Bri Blahg… Giant Heat Stroked Lollapalooza Wrap Up

10 08 2009

by Brian Phillips (@BrianBlahg)


And that’s it. Lollapalooza 2009 is history. We saw a little of everything this weekend. I swear it was down right chilly Friday. It was raining I know that. Saturday and Sunday were different stories. We got a good lather going by the end of the weekend. Lollapalooza adjusted though. Yesterday the Chicago Fire Department brought in a truck with a giant fan on top to spray mist. This ain’t a bad town if the fire department has a damn misting truck. I’m going to roll through some highlights here. I’m one man though and there’s so much I missed. I saw quite a lot too.


I raced to the BMI stage just in time to catch a wisp of April Smith. She’s somethin’, and a mean dresser too. Smith was kind enough to take us on a tour of the site seeing as how we just got there and all. April received as much as she gave in the form of Lobster Corn Dogs.

After watching nine year old Yuto Miyazawa play “Paranoid” by Sabbath on the Kidzapalooza stage a late Portland, Oregon band Hockey tried to make it work on The Playstation Stage. Unfortunately the power went out and they couldn’t get through their first number. The men were good sports in the media area later and told us about how Bruce Springsteen doesn’t pay attention when you meet him.

L.A. by way of New Orleans rappers The Knux and I destroyed the entire hip hop industry in five minutes thank you. During our mid afternoon Friday confab we shook our fists at mix tapes, guests shots, auto tune and crappy music journalism.

Brits White Lies dropped by a bit later. I love a band who can introduce themselves to the world with a single called “Death.”  White Lies said it got their biggest response Friday afternoon. I believe it. Everyone is going to die after all. For instance I’m eating potato skins and drinking Harp in the hotel bar right now.

A man who should by rights be gone is Perry Farrell. His death cheating days are over now though, and he faces mortality straight up. Farrell looked great and LeAnn Rimes even better as Lolla’s most unlikely couple came together with some School Of Rock honor students for “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around” and “Here Comes The Sun” on the Kidz stage. What parent wouldn’t be proud as Farrell turned to the band and said “don’t fuck up.” I’m sure he’s said the same thing to Jane’s Addiction. Perry said later though that Jane’s were getting along famously no thanks to Trent Reznor.

Friday interviews in the can, hip hop clichés set ablaze, Dan Hoffman and I filled our pockets with media center beer and hit Depeche Mode’s headline set. You could say they were forefathers of plinky dinky snyth pop or something I suppose, but they didn’t seem to much care. Instead they gave us an energetic, robust set high on the energy and cool visuals. Front man David Gahan has had his substance issues, and he’s making up for lost time.


Kings of Leon's Caleb Followill

Due north we turned. I didn’t want to leave D. Mode but I love Kings Of Leon so we had to share ourselves. I’m glad I was there in time for a soaring “Sex On Fire” and for K.O.L. to revel in their hard won mass adulation. I’ve spent a few years now wondering why America didn’t embrace their own. Seeing the masses digging The Kings Friday I can see they’ve been taken into their own country’s bosom and such.

Friday Shit Bag Awards:

Band That Sucked On Friday Just Like They Suck Every Other Day:

Crystal Castles

Band That Blew Off Their Interview With Us And Were Seen Later By Our Friends Drunk:


Band That Every Freelance Photographer Got Great Photos Of In Direct Disproportion To How Horrible They Are:

Crystal Castles



Living Things' Lillian Berlin

Stepping outside Saturday we quickly learned that it was going to be a different day. The rain and chill were in Canada where they belong and we got nice and sweaty.

Living Things bass player Eve Berlin was to sit with us first on Saturday morning. Perhaps he was still canoodling with Kate Moss though and missed his appointed time. It’s a good thing his band rocked or my puny, impotent rage would surely have made no damn difference either way.

Chairlift dropped by at noon. I try to be honest with bands, and give them my often fevered impressions. I told Chairlift that their song “Planet Health” made me think of Huxley’s “Brave New World.” The fetching Caroline Polachek gently corrected. The song it seems is inspired by the absurdity of public school health classes. I like that better.

After Chairlift and Living Things voices told me I needed to see Canada’s Constantines. By God they were great as I outlined here.

After being knocked sideways by Constantines I stumbled over to Kidzapalooza only to find it over run by fellow adults all agog at ten year old blues guitar sensation Quinn Sullivan. His manager Buddy Guy (yes that Buddy Guy) joined for a ridiculous guitar showdown on “Me And Buddy Guy.” Remember the name… Quinn Sullivan.

Returning to press row or as I like to refer to it “the place where they have free beer and chicken” Glasvegas brothers James and Rab Allan seemed less than impressed with their Mercury Prize Nomination. Nothing wrong with taking a bit of credit, but I’m not going to force it on you. More satisfying to them was playing a show with U2. It’s nice to have a choice in such matters.

Our final Saturday interview appointment was the tiny and fetching Swede Lykke Li. Miss Li warns that all ex-lovers will become a song.

Interviews wrapped I ducked out for No Age and was alarmed to find guitar player Randy Randall seated with his arm in a sling. Seems Randall had a separated shoulder. The kids helped him through by jumping up and down during their, as always, spirited set.

Rise Against ripped it up for their hometown crowd and warmed up thousands of Tool shirt wearing sweaty people. Tool on the other hand? I got what I expected.

Saturday Bands I Wanted To See But Couldn’t Awards

Los Campesinos!
Joe Pug
Blind Pilot
Ben Harper



Bat for Lashes' Natasha Kahn

Sunday was back loaded with interviews and frontloaded with plenty of time to see some shows. Thank God.

Bat For Lashes were amazing. The temperature on the Vitamin Water Stage was stifling but Natasha Kahn forged on dancing against the heat and even conjuring the wind during a frightening “Siren Song.” Miss Kahn seems to have some sort of connection with other worlds. Her performance is a glimpse for us mortals. I for one am better for the trip. Did I say Bat For Lashes were special? Just in case I didn’t…… If you found “Fur And Gold” a great start for her, you’ll really love “Two Suns.” I hope you’ll enjoy my pleasant chat with Natasha too.

Chicago folk bluesman Joe Pug spent a few moments with us back at press row. NBC’s Brian Williams reports that Pug is very cool. I agree. Can’t wait to hear his debut lp.

We wrapped our interview schedule with Raveonettes (new album coming in October) and Airborne Toxic Event. The LA band were in high spirits after winning over the crowd with a energetic set and free bottles of water hurled into the parched masses.

Finishing our interview slate for the weekend, I had just enough time to catch Lou Reed on the other side of the park. Lou made us wait…. He was at least 15 minutes late. Early on it felt a bit shaky, but by the end the 67 year old Reed was thinning the crowd with a “Metal Machine Music” style breakdown. I loved it myself. Out of the din the band pulled together the Velvet Underground classic “I’m Waiting For The Man” and the crowd pleasing “Walk On The Wild Side.” I’d like to personally thank Reed for hitting the harrowing “Waves Of Fear.” Kids contemplating a career in drug addiction should be required to listen to that song. Literate, feisty, unflinching. That was Lou Reed today just as he’s always been.

I had no trouble choosing Jane’s Addiction over The Killers for the weekend capper. Arriving for Jane’s I found the wonderful Band Of Horses finishing their hour. Problem was Jane’s Addiction were well within ear shot. Blame it on Lou Reed being late if you must. I rather admire Band Of Horses for getting it all in. I hope it doesn’t prevent them from being invited back. As for Jane’s Addiction I don’t recall ever seeing them so focused. Maturity really has done them all good. “Three Days,” “Ocean Song,” “Been Caught Stealing…” I could go on. They sounded quite vibrant and the dancing powdered wig girls were a nice touch too.

Sunday Awards

More Bands I Wanted To See But Couldn’t

Kaiser Chiefs
Neko Case
Dan Auerbach
Portugal The Man
Passion Pit
Alberta Cross
Friendly Fires
Snoop Dogg

Band I Wish I Couldn’t Hear Clearly From Interview Area

Vampire Weekend




2 responses

12 08 2009

I still cant get over the fact that this year Lolla lineup was AMAZING—Ive been watching everything I can on it since I missed it…argh..Luckily Fuse is having their awesome highlights show on Lollapalooza so i can catch The Killers and Kings of Leon and more woohoo!…all the info here:

13 08 2009
Joe Pug makes it on NBC’s Brian Williams’ iPOD « 2009 Festival Season

[…] at Lollapalooza we had a brief moment to sit down with Chicago singer/songwriter, Joe Pug. We had a chance ask Joe […]

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