhere for some reason waiting on the TV.

That hinge is about to fall off.

We're calling this Hobo Alley.

Just check out that view.