Review: Lollapalooza, August 1 -3, Grant Park, Chicago

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Best Banter: Smallpools

“Do you guys ever google yourselves? Yeah? Well we google our band name all the time, and mostly we’re the first thing that comes up, but the second most popular result is these articles against keeping killer whales in small pools. So we dedicated a song to them – this song is called killer whales.”

Best outfit: Phosphorescent

Matthew Houck had a dilemma on his hands on Saturday – he was playing Lollapalooza and he He was literally on his knees, in tears, at 2:00pm, fifteen minutes before his set was to start, with tears streaming down his face at the impropriety of having to play shirtless. Then hark! His eyes alighted upon boxes of his own swag. Hey man, where better to pub your band than at a music festival right? You were rocking that shirt Matt.

Worst set ending: Benjamin Booker

Booker played an amazing set, after which he smashed his guitar to bits on stage (I’ve never actually seen anyone do this – it was impressive but also what a waste of a guitar.) He then whipped the broken guitar out at the unsuspecting crowd, and managed to hit a girl in the face. He then proceeded to walk off stage like it was any other day of the week while she dripped blood from her hairline. Maybe give a heads up if you’re planning on maiming your fans.

Band with a the single that does them the least justice: Kongos

These guys blew me away. I showed up early on Sunday and figured I’d check Kongos out because I always hear ‘Come With Me Now’ on the top 40 stations, and it’s okay, so I figured why not? I don’t know who decided that was going to be their single – ‘I’m Only Joking’ is 1,000 times better and it’s 1,000 times better live than recorded which is saying something (for those of you keeping track at home, that comes to a total of ‘I’m Only Joking’ live being 1,000,000 times better than the recorded version of ‘Come With Me Now.’) See these guys live if you have the chance.


Most expectations met and exceeded: Bleachers

Jack Antonoff is:

A) Enthusiastic to the max
B) Adorable
C) Catchy as hell
D) All of the above

It’s hard to overstate how high my expectations were for Bleachers. Two years ago I bought my ticket to Lollapalooza almost entirely for the benefit of seeing Fun. That was the year a thunderstorm shut down the festival for a couple of hours, and long story short I ended up falling asleep in a bathtub, Lolla reopened their gates and I missed Fun. So essentially all of my expectations for Fun. from two years of waiting were resting on Jack Antonoff.

On top of that, it decided to pour down rain thirty minutes before their set. As I was waiting in the pouring rain waiting for the Bleachers set to start I was thinking to myself ‘this guy’d better be the equivalent of rainbows and butterflies and chocolate cake and justice combined to make this worth it.’ He is. Jack Antonoff started out with a whoop and ended with a stage rush. In between he had the crowd’s hands in the air the entire time as he played ‘Rollercoaster’, ‘Wild Heart’, ‘Reckless Love’, and of course ‘I Wanna Get Better’. I actually just went ahead and ended the fest with his set at 1:30 on Sunday because I knew it couldn’t get any better than that.

Winner of Lollapalooza: Jon Batiste and Stay Human

Nothing’s better than those couple of hours in the morning between 1pm and 3pm at Lolla when you can actually move freely in the fest and get close to the stage. I was waiting for PAPA to start their set at Palladia around noon when I heard the strains of joy, peace, harmony, love and a badass tambourine coming from the Grove stage. Nobody in the world can resist those sounds – I literally sprinted over to the stage and came upon a rainbow of six men wielding a saxophone, a pianica (essentially a mouth keyboard), a banjo, a tambourine, and a tuba and looking like they were having the time of their lives. Jon Batiste and Stay Human were by far the most fun set of Lolla. Playing to a very small group of us, they killed it with their single “Express Yourself” and a fantastic rendition of “Killing Me Softly,” and finished by climbing off the stage into the crowd (and into my heart) for a samba line finish. Nicely done gentlemen.

Song Of The Day: Benjamin Booker – Violent Shiver

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Punky, bluesy and full of raw energy, the single “Violent Shiver” from Benjamin Booker’s eponymous debut album to be dropped on August 19th is like a copious helping of the finest hot sauce in musical form – just the thing to perk you up even on the blandest of days, to make you sweat just a little, and to make tears come to your eyes.

He’s on tour right now (and for any of you Chicagoans lucky enough to have that magical and coveted Lollapalooza wristband, he’ll be taking the Grove stage at 12:50 on Saturday). Give “Violent Shiver” a listen – it’ll be the best 2 minutes and 46 seconds of your day:

2013: A Recap in Poem (By Celeste)

Posted on by Celeste in Year End Reviews | 1 Comment

Let me tell you about 2013.

January started us off strong with a cultural nail biter in the works,
Everyone was super worried – from the Canadians to the Americans to the Spanish to the Turks.
We all waited with baited breath and held many a group discussion,
And breathed a collective sigh of relief when Gerard Depardieu became Russian.

February was our month of love and romance,
Time to go all out and give love a chance.
But the American politics got a lot less sexy, on the contrary,
Because Clinton stepped down and instead we got Kerry.

In March Robin Thicke blew everyone away with some lines that were blurred,
The rape-y song he tried to defend (but c’mon, we all know what we heard).
The opening was clearly stolen from Marvin Gaye,
And he never could quite explain the sketch factor away.

In April the internet played a couple of jokes and pranks as well,
And Google tried to convince us all it had a screen you could smell (fun fact – later that month the Japanese actually did it – what the hell?).
We tried to keep it light this month, but it’s only fair to mention,
That the world got a little darker when it lost another Henson.

May was a time of rest and renewal,
And for the most part we stayed on the down low to refuel.
But some physicians and surgeons got testy,
When Angelina Jolie announced she’d gotten her double mastectomy.

June brought us another reason for Twitter to brag,
When Facebook decided to join the cult of the Hashtag.

July in Chicago was not too shabby, as it sports one of my favorite fests.
Belle and Sebastian, MIA, Toro Y Moi and Metz.
Music abounded (although the lightning storm ousted Bjork),
I’ll always have a special place in my heart for the hipsters of pitchfork.

August also was a good month for Chicago as a city,
We assembled to see The National, Mumford, Father John Misty,
Haim, Alt-J and of course St. Lucia,
Damn, I do love Lollapalooza.

September was a low point for the year,
There were floods, and fires and car wrecks I fear.
Maybe we can all just agree to forget and stonewall?
Because something unspeakable was done to a wrecking ball.

In October the American government stopped working,
But more importantly, everyone got into their Miley Cyrus costumes to go twerking.

In November Disney released a film called frozen,
It was set in Norway so it did lack Leiderhosen,
But it did sport TWO Disney princesses, sisters, beautiful and fair,
And after seeing it, Halley and I decided to bleach our hair.

And now it’s December – how the year does fly by,
So to the 2013 motto ‘Let’s make it happen’ it’s time to say goodbye,
Time to drop the go-getter attitude, and instead live it up regal,
So get ready to embrace 2014, “trashy but not illegal!”

Happy 2014!

Lollapalooza Day 2 Review: St Lucia, Family of the Year, Haim

Posted on by Celeste in Concerts | Leave a comment


Editor’s Note: These are Celeste’s notes as she takes to her annual Lollapalooza trip.

Best swagger of Lollapalooza Saturday: Not even a contest – St Lucia brought the swagger in spades. Frontman Jean-Philip Grobler rocked out in a pair of pink pants and a paintball splattered button-up, and amped up the crowd to the point of frenzy – definitely the most intense dance party of Lolla Saturday. He also had a great rapport with the crowd – getting everyone to holler the “Don’t Go, Don’t Go Away” chorus of We Got it Wrong.

Most distracting backdrop of Lollapalooza Saturday: The National. Why? Why you gotta have something that looks like a screen saver from the 90’s blazing in the background? You all are talented enough that I’m happy to just see you create music – no swirling discs of color needed.

Best sister trio of Lollapalooza Saturday: Haim Haim Haim. Also Haim. This sister trio has so much obvious sibling love going on you can’t help but smile. What’s better than seeing people who look alike having fun? Seeing three talented people who look alike having fun on a stage. Also best crowd interaction: some very enthusiastic girl threw her bra onstage with “I will always support you” written on it.

Overall winner of Lollapalooza Saturday: A fight to the death between Family of the Year and St. Lucia but I’ve got to give this one to Family of the Year for the sole reason that they were an utter surprise. When the bassist of this band boogied (and I don’t use that term lightly) onto the stage with his long hair, his jorts and a beer in hand I thought the group was going to be an absolute mess. They weren’t. They were a surprising refreshing delight. Family of the year had a folk/indie mashup vibe that fit well with the theme of Lolla Saturday (Lumineers and Mumford headlined) and while they played relatively early on, they drew a very enthusiastic crowd to the tucked away Grove Stage, and in the midst of a blazing hot day they created a shady cool refreshing oasis of sound. Their keyboardist also wins for her highlighter yellow hair.