Sufjan Stevens restores faith in humanity at Pitchfork

In the midst of humanity’s disgraced swan song into oblivion, discovering a vein of unconditional beauty pulsing through the viscous membrane of intolerance, fear and anxiety that has bound our planet is all anyone needs to realize there may be hope yet. The vein beat through the audience with the earnestness and disruption of a child’s chalk drawing on the otherwise ordinary slab of pavement. Pumping vessels filled with imagination, completely free of judgement or pretention, ready to be digested as something unique to every single audience member.

Witnessing what appeared to be an apparition from 2006 (complete with flat brimmed hat and cut-off shirt) release 5,000 years’ worth of emotions into the air on Saturday night was everything. Heartbreak, happiness, mortality, love, loneliness, death, auto-tune, nothing. At points, the emotions poured out with such abandonment that they were completely incomprehensible. And in those moments of bewilderment, I found myself staring at nothing in particular, swaddled in a state of infantile curiosity. Laughing uncontrollably at a suit of balloons.

Moments later almost crying at the prospect of impermanence and death. That something so delicate and perfect could only sustain itself for so long. Grateful for family and friends and more specifically that incredible moment in time, but understanding the heartbreak that no such moment will ever exist in those exact circumstances again. I’m uncertain if I’d want it anyways. The impasse of wanting nothing to change while also having faith that it is in some ways, somehow necessary.

I found it difficult to write this, because both everything and nothing describe the show perfectly. Ten billion words or zero words in a language that will never be invented. A rare moment in time in which pure happiness and pure sadness poured out simultaneously, in unrelenting beauty. I can only say that I am happy that I was part of the deconstructed mass left in the wake of a masterpiece and that humanity is, in some capacity, still capable of good.

Thank you Sufjan.

sufjan-stevens-1-copy

 

Advertisements

This year: Lollapalooza offers to kick you in the nuts

Early Bird Special. Single Day Passes. Three Day Passes. VIP Passes. And now introducing Perry’s Special Load…the newest addition to the lucrative Lollapalooza ticketing repertoire. Perry’s Special Load was developed in an effort to give people a luxury Lollapalooza experience without ever having to leave the comfort of their home. It’s considered to be a revolutionary development in ticketing and could help remedy the horrific overcrowding that has plagued the festival for the last few years.

For a modest $300…have a delirious teenager rolling on molly show up at your house, throw a lukewarm Bud Light in your face and kick you squarely in the nuts. Have I gotten your attention? Well it gets better. As you lay on the ground writhing in pain, they’ll smash your iPhone into a thousand pieces and clog up your toilet with an unworldly dump that will haunt you for weeks to come. Still not sold? What if I told you that with purchase you’ll also be forced to lay in a tanning bed while concurrently butt bonging Parrot Bay out of a binocular flask for five straight hours? The embarrassing sunburn, agonizing hangover and lingering night terrors will have you feeling like you had endured the festival itself. And if you’re worried about not hearing any live music, don’t be, because no one at the festival heard a single band either.

All of this and much, much more included in Perry’s Special Load. So why even bother with the crowds this year? Treat yourself to Perry’s…Special…Load.

Lollapalooza-crowd

Owl John

Artist: Owl John
Venue: Bottom Lounge
Rating: 10/10

Scott Hutchison’s Owl John show was realizing your mortality drinking the last of a flat PBR staring at the suffocated embers of an abandoned cigarette, alone as the lights come on. It was the first beer with your dad. The first real beer. It was a Wednesday during the summer between Sophomore and Junior year in college, with a job you didn’t give a shit about and friends you couldn’t care more about.

Songs served as though they were being read from 1000 year old, leather bound poetry books that had lost at sea for several decades. Genuine. Warm. Weathered. His voice sat pleasantly in the humid air that the fans ineffectively stirred. Several hilarious stories made it seem as though he had been friends with the crowd for years and bottom lounge was a favorite old haunt. Admittedly slightly drunk, his buzz seemed to be shared throughout the crowd, a fall glow as seamless as a freshly carved pumpkin. There was no set list, there didn’t need to be, the current of the crowd pushed and Scott curated.

Owl John was everyone. Favorite song of the night:

Man claims to have seen actual live music at Lollapalooza

On Saturday, August 2, at or around 6:15 p.m. CT, a Chicago man is claiming that he actually witnessed an actual band playing something that sounded like music at Lollapalooza. There had been speculation throughout the day that there were actual bands playing live music at the perennial douche convention, but it was ultimately impossible to confirm. The stages had apparently been obscured by thousands of neon clad, flower crowned, drugged-out teens, and any music had been drowned out by the sounds of  violent heaving and screaming “bros”. The combination left the entire experience completely indecipherable. Bringing into question what anyone was actually doing in the park in the first place.

The only evidence we have that any band actually performed over the weekend comes from a brave Chicagoan, who has chosen to remain anonymous. “It was really tough to tell but I’m pretty sure that through my binoculars from about a quarter mile out, I witnessed an iPad, recording another iPad, recording someone instagramming the right shoe of someone playing drums in a popular band”, claimed the man. “It was brief, really brief, and I could only see it when I tilted my head at a 75 degree angle, but it definitely seemed like something. This is something you see once, maybe twice, in an entire lifetime of attending Lollapaloozas”, he furthered. He maintained that seeing that foot made it all worth it. Getting trampled, almost pissing himself because of bathroom lines, getting heckled for not looking like Selena Gomez at Coachella was all forgotten when he saw that foot.

Lollapalooza officials were unable to confirm or deny these reports, apparently unaware as to if there were any bands booked this year or not. No one really seemed to care, maintaining that the music, or even having a good time is an irrelevant component to a successful festival. Officials confirmed that the metrics used to determine the success of a festival were instances of: people blacked out, vintage NBA jerseys, and selfies taken.

Lollapalooza-640

Pitchfork 2014

BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT
Pusha T
5 minutes, 10 minutes, 20 minutes, 30 minutes. After the crowd had cycled through the traditional “We want Push” and “USA” chants, excitement slowly grew into annoyance which grew more quickly into rage. Almost as though his refusal to come out to the USA chant made him somehow unpatriotic. First the crowd began to plea “We Want Based God”, signifying the hipster crowd would rather have cult rap favorite Lil B performing. Then came the boo birds. Reigning down with the unforgettable scorn of 1,000 ironic mustaches and revived 90’s teenage angst. They didn’t seem to hold the unobstructed hatred of the boos experienced by Rex Grossman at Soldier Field after his third pick-six of the game, but they were damn close.

Finally, after 30 minutes Pusha T emerged on stage, inexplicably drenched from head to to. It was strange. Looked like perhaps a Vaseline jar malfunction backstage. Apparently his DJ had gone missing minutes before the show. Who else could POSSIBLY step in, locate the play button on iTunes and successfully click it? Who could possibly smash the shit out of the fake gun noise and fake explosion buttons? Born skills, not learned.

An absolute sprint of a set, most songs lasted no longer than 30 seconds, a measely half hour in total. He encouraged the crowd to sing along on most songs, creating an unparalleled awkwardness, as most of the vodka-drunk high school d-bags obliged, dropping n-bombs to their heart’s desire. The ignorance was vast. The set ended just as quickly as it started and I left feeling unsatisfied. For some reason all of the Goose Island beer tasted like barley wine.

BIGGEST SURPRISE
Danny Brown
Danny Brown converted the entire city of Chicago on Saturday, July 19th. Baptized both young and old in the waters of senselessness, recklessness and unhindered lunacy. I saw what appeared to be a 45 year old zoo keeper and a chick that looked exactly like Stephanie Tanner dancing identically in Brown’s web of depravity. The language of madness is universal.

The amount of chaos on stage was imposing, it was Bartertown from Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome. There was an immense fog blowing consistently around the stage, undetermined whether it was artificial smoke or weed smoke from the frenzied crowd. When rapping, Brown stood perched one leg on an amp covered in smoke, making varying decrees of degeneracy. Eagerly consumed by the ravenous crowd.

When not rapping, him and his crew danced violently, with no apparent rhythm. It was glorious. He pounded the crowd into a total frenzy. The stage banter was hilarious, desolate and genuine all at the same time. A moment of gratitude followed by a piercing snicker and an earnest question of who had a Molly he could eat. A headline caliber act.

BEST IN SHOW
ST. VINCENT
Almost got screwed on this one as a lanky muppet with an uncanny resemblance to James and the Giant Peach cut in and stood in front of me. I’ve never witnessed such an idiotic and infuriating melon, not to mention he was a sloppy teen-drunk, slugging and spilling peach schnapps everywhere like a complete buffoon. Perplexingly enough he was also barefooted, somehow contributing to my fury. His dancing seemed like something you would do at a Coldplay concert, lots of loose swaying and gazing stupidly into the sky. At one point I caught him hugging himself, unfortunately my sock full of quarters was confiscated at the door.

When the James-and-the-Giant-Peach heckling grew loud enough and he finally fucked off, the set became immensely more enjoyable. St. Vincent owned Pitchfork. A perfectly acted, immaculately choreographed spectacle. It was precise and flawless. Surgical. A beautifully curated set with a face liquefying ending. After a mind-bending shred, she let the guitar slide from her hands, and slumped over on the stage. A portrait of someone who had just left everything they had out there. This vision only disrupted by one more spastic outburst where she awakened and smashed her head repeatedly into the drum set, it was stunning.

BIGGEST HEAD SCRATCHER
Neutral Milk Hotel
There couldn’t have been a more peculiar headliner. After St. Vincent I wandered my way over to the bizarre happenings at the Green Stage where Neutral Milk Hotel had quietly sulked onto the stage. A familiar 90’s wail reigned out over an aggressively aloof crowd. I sat for a while and watched the majority of the crowd lay down, perhaps attempting to catch a quick nap before resuming their night’s activities. I overheard a conversation about high cholesterol and another debating whether Eugene Levy was a good actor or not. No one seemed to be drinking at this point. No one seemed to be doing much of anything.

A pale blue light covered what appeared to be 5 very timid, very sullen men. The video screens were turned off. There was no light show, there was no stage presence, it was as though everyone there was staring at a photograph. A tiny completely plain diorama, constructed by a 3rd grader without much imagination. Nothing about the performance indicated it was a headliner. It would have been very enjoyable, eating a scone and drinking out of an over-sized ceramic coffee mug on a brisk morning in October. Not here, not now, not these circumstances. Maybe it was a strategic move by Pitchfork to completely neutralize the crowd still buzzing from Danny Brown. It was at potent as a tranquilizer gun, bringing on instant sobriety and a will to quietly and peacefully exit the premises. People were heading for the exits faster than when they play Closing Time at a bar.

 

Lollapalooza 2014 Lineup Review

Rating: 2.0/10.0

What a relief. Enormous exhale. Sigh. Over exaggerated brow wipe. I thought for a minute there Lollapalooza was actually going to have a band I wanted to see, but hadn’t yet. I can officially put any and all concern to bed. Tuck it in nicely, kiss it on the forehead. Be relieved of the burden that had been attending the last several years. The cross has been lifted.

Looking at the lineup I couldn’t help to think, I’ve seen this all before. Probably because I have. Orangizer Perry Farrell must have been dumpster diving in the shredded lineups of years past, then constructed this uninspired turd. Bound together by vomit scraped from the mud at Perry’s DJ tent and greed. Oh yeah, and garnished with the tears of everyone who got ripped by scalpers, lost their friends at the mile long bathroom lines, didn’t see a single band, and got swallowed by overwhelming swells of humanity at last year’s blunderous outing. There are some great bands on the bill don’t get be wrong, but it all seems like a bizarre rerun. An indistinguishable episode of Bar Rescue that you’re not sure if you’ve seen or not, but pretty sure you have. How many bars could have roaches in the deep fryer? I mean really. Running through the lineup I actually dozed off midway through. Upon awakening I could have swore the year was 2010.

NickelbackCreed, and O-Town could all be headlining and 10 million people would still show. Perry knows this, so what does he care who plays? Might as well make the festival with all of the quality of a straight to DVD release. This thing has Van Wilder 2: The Rise of Taj written all over it. It’s become a safe-haven for the jobbers of the city. Where else would the bros go to show off how swoll they got over the winter in a vintage NBA jersey? Where else would the teens go to eat copious amounts of molly and drink enough Shock Tops to be puking on a stranger’s shoe by 11:00 a.m.? Most importantly, if not for Lollapalooza, where would all of those testy middle-aged wonders place their massive picnic blanket and not budge an inch the entire festival, then scoff at people for trying to maneuver around it? I can’t imagine a world without that.

Top Three Painful Gulps of Balmy Swill at the End of a King Cobra 40 oz aka The Headliners:

1.) Lorde has to be the least exciting headliner in history. I have no interest in paying a couple hundred bucks to watch one of the witches from Hocus Pocus lurch around on stage, while the same crowd at Nickelodeon’s Teen Choice Awards waits anxiously to hear Royals.

2.) I thought Kings of Leon went the way of the dodo…’nuff said.

3.) Eminem is a complete and utter has been, also nothing better than getting into a screaming match with a dude wearing a mesh Korn shirt.

This year I’ll be laid up drinking craft brews and grilling watching the mayhem “The Purge” style. Enjoy the relentless finger-blasting (Yes this happened last year, I suggest you don’t Google it) and face eating that will undoubtedly take place at Skrillex. My decision to never attend Lollapalooza again has never seemed so sweet.

Full Lineup

Delorean and Until the Ribbon Breaks

Bands: Delorean and Until the Ribbon Breaks
Rating: 10/10
Venue: Lincoln Hall

Chicago knew Delorean and Until the Ribbon Breaks were coming. Or maybe it didn’t…there was an unusual stillness that accompanied the unseasonal warmth. Even the trains moved in relative silence.  The venue was no different we walked in about two songs into the opening act, and promptly ordered two IPA’s, the pint glasses oddly matched the temperature outside. Having never heard Until the Ribbon Breaks (UTRB) expectations were virtually non-existent. They made converts of anyone lucky enough to witness. Working the crowd into a pleasant, albeit moody trance. Combining facets from just about every genre of music imaginable, the rich sound was married with what seemed to be carefully curated videos ranging from Romeo and Juliet to Akira.  “Who do they sound like?” asked my buddy. “No one.” I blankly responded, because they really didn’t. I purchased their vinyl after the show and discussed with them why Mark should be spelled with a k and not a c.

As Delorean took the stage some small smoke plumes started to emerge from the crowd. I had switched to the $3.50 Busch Light 16 oz can. Sometimes there is absolutely nothing better in this world than drinking a cheap beer at a comfortably busy concert in the middle of February. The mild bitterness of a traditional lager. By the first note the crowd was completely consumed, wrapped up in the joyous celebration that was taking place on stage. A band that genuinely loves to perform. No one was dancing at first, not because it wasn’t dancing music, but because the presence was so absorbing. It was a sun drenched delight, each song dissolving worries, cares and negativity to the slightest morsel. Everyone had forgotten it was a Tuesday night in February by the end of the set. The music appeared to have even been a catalyst for an unlikely hookup between a balding unnaturally short male and much taller better looking female. It was that powerful.

Here is a song to enjoy:

Washed Out Live

Artist: Washed Out
Venue: Metro
Date: Sept. 13, 2013
Rating: 5.0/5.0

An evening that included an abnormal potion of endless cod, truffle coffee beer, an ill-conceived disguise and incredible music proved a satisfying reminder as to why I love this city. I halfway expected Washed Out to distribute Sleep Number mattresses and aggressively soothe the crowd into a comfortable and pleasant slumber for the hour and twenty minute duration of their performance. There would undoubtedly be people free basing Sleepy Time Tea there in an attempt to expedite the already growing languor.

It was something entirely different however. There was an uncertainty to the evening. Especially after a confrontation with a surly bouncer left my friend and my tickets on the outside looking in. I promptly exited to find said friend changing shirts with another person in line…a sure fire way to appropriately mask your identity. The brilliance in the shirt swap camouflaging technique rivals that of the stick bug, Mrs. Doubtfire, or thick rimmed glasses with large nose and mustache. I lent him my hat for good measure to complete what was surely the most elaborate disguise of the last decade.

Happy as a clam, and clearly undetectable, he strolled back into the venue, at this point the rest of my party was talking to the disgruntled bouncer trying to get both of us in, he said that I was good…but the “asshole” he talked to earlier would not be permitted back in, as he said this a proud costumed being entered…it took the bouncer only a moment to see through the gleaming smile of said costumed friend, as he immediately and violently shoved him out of the venue. (This only lends to the rumor that Metro is hiring ex-Seals for bouncers as any normal bouncer would have likely been duped). I was then oddly let into the show after collecting my portions of the disguise; it was likely a technique in humiliation for our estranged friend.

The show itself was an incredible display. The stage wrapped warmly in Christmas lights was welcoming and not overbearing in any way. Every song seemed to eliminate the presence of anyone else in the venue. Just friends dancing seamlessly and carelessly for the most part being merry. Perhaps the most incredible part was the bands command over the crowd, every member radiating more happiness than the next, it was contagious and made me mildly jealous.

Lollapalooza 2013

Only three words can describe Lollapalooza, coincidentally they also accurately describe known nefarious Christmas thief/pervert the Grinch…Stink…Stank…Stunk. From the initial scalper scandal that wreaked conspiracy all the way to selling an event that was essentially standing room only throughout the entire park (ratio: 80% twelve year olds buying Molly, 19% bros, .5% sniveling Mumford fans .5% normal people) Who wouldn’t want to go with that split! Similar to the zombie apocalypse, but with worse company.

As of 8/3/2013 at 10:44 P.M. Lollapalooza was declared dead to me.

Closed casket given the brutality of its death.

As the day progressed and it was realized no stage could actually be seen through all of the hideous mounds of stale flesh, frustration and corresponding extreme intoxication settled in. I sat and wondered whether any bands were actually playing. There was no way to really tell.  Mile after mile of the most insufferable dregs of society, Lollapalooza was the chum that aroused the blowhards of Chicago and sent them into a complete feeding frenzy, on overpriced Bud Lights and Churros and Mumford. Perry had also deployed a new technology that zapped everyone’s phone batteries in an instant, depriving everyone of even the simple enjoyment of finding or seeing friends.  You got me Perry, but never again.

Oh you have a broken foot? Don’t care. You want to actually walk past me? Fuck no. You’re looking for your friends? Sit on it. Here’s a cigarette burn on your arm. Here’s some sour wind from my ring piece in your face. Oh you actually have to pee? 25 minutes.

Wallet plenty lighter and ears dripping with mud, both physical and metaphorical the remorse of a day not well spent sits in. The regret is immense mainly knowing that someone made money by taking a giant dump on Grant Park and we the foolish flies swarmed on command, paying hard earned money to ,if only for a moment, sit on a steaming pile. Too crowded and too young. Lollapalooza you need help.

Photo by Clayton Hauck for HOY

Photo by Clayton Hauck for HOY