Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Three Seconds Say It All: Experiencing Lollapalooza Vicariously

So, as I figured, I didn't end up going to Lollapalooza at all this past weekend. My husband, however, had a great time over the course of the three-day event and thankfully did not end up getting trampled. When he arrived home each night and showed me the videos he captured, I was confident that I had made the right decision to NOT attend. Yes, I'm old. A picture and short (and I do mean SHORT) video he shot during Rage Against the Machine's performance the second night (Saturday) prove my point.

Here's the picture:

So that doesn't look THAT bad, right? Crowded, yes... but everyone at least seems to be coordinated in their efforts to rock out and/or take digital pictures.

But now check out the video, taken from that same spot minutes later. I will let you watch it first (it's safe for work, but you NEED the sound on) and then I will give my comments below. Unfortunately it's not as crisp of a picture as it is when I play it on QuickTime from my laptop, but you'll get the idea.

OK... so I watched this video about 50 times in a row after he came home Saturday night and laughed my head off every single time. Then I woke up in the middle of the night giggling about it. I keep re-watching it and keep laughing. Something about it just kills me. He said that he literally could not move, that's how packed it was, even fairly far back from the stage (the stuff being thrown in the sky was just water, by the way). As he attempted to hold up the camera, someone slammed into him from behind (people were moshing even that far back in the crowd!) and down came his arms as he struggled to not lose his footing or our camera.

I wish I knew if that weird scream noise at the end was him or someone else, but I guess it will remain a mystery (he has no memory of screaming, but I don't think he'd admit it if he did...). Anyway, he kept his camera in his pocket from that point on.

Shortly after the video above was taken, Rage actually had to stop their show because people were getting crushed up against the barricades near the stage. The lead singer asked everyone to "take ten steps back" and to not let their aggression out at the festival, but rather to "take it to the streets." What?!?! Was he instructing people to riot after the show? Who knows. Regardless, that didn't happen. But they did have to stop the show two more times to plead again with the crowd to move back.

Anyway, even though I got a kick out of his short clip, it reinforced my initial hunch that I would've absolutely hated dealing with that sort of crazy crowd.

His pictures and videos from the Radiohead set on the first night, however, did make me wish I could've watched their show from a bubble floating over the masses.

Here's just a partial clip of their performance of "The Bends," one of my favorites. The initial seconds of the video show the entire stage before zooming in.

He also recorded songs from Wilco, Battles and hyper DJ Girl Talk (a few lyrics near the beginning are not safe for work), for those of you who many be interested. The best part of the Girl Talk video is about 1 minute 40 seconds in, where a guy starts crowd-surfing right in front of my husband... two feet appear in front of the lens all of a sudden. Since Girl Talk (Gregg Gillis) is a DJ, he basically just let his laptop play and it looked like an all-out dance party. My husband reports that it was by far the craziest crowd (in a good way) of the weekend. If, like me, you already felt old before watching that video, you will feel absolutely ancient afterward.

My friend Adam Graham, who writes for The Detroit News, posted a recap of his Lollapalooza experience here, so be sure to check that out for more pictures and video clips, including one of the bizarre Girl Talk finale where he rode in an inflatable raft over the crowd while part of the chorus from Journey's "Faithfully" played on loop in the background. !?!?!

For those of you who mourn the loss of The O.C. as much as I do, I end this post with a video of the surprise appearance by Phantom Planet, singing "California" during Mark Ronson's performance. I cannot stop myself from wailing "Californiaaaaa, Californ-yaaaaaaaaaaa, here we coooooommmmmeeeee!" every time I hear this song.

Seth Cohen, I miss you.

- e


Anonymous said...


I had a similar experience getting squashed at a Pearl Jam concert out in San Francisco. The girlfriend and I kept sneaking closer and closer to the stage as the time neared for them to go on ... and when they did ... the whole crowd seemed to collapse and pack towards the stage to the point where you literally could not even move or raise your hands or anything. Brutal. Not to mention the combined heat of all the people hitting all at once. Dehydration city. Girl-friend had enough so she just snuck in behind me in a death grip and I just burrowed my way physically in survival mode 100 yards or so to fresh air. I suppose that is part of the experience but it just isn't fun. Nice to see a band live but sometimes not worth he hassle - I guess depending on the venue.

The Other E

Anonymous said...

Hi E!

My husband and & I saw Radiohead in Indianapolis & Cleveland this weekend (apparently they're too cool for Detroit). It was fantastic, and I think you would have enjoyed the Indy show, the crowd was reeeeally mellow. It was awesome.

My brother also saw GirlTalk at lolla this weekend and said it was awesome! Thanks for the videots!

OlNumba7 said...

I've seen Rage about 7 times, and that video pretty much captures the experience! The crowd kind of takes on a life of it's own, and the only choice you have is to go forward, or like The Other E said, go into survival mode and try to burrow out. It's pretty intense, but it was fun back in my younger days. Now, I think I'd be right about where you pointed out in your post! Anyway, love your writing, and keep up the good work!

Ariel Esteban Cayer said...

I went to the Radiohead show in Montreal.

Yeah and the crowd was really mellow there too, so it was great.

Though, survival mode is fun sometimes.

If you have the chance to, go see them (Radiohead) they are worth every last penny. So beautiful.

6 months to go before Lost returns,sniff.

Anonymous said...

Hey little e ...

Just a little neener from a friends computer. Spoke with my sister who said that a friend of hers asked her if she wanted to go see Radiohead (she did) and when they mentioned that to another friend - it turns out she knows the bassist really well - so that turns into why don't you just hang out backstage with everybody. So ... backstage passes for Radiohead. How cool is that?

The Other E

Erika (aka "e") said...

The Other E - That is crazy about your Pearl Jam experience! I saw them at the United Center once, from a box that was BEHIND the stage?!? Luckily they didn't have any screens and turned around to face us a lot, but it was still weird.

Regarding your friend of a friend who knows the Radiohead bassist, my husband can NEVER learn about this--he would die of jealousy!

Kristyn - I am glad you saw them and that it was great... the mellowness was what I experience when I saw them in Chicago at a smaller theater last year, so at least I will always have those good memories.

Olnumba7 - You are brave! Maybe if you saw them again now you would get caught up in it and make your way into the madness again.... you never know!

Ariel - Luckily I HAVE seen Radiohead before (there's an old post about it from last year), and I agree, it was great. I will definitely try to see them again in the future, as long as it's a "normal" venue.

- e