Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Lollapalooza - Day Three

We started out with breakfast at Schuba's - the last time I had been there was when Jeremy and I saw Okkervil River on consecutive nights. The forecast warned of rain, so we brought along a couple of ponchos just in case. Erin tested them to make sure they worked.

The first act I saw on Sunday was Lupe Fiasco. The highlight was hearing him rap over Thom Yorke's The Eraser.

Jeremy and I caught the end of Iggy Pop while trying to get a good spot for Modest Mouse.

And then we waited for an hour, in the mud and heat - no room to even sit. The ground was littered with remnants from the Iggy Pop show - broken sunglasses, t-shirts, several orphaned shoes. This was the calm before the storm.

Modest Mouse was insane. The crowd lost it. At some point, I turned around to look at the sea of people behind me and saw a tide of crowd surfers coming in.

In the words of Jeremy: "The crowd was a pretty fascinating mix of out of control douche bags and good hardcore fans which really upped the electric atmosphere." Both can be seen in the above picture, along with Modest Mouse in the background.

The epic three day outdoor concert that was Lollapalooza ended with my original favorite band. This is the band that made me grow my hair long and wear flannel in fifth grade. In honor of the occasion, Jeremy and I wrote on our arms in Sharpie.

Pearl Jam was a party. I knew just about every single word to every single song.

The song they ended on was a cover of Keep on Rocking in the Free World. At some point, Eddie invited people from backstage to join him. Eddie climbs up on someone's shoulders, still singing. I look up at the jumbotron, and realize it's Dennis Rodman that Eddie has just mounted.

Lollapalooza was awesome.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Lollapalooza - Day Two

Another Lollapalesson: Pack on the calories early in the day. You will need them later. On day two, we hit up McGees - Jeremy wanted us to experience their build-your-own-bloody-mary bar. Here's a shot of me with "the hog," a dish highly recommended by our server, which includes: bacon, hash browns, ham, three eggs, pancakes, sausage, and french toast.

Oh my god, I'm From Barcelona may be my new favorite band. Adopting the more-is-more technique employed by The Polyphonic Spree, I think I counted at least 16 Swedes on stage. Including a guy dressed as a bear. I don't think he had an instrument. He may have had a microphone. Mostly he clapped along.

This was the band's first US performance. Here are a couple shots of lead singer Emanuel Lundgren and his uncontainable enthusiasm:

Tapes n' Tapes was next up. It was an odd experience - I think because I had seen them play at Grand Old Day a month prior with a much smaller crowd. Also the lead singer was wearing the same t-shirt. This was followed by Silverchair. Oh, Silverchair. I guess Erin thought it was hot when Daniel Johns took his shirt off. I left early to get a good spot at...

Rhymefest! This was a fun show. Rhymefest makes you wish you were from Chicago...

... and the Hold Steady make you proud to live in the Twin Cities. I truly love this band. No, Craig Finn - here's to you.

The day was capped off with the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Muse. The picture above is a pretty good representation of what Muse's stage show looks like. After a healthy dose of sensory overload, we went home, ate Chicago deep dish pizza, and fell asleep.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Lollapalooza - Day One

The set up: Josh, Erin, one-armed Emily, and I will drive up to Chicago - meeting up with Matt and Jeremy for Lollapalooza. The six of us will sleep in Jeremy's studio apartment, located on the outskirts of Boystown, and ride the El each day to the festival. And there will be music, merrymaking, and dancing. And mud and sunburns and the stifling sweaty heat from 100,000 bodies pressed against yours. And hard decisions: Do I miss Clap Your Hands Say Yeah to get a good spot at the Hold Steady? If I drink this entire Camelbak full of water in order to avoid dying, will I have to pee in the middle of Daft Punk?

So we start the first day with six people sharing one shower, followed by bagels and a ride on the most terrifying form of public transportation in the world (barring perhaps India's Red Line busses): the El. After cheating death, I caught my first glimpse of Lollapalooza:

The first band I saw was Illinois. This was followed by Ted Leo and the Pharmacists - Ted fell midset and cut his hand open, but kept on playing. Here's Josh, awestruck:

After Ted Leo, we headed over to see the Polyphonic Spree. This is where I learned my first lesson of Lollapalooza: there is often a direct correlation between the number of people on stage and how awesome the show is. Jeremy and I managed to snake our way through the crowd for a good spot.

My expectations for this show were not that high. But the Spree brought it. They came out in paramilitary garb - black uniforms with red heart-shaped patches - an odd mix of symbolism.

The experience was euphoric. It felt as though there was something bigger than the music, this feeling of possibility. The concert really exploded when they covered Nirvana's Lithium. Here's Jeremy singing along:

Next on the list was MIA - and the earth shaking bass felt good.

Matt and I then checked out the Black Keys. Matt had been told in the past that he bears a striking resemblance to the lead singer. You be the judge:

The day was capped off with a performance by Daft Punk. I was unable to meet up with Josh, who had staked out a good spot several hours in advance. I could literally see him 20 feet away, but I had run into an unbending human wall. As the sun set on Chicago, the curtains opened to reveal a massive pyramid. Atop it stood two robots - sporting metallic helmets and designer leather suits. The crowd was ravenous, and there were times when I worried I might be crushed. The show was surreal - two robots sitting atop a pyramid playing French house.

Contentment mingled with exhaustion after ten hours of being outdoors, and we trekked it back to Jeremy's apartment to rest up for day two.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

ACM Recap

This year, the Alliance for Community Media Conference was held in Minneapolis, the fair city I currently call home. Last year I attended the conference in Boston (with two teenage girls in tow). This year, my entourage expanded, and we had five youth from SPNN attend all three days. Have I told you how awesome these guys are? With only three weeks left until my AmeriCorps term is up at SPNN, I can't tell you how I often I am blown away by them. There is so much joy in being a part of this.

A few highlights:

  • The ACM Youth Media Screening at the Walker Art Center! I put a good deal of work into coordinating elements of this, but the credit really goes to SPNN's Youth Advisory Committee, who really put in the work to make the event a success. The thing I loved about this was the youth involvement - all of the videos were created by youth, the event was emceed by youth. Too often we talk about youth rather than asking them to talk about themselves.
  • I spoke on a panel on Friday. This was a bit nerve-wracking, but I had Bekka and Nicola there to help me out. We spoke about the role of youth in Community Media Centers. I placed a great deal of emphasis on our Youth Advisory Committee, which I believe is the best example of how we approach youth involvement at SPNN. In short: create and foster community, ensure representation/voice/power, and encourage investment and ownership in the organization.
  • Meeting incredibly smart and creative people. And then seeing some of them dance along to the World's Most Dangerous Polka Band at Nye's Polonaise. And then biking around the 14th floor of the Marriot on Rox's bike at 3 in the morning.
  • The six hour Hands-On Youth Media Workshop we ran on Saturday. We worked with youth from around the country to create some really amazing videos about the ACM conference. These videos were shown during the closing ceremony, although not without nightmarish technical difficulties.
  • Realizing that I am damn good at what I do.