The Monday Morning Come Down: Our Thoughts on 25 Years of Lollapalooza!

Just your typical Lollapalooza crowd circa 1992.
After four rock solid days of too much sun, fun, and being annoying by the strangers in your vicinity, not to mention seeing more bands in a single weekend than you see all year, it is on Mondays like this that you come to the realization that you are sadly out of shape.

"I SAID 'YOU ARE SADLY OUT OF SHAPE!"

Don't worry, your hearing will bounce back in a day or so but that ringing you hear will stay for good. It's called tinitis and it comes from planting your Vans in front of the biggest motherfucking speaker you can find and letting the decibels nibble away at those wedge fries you call ears.



The only way to NOT be sadly out of shape when the next Lollapalooza rolls around is to do this more often. Luckily for you, there are more summer festivals than stars in the universe. Add to that the many street festivals taking place around the Windy City. It wouldn't take too much effort to get really good at this music festival thing.

It would mean quitting that cubicle job, though. They kind of expect you to be there on Mondays...and Tuesdays. Wednesdays too. Oh, you're not even listening to me, your scouring Craigslist for a sleeper van.

By Tuesday, your "free spirit" will have exhausted themselves at the complete life upheaval that would occur should you attempt to attend any more music festivals this year. The great thing about Lollapal\ooza is that you, cubicle hipster, get to act like a festival music aficionado without having to even leave town.

Thing is, I have seen an entire accounting department haul ass out into the desert for three days of rocking out and then do it AGAIN the very next weekend. Now, the cool thing about that is that its like getting a real-life "do over".



Let's say you came charging out of the gate too fast, got too drunk too early and totally missed the latest hip synth duo from Echo Park, or threw up on your best friends new shoes and was an oozy mess by the time you and your pals swung over to the Denny's "after-party", where you and a roomful of festival survivors demolished Grand Slams by the truckload.

As for me, well, I watched the whole festival from the comfort of my home...in various states of undress. I may have even jerked it to a couple of the finer acts. Did I type that out loud? Hey, it's a new century. Apparently, it's hip to admit that you dabble in self-pleasure so "when in Rome"...

Here's the thing: I am completely refreshed this morning. I got, like, thirteen hours of sleep, spent some serious quality time with my housemates (the gaggle of pets who make life worth living), and, shock of all shocks, was actually early to work this morning.

Holy shit, this music festival thing might actually be good for me. Based on today's streaming capabilities and the fact that every REAL music festival streams their performances live online, I can catch all of the major music festivals from the comfort of my domicile and probably wind up getting that promotion.

Hell yes!

The trains coming into the city will be carrying a bunch of comatose zombies in their casual business attire, this being the new millennium and all.

The Monday after I attended the '92 Lollalpooza festival, I had to come to work in a suit and tie. In the middle of the freakin' summer. We ALL did back then. You ever see an old picture of when they used to get dressed up to go to ball games? That's how it used to be for a shitty Monday morning 9-to-5 gig. You could be pushing papers in a closet for eight hours, but they still made you wear a freakin' suit and tie.

THAT was "the struggle" back then.

There WAS no "casual Friday" in those days. No "Hawaiian shirt day". Just "wear a suit and tie and be miserable all summer day" five days a week. Oh, to have been able to stream the first Lollapalooza festival, can you imagine?

Being able to save yourself the time and trouble of hauling ass out to some barren field in the middle of nowhere in hopes of catching that new band Nine Inch Nails, whose synthesizers proved incapable of taking the oppressive heat. Trent's onstage meltdown would have gone viral and he'd have been a household name within 24 hours.

Siouxsie Sioux and Ice-T at Lolla '91.
As it was, only those who saw it with their own eyes know it happened and, like an above ground swimming pool, it got old after about 30 seconds.

Also, seeing Ministry during the day was probably the single scariest moment of a lot of people's lives that weekend. This wasn't just a band that was allergic to windows, they looked like something that had just been dug up out of a sewer pit and forced to perform.



You also had Ice T and Siouxsie & The Banshees sharing the same bill. Nowadays, you wouldn't think anything of it, but, back then, it was mind-expanding. A lot of suburban kids who thought they knew shit came away from those shows with their minds expanded. That's what happens when you take in a Butthole Surfers performance.

Even the guys in Living Colour (yeah, they were there too!) were left with jaws dropped.

As night fell, though, it got scary. Not "I might be killed" scary, but "what it feels like to be on the set a Walking Dead episode" scary. There were no sky-high video screens everywhere you turned, there were torches and goth chicks (oh, wait, that one's a dude) everywhere. I mean, it was a music festival founded by the freaky singer for Jane's Addiction who, at the time, were

While it's surely a testament to technology to be able to stream every performance from our own devices, there's something to being the only ones to witness the closest thing to a UFO landing that any of us are going to get.

The highlight of Lolla 2016, without a doubt, was Radiohead's set. I am a lukewarm Radiohead fan at best and consider them vastly overrated considering the number of bands capable of doing what they do and to not be deathly afraid of losing their hipster cred for giving us a chorus we can drive home singing.



Maybe it was the fact that I was in my boxers and watching two kittens wrestle at my feet, not to mention two days after the band's actual performance, that I was able to enjoy Thom Yorke in all his twitchy, vocally meandering glory while the rest of the band attacked their instruments with both fury and precision. At times, I found myself thinking "They're the new Steely Dan" and, at others, they struck me as singular in what they do. I mean, let's say you don't actually LIKE Kraut rock, but when Radiohead drones on for ten minutes, it's cool. I get it.

But this time, I actually got it.  And, best of all, at my version of Lolla, they opened for LCD Soundsystem on Sunday night. How cool is that.

LCD blessed the city not only with a fine performance on Sunday, but two smaller shows at the Metro that sold out in a split second.


By all accounts, it was a blast to see LCD without the obligatory music festival Jumbotron visual assault, just a band and their fans sweating it out to the oldies. Everyone who went seems to be rubbing our noses in it about how awesome the shows were. Thus far, scant few clips are available on YouTube, but that'll no doubt change over the next few days.

What was my main take-away from this year's festival, you ask?



It was the fact that, in 25 years, Jane's Addiction has gone from being one of the most subversive and frighteningly visceral rock bands on the scene to...something a whole lot safer for mass consumption. I mean, if you told us then that in 25 years, seeing the guitarist from Rage Against The Machine sit in with Jane's Addiction would be anything less than incendiary, we'd have laughed you out of the EDM tent that didn't exist yet.

I mean, if the clip below qualifies as incendiary on any level...I'll eat my Che Guevara military cap. 



Now, it's not a bad performance by any stretch, but WHERE'S THE DANGER?! Perry looks like he just got off work as maitre'd at the Vegas CBGB's.

It's as dangerous as an episode of "Solid Gold" with Andy Gibb and Marilyn McCoo hosting. Do rock concerts really need "production values"? Does everything have to be "just right"? Does every act really have to rely so heavily upon backing tracks and touring with a video director and camera crew? It would be one thing if there was some thematic thought put to it. I am reminded of R.E.M.'s use of video in the '80s. It was mindless, sure, but it had a message, a theme, and added something to the experience without overshadowing the talent onstage.

By comparison, I give you...Major Lazer.



Back in the day, when U2 were filing shows for what would become Rattle & Hum, we concertgoers took special notice of the camera booms and additional lighting. It was a huge undertaking in those days to film anything at a concert. Now, every person there is shooting HD video. What next, scanning our own groceries at the supermarket?

Oops, we already do that. Welcome to the future, everybody.

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