Most photos by Charly Thomas
Radiohead photos by Nathan Lanthrum
Josh and Air Force Amy photo by Bunny Love
In its fourth year, Lollapalooza MK II truly arrived. For the first time since it made Grant Park its home, the fest sold out all three days—75,000 fans per day!—which was no surprise considering the lineup. Radiohead, Rage Against The Machine, Wilco, Kanye West, Nine Inch Nails… and that's just the big, big, big names. And the park, though sometimes tough to navigate in such crowds, is a beautiful place to see music: The Chicago skyline is off to the west, and the lake and museum campus are off to the east and south. Yep, there was a bit of trouble during Rage Against The Machine's set—a riot or nothing much at all, depending on who's telling the story—but still, pretty damn smooth. Four A.V. Clubbers and A.V. Club special assignment intern Wes were on hand to provide the minute-by-minute action.
FRIDAY, AUGUST 1
1:45 pm, Genevieve: The line to enter the festival is out of control. I have a media pass, so I'm able to bypass the clusterfuck, but my festival companion, who has a regular three-day pass, has to queue up in the horde that's snaking a full block down Columbus, several people deep—and this is just one arm of a many-pronged line. After 10 minutes of waiting with her, I bail like the awesome friend I am; I don't want to miss a minute of The Go! Team, and there's at least a 15-minute hike between me and the stage. Turns out to be a good decision—she doesn't even enter the festival gates until halfway through their set, around 3 p.m.
2:15 pm, Genevieve: The Go! Team begins with a bowel-loosening blast of feedback. Once it subsides, the sound is extremely bass-heavy for the first number, "The Power Is On," but things seem to right themselves quickly after that. Go! Team is Ian Parton's baby, but the group's three female members—drummer-singer Chi Fukami Taylor, guitarist-singer Kaori Tsuchida, and especially rapper Ninja—are the stars onstage. They collectively radiate spunk, and even as far back as I am—behind the sound board, which turns out to provide a great unobstructed view over the heads of the guys manning the boards—people are jumping and spinning gleefully. Next to me, a guy dances in a green rubber mask that covers his entire face, an odd fashion choice considering the mercury is pushing the 90-degree mark.
2:22 pm, Josh: Next big thing (or next big disappearing act) The Enemy UK riled up a small crowd on a side stage with their Jam-inspired working-class rock. They're tiny and 20 years old (the drummer looks about 15), and this was their first show in America. Overall, pretty exciting in its simplicity. During the set, there's a minor ruckus next to me when a crazy-looking bee/hornet/wasp thing—the biggest I've ever seen—starts menacing some concertgoers. A big dude runs away from it, only to be saved by a slight girl with multi-colored hair; she simply puts a beer cup over the bug, saving everyone.
2:43 pm, Kyle: A bin full of ice in the press area features Olade, a sugar-free, organic, low-calorie lemonade drink made by Rage Against The Machine drummer Brad Wilk. He created it after he developed Type 1 diabetes on the road and was unable to find a lemonade to meet his dietary restrictions. As skeptical as I am of celebrity-related products—except for Cheech Marin's amazing chipotle hot sauce—Olade rules. It's not too sweet, not too sour, and totally refreshing.
2:44 pm, Josh: Me, Kyle, and Genevieve all have iPhones, which we like very much. Some might say a little too much. One of Lollapalooza's main sponsors is AT&T;, the exclusive service provider for the iPhone. So how come Kyle can't receive calls, and text messages take six or seven tries to get through? Too many iPhones jamming the airwaves?
2:54 pm, Kyle: The Go! Team performs on the Bud Light stage, a significant step up from the smaller stage it played at Lollapalooza in 2006. A massive crowd watches, which sets the precedent for the rest of the day. Friday is apparently the festival's first sold-out day since it rebooted in Chicago in 2005, and it feels sold out. Every stage seems to have a giant crowd, and the hot sun isn't making it more comfortable. Luckily, we're close to the lake, so there's a frequent breeze. And nothing can really dampen the joy of The Go! Team as it launches into "Grip It Like A Vice."
Odd T-shirt Alert: Homemade T with NAFTA RULES! written on the front.
3:02 pm, Josh: Jeff Tweedy of Wilco has chosen to play his Kidzapalooza set on the ground in front of the stage, ensuring that only the kids who'd arrived early would really get to see him play. At the periphery, I can't see much, but he turns in a pretty nice version of "Hummingbird." He also taught the kids a lesson after messing up a song with one guitar—that it was okay to learn from a mistake and start over.
3:21 pm, Kyle: The MySpace Stage all but swallows The Kills. Vocalist Alison Mosshart (a.k.a. VV) has only a mic, and guitarist-vocalist Jamie Hince (a.k.a. Hotel) performs with only his guitar, and the drums come from a sequencer. The band's detached stage demeanor only enhances the blah factor. No Wow indeed. After 15 minutes, we bail.
3:35 pm, Genevieve: A few numbers into Duffy's set, she alerts the audience that she's about to "lighten things up." Then she launches into "Serious," which can be generously described as "midtempo" at best. I happen to love her debut, Rockferry, but with the exception of the single "Mercy," there isn't a whole lot on it that might inspire dancing. That aside, she sounds absolutely amazing; her voice is surprisingly powerful for being so sweet and bell-like. The standard comparison points for Duffy are usually Dusty Springfield or Amy Winehouse—though there's no way Winehouse could've made it through a set with a quarter as much poise as the perpetually lovely Duffy did—but I keep getting flashes of Dolly Parton, whose voice has a similar strong-yet-girlish quality. Halfway into the set, I'm faced with the first of many agonizing decisions this weekend: Stick around to hear Duffy perform "Mercy," which I still play on a daily basis four months after its release? Or hoof it to the other side of the park for Gogol Bordello, a band that never fails to bring a crazy live show? I send up a prayer that Duffy will make it back through Chicago soon, and book it over to the south end of Grant Park.
4:15 pm, Kyle: Gogol Bordello takes the giant AT&T; Stage with the expected merriment, opening with "Ultimate," the leadoff track from last year's Super Taranta! When manic frontman Eugene Hütz sings "There was never any good old days / they are today, they are tomorrow / it's a stupid thing we say," his carpe-diem joy is infectious. The crowd eats it up. And fiddle player Sergey Rjabtzev's ratty, sleeveless Slayer shirt is just awesome.
4:24 pm, Kyle: Two acrobatic, neon-clad dancers come bounding onstage during Gogol Bordello, and the crowd goes ballistic.
4:35 pm, Genevieve: Gogol Bordello is one of those bands I rarely listen to on record, but man, do they bring it onstage. Eugene Hutz—possessor of one of those weird, Iggy Pop-like bodies that manages to look emaciated yet remarkably fit at the same time—is a madman, and even though I can't understand a word of what's coming out of his mouth, the message is clear: "Dance, motherfucker!" And I do. Appropriately, as the band hurtles its way through "Not A Crime," I spot a guy sparking the biggest spliff I've ever seen.
4:39 pm, Kyle: While it isn't oppressively hot outside, it's uncomfortable in the sun. When it disappears behind a cloud, almost everyone in the crowd looks up and rejoices. Sadly, it reappears less than a minute later. It will tease us like this the rest of the day.
4:58 pm, Kyle: I've lost count of the ironic fanny-packs I've seen today. People, this trend cannot stand.
5:13 pm, Kyle: A DJ from the newly merged XM/Sirius satellite-radio company introduces husband-wife duo Mates Of State, proving that even if satellite radio wipes out its terrestrial counterpart, doofus DJs will still survive. Just like cockroaches.
5:14 pm, Kyle: The group that said DJ calls "the best band on the planet" opens with "Fraud In The '80s," from 2006's Bring It Back, with its line "You will surely find this pleasing to your ears." Well, usually, yeah, but here at the MySpace Stage, it sounds a little thin. Some of that goes with the territory for an organ-and-drums duo, but that doesn't explain why the reverb-drenched snare drum is way louder than everything else, and the vocals are kind of buried in the mix. The sound evens out a bit by the time Mates Of State play my favorite track from the new Re-Arrange Us, "Get Better." A violinist and cellist join them onstage, and off in the wings, I can see one of Gardner and Hammel's daughters dancing.
5:25 pm, Genevieve: Hey AT&T;: If you're going to plaster your name all over a festival as a sponsor, you might wanna make sure your subscribers can actually get reception there. I've spent a large portion of the day by myself because I haven't been able to reach anyone via phone call or text message. I consider chucking my phone in the direction of the cushy AT&T-sponsored; Digital Oasis.
6:01 pm, Josh: I have to say it: I love Cat Power, but I don't like this covers-roadshow version of Cat Power. Of course it works better at a huge festival, where there's sun and beer and sweat and bikinis, but Chan Marshall's greatest moments are way more intimate than a scene like this can possibly allow.
6:04 pm, Kyle: Our negative review of Re-Arrange Us slammed the album's "suburban slump." Even though I thought reviewer Joshua Alston was a little nuts to give it a D+, maybe he was on to something: In front of me there's a middle-aged couple with their two young boys, and the mom is totally rocking out as Mates Of State closes with "The Re-Arranger." The boys, wearing basketball jerseys for Orlando's Dwight Howard and New Jersey's Vince Carter, aren't feeling it so much. But they did get their hair spray-colored neon orange and green, and they seem to be having a good time.
Random overheard quote: "If this is what we choose, let's fuckin' set it down then!"
6:05 pm, Kyle: The crowd for Bloc Party is giant. How many are fans, and how many are just securing a spot for Radiohead?
6:10 pm, Kyle: In a problem that would plague the AT&T; Stage all weekend—at least for non-headliner bands—poor sound severely hampers Bloc Party as it opens with "Hunting For Witches." At first, it sounds like we're only getting the stage sound—monitors, amps—and not the actual PA. By the second chorus, it gets a little louder, but it's still completely thin and lacks any punch. The band moves on to "Waiting For The 7:18," another track from last year's fantastic A Weekend In The City, and the drums get louder. The guitars, on the other hand, sound like a wall of distorted mud. Then, suddenly, the snare drum gets far louder than anything else. In a word, it's terrible. It renders the propulsive ending to "7:18" completely anticlimactic. When frontman Kele Okereke fumbles with his guitar pedals, it becomes obvious that he knows something's amiss.
6:21 pm, Josh: I much prefer The White Stripes to The Raconteurs, but the latter were completely on at this 90-minute set. Though he only sings half the songs, Jack White is clearly the leader, leading the crowd in chant-alongs and generally getting things riled up. He makes wanky guitar solos seem hardly wanky at all. Classy, almost. Speaking of classy, standing about five feet away from me for the whole show was Air Force Amy of the HBO series Cathouse, a reality show about a legal brothel in Nevada. That's right, real-life prostitutes, rocking out to The Raconteurs. I asked if I could get my picture taken with her, and she agreed, then gave me a postcard with her web address on it. "I rocked with you in Chicago! I'll rock your world at the Bunnyranch!" it reads.
6:25 pm, Genevieve: I showed up early to the BMI stage hoping to wrangle a good spot for The Cool Kids, but I'm treated to a surprisingly great performance by Cadence Weapon, who I'm familiar with in name only. He tells the audience to "jump like I'm fucking Method Man," throws candy into the crowd, and takes over the turntables while his DJ scales the stage and hangs from the rigging. The BMI stage is tiny, but his show feels big, and it easily matches The Cool Kids' energy. I've never not enjoyed a Cool Kids show, and while I didn't dislike this performance in any way—in fact, they're tighter than ever—the audience includes way too many high-schoolers for my liking. Also, the bass is so huge, I can feel my arm hairs vibrating. (I stupidly forgot earplugs, something I somehow managed to do every day of the festival this year.) All this is enough to force me into retreating halfway through the set.
6:34 pm, Kyle: The heat, it continues. "We're from a cold, wet island," Okereke says. "We're not really used to this sort of thing." But he's fitting in like a local with his Obama T-shirt.
Inexplicable flag-waving: A woman watching Bloc Party sits on a friend's shoulders and waves the Finnish flag.
7:11 pm, Kyle: In April 2008, the ongoing war between Perry Farrell/Lollapalooza and Jim DeRogatis, Chicago Sun-Times music critic and Sound Opinions co-host, escalated when DeRo leaked the festival's lineup before the official announcement. It peeved Farrell, who called out the Sun-Times last year onstage during his awful band's dreadful set—he said it was "like having a skunk at a party," and gave DeRo the nickname "Pepé LePew." DeRo responded by saying he didn't mind, because LePew got all the girls. (?) In the media area, DeRo walks around in a white T-shirt with Pepé LePew on the front. Fight! Fight! Fight!
7:45 pm, Kyle: When he played the Pitchfork Music Festival last year, Stephen Malkmus brought out more than a few Pavement favorites. But a half-hour into his set here, I don't think I've heard one yet. And all the guitar soloing makes me realize how much time has passed since Slanted And Enchanted.
7:45 pm, Josh: By the time The Raconteurs finish up, I realize it'll be too late to get a spot anywhere near Radiohead, the big headliner. They're playing unopposed at the south end of Grant Park, so all 75,000 ticket-holders are presumably heading down there as well. It's crowded as hell, and crazy. I work my way to a backstage area, but can't get too close. Wayne Coyne, standing right behind me, is even denied access. (Until a security guard recognizes him and his friends and leads them to a better spot.) Still, Radiohead sounds pretty magnificent. (No surprises, right?) I actually find that walking around provides a pretty interesting experience, seeing different pockets of people—from the expensive "Lolla Lounge" area to the even more expensive cabanas ($1,250 per person) to the media area, where lots of journalists were pecking away at laptops instead of watching the show. (Speaking of journalists, I'm going to thank Peter Maiden from Rolling Stone, who loaned me a tape recorder earlier in the day when I desperately needed one. And this is after me, not knowing his name and in a fit of desperation, walked up to him and said, "You're from Rolling Stone, right? Can I borrow your tape recorder?")
Anyway, back to the Radiohead… Fantastic light show, fantastic songs, and really great sound—though kinda quiet in some points. The best part for me—not the fireworks, everyone's gonna say fireworks—was walking out onto Columbus Drive during "No Surprises" only to see hundreds, possibly thousands, of people sitting on the grass across from the park, just listening. You could hear pretty perfectly from out there, and they could see—or not see—just as well as most people inside, I'm guessing.
8 pm, Kyle: Radiohead is the only game in town at Lolla right now, and the giant field in front of the AT&T; Stage is completely full. No one's getting close to the band, and in these types of situations, it inevitably dilutes the impact of the music—especially when you're just far enough away that people can chat with relative ease. Sure, "15 Step" sounds good as Radiohead begins, but I keep waiting for something more. Dammit, expectations, get lower!
8:03 pm, Kyle: There's a woman at the front of the stage under a bright white spotlight, signing the lyrics. I can only think of Napoleon Dynamite's Happy Hands Club. All I know is, I wouldn't want to be standing in front of thousands of people dancing and signing Thom Yorke's mumbles. She's a brave soul.
8:42 pm, Kyle: When Radiohead begins "No Surprises," dozens and dozens of cell phones go into the air. Wow, that's kind of a downer to have as "our song."
9:00 pm, Keith: Yeah, right, like there was anything better than the fireworks, Josh. They kicked in at 9:00, practically timed to the beginning of "The Bends," and climaxed in the middle of "Fake Plastic Trees," a moment so perfect that even the cell-phone-toting choads around me shut up. ("Dude, I'm calling you from Radiohead!") For all the downsides to the big fest, this was a true only-at-Lollapalooza moment.
9:04 pm, Kyle: A police officer on a four-wheeler parked on the street bordering the AT&T; Stage asks a bystander who's playing. When a guy told Radiohead, he exclaims, "That's Radiohead? They sound terrible!" The guy tells him to take his helmet off.
Random overheard quote: "My friend Dave's the singer. He's a badass. He's an asshole, but he's a badass."
10:15 pm, Keith: Leaving, I saw another pair of only at Lollapalooza moments: Stuck in line trying to exit, a guy wearing a Sublime T-shirt starts skillfully singing opera to considerable applause. (Once the novelty wears off, people start to ignore him.) Then another guy pushes his way through the crowd with his vomiting friend slung over his shoulder. He looks like he should be leaving on a stretcher. I've got plans for the rest of the weekend, and suddenly that doesn't seem like such a bad thing.
SATURDAY, AUGUST 2
10:41am, Wes: Saturday morning, I get a last-minute call from Kyle, offering me a media pass to Lollapolooza. Rage. You may ask yourself: How did I get here? On the way out the door, I see my reporter's notebook on top of the dresser. You may ask yourself: How do I work this?
3:15 pm, Wes: Entering the park, Kyle and I pass a local news crew shooting intros. A group of kids wearing Rage Against The Machine gear pass behind the reporter, screaming "Tom Morello, Schaumburg, Illinois!" "Rage, YEAH!" "Don't forget about Wilco!"
3:15 pm, Kyle: A forecast early in the week called for temperatures in the mid-90s all weekend, but fortune has smiled on Lollapalooza. Saturday is gorgeous, with cooler temperatures than Friday and a near-constant breeze in a cloudless sky. Perry Farrell couldn't have asked the pagan gods he worships for a better day.
3:23 pm, Wes: Standing next to me in the crowd for MGMT is a grinning middle-aged guy in a fishing hat and shades, holding a Buffalo Sabres pennant like the color guard holds the American flag. He doesn't move a muscle, except to take luxurious hits from the joint being held by his female companion.
3:36 pm, Kyle: I've heard DeVotchKa referenced in terms of Gogol Bordello, but I don't hear it. Sure, DeVotchKa has an "ethnic" sound, but it's not nearly as pronounced as GB. When the band plays "Queen Of The Surface Streets," it sounds like a regular ol' indie-rock song, just with violin and tuba.
3:44 pm, Wes: The transitive property: Sloane Crosley likes MGMT, and I like Sloane Crosley, so I'll like MGMT, right? Well, not so much. In the first 15 minutes, I can tell I won't be staying. Too groovy for their own good. On to DeVotchKa!
3:50 pm, Wes: The similarity of Booka Shade's synchronous head-bobbing to the Night At The Roxbury dudes cannot be overstated. Arno Kammermeier's stage banter takes the comparison further, confirming him as Lollapalooza's pathetic ex-boyfriend: "We love all of you! We came from Berlin to see you! Let me see you!" These exhortations seem to herald a change in the music or the end of a track—unfortunately, the song stays the same.
3:51 pm, Wes: In the Olympic section set up between the Citi stage and Buckingham Fountain, an older couple sits cross-legged on the ground, staring into each other's eyes, radiating, I imagine, pure love and mindfulness. The man is wearing a shirt featuring the likenesses of Larry, Moe, and Curly, with the title FRIENDS.
3:52 pm, Wes: I see my first Rage Against The Machine: Battle For Chicago T-shirt. It won't be the last.
3:55 pm, Kyle: Lollapalooza's pro-environment message, no matter how inescapable or overbearing, is still lost on some people. A guy standing next to me throws the plastic lid to his water bottle on the ground, when there's an unobstructed garbage and recycling can less than five feet from him.
3:59 pm, Wes: I have to step over two dudes sleeping in the hammock area, using a backpack as their common pillow. The similarity to the penultimate scene in Superbad cannot be overstated.
4:10 pm, Wes: I keep thinking, "Dude, this DeVotchKa song sounds exactly like the soundtrack to Little Miss Sunshine." English gentleman behind me: "If U2 and Arcade Fire fucked and had a baby, this would be their baby."
4:17 pm, Kyle: Texas instrumental outfit Explosions In The Sky has a reputation for making a holy racket, but their setup on the giant Bud Light Stage couldn't be more unassuming: two small combo guitar amps, a drum kit, a guitar cabinet and head combo, and a bass rig. It's all packed tight in a cluster, leaving vast expanses of the stage empty. No matter. When the band takes the stage at 4:30, it unleashes a power that a stage full of cock-rock full stacks couldn't top.
4:24 pm, Wes: At the highest peaks of geek cool sits Jeanie Shroder, DeVotchKa's bassist, who's wearing an evening dress, playing a sousaphone, and doing a limited Rockette routine.
4:31 pm, Kyle: Guitarist Munaf Rayani shows the band's humble, unassuming demeanor when the band takes the stage. "For some of you who know us, thanks, because it's because of you that we can play such grand arenas. And for those of you who don't know us, let's see if we can't change that by hour's end." By hour's end, I wonder why I'm not listening to Explosions In The Sky all day, every day.
4:43 pm, Kyle: You wouldn't think that some of Explosions In The Sky's airy, more atmospheric moments would work in a big festival setting, but they do. People are shockingly quiet, aside from the cluster of fratboys near me talking incessantly and shouting bad jokes. When they leave a few minutes later, proper reverence for the band's formidable abilities is restored.
4:52 pm, Wes: In this brave new post-DeVotchKa world, Russian folk dancing has replaced oblivious swaying as the default dance move of the stoned white girl.
5:05 pm, Kyle: Although there's less ironic fashion here at Lolla than there was at Pitchfork, one guy I see almost single-handedly makes up for the disparity: skin-tight white tiger-print pants; white cheetah-print scarf wrapped around his forehead; big, girly sunglasses; and what can only be described as a poofy red blouse around his torso. Then there's the couple wearing matching short ringer running shorts with striped tube socks pulled to the knees.
5:12 pm, Wes: In line to use the ATM, a wiry kid wearing a Radiohead shirt gives some career advice: "Note to self. Next year, become drug dealer and camp out in the shade by the ATM."
5:15 pm, Kyle: Guy next to me during Explosions In The Sky, to no one in particular: "Goddamn, they're fuckin' good."
Random overheard quote: "It was just gay enough."
5:24 pm, Wes: I pass Spank Rock while heading to the southern end of the park and am told "There ain't no pussy like new pussy." The brahs in the audience couldn't agree more, and pick up the chant with gusto.
5:40 pm, Kyle: The bass from Spank Rock on the Citi Stage seems like it could shatter windows within a half-mile radius.
5:45 pm, Genevieve: Jamie Lidell's sax man is playing two saxophones at once! The performance is silly and impressive in equal measure: Lidell and his band mug it up and dance in ill-fitting costumes, but also employ a wide range of techniques and instruments, often simultaneously. At one point, Lidell's band leaves the stage and he sets up in front of a sampler, where he lays down more than a dozen keyboard riffs and vocal tracks—including himself beatboxing—mixing it into what can only be described as a club banger without any discernable fumbling. The band returns for the more soul-oriented second half of the set, but Lidell continues to use the sampler.
6:33 pm, Kyle: Following a spoken-word intro that recaps his storied, uh, three-year history with Lollapalooza, Lupe Fiasco comes out to the Rocky theme, shadowboxing, stretching, and even doing a back-flip. The AT&T; Stage's sound issues continue as Fiasco opens with "Kick, Push"—the instruments and hype man's mic are significantly louder than he is. In fairness to the sound man, there is a lot happening; onstage is a three-member horn section, a choir of roughly 15 people, guitar, bass, drums, a DJ, backup singer, and two keyboardists.
Inexplicable flag-waving: Someone sits on a person's shoulders and waves the Irish flag.
6:00 pm, Wes: Two hours before showtime, the Rage hunker is beginning in earnest. If you aren't close to the stage now, you're not going to be.
6:54 pm, Wes: Woman spills most of her beer on my leg. Makes eye contact. Says nothing.
6:55 pm, Kyle: Text message from Genevieve: "Alert!! Lohan is on the grounds!! Watch for la Lohan!" Sadly, I never see LiLo.
6:59 pm, Kyle: Fiasco's rendition of "Hi-Definition" is particularly rousing, as he, the hype man, and his backup singer bound around stage like they're on speed. His set feels like a collection of set-ending epic jams, the ones you save to end on a high note. In the hour he performs, I get goosebumps twice.
Random overheard quote: "St. Peter is where the treaty was signed."
7:01 pm, Kyle: In case it isn't obvious, Fiasco is a proud Chicagoan, changing the lyrics in "Go Go Gadget Flow" slightly to say "We in a city in the Midwest, the best city in the whole wide, wide world." After "Hi-Definition," he professes his love again, saying Chicago is "…where I was born and raised, where I grew up, and I never, ever left." A dig at ex-pats Kanye and Common, perhaps?
7:05 pm, Genevieve: Word is that Lindsay Lohan is in the vicinity, here with probably-girlfriend Samantha Ronson, who "spun" (or queued up her iTunes playlist) as a "special guest" at the DJ-centric Perry's stage, which is new this year. I consider moseying over there to ogle, but I got my fill of oontz-oontz during Lidell's set, and I'm enjoying lying in the grass listening to Broken Social Scene too much to summon the necessary energy to go Lohan-spotting.
7:22 pm, Kyle: Fiasco closes, unsurprisingly, with his hit single "Superstar," extending it significantly into an eight-minute-plus jam, reprising the chorus numerous times and working the stage and crowd into an ecstatic frenzy. He ends the song in the long, empty landing strip that runs from the sound booth to the stage, exhausted but obviously enjoying himself.
7:30 pm, Wes: I face a decision: Go see some other bands before Rage and then come back and watch the show from the media area, or fulfill my junior-high fantasy and start working my way into the pit. I go with wish-fulfillment.
7:33 pm, Kyle: Few people leave after Lupe, as the stage crunch for Rage Against The Machine, who plays in an hour, takes hold. The entire area around the AT&T; Stage is swarming—so much so that the bathrooms are overloaded, and dudes have just taken to pissing on the fences separating the festival from the street (and the regular folks from the press area). Outside, a 10-foot swath of sidewalk along Columbus Avenue is coated with urine running to the street. The cops come by a little later and order the urinators, "Put those little things away!" Welcome to Chicago, folks.
7:35 pm, Genevieve: It's getting cold. I'm cold at Lollapalooza. This has to be a first.
7:59 pm, Kyle: Every Lollapalooza needs its random '90s band. Last year, it was Silverchair. (Yes, yes, we know they're popular and never went away, but still.) This year, it's Texas band Toadies, which achieved some minor success in the mid-'90s with the hit song "Possum Kingdom." The group reunited a couple years back and has a new album out. "It's been a while since we've been in Chicago," says frontman Todd Lewis. "It's been a while since we've been… anywhere."
8:00 pm, Genevieve: One of the perks of my media wristband I employed repeatedly this weekend was being able to duck out the side fences and walk along the outside sidewalk to get from one side of the park to the other, rather than deal with the hordes within the park. As I'm walking along the perimeter fence to get to the south stage for Rage, I half-notice the sidewalk is wet, but don't think much of it—melting ice or whatever. Then I hear a leering "Hey ladies," and look to my left and realize there are dozens of guys lined up urinating against the mesh-covered fence. Suddenly the streams of liquid I'm walking through become a lot more offensive. (I also notice a few members of the fairer sex popping a squat farther down the fence. Classy.)
8:20 pm, Wes: False De La Rocha sightings ripple through the crowd at regular intervals. Next to me, a shirtless dude is holding two beers and telling his much younger companion that when the music starts, he's going to throw him in the air. The kid starts laughing with a mixture of nerves and terror before whispering to his friend, "Don't trust that guy! He's from Detroit!" His lack of trust does not prevent him from taking generous swigs from one of the two beer cups, which are being drunk communally.
8:30 pm, Kyle: It's Lolla's first big scheduling battle: Wilco on the Bud Light Stage, or Rage Against The Machine on the AT&T;? Sure, they have much different audiences, but for sheer spectacle, Rage has Wilco beat. The band hasn't played Chicago in years and years, and Wilco just played Lolla two years ago. (And locals usually have a few opportunities to see them every year.) The crowd is favoring Rage, as the field and surrounding areas fill up. Immediately after the Toadies play the last note of their last song, the huge audience in front of the AT&T; Stage begins cheering. An air-raid siren announces Rage's arrival, and the crowd erupts. This is going to be messy.
8:38 pm, Wes: "We're Rage Against The Machine, from Los Angeles, California." Rage look like picture-book versions of themselves, with Zack De La Rocha in his red shirt, Morello wearing the Ford auto uniform and the UNITE hat, and abusing the blue Arm The Homeless Mongrel custom. Commerford is shirtless, Wilk is sleeveless.
8:40 pm, Genevieve: Rage Against The Machine sounds like it's playing in a box. Judging by the undulating waves of humanity in front of the stage, it's plenty intense up front, but even only halfway back the field, there's little rage to be had—more of a confused, semi-annoyed muttering. To my left, a guy keeps shouting, "I can't hear you, Zack!", because that will totally help. I bail during a long lull that I assume is meant to deal with the sound issues. Later on, however, I find out that there was a massive crowd surge that led to several people being injured, as well as several incidents of fence-jumping along the perimeter of the festival that resulted in kids being chased by police on horseback. I'm glad I left to catch the end of Wilco's set, where the scariest thing going on was the band's Nudie suits.
8:42 pm, Wes: The first two songs are intense, more so than any concert I've been to. From the first note, I'm leaping up and down along with thousands of other people, totally happy. Almost immediately, I lose my shoes, my hat, and my mind.
8:45 pm, Kyle: De La Rocha makes the first of many pleas for the audience to take "five to 10" steps back and give each other room. The band's performance will stop numerous times as the wounded are rescued from the heaving mass in front of the stage.
8:46 pm, Wes: De La Rocha stops the show in the middle of "Know Your Enemy," bringing the crowd to a confused halt. He starts asking the crowd to step back, telling us people are getting hurt. Delirious, crowd reaction in my section (shortstop) is along the lines of the guy beside me, "Fuck that!" And the guy behind: "They're stopping because we're too rowdy?" The dozen or so sobbing women and teenagers (and one very pissed, "I'm crying because I'm angry" dude) being led back through the crowd shut everybody up.
9 pm, Kyle: People rock out to Rage, but just like it was in the band's heyday, I'm unmoved. These guys have never done much for me, and now I've seen the spectacle that I expected. Time to go see what Wilco is up to.
9:10 pm, Kyle: At the opposite end of the festival, the sizeable crowd watching Wilco play "A Shot In The Arm" is less dangerous, but still passionate. The band is decked out in outlandish, sequined honky-tonk suits seemingly inspired by Col. Homer's outfit on The Simpsons. "The suit's not helping with the stage-presence thing," says Jeff Tweedy between songs.
9:14 pm, Kyle: Wilco plays a new "work in progress" called "One Wing" that's far more rocking than the material on Sky Blue Sky. It segues particularly well with "Spiders (Kidsmoke)," from 2004's A Ghost Is Born. Wilco extends the already-lengthy song to include even more instrumental freakouts, and it sounds fantastic.
9:15 pm, Wes: Rage plays a fantastic show. So far, it's been a generous helping of greatest hits and fan favorites, and audience participation is total. "Born Of A Broken Man," by far their most personal track, kills, and De La Rocha continues the habit of calibrating his lyrical intent to fit the moment. Indicating the Chicago skyline, and the politician of change who calls it home, "This is no oasis" takes on a new urgency and makes Rage, of all things, a voice of moderation.
9:45 pm, Wes: Ah, the De La Rocha screed we've all been waiting for. "For the past eight years, we've been told about the unknown, outside entity that's threatening our lives, or jobs, and our livelihoods… and after eight years, we've discovered that that entity is our own government! And it's not just Bush…" He goes on to rip Congressional Democrats for turning their backs on us in 2006, the real terrorists in the government, and of course, Obama. The rest of Rage seems happy with Obama, except to note that if he doesn't follow through on his promises, a generation of young black and Latino men who don't care about politics, but care about jobs and food and justice, are going to make the country "an offer it can't refuse!" The speech comes just before the leveling crescendo of "Wake Up," and when the release comes, the crowd is absolutely frenzied.
10:00 pm, Wes: Rage finishes its set and leaves the stage. The inevitable encore comes after about five minutes. They play—what else?—"Freedom" and "Killing In The Name."
10:30 pm, Wes: I'm cleared out of the media area where I took refuge from the surging masses at the end of the show. After my first day at Lollapalooza, I've seen two great acts and one legend, fulfilled an adolescent fantasy, lost personal belongings, and cut up my feet. Not bad, but the walk to the train was a bitch.
10:31 pm, Josh: I wasn't there, but I just wanted to note that Jim DeRogatis' blog did a great job of trying to separate fact from fiction about what exactly happened at the Rage show—particularly the surge of people from outside. He also includes links to even more blogs and lots of photos.
11:24 pm, Josh: I skipped Saturday's Lollapalooza for several reasons, including this one: I wanted to be fresh enough to report from some of the after-show action for you, dear readers. So my day started at night, after a failed attempt to see Step Brothers at the River East 21. There were tons of officially sanctioned shows starting after Lolla, and featuring lots of the bands that played. Rogue Wave played Schubas, Mates Of State and MGMT played Double Door. I chose to see CSS and Bloc Party at House Of Blues. CSS, I'm only semi-sorry to say, strike me as all flash and no substance. They're Brazilian, they wear costumes, the music is fun enough. But there's nothing to it. Bloc Party, on the other hand, I can't stop loving, even as people stare quizzically at me for big-upping A Weekend In The City. Their Friday Lolla show was apparently a disaster, but they more than made up for it here, with a fiery set and a frontman—Kele Okereke, he of the recent fight with Johnny Rotten—who was all smiles, all the time. He mentioned the Lolla gig several times, saying things like, "This is so much better than yesterday! No offense, Thom!" and "When Bloc Party come to town, you get the fuck down." Regular bassist Gordon Moakes wasn't there—his wife is about to give birth, apparently—but the show was pretty hitchless. Except they played that kinda bad new song, "Mercury." Still, that song featured a second drummer, who was dressed as Elmo. And they covered Prince's "I Would Die 4 U," which was pretty hot, to quote Paris Hilton.
1:39 am, Josh: I'm all set to take one for the team and head to the Belvedere Vodka/Perry Farrell invite-only after-bash, which promised appearances by all kinds of celebrities. (Well, Slash, anyway.) But a rapid succession of e-mails told me first that the party was moved to Sound-Bar (good, close to where we are!), then cancelled completely. On the way back to the car, we walked by Pete Wentz's new Chicago club, Angels & Kings (which is scarily close to our office), but didn't go in. I thought they might be carding people and making the over-21s stay outside and wait in the car.
SUNDAY, AUGUST 3
11:35 am, Genevieve: There are very few acts that can get me to drag my tired ass downtown on the third day of a massive music festival early enough to get to the park when it opens, especially when I'm planning on staying through the end of the day. But Kid Sister trumps festival fatigue for me, so here I am, camped out in front of the AT&T; Stage almost a full hour before my favorite lady rapper is set to go on. Still, my devotion is nothing compared to the dozens of Kanye-heads who are already settled in along the barricades, staking out their territory for a show that won't happen for almost nine hours.
12:45 pm, Genevieve: Kid Sister seems absolutely thrilled to be playing the main stage, and she puts on a high-energy, endearing performance, even though her stage show lacks the scale to fill the festival's biggest platform. Her three main backup dancers are great—especially when they come out wearing track suits and toting salon chairs and copies of US Weekly during "Pro Nails," Kid Sister's ode to getting your nails did. But they don't quite manage to fill up the stage along with Kid Sis, her brother/hype man J2K of Flosstradamus, and her DJ. The show gets a little janky when a cadre of gold-painted models come out for an awkward, poorly rehearsed routine to a new song (which I can't remember the name of, sadly), but Kid Sis laughs it off with typical good humor: "Give it up for them, we found those bitches at Old Navy."
1:37 pm, Genevieve: Parker Gispert of The Whigs comments on the heat—which actually isn't too bad, barely pushing 80 degrees—and asks the audience if they're all drinking enough water, which is met with an unenthusiastic response. "Are you drinking beer?" he tries again, this time greeted by loud cheers. "You should drink water," he admonishes. Hey, Parker, beer is like, 90 percent water.
3:22 pm, Genevieve: Someone has scattered "Kanye Sucks" flyers all over the south field. One guy wearing a pair of those stupid sunglasses picks one up and angrily throws it. It flutters back to the ground in almost the exact same spot, lying in wait to enrage its next victim.
3:38 pm, Josh: I'm slightly excited to see The Black Kids, because word is that they're way more exciting live than their lackluster-ish debut, Partie Traumatic. They were decent, and actually drew a pretty massive crowd to a side stage, but it ultimately left me cold. Unless they write six more songs like the one about teaching your boyfriend to dance, they'll be a footnote in very short order.
4:02 pm, Josh: Heading over toward Iron & Wine, I hear the unmistakable strains of Jane's Addiction's epic "Three Days," but it's coming from the Kids' stage. I am puzzled, too, so I find my way to the side of the stage and see that it's the Paul Green School Of Rock All-Stars—a bunch of kids, I'd guess from 12 to 18 years old—ripping it the fuck up. And who's standing there eating it up? Mr. Lollapalooza himself, Perry Farrell. He looked genuinely touched, and when the kids finished the song, he jumped onstage and started clapping. Makes you almost forgive him for those Satellite Party songs, doesn't it?
4:41 pm, Josh: Iron & Wine has grown into something I have a lot less interest in. Call me a Luddite, but those early records, with Sam Beam barely breathing over a barely strummed guitar, were magical. Now it seems jammy, especially live. Not terrible by any means, and people really seem to dig it, but it just doesn't move me, especially in a big field.
4:43 pm, Wes: Iron & Wine continues the tradition of changing the arrangements for a live audience, and it's working just fine. "Woman King" sounds great, and "Upward Over The Mountain" takes on a more driving chug than just an acoustic guitar could provide. Still, there are far more sitters at this show than any of the others I've seen.
4:55 pm, Genevieve: The beverage stand I've been waiting in line at for 10 minutes is out of water—in fact, it's out of everything except beer. The one time I'm not after a beer, and it's all that's left.
5:15 pm, Josh: A Q101 DJ introduces Flogging Molly first as one of the greatest live bands in the world, and then as "one of the greatest bands on the planet." I'm pretty positive even Flogging Molly doesn't think Flogging Molly is one of the greatest bands on the planet. They'd probably rather hear The Pogues.
5:24 pm, Wes: Flogging Molly frontman Dave King takes off his jacket and takes a slug of beer from a can after the second song, and the crowd loves it. A small ray of hope falls into the dark living rooms of thousands of middle-aged men everywhere.
5:29 pm, Wes: During "Whistle The Wind," it becomes clear that King's habit of finishing off every line with "—eyaah" isn't confined to just one song. It's an annoying tic, but one he makes up for with amiably corny stage banter. "Redheads are just one step closer to hell." "I hate these big screens, because they make me look a bigger dick than I really am." "The Irish football team is in trouble. So much so that we had to hire an Eye-talian to coach the fookin' team."
6:05 pm, Wes: I take full advantage of the media area by milking SPIN for Soco and Sweet Leaf Tea, a weird mixture that's completely delicious. My lovely companion: "Isn't it so good this is free? I was going to want two bottles of wine, and now I don't!"
6:14 pm, Wes: Festival-goers seem to have decided Sunday was the best day to bring their kids. The highest percentage of the day goes to Gnarls Barkley—there are three kids within just 10 yards of where I'm standing. Gnarls' members come out dressed as… Vegas band leaders? They're wearing white dress pants and shirts, with green plaid bowties and mustard jackets. Cee-Lo inquires as to whether we're ready for some "fucking rock 'n' roll." The little girl in front of me looks to her dad for translation.
6:15 pm, Josh: I make my way to one of the fancy viewing platforms to see Love & Rockets, which was probably my favorite band in the entire world when I was 15. (I once camped out for tickets to see them in Milwaukee—the Pixies opened. It was fab.) They definitely look older and not terribly committed to playing, but it was a fun nostalgia trip in any case: "No New Tale To Tell," "It Could Be Sunshine," and even "Ball Of Confusion" made me want to pull out their records. Oh yeah, before we were allowed on the platform, Trent Reznor snuck his way up to a secure viewing spot. He looked nervous. And muscular.
6:24 pm, Kyle: Girl Talk is playing one of the small ancillary stages, but the crowd is far too big for the venue. It extends far to the back and into the main pedestrian traffic lanes, and around the stage in a giant half-moon. The sound spillover from Gnarls Barkley, who's ripping through its Violent Femmes cover "Gone Daddy Gone" on the AT&T; Stage, could be problematic.
6:25 pm, Genevieve: Three guys have been tossing a Frisbee over me and my friends for a half hour now, coming very close to hitting my face on several occasions. As the disc drops on our blanket for the third time, one of my friends quickly sits on it. The guys eventually figure out where their missing disc is, and after a heated exchange, sulk away, leaving us to enjoy Love And Rockets without fear of being beaned. Damn kids… Stay off my lawn! Next Frisbee I find, I'm keeping!
6:25 pm, Wes: Cee-Lo loses his jacket after the first song, his bow-tie after the next. Is it too much to hope for pants?
6:33 pm, Kyle: The crowd at Girl Talk is impatient. Three times before sole member Greg Gillis takes the stage, the crowd erupts into synchronized clapping and, later, chanting. On stage, the setup is simple: a crappy folding table and a laptop. Welcome to the new paradigm, people.
6:38 pm, Kyle: Gillis finally bounds onstage in a red-and-white tracksuit and hops on the table. "I know it's sunlight out, and I been up all night, but I'm ready to go crazy right now. I hope y'all will come with me a little bit." The excited crowd cheers, and within minutes, the stage is full of people dancing, and others around me are scaling trees.
6:38 pm, Wes: Barkley's show bogged down a bit, with lag times between songs where Danger Mouse kept getting up from the keyboards and talking to the musicians, even going backstage. But "Just A Thought" brings everyone back, a bombastic tune perfect for the setting.
6:57 pm, Wes: As an aside, the port-a-johns have been manageable all weekend, with relatively short lines and decent enough facilities. Even though this was Lolla's biggest crowd to date, the little things were still taken care of.
7:00 pm, Wes: A woman in a bikini sneezes on my water bottle, then moves on with her life.
7:01 pm, Wes: I turn the corner onto Balbo, hoping to catch the end of Girl Talk, and see that the lunatics are running the asylum. The Citi stage has been turned into an elevated dance floor, with dozens of fans working it out for the benefit of the crowd. It looks, and sounds, pretty great.
7:15 pm, Kyle: People may be leaving Girl Talk early—presumably to snag a spot for the upcoming headlining performances—but they're dancing on their way out. It seems no one can just walk normally as they make their way through the crowd; they're all swaying, pumping limbs, or otherwise moving rhythmically.
7:15 pm, Josh: And from Love & Rockets, one of my favorite bands half a life ago, to The National, one of my favorite bands now. (And forever!) I've seen them a ton of times recently, including just a couple of months ago opening for R.E.M., so I don't feel too bad ditching about three-quarters of the way through an excellent set (excellent except they were playing in the daylight, which is weird) to try and find a spot to watch Kanye West.
7:22 pm, Kyle: Gillis kicks everyone off the stage because it was apparently bending. He sounds more psyched than concerned, congratulating everyone on making it happen. A guy in a gorilla costume scales a tree near the stage and sways back and forth on it. Gillis makes his exit from the stage minutes later in an inflatable raft riding atop the crowd.
7:25 pm, Wes: A portly fellow in white boxers, hiking boots, and nothing else stops traffic between Girl Talk and Buckingham Fountain with his private dancer routine, a mix of the robot and the ever popular sway-back-and-forth.
7:30 pm, Wes: By far the most popular T-shirt is Radiohead's In Rainbows design (it says something like "I'm trapped inside this body and I can't get out"), even two days after the fact. Coming in second is the "Battle Of Chicago" Rage shirt.
7:51 pm, Kyle: The crowd watching The National on the PlayStation 3 Stage is huge, but the area is full of people angling for a spot during Nine Inch Nails, who take the stage across from the PS3 one in 20 minutes. The National is, of course, killing it.
8:02 pm, Kyle: A random dude passing by on the sidewalk yells to us, "Rage against Obama! Don't vote for him, no matter what they tell you! Evil!" A couple minutes later, The National closes with "Mr. November," and singer Matt Berninger prefaces it by saying, "This song is not dedicated to John McCain. He seems like a nice enough guy, but this is not dedicated to him." The band is even selling Obama shirts with his face and "Mr. November" underneath it. (The money goes to his campaign.)
8:07 pm, Wes: Woman to her boyfriend after exiting port-a-john: "You guys need to train your penises so that you pee straight! That should be a high-school graduation requirement. My dress has tee-tee all over it!"
8:15 pm, Kyle: Nine Inch Nails begin at 8:15 on the dot, opening with "1,000,000" from The Slip. It begins a one-two-three punch of new material before the band dips into 1994's The Downward Spiral for "March Of The Pigs" and really unleashes it. The stage is awash in seizure-inducing strobes. Nearby, people climb a speaker tower to watch from above.
8:21 pm, Kyle: The Downward Spiral continues with "Closer." The crowd naturally erupts each time Reznor shouts in his creepy/sexy voice, "I wanna fuck you like an animal."
8:25 pm, Josh: Mark Ronson, who's playing directly across the field from where Kanye West will be, is running a little long. He does his indie covers, including The Smiths' "Stop Me If You Think You've Heard This One Before." Alex from Phantom Planet joins him for "California." It's okay, but the biggest buzz about Ronson today is that his sister's supposed girlfriend—that'd be Lindsay Lohan—is around. I never saw her myself, but apparently it was true. No Barack Obama, either.
8:26 pm, Wes: Kanye's people represent. His crowd doesn't quite rival Rage's in quantity, but the excitement level is close. It's the second largest crowd I've seen in two days, but the fuzz discomfort levels are clearly down. For instance, there is no snarling sergeant ordering me to get off the steps.
8:33 pm, Wes: Kanye kicks things off with a lone smoke machine and a backstage "Dip, dip, shh." Suddenly thousands of people are raising their hands in the air to make a diamond, showing that they, too, have the power to make one with their bare hands.
8:35 pm, Josh: Kanye West tells Chicago "Good Morning," and the massive throngs—it doesn't seem any less packed than Radiohead—greet him. They will later be treated to sermons about how awesome he is. But damn, from anywhere past the stairs, this show is way too quiet.
8:38 pm, Wes: Kanye is wearing a hooded jacket he never removes, a print shirt and a variation on the glow-in-the-dark sunglasses that resemble science-class goggles. As he launches into the song, the grin on his face is 10 miles wide—he's clearly loving it.
8:45 pm, Wes: Kanye gives us his first fake collapse, the I-put-so-much-into-that-last-number, I-don't know-if-I-have-the-strength-to-go-on collapse. Then, against all odds, he finds the strength.
8:45 pm, Genevieve: I've muscled my way pretty close to the Nine Inch Nails stage, at the behest of my friend, who is a NIN über-fan. The show is going great—Trent and company waste no time, jumping right into things with "Discipline" and "Closer"—but after a few minutes, we notice someone lying on the ground next to us, surrounded by concerned/annoyed onlookers. At first I think the guy has just partied a little too hard, but a quick conversation with a woman who claims to be a nurse reveals that he's in fact broken his leg and no one wants to try and move him. We all try to alert emergency services by crossing our arms over our head—one guy inexplicably has an orange traffic cone that he's waving around—but no one seems to be coming. My friend and I retreat to the back of the field, where we find some police officers and tell them what's up, only to have them inform us that Trent Reznor himself has forbidden any law enforcement from entering the crowd. Whether this is true or just evidence of a very lazy cop, the fact remains that the injured guy ends up spending the entirety of Nine Inch Nails' set stuck on the ground—thankfully, the people around him are well-schooled in pit etiquette and form a protective circle around him.
8:48 pm, Wes: "Can I take you back to where it all started?" asks Kanye before "Through The Wire." The crowd sings along in rapture. Three women have made a chain and are snaking their way through the crowd to the front of the stage. The first two are in their early 20s, in short-shorts and bikini tops, and the third is a platinum-blond 50-year-old.
8:53 pm, Kyle: Nine Inch Nails begin what will be a 20-minute interlude of mostly instrumental songs, broken up only by an extra-mellow version of "Piggy" from The Downward Spiral. Even with the cool visual effects—a loose screen hangs in front of the stage, as the band plays between two screens—it gets boring after a while. When the band explodes into "Wish," the crowd is back in it.
9:10 pm, Wes: The show has been one long paean to three of Kanye's dearest subjects: Chicago, his mother, and himself. "We put that city on the map, I put this city on my back, back in that number-one spot" is followed by moving tributes to his mother that fade into angry riffs on how she wouldn't believe the way people are treating him. Then he heads back into a nostalgic Chicago fever dream.
9:16 pm, Kyle: After getting old-school with "Terrible Lie"—from Nine Inch Nails' 1990 debut, Pretty Hate Machine—Reznor flings his guitar somewhere backstage. If he hadn't always been that way, I'd suspect 'roid rage. Dude is ripped these days. He may be kinda goth, but he'll beat the shit out of you, pal.
9:20 pm, Kyle: A guy behind us reads aloud the text message he just sent his friend: "I'm at Nine Inch Nails, and it's the best show I've ever seen!" He adds a minute later, "This is the best show at Lolla, hands down. It's already beat down Rage." As an old-school industrial rocker, I totally agree.
9:20 pm, Genevieve: After giving up my awesome spot to try and help broken-leg guy, I've somehow managed to work my way even closer to the stage—assisted by my very tall, strong friend who just picked me up and shoved us both toward the front. Yeah, we're those people. Before I know it, I'm in an honest-to-God pit, only a couple hundred feet from Nine Inch Nails, who are providing a light show that I suspect rivals Mr. West's over at the other end of the park. Things slow down a bit when the band starts tinkering with tracks from Reznor's recent instrumental releases, but the energy doesn't flag where we are in the crowd.
9:22 pm, Wes: For all of Kanye's posturing, it's undeniable that he puts on a hell of a show. He sums up his approach to live performance: "Are you having a good time tonight? Fuck that, I hope you have the time of your life."
9:28 pm, Wes: Oh my God. "I want you to tell your kids about me. Years from now, when they telling you what they into, I want you to say 'It ain't like Kanye.' In all other creative fields, you're supposed to push… in anything, in computers… If you were back in the '70s, with a big-ass computer that took up a whole room, and said 'In 20 years, we'll have a computer that fits in the palm of my hand,' that's what you're supposed to do. In music, they're obsessed with the past… If you dare say you're one of the greats, they'll call you crazy, asshole, out of your mind. If you dare to mention yourself in the same breath as James Brown, Jimi Hendrix… If I don't say who I am first, no one else will. My job onstage tonight is to try and be the greatest of all time… I'm not saying I'm there yet, not at all. But I'm going to the studio tonight. That might change in the morning."
9:45 pm, Genevieve: Holy God, "Head Like A Hole" almost killed me. I sort of wish that had actually been the end of the set, but the group comes back for three more, including "Hurt." It's a much mellower way to end the evening, and I find myself wondering if the rumors that Barack Obama might show up at Kanye's set are true. I start calculating how long it would take to bust it down there, and decide it's not worth it—which turns out to be a good choice, as Obama never showed.
10:05 pm, Wes: "Stronger" is the last song, and Kanye doesn't return for an encore. It was an excellent concert, with great songs that played well live and one of the more energetic one-man performances I've seen. West was moving the entire time, jumping and dancing, pumping up the crowd. If he isn't considered one of the greats, he has to at least be in the running for hardest-working man in show business.
10:06 pm, Josh: It was easily the most crowded Lolla yet, and sure, you could complain about the repeat performers from recent years. But it was also incredibly fun and well-organized, with something great to see pretty much everywhere you turned your head, from guys whizzing on a fence to guys climbing trees to guys busting down fences. Oh, and lots of music, too. We're already excited for next year, but we're glad it's 360 days away, too. We need some time to recover.