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Lollapalooza 2012 Fieldnotes: Vomit, Farts, & One Whiny Wale

Photo by Brian Sorg

Sure, we covered every important performance of Lollapalooza’s Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. But the most vital part of any concert happens everywhere but the stage. Here’s the real Lolla in all it’s rainy, barfy, farty glory.

Perry’s Stage was pretty much an underage bacchanal. I saw braces-aged kids barfing on the barrier, young teenagers passed out alone, barely conscious girls being propped up and made out with. Early Sunday evening another writer and I went for help for a motionless girl who was being cared for by other messed up kids — strangers — as she laid in the gutter. Cops cruised by, and security personnel only seemed concerned with people not getting backstage.

• Save for Bassnectar, Calvin Harris and Nadastrom, it seemed like all the EDM DJ acts at the Perry Tent were really bringing their lowest common denominator sets. There is nothing wrong with crowd pleasing — but folks were aiming to please in all the same ways.

• Last time I saw the Afghan Whigs play was in 1992. I was in ninth grade — I sat on a dumpster and watched them through a window of the Uptown Bar in Minneapolis. They were better this time. Bassist John Curley looks like he’s been in a prison yard working out since the band’s 2001 split. Their publicist should work on getting him a feature in Men’s Health to discuss his lifting regimen.

The Head and the Heart are a living iPod commercial. “It’s a hot one!” said the singer when they got on stage. Their stage banter seemed to be culled from interactions they’ve had with old dudes they’ve passed on the street.

Most curious things I saw Friday: A pack of I-own-a-sailboat tan dads trying to fist-bump teenage girls after the Whigs set.

• Two boys, maybe 11 or 12 years old, in tie-dye camp shirts horfing M&Ms and then crazy dances to crack each other up during Porter Robinson. I think I would have had more fun at Lolla if I had just stuck with them the whole time.

Biggest indignity: The guy that farted in my face during Black Keys.

Nadastrom yelled “Goodnight Chicago!” and instantly corrected themselves since it was like 1:55 in the afternoon.

• I hit up Florence + the Machine along with about 90,000 other people in attendance. Approximately 75,000 were sunburnt and shitfaced, and 30,000 of them were having loud conversations. The balance was young women crying and screaming along.


• You know that episode of Freaks & Geeks where newly not-square Lindsay has a house party when her parents are out of town and these stoned-out biker dudes show up and things get really weird really fast? Well, Friday at Lollapalooza kind of felt that way, what with the throngs of teens occasionally confronted with a wild-eyed dude there for Sabbath, and Sabbath only. At one point, I spotted two of these types, one tall and skinny, the other built like a lumpy refrigerator, both bombed out of their minds, looking like an evil version Ben & Jerry, harassing two kids that couldn’t have been more than 15, for allegedly knocking their beer over. A few hours later, waddling around to SBTRKT, they were still on the hunt for the youngsters. Yikes.

• We need to talk about Skele-Toes. Those goofy four-toed shoes that people are actually starting to wear on the street and, yes, at music festivals. They’re the worst. Chintzy, unnecessary, and in bad taste. They’re sort of like Crocs for Blue-Staters. Apparently, Skele-Toes also bothered At the Drive-In’s Cedric Bixler-Zavala who took a few moments to rant about the dumbest footwear ever from the Redbull Stage. “You know those shoes that look like gloves?” he asked, disgust palpable in his voice, “Don’t wear that shit.”

Worst shirt of the weekend: A image of an American flag and under it, “Back-to-Back World War Champs.” Besides the loop of ironic patriotism and sincere jingoism the shirt sets into motion, it’s worth reminding the bros sporting these things that after WWII, our great country’s war record gets pretty spotty. Just saying.

Best Sign: An image of Return of the Jedi character/internet meme Admiral Ackbar and, written in psychedelic font, “It’s a trip.”

• If you are a music writer or just a human who cares about rap enough to throw your opinion out there somewhere, and you contrasted Doomtree’s boring, indulgent set that went on right after Chief Keef’s trap rap debacle, to make some sort of point about “real hip-hop,” you should be banished to a world where you have to hear Wale whine about microphone problems for all of eternity.