Lollapalooza Day Two – Grant Park – Chicago, IL – 8-4-17

This is the day two truth or false recap of Lollapalooza.

Slothrust

…is my middle name.

FALSE

This grunge trio started a gloomy day with punk riffs and blazing blues-surf rock overtones. Lead guitarist and singer Leah Wellhbaum was a impressive. Check them out!

Skott

Endorsed by Scott Paper Towels.

FALSE

The Scandinavian chanteuse brought her soothing vocals to a receptive crowd. Impressive set.

The Lemon Twigs

The D’Addario brothers were former child actors.

TRUE

Now instead of a closed studio set they played outdoors on a partly cloudy day in Grant Park. You can’t help but hear The Beatles boroque rock in their music. Cheery set.

Phantogram

Named after an optical illusion.

TRUE

The self proclaimed electro rock act engulfed the Grant Park stage in a hazy spacey guitars and galloping percussive beats. The crowd and band were working in unity.

Foster the People

Did a billion people see this band at the Bud Light stage?

PROBABLY

Playing in front of an enormous crowd, the band played all their hits and the crowd voraciously consumed every one of them with glee.

The Killers

Too obvious to create a true or statement.

[imagine what the scene appeared to be since my camera was useless]

Playing covers of Disarm by The Smashing Pumpkins, Starlight by Muse, and their long standing rention of Shadowplay by Joy Division, The Killers no doubt played a crowd friendly set. A commanding set.

Pitchfork Music Festival – Union Park – Chicago, IL – 7-14-17 – Day One

This is the haiku recap of day one.

3:01 PM CST (this is the intro)

Rumble of the L

You can hear in the background

Band saunters to stage


Hiss Golden Messenger

Folk-pop is their style

Piano sounds like the Stones

Biloxi shout out

4:10 to Yuma CST (I know it should be 3:10 but just work with me here)

Vince Staples

Had orange backdrop

Gauging crowd for the mic drop

He won them over

6:09 CST (not on purpose that was the time I recorded)

Danny Brown

He reminds me of

Sir Smoke A Lot From Half Baked

Enjoyable set

6:59 CST

Kamaiyah

Crowd had too much fun

Kamaiyah was killing it

Should be more well-known

7:19 CST

Dirty Projectors

Union Park is full

The crowd sways with each new hit

It’s a home run set

8:27 CST

LCD Soundsystem

Want to dance all night?

Then this is the set you want

dance yrself clean, please

This concludes the haiku recap of day one.

Pitchfork Music Festival – Union Park – Chicago, IL – 7-16-2016 – Day Two

Before we begin let’s talk about the five greatest rappers of all time: 

Well, I’m glad we got that out of the way. Don’t you? 

A sun drenched Union Park hosted day two of the Pitchfork Music Festival. And while I wilted like a lifeless tomato plant, the rest of the crowd, filled with that pesky cosmic energy, buzzed right along. 

So, let’s buzz right into the top acts of the day:

Royal Headache was anything but what their name suggested. These Aussies proved to play their garage punk set at a frenetic pace, but not at the expense of catchy melodies.

Recommended listening:

While I previously mentioned the greatest rapper of all-time (Dylan [dye-lon]), one the better hip-hop groups of all-time, Digable Planets, played a rare set to an immense crowd. Their message, aside from making sure everyone grooved right along to their songs, was a message of peace, good will to your neighbors, and mindfulness of the struggles being felt around the world. 

Recommended listening:

The Super Furry Animals brought their brand of psychedelic brilliant madness to a noticeably tone down crowd (so I guess I wasn’t the only one beaten down by the sun). That still didn’t stop them from putting on a spaced out and visually compelling set.

Recommended listening:

Anderson .Paak & the Free Nationals were honestly worth the price of admission today. Anderson .Paak manned the drums and MC’d in an extremely crowd pleasing that brought smiles to faces young and old. Anderson is one of the brightest stars in music today.

Recommended listening:

Sufjan Stevens…wow. I can’t even do justice to his sprawling live version of “Impossible Soul.” It really has to be seen to be believed. And props for his cover of Prince’s “Kiss” to end the night.

Live version of “Impossible Soul”:

Honorable mention:

Brian Wilson played Pet Sounds and other Beach Boys’ hits to a massive crowd. At 74 years old, he did about as good as you could expect. A tremendous amount of respect was telling for the reverent attendance to his incredible career.

And that’s day two ladies and gentlemen. 

Pitchfork Music Festival – Union Park – Chicago, IL – 7-15-2016 – Day One

Hello, beautiful readers. How are you? How’d your morning/day/night go? Well, ain’t it how it always goes?

Well, anyways, I’m glad your reading this on your smartphone, laptop, PC, Mac, or a public library computer…or maybe even that dreaded internet cafe with bad decorations.

Anyways, I guess I just wanted to give you a snapshot (not to be confused with a Snapchat because these letters would self destruct in villainous seconds) of the Pitchfork Music Festival. 

The eleventh annual event arrived at Union Park with a dreaded drizzly start. But that’s nothing a rain poncho or an overly saturated flannel shirt couldn’t deter. 

So, this year, in the age of Buzzfeed countdown orientated articles, I decided to countdown the top four acts of my biased mind at the Pitchfork Music Festival that might even engage you to go out and listen, watch, or follow them at your own discretion. 

So, let’s get right down to it (in a no, purposely Buzzfeed, particular order):

Whitney:

With the break of sunshine late in a largely cloudy and misty set, Whitney proved to be a lighthearted but sonically diversive set to start the afternoon. A trumpet and mini string backing band will always brighten things up. 

Recommended listening:

Twin Peaks:

Chicago’s very own hosted a sizeable and raucous crowd to their garage rock set. This is the type of band you can crack open your tall boys at any barbecue and say hey wanna hear some new rock and roll? 

Recommended listening:

Carly Rae Jepsen:

My goodness. What’s the word for ethereal pop-yness? Michael-Jackson? Madonna? Sorry, but this Canadian gift of an artist (looking sternly at you Beiber) cannot be overlooked as just the girl who blew up on FM radio a few years ago with her international hit “Call Me Maybe.” (And don’t deny you didn’t sing along to this very song on your way to buy groceries a few years ago either). Friends, she’s actually the real deal. Pure pop at its finest.

Recommended listening:

Beach House: Turn the lights down low…way low. Now go ahead and grab your favorite drink. Take your time. No rush. I’m not going anywhere. Maybe take a puff of your favorite (disclaimer: not recommended) cigar, cigarette, or medicinal prescription while you’re at it. Pretty good isn’t it? 

Its honestly the only way to describe Beach House’s headlining performance. Mellow is an understatement. For you Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind fans their rendition of The Korgis/and more likely known Beck’s version of “Everybody’s Got To Learn Sometime” could not have been more fitting for their set. 

Recommended listening:

So, as couples kissed and friends hugged, the night ended in a much needed sign of peace and love that is always (and sadly) desperately needed in our always chaotic world. Let’s hope this continues, no?

Day two just around the corner…

Charles Bradley – 4-28-2015 – Thalia Hall – Chicago, IL

Charles Bradley has taken the baton from James Brown, Otis Redding, and Wilson Pickett’s charismatic careers and launched himself as one of the premier frontmen in music.

His plights and battles to reach his level of success has been well documented, and I sincerely urge you to watch Charles Bradley: Soul of America to properly absorb his story. He’s battled poverty, homelessness, and near death to get to where he’s at:

Perhaps, it’s exactly his story that augments his genuine presence on stage. The old adage that you “have to know the blues to play the blues” is not devoid of truth.

So, on this misty night in April, as the crowd filled into the intimate Thalia Hall, Charles Bradley’s introduction to the stage delivered rising cheers from a sold out crowd. And as he saunter to the stage, Charles Bradley was front and center.

 

image

 

Currently supporting his critically acclaimed album Changes, Charles Bradley and his excellent backing band the Extraordinaires (providing the Daptone Records sound) mesmerized fans with a ninety minute soul, funk, and R&B showcase. Whether it was the fierce horn section sending nearly everyone into a mini-dance off on songs like “Ain’t It a Sin,” or the gleefully sounding “You Put the Flame On It,” the emotional roller coaster did not end as slow dancing couples adorned the upper balcony with much the same fervency on slower numbers. Even the cautionary “Change for the World” couldn’t stop the crowd from swaying in unison.

However, the notable highlight of the night came roughly halfway through show as Charles and his band played a stunning cover of Black Sabbath’s “Changes” (found on their new album, aptly with the same name). A rendition so potently hypnotic that it justifiably triumphs over the original:

 

In the end, genuine emotions were felt from a man who’s been through hell and back. The crowd fed off Charles’ lovable spirit (and also those slick dance moves). But, honestly, love (both the good and bad) was the common denominator this night. Whether it was through his songs, passing out roses to the crowd (!), or monologues to fans in Thalia Hall, it was in the consciousness of everyone present.

Charles thanked us for all the love to end the night and I’d like to think we loved him right back.

Riot Fest Day Three – 9-13-15 – Douglas Park – Chicago, IL

To quote Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five: “All this happened, more or less.”

Without a doubt, the last day of any three day music festival fills the soul with a certain amount of melancholy. Work, school, bills, or even the thought of returning to mundane life again begins to flood the mind.

As I walked through Douglas Park with some anxiety slowly building up, I gradually made the realization that…

…I’m still at Riot Fest!

And who was on tap? De La Soul!

20150913_150815

This was arguably the most engaging set of the weekend. De La Soul are masters at commanding a crowd, but being twenty-eight year vets can make that look like an easy task. The normally reserved midday crowd were waving their hands, jumping, and imbibing for much of the set. While the old “which side of the crowd is louder” routine became, at times, repetitive, hearing “The Grind Date”, “Oooh”, and “Me, Myself, and I” all but cemented a great set.

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Cypress Hill earned some very high marks (couldn’t resist) for their tight and concentrated hit-filled set. As wafts of smoke raised in the air, the sounds of “I Ain’t Goin’ Out Like That”, “How I Could Just Kill a Man”, and “I Wanna Get High” levitated a huge sunbaked crowd. The vibes were heavy on 90s nostalgia but the crowd still ate it up.

Snoop Dogg

Photo by Brian Nguyen – Chicago Tribune

As fans waited for Snoop Dogg to come on stage that odd feeling of being stood up on date suddenly began to sink in. You check the time. You look around. Nothing. Maybe you order some water and more breadsticks. You check the time again. You look around some more. You assure yourself they must have gotten stuck in traffic. Still nothing. Then you begin to throw stuff towards the stage. Then you start to boo. Then you get escorted out the restaurant.

Semi-exaggeration aside, that’s essentially what happened as Snoop Dogg was nearly a half hour late for his set. The crowd was understandably not happy. (My assumption was that Snoop was late due to tending to a bowl of some kind. Whether it was ceramic or glass, I can’t confirm).

However, when he finally hit the stage the sounds of “Gin & Juice” quickly contented the crowd. But it still felt like it was too little to late as his set was eventually cut off for headliners Modest Mouse (he ended up playing past their start time). Fairly disappointing set due to the tardiness.

I did catch a couple of songs from Tenacious D during the Snoop Dogg fiasco. They rocked and were hilarious as expected. I mean how often can you see Kyle Gass rock out on a double recorder solo? I probably should’ve stayed for the rest.

The Prodigy Riot Fest 2015

Photo by Ashlee Rezin – Sun Times Network

The Prodigy (also starting late!) started their rowdy set with the thumping beats of “Breathe” as a sea of lit cellphones bounced right along. The 90s nostalgia continued as the strobe lights and the wild-haired singer Keith Flint dominated the stage.

Modest Mouse Riot Fest 2015

Photo by Ashlee Rezin – Sun Times Network

After the frenzied weekend, Modest Mouse seemingly soothed their fans to a relatively laid-back set to close the night. It was a nice retrospective of their fairly lengthy career, while still supporting their new album Strangers to Ourselves. Oh…and yes, they did play “Float On.”

So again…”all of this, more or less happened.” Riot Fest 2015 was a blast. Until next time.

Riot Fest Day Two – 9-12-2015 – Douglas Park – Chicago, IL

I’d be lying if the name of this blog wasn’t written as an homage to the exact conditions felt at Douglas Park on day two. Abandoned flip-flops were stuck in mud like Popsicle sticks in a freezer. Despite a relatively mild day spent in the low 60’s, the sun beamed onto a waddling crowd in Douglas Park. And of course extortion priced beers, where no doubt omnipresent, as well.

Muddy Riot Fest

Photo by Brian Nguyen – Chicago Tribune

Still, what was the story for Riot Fest day two? I suppose the most appropriate answer was dependent on what part of the park you decided to plop your feet down…but also, there’s a good chance if you where anywhere near the stage for System of Down you might have been fighting for your life.

But before we get too far ahead…

Perennial avant-garde alien metal band Gwar continued their yearly visit at Riot Fest. Yes, much “blood” was gushed into a crowd (along with various alien “liquids”) emanating from mock alien orifices. And yes, the riffs came quickly and with abandon. But it’s still damn fun to watch.

Photo by Jessica Mlinaric

Legendary punk band The Damned played a rollicking set as lead singer Vanian mentioned the odd setting for the band to play in. This was due to the fact that there was indeed sunshine and lollipops in the park. Also, guitarist Captain Sensible continued his reputation as the most sensibly dressed person on stage. Great set.

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Bootsy Collins’ Rubber decided to simply funk it up the nth degree and possibly have one of the best sets of the weekend. But then again, what else would you expect from a member of Parliament-Funkadelic. In fact, hearing Parliament’s “Flashlight” live might have caused a ripple in the space-time continuum…or at the very least made a lot of people in the crowd dance with a little more oomph.

Bootsy Collins

Photo by Brian Nguyen – Chicago Tribune

Merle Haggard’s set gave the Riot Fest crowd an opportunity to alleviate itself with some classic country. Despite the rhythmic slow down, this was a man who was part of the outlaw country music movement. (Johnny Cash could have easily have commanded just as big a crowd, if he were still alive.) Listening to “Okie From Muskogee” in front of a crowd that just saw Bootsy Collins somehow felt right.

Photo by Jessica Mlinaric

Although Billy Idol experience some audio “glitches” along the way, no pop fan from the 80’s (or fan of the Wedding Singer) could possibly resist an open karaoke night at Douglas Park. “Dancing With Myself”, “Rebel Yell”, “White Wedding”, and the Tommy James & the Shondells cover “Mony Mony” sent the crowd into a tizzy. That’s how to utilize your hits…

Billy Idol

Photo by Brian Nguyen – Chicago Tribune

System of a Down nearly brought a literal meaning to Riot Fest. Before the band even got on stage, a log jam of people surrounded the front stage. The band started out fierce and the crowd responded.

Unfortunately, things got so chaotic in front of the stage that by the time they started their hit “Aerials” the band clearly became concerned over people passing out and getting trampled.

Accounts of how dangerous it really was were numerous: https://www.reddit.com/r/RiotFest/comments/3kr56y/system_of_a_down/

In the end, the salient decision by the band to refuse to play until things settled down might have saved multiple lives.

After several songs passed, the band seemed less shaken and launched into another furious streak to a head-banging crowd.

By the time “Toxicity” and “Sugar” ended their potently kinetic set, blood, sweat, and cheers became the true story of the night.

Why This Song Matters…In 143ish Words or Less – “I Only Have Eyes for You” by The Flamingos

Should I read further than this?: The first recording was actually from the 1934 film Dames (this was in the midst of the feminist movement people) but become a seminal doo-wop classic by The Flamingos.

Why the The Flamingos made it a hit: Well…just listen to their version:

Why This Song Matters…In 143ish Words or Less – Kurtis Blow – “The Breaks”

Kurtis Blow – The Breaks

Extremely short story: Standing in the proverbial shadows of The Sugar Hill Gang’s “Rapper’s Delight,” (watch the granny karaoke scene from the Wedding Singer for reference), nearly a year later in September of 1980, Kurtis Blow’s classic track actually notched the first hip-hop record to reach 500,000 records sold.

Really short-long story: Kurtis Blow was, arguably, the first premier solo rap artist to make it big because of this song. Let’s put it this way…starting out, this guy was like the Beatles in terms of a solo hip-hop act. He created so many firsts in the genre of hip-hop (first to hit a gold record, first to go on a major tour [even going international], and first to sign to a major label), that he was undeniably one of the principal forces in leading hip-hop to the mainstream.

Devoid of any samples (instruments where actually played here), this old school joint can still get you Electric Boogaloo fans moving.

So why not take a break and take a listen?

Why This Song Matters…In 143ish Words or Less – The Count Five – “Psychotic Reaction”

Extremely short story: One of the most quintessential psychedelic garage rock songs recorded.

Really short-long story: The Count Five formed in San Jose, CA in the early 1960s and unfortunately also became a quintessential one-hit wonder. Despite this, the band created a timeless classic.

Originally named the Counts (don’t worry Sesame Street fans…no copyright infringement here since the show still wasn’t on TV), the band wanted to bank on the massive British Invasion movement at the time and added “Five” to their name as a homage to the massively successful English band Dave Clark Five.

While, lead vocalist, John Byrne was sitting in his health education class in college, the subject of psychosis was brought up by his professor. His classmate Ron Lamb mentioned to John what a great song title “Psychotic Reaction” would be. With the basis of the song already in his head, John’s muse all but set up the classic in motion.

Take a listen.