Chicago Sun-Times
Tuning in with Thomas Conner

A look at Lollapalooza's after-shows

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Obviously hearing some of the criticism from Chicago club land about freezing out the venues that present music here 365 days a year, Lollapalooza's promoters have expanded the number of sanctioned after-shows this year, with a sizable list following the jump.

Still, the controversy remains: Many local club owners, artist managers and fans say Lollapalooza's radius clauses are a major threat to the health of the local music scene for much of the year, ranking second only to the City Council's proposed promoter's ordinance as a threat for stopping the music.

Does one full-to-overflowing weekend make up for a serious hit on the clubs through the rest of the summer? What's your opinion?

FRIDAY

Gogol Bordello and VHS or Beta perform a DJ set starting at 10 p.m. at Metro.

Brand New and Manchester Orchestra perform starting at 9:30 p.m. at House of Blues on the main stage while the Whigs and the Blakes perform on the Back Porch stage.

Mates of State and MGMT play starting at 10 p.m. at the Double Door.

Black Lips play at 9 p.m. at the Empty Bottle.

Rogue Wave and Dr. Dog play at 9:30 p.m. at Schubas.


SATURDAY

Broken Social Scene and Yeasayer perform at Metro starting at 10 p.m.

Bloc Party, CSS and Does it Offend You, Yeah? take the main stage at House of Blues starting at 9:30.

Battles, Foals and Magic Wands perform at Double Door at 10.

Flogging Molly, Smoking Popes and Black Joe Lewis & the Honeybears play the Congress Theater at 9.

Okkervil River and Octopus Project play Schubas at 9:30.

Margot & the Nuclear So and So's and White Lies play the Empty Bottle at 9.

There are as yet no after-shows announced on Sunday -- nor any in other local clubs such as the Hideout, Martyr's, Reggie's or the Bottom Lounge. Stay tuned.

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10 Comments

Y'know, Jim, I fought you on this point before, when I was under the Lolla spell. But everything that I felt was well-done in '06 was done horridly in '07. First of all, the sound inevitably sucks, unless you have a fully acoustic band (like Nickel Creek, who, for all their folksy boredom had quite a bit of charm last go-round) or an enormous ork-pop setup like the Polyphonic Spree (and besides, the Spree rarely do a bad concert). But for the most part, the sound is awful, and it bleeds unless you're up close. God knows I would've loved to actually hear some of Yo La Tengo's vocals last year, and I really wasn't that far away from 'em.

So yes, indoor shows are much preferred because the sound is better, but let's just talk about the scheduling. I, for one, would like to see Wilco AND Rage, since both have Chicago-ish roots; same goes for NIN and Kanye. It seems particularly unfair because this Wal-Mart musical "extravaganza" has simply stereotyped the people who go to these fests, as if, because you like harder-edged stuff like NIN and Rage, you can't like hip-hop or folk-rock. The main reason I decided not to go this year was because I knew they'd pull some kind of crap like that. In fairness to the promoters, the general person who will get a kick out of Lolla is your average 21-year-old frat boy, meaning they have limited musical tastes; but there are few music fans who would be particularly happy with this arrangement.

And then there's the undercard. When I went two years ago, they had some outstanding acts playing down the bill -- notably Austin popsters Sound Team, who put on one hell of a set. But, with the exception of Common versus the Flaming Lips (I chose the Lips, but it was only by a hair), I was able to see everyone I wanted to see because the stages weren't overloaded and overbooked. This year, everything seems booked wall-to-wall. I'd love to see what Jeff Tweedy would do on the kids' stage, but that'd be impossible if I wanted to see the Go! Team. Battles would be great to see, but not against Lupe Fiasco. Et cetera, et cetera.

Now, there are those who will say that you could split those sets up by seeing half and half, but that, too, is nearly impossible. First, most stages fill up with people by 3:00. If you want to actually hear with some decent clarity, you have to get to the stage sooner. Couple that with the fact that the stages are on either side of Grant Park, meaning you're usually about a good half-mile away, meaning it'll take an extra 10 minutes or so to get to where you want to be -- and by the time you've gotten there, the show is over.

I used to say that the biggest bonus was the cost of the concert. But that's not actually a bonus anymore. It's not a "vibe" concert like Summer Camp or some of the other fests, where most of the bands coalesce to create a particular sound for the weekend. It's a "food court" fest, where you can get fries at one place, a sandwich from another, and a shake from a third -- but it ultimately leaves you feeling awfully empty. I'd much rather pay to see the bands I'd really like to see than pay for bad food, watered-down drinks, and crappy sound. Having seen two of the Wilco Winter Residency shows earlier this year, I can rest assured that those types of intimate concerts, not the outdoor festivals, are the best places to see a band one truly loves.

Jim, with regard to after-shows, the Supersuckers are playing Sunday night after Lollapalooza at the Abbey Pub. They are terrific live, and I'm hoping to muster the energy to go see them after a long weekend of rocking out in Grant Park.

I went to the "original" fest. It was called "x" fest / lollapalooza.

At the time, it was Janes, NiN, Iced tea, Souxisie, Living Colour. Maybe 7 bands or so the first few years??

Who really wants to see all this corporate garbage?

I mean 100 bands??

Actually, Jim, the Taste is probably better, as far as music is concerned, than Lolla. And honestly, I can't say I'm completely against outdoor fests. Like I said, I saw the Lips at Lolla two years ago; I saw them again over Memorial Day at Summer Camp. Now, I hate bitching about fans/concert-goers, because concerts are supposed to be about the music, but there was definitely a more sinister vibe at Lolla. I don't know if it's the corporate sponsorship, or maybe the fact that it's held in a big city, but Lolla just does not feel good.

And Ralph's totally right. Seeing Jane's Addiction when Perry wasn't completely corrupted and addled, as well as NIN, Living Colour, and the Butthole Surfers in their prime, would've been awesome. Would they ever do an eclectic lineup like that again? Doubt it. And even if they did, there would be so damned many stages that you probably couldn't see half of what you'd want.

Out of curiosity, Jim, are there any outdoor festivals that you do recommend? Besides Pitchfork, obviously. I've said before, and I'll say again, that despite the jam-band-iness of its origins, Summer Camp has turned out some good lineups in the last few years (this year had the Lips, Girl Talk, the Roots, the New Pornographers, P-Funk, and Future Rock).

Geez, you guys sound like a bunch of whiners! Now, I don't consider myself some kind of Lolla apologist, and I do have a few bones to pick on their approach and I was not impressed at all by their interview with Jim. But, in going for the Big 3 national destival vibe (trying to compete w/ Bonnaroo and Coachella), they are making some decision, which I like to call the "make your festival" approach. They put the choices in front of us, and we create the festival using what they give you. But atleast we have the CHOICES.

Sure, I'm a little bummed I won't get to see Wilco this year. This year, I might also miss some of the Gutter Twins set. And I am going with Broken Social Scene this year instead of Lupe. I hope it works out. In 2006, I did not make the best choices with 30 Sec to mars (ugh) and Matisyahu ( really just wanted a good spot for QOTSA). Last year, I stayed put and saw Kings of Leon, MMJ, TV on the Radio, and Pearl Jam just blow my mind and give me concert I will not forget.

In the end, with the "make your own festival" approach, I mostly have myself to blame. The organizers came through with giving me the options, now I just need to make the right choices. If I don't, I can blame MYSELF (and the performers too) if it doesn't go completely right. If there are sound bleeds, unfair food costs, bad security, I blame the organizers. Am I just talking crazy here??

GA:

In a word, yes.

Just kidding.

In seriousness, you make a fair point that a lot of the choices are our own. But I think you undermine it by saying that Lolla has "to compete w/ Bonnaroo and Coachella." I don't think that's true at all. Lollapalooza was a popular concert festival long before Bonnaroo or Coachella existed -- there was even a Simpsons episode based around the Lolla concept, and everybody knew they were talking about Lolla. It essentially had the benefit of name-brand recognition. But when it was revived in '05, instead of trying to do something different than Coachella and Bonnaroo, the organizers basically copied the template of jamming as many acts as possible in. They could've tried to keep the aesthetic of the old fest (i.e. anti-corporate, pro-independent, progressive causes, etc.), which would've been staking a claim all their own. They didn't do that. Plus, when you consider the non-competitive clause the acts have to sign, that means that somebody who wants to see acts who're playing at the same time probably won't get to do it.

Out of curiosity, GA, have you not noticed sound bleeds? I know last year I was really bugged during sets by Aqueduct and the 1900s, both of whom were on small stages, by overlap with the big stages (almost ruined Aqueduct's awesome "As You Wish" for me). I had the same problem at the Manchester Orchestra set two years ago. If you want to see minor-stage shows, you have to put up with bleeds. Or have you not noticed this?

And lastly -- how awesome were TV on the Radio last year??

One more aftershow (that's really a pre-festival show, I suppose) for Lolla weekend to add -
Thursday night at Metro - The Black Keys, Magic Wands

Good points, fair enough. But they are going for BIG, too. And Lolla back in that time was the biggest festival around. I think with a formidable festival like Pitchfork around, that idealogy already exists. Pitchfork offers a very focused and affordable festival. Good on them. But there is this huge space between the farther left of Pitchfork and the right-of-center mainstream of American Idol-esque mainstream pop. I think the festival movement is the alternative to the current mainstream of the top 40. While I see Pitchfork as an alternative to the alternative of Lolla. We need the bigness of Lolla to counter what's currently charting and brainwashing in little kids heads. If Pitchfork were to book one of the enormo bands that headline Lolla, it would probably spoil their vibe, so I think we need both. So, both of our 2 local alt-fests are crucial. I do agree, that the original Lolla vibe could be better realized, but it's a really strong festival, and it just wouldn't be the same if it were not in Grant Park. And we know economically that the sponsors have to pitch in. As long as they don't interfere (ehem AT&T). But I take your point on Lolla mimicking the other 2, for that reason it's probably a 3rd place behind Coachella and Bonnaroo. But there is the point that the Lolla spirit is what drove the creation of Bonnaroo/Coachella.

Yeah, TVOR was great. I think the collective vibe was outstanding particularly on that day last year. The quality of the show and vibe showed me this is a festival that deserves to stay (can't say the same personally for 06, but hey, I "chose" my festival). I unfortunaltely missed Iggy Pop, but the string of KOL through PJ rocked me to my bones, with the cultural zeitgest of all of those tens of thousands of fans together being something that this city really needs and would be missing if we didn't have the festival.

Jim, I do think that the "after shows" at least help some of us fans. I for one cannot afford to pay for all 3 days of the festival or even 1 day. Yet, I can afford to see two of the bands that I most want to see (Broken Social Scene & Yeasayer). Even though I had to make a tough decision because I would also love to see Battles, I appreciate that some of this lower-mid level talent was available to see at an affordable price.

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This page contains a single entry by Jim DeRogatis published on July 25, 2008 2:22 PM.

Concert Preview: Lollapalooza 2008, planning ahead was the previous entry in this blog.

The Uptown Theater: Could things finally be resolved on Tuesday? is the next entry in this blog.

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