Tag Archives: Balkan Beat Box

A Lazy List of Things I Learned Because I Attended Lollapalooza in 2010

19 Aug

  1. What the Church of the SubGenius is, thanks to resurgent sci-fi nerd rockers Devo.
  2. That I still like The Strokes’ third album First Impressions of Earth. And that they are immaculate live musicians.
  3. That Mavis Staples is from Chicago.
  4. That Jeff Tweedy‘s son has his own band.
  5. That Jamie Lidell is as captivating a performer as anyone (without even considering that he’s a gangly white soul singer from across the pond).
  6. That concert-goers are willing to dress up like Green Man from It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia in 90-degree heat.
  7. That Wavves drummer Billy Hayes didn’t really enjoy playing in Jay Reatard‘s band. And that he smokes weed out of Bud Light cans.
  8. That I should have seen Balkan Beat Box because they are awesome.
  9. That Raphael Saadiq produced D’Angelo‘s “Untitled (How Does It Feel?).”
  10. That if you lend an Australian lass your lighter, she will fill you with vodka-soaked kiwi (this may not be consistent throughout the land).
  11. That the Ike Reilly Assassination is as beloved a Chicago band as…well they are beloved.
  12. That reading people’s band and gimmick t-shirts makes you dizzy until you get to this one…
  13. That the Tribune Tower, the host building of the Chicago Tribune newspaper, includes actual stones from the Taj Majal, The Alamo, Abe Lincoln‘s tomb and Jim Belushi‘s house.
  14. That paying $5 for 12 oz. of beer feels awful. Paying $9 for a lobster corndog feels goofy. Finding Australian girls with vodka-soaked kiwis feels just right.
  15. Between Spoon, The Strokes and Arcade Fire, the state of music is in pretty good hands.
  16. MGMT has in fact become a good live band.
  17. Music festivals are as frustrating for what you miss as they are amazing for what you see.
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Lollapalooza 2010

12 Aug

Spread out over 110 acres of downtown Chicago, Lollapalooza 2010 provided concert-goers with three days of indie playlists come alive, eccentric food options, The Strokes first show in America in four years, X Japan’s first ever show in America, Lady Gaga stage-diving nude, Jeff Tweedy playing guitar for Mavis Staples…and Devo. What else happened?

LARGER-PALOOZA

With the 25-acre expansion this year, one common complaint was that the stages were too far apart from one another. The upshot of the expansion for Lolla was the ability to sell more tickets (which they did with 240,000 total folks this year), and for attendees it was the ability to move freely with a little room to wiggle. There was no difference in distance between the two main stages, though the ancillary stages seemed further out of the way and even obscured.

MINI TASTE OF CHICAGO

Spearheaded like a taste of a Taste of Chicago, the world’s largest food festival, the food area was bigger and better and drew considerable attention for its creativity. Malnati’s for $3 per deep, delicious slice was the best deal, but more creative choices were available: Chef Graham Elliot’s truffle fries and lobster corndogs were the talk of the town. Elliot curated the operation known as Chow Town, which featured more than 30 restaurants. This didn’t even include the Farmer’s Market, which provided the organics (fruit, cheeses, espresso, breads, pastries, etc.) from select cafes, bistros, farms and bakeries.

SOUNDS OF DAY ONE

California’s lo-fi fuzzpunks Wavves kickstarted the festival with drummer Billy Hayes (formerly of Jay Reatard‘s band along with bassist Stephen Pope) proclaiming, “We smoked out of a Bud Light can before we came up here…I’ve got early onset Alzheimer’s.” Wavves played a focused set filled by Hayes’s hilarious commentary in between songs (for example, spotting a Ben Stein look-a-like, referencing “Win Ben Stein’s Money,” dedicating songs to random audience members). The set included four songs from their debut album and seven songs from King of the Beach, including the title track and “Take on the World.”

Regret seeing: Foxy Shazam, B.o.B., Balkan Beat Box

Immediately after Wavves finished up, Los Amigos Invisibles (David Byrne’s Luaka Bop Records) threw a party like they owned the place. For one, they performed at the festival’s most aesthetically pleasing stage known the Playstation Stage. The stage is the only permanent one in all of Grant Park known as the Petrillo Music Shell and is an outdoor amphitheater with amazing sound and history (opened in the 1931, FDR made his Democratic nominee acceptance speech there).

If Wavves didn’t wake everyone up, Los Amigos did the trick. The Venezuelan jazz-funk rockers put on a show that forced every white person in attendance to do what they do most awkwardly: dance. Chulius, a true lead singer, was an energetic showman with a versatile voice, sweating, interacting and getting panties thrown his way. Armando Figueredo manhandled the keyboard and synths (literally, as he finished the set humping his keyboard on the stage) while Jose Rafael Torres maintained the funk on bass. The real highlight was Jose Luis Pardo‘s guitar work, whipping tight solos into shape and playing lightning fast rhythms (very reminiscent of Talking Heads’ riffs). His Sideshow Bob afro was almost as entertaining. For laughs and sincere appreciation, Los Amigos played snippets of 90s dance classics like “I Like to Move It” by Reel 2 Reel and “Get Ready for This” by 2 Unlimited.

Regret seeing: The Walkmen

Mavis Staples, known to many as Martin Luther King‘s favorite singer, known to some as the beautiful woman who helps sing “The Weight” on The Band‘s Last Waltz. Mavis Staples’ voice is harder these days, but still carries the gospel power in each delivered note. Staples’ newest album You Are Not Alone was produced by Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy, who was called out to play guitar on the title track, which he penned (he was to be summoned once again by crowd chants and then by Mavis herself to play guitar on Creedence’s “Wrote a Song for Everyone”). Tweedy and Staples displayed the diversity and history of homegrown Chicago talent.

To be continued…