Lollapalooza 2006 Sunday, Ben Kweller, Jared Leto, The Shins, Queens of the Stone Age, Broken Social Scene, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Perry Farrell

Sunday: So very tired

Lollapalooza 2006 Home / Music Home / Bullz-Eye Home


2:30: Ben Kweller, AT&T stage
Bullz-Eye Reviews: Sha Sha (2002)
Will: The crowds are so thick upon my arrival at Grant Park that my plans to buy a t-shirt from the merch booth are quashed by a solid wall of people that’s at least nine persons deep. I very seriously consider going to check out Nickel Creek - in fact, I consider this so seriously that I get off at a different subway stop than David for purposes of being closer to the North Side stage - but ultimately decide that Ben Kweller will do me just fine.

In fact, Kweller’s set, which I mostly experience from the confines of the media area, is full of bouncy pop songs, including his semi-hit, "How It Should Be (Sha Sha)." Now I’m looking forward to checking out his new album.

3:30: 30 Seconds to Mars, Q101 stage
Will: Fuck fuckity fuck fuck fuck.

That was my Jared Leto impression. I can assure you, it’s frighteningly accurate...and, if anything, it’s a little light on the f-word.

While still hovering comfortably in the media area, our experience of relaxing under the shade of a tree and reading books while drinking cold bottled water and eating complimentary health bars is shattered by the sounds of 30 Seconds to Mars. The band’s music is defined as post-grunge, but all that really means is that it sounds like warmed-over metal. Frankly, all that catches our ear is the fact that Leto seems to be suffering from Tourette’s Syndrome, since every other word that comes out of his mouth is "fuck."

  • "Are all you motherfuckers having a good time?"
  • "It’s really fucking great to be here!"
  • "Hello, Chicago! How the fuck are you!"

Okay, I couldn’t stop laughing long enough to write anything down on my pad, so these may not be precise quotes...but Leto managed at least a baker’s dozen worth of uses of "fuck," so much so that it became a joke. Every time he dropped an f-bomb, I punched my fist into the air and yelled, "YES!" One can only presume that Leto believed that with each use of the word "fuck," his band’s reputation as a kick-ass rock band would increase exponentially. Sadly, he was mistaken.

As 30 Seconds to Mars left the stage, I turned to David, raised my hands high, and shouted, "Thank fucking you! GOOD FUCKING NIGHT!!!"

By the way, although we didn’t see it, thanks to YouTube, we later discovered that Leto climbed all the way to the top of the stage set-up during the band’s set. Had David and I been out there, we would surely have been cheering for him to fall...and although, sure, I’m kidding and would have felt awful if he actually had fallen, when I told David what we’d missed, he replied, "Gosh, we were one greasy step away from sweet, sweet relief." I laughed out loud.

4:30: The Shins, Bud Light Stage
David: Yawn. I even have both of their records, and I was bored. Thank God I brought a book with me. "The Ruins," Scott Smith. Check it out.

5:30: Poi Dog Pondering, Adidas-Champs stage
Will: Poi Dog Pondering (pics #1 thru #3, right)are apparently a staple of the Chicago music scene, though they actually formed in Waikiki, then relocated to Austin, Texas. Nonetheless, they’ve played Chi-town so many times that many of the city’s residents no doubt think of them as being a local band. As such, maybe that’s why the crowd for their performance starts as one of the smallest to appear before the Adidas-Champs stage.

The people who greet the band, however, are decidedly enthusiastic, and the audience grows gradually as Poi Dog get their groove on to old favorites like "Get Me On" and "Complicated," along with a few new songs as well. The horn-propelled material goes well with the sunny afternoon, but, still, you can’t help but think that most of the reason for the swelling of numbers is that Wilco goes on at 6:30 at the stage right next door.

5:30: She Wants Revenge, Q101 stage
David: They suck, you know.

6:30: Queens of the Stone Age, AT&T stage
Will: It’s totally a flip of the coin when it comes to deciding between seeing Wilco or Queens of the Stone Age, but, in the end, the decision proves surprisingly easy, since the only way Wilco could’ve made me happy was to play a set of almost nothing but songs from Summerteeth. (In retrospect, I wish I’d at least stuck around for their first song, which was, indeed from that album: "Shot in the Arm.") So it’s off to the South Side once more.

The Queens are nothing if not energetic, and their brand of hard rock is enough to get just about anyone’s head banging. I’ve just reached the stairwell to the right of the stage when they launch into "No One Knows," which makes me very, very happy. I’m in no way as familiar with Lullabies to Paralyze (though I do immediately recognize the piledriving "Little Sister") as I am with Songs for the Deaf, so I’m very glad when they close with "Go with the Flow" and "Song for the Dead."

7:30: Broken Social Scene, Q101 stage
Will: I know less than nothing about Broken Social Scene, except that A) they’re big in Canada, B) lots of cool American kids like them, too, and C) that, despite these two facts, I’m still really skeptical that they deserve the next-to-last slot on the last day’s schedule.

By the time they’re done playing, I end up feeling guilty about my earlier skepticism, as the group proceed to pull out all the stops and leave me thoroughly impressed. In fact, by set’s end - which ends one song too early as they’re cut off to prepare for the impending Chili Peppers performance - they have more than a dozen musicians on stage, providing strings, horns, and all the other instrumentation their songs require to be "just so." It’s pretty sweet stuff.

One hopes that at least a small percentage of those parading in to see the Chili Peppers end up walking away as Broken Social Scene fans. I certainly did.

8:15: Red Hot Chili Peppers, AT&T stage
Bullz-Eye Reviews: Stadium Arcadium (2006), By the Way (2002)
David: There is an ocean of people waiting for the Chilis. They’ve just had their balls rocked off by Queens of the Stone Age, it’s late, and everyone is sweaty and drunk. The camera pit should be a fun one.

I play the role of Good Samaritan when they finally let us in: I brought two bottles of water with me, and handed them out to a couple thirsty people. "Hey, camera dude!" I heard as I walked away. Sorry, man, I’m all out.

The security guys are drilling this whole no-flash, no-video rule into our heads. They’re particularly interested in me, since my camera’s digital and can shoot video. "If I see you shooting video, you’re out," one guy tells me. "Dude, I’m not going to do anything that would get me kicked out." "I just gotta warn you." "Duly noted."

I’m in the dead center of the pit, and the Chilis, unlike Death Cab, are using spotlights, so my pictures will actually have some bright colors in them. There is no room to move, though, and I can’t even see drummer Chad Smith, I’m so close. After the first song, "Can’t Stop," I hear a photographer practically threaten physical harm to someone up front who was raising his camera over his head in order to try and get a shot of Smith. "You’re blocking all my shots!" he said. Give ‘em hell, dude.

I’ve never been the biggest Chilis fan in the world - I don’t mind them, but the local modern rock station, CD101, plays the Chilis way, way too much - but I gotta say that I get why they’re so big. The boys can rock, and John Frusciante (#5 and #6) is a photographer’s wet dream. He does the best rock star expressions of anyone I’d seen all weekend, and can shred, to boot. Flea (#7) just moves too damn fast; half of my pictures of him are blurry.

They do "Dani California" second, and right when Frusciante starts playing the opening riff to "Scar Tissue," we’re getting booted out. The crowd is getting out of control, and the security guards need the space back. They are literally shoving us out, to the point where we’re falling over each other. I saw a bounced patron talking tough with this huge, Hell’s Angel-looking guard, and I was just begging the guy to take a swing at him. Sadly, the beatdown was not to be.

Once we were out of the pit, I hate to say it, but we went home. The place was packed, and I did not want to be anywhere near the subway when their set was finished.

Final thoughts
Three days is simply one day too many. Everyone I spoke with in the media area on Sunday talked about how tired they were. Will and I both wanted to go home Sunday morning, and not just because we missed our wives (though we did miss them very, very much). I appreciate the organizers’ ambition and drive to expand the format, but they should cut it back down to two days next year.

And let’s address that whole half-mile walk between stages. I remember the noise bleed that took place last year, but I will take that any day of the week and twice on Sunday over the long distance relationship we had this year. There is no reason for the stages to be so far apart...except perhaps that you can sell more tickets since you have more space to hold everyone.

I’m hearing a lot of people complaining that this reincarnation of Lollapalooza is a watered-down imitation of the original, and to that I say, "Well, duh." Of course it is, and that’s because there is no such thing as alternative rock anymore. In fact, modern rock, if anything, has been shanghaied by classic rock. Come on, are Wolfmother really an alternative band? Queens of the Stone Age? Poi Dog Pondering? Wilco? Rock bands, every one of them. And don’t even get me started on Blue October. Make fun of the Violent Femmes all you want, but at least they fit the mold.

When Perry Farrell (#8, wearing the hat) started Lolla in 1991, alternative music was still a fringe genre. Nine Inch Nails, Siouxsie & the Banshees and Jane’s Addiction toured together because they had to, in order to sell those large outdoor venues. The music scene simply isn’t like that anymore. To pretend it is, and to hold that against the current festival organizers, is not only wrong-headed but naïve.

Glaring Omissions
How the hell were Muse, Keane and the Arctic Monkeys not a part of this? Muse and Keane are both touring the States, and the Monkeys are a surefire Single of the Year candidate with the "Dancefloor" song. Throw those three bands into the Sunday lineup, and you’ve got the best Lollapalooza ever. Okay, maybe not ever, but it would at least make me want to stay for a third day instead of wanting to go home.