Stranded In Stereo: Lollapalooza 2008, Part Two

Friday, August 8, 2008

Lollapalooza 2008, Part Two

When we last left our faithful blogger, he had lost track of his friends and took a fist on the chin during Rage Against The Machine. We pick up this Lollapalooza recap already in progress.
(photo by C. Bologna)

The first time Rage Against The Machine had to be stopped was halfway through “People Of The Sun”. I was able to look up on the big screen and saw a security guard getting the band’s attention to stop the song. Zack de la Rocha urged his brothers and sisters to look out and take care of one another, and that we all should take five to ten steps back to help those injured get out of the crowd. The same remarks would be made a song or two later, as more people needed to get out of the disaster. I saw people running by me on their way out of the pit. Some of them were the girls who hauled ass to run up past me at the beginning, who were now trembling in fear, a look on their face as if they had seen a ghost walking out towards open air. It seemed halfway through that people finally got their act together, rather, the group of people who wanted out got out so the rest of us could let out our urges and continue on without another incident. I was convinced and 24 hours later someone else rang my remarks: if there would’ve been another stop to that show, there would’ve been a plug pulled and a riot I would not have wanted to see. Thankfully, that did not happen. Instead, Morello wore a Cubs hat, de la Rocha urged Obama to pull troops out of Iraq immediately if elected, or he had some brothers and sisters he knew who would turn DC in to a war zone.
(RATM photos by C. Bologna)

They went a few minutes past their scheduled 10PM ending, but that was all right I guess since they were delayed here and there throughout. We would finally all find one another across the street from the main entrance. Gianni was one who actually walked out of the crowd at one point and watched everything from a distance. Chuck got pushed forward in a corner and was now doused in water, not sweat. His cell phone was done. We walked back to the metro, and people just walked right in the streets yelling and shouting as if we just won a war, and we sort of did. The Battle of Chicago took place on Grant Park that night and we came out victorious, battle scars and all. It was a sight I had never before seen, and I don’t know that I want to ever again. Gianni, younger than me, said of the crowd during the show, that he was too old for this shit. I concurred, but I’d be just as likely to put myself in that situation. Maybe even 24 hours after the fact?

(photo by C. Bologna)

Day Three was a breeze. Like last year’s final day, there was not nearly that many a band we wanted to see. We arrived in time for What Made Milwaukee Famous at 1PM and they concluded 45 minutes later. This left us two hours before Iron & Wine would take the stage. The shade was where you could’ve found us, eating food and just laying there sprawled out like people who were pulled out of the big game. I was bouncing back from a small bout of dehydration from earlier that morning, but was just about up to par. I also did not want my scalp to burn anymore than it already had.

When 4PM finally rolled around, and we had heard both the John Butler Trio and Amadou & Miriam played to packed crowds, Iron & Wine took the Bud Light stage. This was not what I wanted right then. People were dancing around, sharing the love like a damn Grateful Dead concert. I sat, face in hands, in and out of consciousness. Chuck summed it up bet when Sam Beam and his burly beard left the stage. ‘That would’ve been great if there was some pot and a couch involved.’ Songs seemed to take forever, I’m convinced was either 20-minutes long or just several songs connected by intricate segues. It was worse than Mason Jennings the day before, sadly.

At this point in the day, I was about to do something I never did. I referred to my Lollapalooza Official Program and I weighed my options. While the rest of the group went over to the Playstation 3 Stage for Flogging Molly, I just walked forward to stake out the best spot for us to see Nine Inch Nails later that night. I know Float inside and out, but I’m a fan. So I sat, dead center in front of the Bud Light stage, and just listened. I would later be told the crowd down in front for their set was just as bad, if not worse, than that of the Rage crowd from the night before. Who knew it was the cool thing to do, hurting people intentionally? I thought we had all grown up a bit, but I guess not.

Love & Rockets would take the main stage next, but would not play their biggest hit, “So Alive”. Perry Ferrell introduced them, I was mad. I had gone all weekend without seeing him, until that moment. Him smooching the members of the band that also made up three quarters of Bauhaus. So lame. I guess, without him we wouldn’t have the festival though. Daniel Ash had a silver guitar that shined as loud as he played. It even had a sticker on it that was the logo of the Irish band, Ash. I all of a sudden thought to myself, ‘they didn’t name themselves after him, did they?” Their hour-long set played for an eternity – I recognized “No New Tale To Tell” and that was about it. The last song went on for the majority of said eternity, equipped with three white creatures that would come on stage that were striped black that did a little dance. Gianni was convinced this was to keep our attention, but they then started to freak us out. They all sat, Zen-like and still, as the band held the same notes for a minute or so. They would then jump up, grabbing light bulbs that they used as mics, singing with the band. It finally ended and I couldn’t of been happier.

The next hour was painless. While watching the set up for Nine Inch Nails take place, The National played across from them. I sat, listening to them play all the songs they usually play. “Slow Show”, “Apartment Story” and “Squalor Victoria” never sounded better. They are another band who come off as a well-oiled machine that I could see play time and time again. The screens and lights were blinking and flashing tests of what we were going to be a part of. Chuck had a fake seizure; Gianni bit his nails in anticipation. Someone finally started a ‘fuck Kanye’ chant and “999,999” started to blare. It was time.
Josh Freese started playing the 4/4 beat that started “1,000,000” from
The Slip as each member joined in one by one before Trent Reznor took the stage. Dressed in black from head to toe, Reznor had the rock star stance. Standing ever so militant for the next hour and 45 minutes, his legs were spread apart just right as he marched the crowd through the classics and the rather recent. The crowd kept control until they launched “March Of The Pigs” and we all went in to a pogo-ing and shoving frenzy. I rather enjoyed it, though, as no one punched me that night. “Wish” caused the same reaction, as did “Head Like A Hole”. It was the latter that almost found me in a moment like the night previous. In front of me once again was an open pit of people running amok, and I walked right through it at one point to get that much closer to snap some pictures. A guy ended up running right in to me but that was it. A few more photos were snapped and I moved back to where I was. The stage show rivaled that of the Radiohead paranoia expose: the band was behind a screen at times, using its shadows to cast a net during some songs, while being in front of it for songs like “Vessel” and “The Warning”. They would then pull the front screen up to unveil a slightly different stage set to present some of the instrumental passages from Ghosts I-IV. The screens now portrayed images of desolation that fit perfectly with the songs that were the soundtracks for these landscapes presented.

The encore was perfect. After “Echoplex,” Reznor took a moment to show his gratitude for being there in front of a packed house, playing a festival that he was a part of during its very first incarnation the early 90s. He then apologized for his voice being shot, and went in to “Hurt”, a song that gave us chills and made me almost tear up for some reason. It was then in to the final song of the evening, “In This Twilight,” from last year’s
Year Zero. As the screen behind them showed the skyline of an unknown city, the band closed out the festival for the thousands in the north end of the park. And as they entered, they would exit member for member, each stopping their part, bowing and waving in gratitude, leaving only Reznor on the piano. He waved once more and off in to the night he went. Lollapalooza 2008 was over and ended on the right note, with easily the best performance of the entire weekend.
We walked out on Jackson Boulevard to more people chanting their disdain for Kanye and hollering in the streets again commenced. The Battle of Chicago Part 2: Electric Boogaloo was a success. We walked down the steps to get on the Blue Line once more, and headed back to our hotel. We were sore and felt defeated, but really it was us who were the winners in the end.

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