Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Lollapalooza 2008

The Raconteurs at Lollapalooza 2008While we were back in Wisconsin, I took the opportunity to venture south to Chicago with my sister Jane for the Lollapalooza music festival. We attended the August 1, Friday night shows, arriving at about 6:00 after fighting four hours of terrible traffic, to find that the show was sold out. Who'd a thunk it?

Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks at Lollapalooza 2008Since I wasn't sure if anybody else in my family even wanted to go, I didn't bother to buy tickets in advance, and with Mom's borderline useless dial-up Internet connection, which wouldn't even load the website's front page, it would've been almost impossible to purchase and print the tickets. So we located a scalper near the box office and paid his fifty percent premium. But it was worth it!

Radiohead at Lollapalooza 2008We entered the grounds just as the Raconteurs were taking the stage. We listened to their set as we waited in line for beer and chicken fingers, took some photos, like the first one here where you can barely see Jack White on the side screens (click for a larger view), and then wandered down to the stage where Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks were scheduled to perform (second photo). They're not too well known yet so we were able to get a close place to stand. If you're not familiar, Stephen Malkmus was the front man for Pavement, the ground-breaking alternative band from the early 1990s, best known for their album Slanted & Enchanted. His new band's first album, Real Emotional Trash, features the most innovative guitar work I've heard in years, reminding me of early Cream or maybe Santana but with a looser, jazzier feel. I didn't realize it was created without a pick, using just his fingertips, until I saw Stephen play it in person. Amazing.

Glowing Lollapalooza sign at Lollapalooza 2008To see Radiohead (third photo), the night's headliner, all we had to do was turn around and walk about a hundred yards, which still put us about a quarter-mile from the stage, in the middle of an ocean of fans. I have never seen so many people in one place before. It was like taking two good-sized football stadiums and emptying them into a vast parking lot. There were easily over a hundred thousand people there. The organizers must have been expecting a huge crowd because the sound system and light show were geared for enjoyment by people far from the firsthand experience. Radiohead was everything you would expect from the most popular alternative band on earth. They performed for two solid hours, playing songs from every one of their seven albums except the first, Pablo Honey. They sprinkled songs from their current album In Rainbows throughout, holding off until near the end for my current favorite, "Bodysnatchers". What a show!

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