Short and disjointed:

Hillside was amazing. It's not as dynamic to throw the ending at everyone first, but I can't explain much of any of the rest of it. I now own mustard made by the Sunparlour Players, and have (embarrassingly, in hindsight) shouted improvisational nonsense directly into Patrick Watson's (rather confused) ear.
Corollary: I am now severely impaired when it comes to enjoying concerts that aren't during torrential downpours. (That moment may actually have surpassed The Decemberists Playing the Mariner's Revenge Song in a Thunderstorm with the Orchestra, just because there was no danger of electrocution-at-any-moment for that one.)

I need to go camping more often.

I also need to learn actual campfire songs on my ukulele. (Did I tell you guys about Raleigh? Raleigh is my travel buddy, and is very sweet company if you ever want him along.)

A giant camp of lesbians singing Metric, Weezer, and Britney Spears songs into the wee hours of the morning can apparently upset the sky enough to make it rain the next day. Once they apologize, while you're sailing a tarp like a pirate ship against the raging wind, it will die down long enough to finish packing everything up.

I wish I had taken more pictures.

Getting into the US sucks for people who don't have citizenship... and delays my bus and apparently makes all of the Detroit Greyhound staff very cranky.

Also, the goal of air conditioning in buses isn't to freaking keep ice cream frozen or something, geez.
evilhippo: hippo (58 [yip yip])
( Jul. 20th, 2009 08:53 pm)
I think I've recovered enough to write this. I was basically headachey and dead all day today, which is unfair because I even made a special effort yesterday to avoid all the pot and cigarette smoke that'd been giving me headaches the rest of the weekend. Goshdarnit. Anyway! Sunday wasn't quite as epic as Saturday, but it did have its moments.

1:00 (A) The Mae Shi--So, Saturday I was all "You know what's weird? The Bowerbirds being all popular, that's weird!" and then Sunday started with the Mae Shi, who had just broken up/were in the process of breaking up/were basically two separate bands between the start and end of their set. It was pretty boring through the first three songs, and I almost left to listen to Michael Columbia until they pulled out a parachute, threw it into the audience, sang a song, took it back, and then gradually turned into a hip-hop act that was actually very entertaining.

1:45 (C) Frightened Rabbit and (B) Dianogah--The original plan was to check out Frightened Rabbit and then go hang out at Dianogah. I did the opposite. Dianogah was actually quite good, but definitely not the sort of thing you can stand around listening to (it's totally headphones on, spacing-out productively sort of music). Frightened Rabbit was marginally more interesting live, and their Scottish accents and happiness to be there were good enough to keep me from wandering off.

2:30 (A) Blitzen Trapper (maybe 2:40 (B) The Killer Whales?)--So, honestly I don't remember what I did during this set. I think I caught about four Blitzen Trapper songs, and I was kind of nonplussed, so I wandered to the B stage and was even more nonplussed with the Killer Whales. I don't really remember anything they played, and part of this might be that I was under a tree behind the sound tent and the acoustics there were terrible.

3:35 (B) Women--The problem here, really, is that there wasn't much I'd heard of/had an interest in hearing on Sunday morning, so I did a lot of sitting. I'm certain there's a very strong difference between the Killer Whales and Women, but I honestly couldn't tell you. I did get some vegan curry with lots of veggies at this point, though, which was really delicious and came with the most hardcore and biodegradable spork ever. (Btw the food rocked. I also had a really wonderful spinach pie and some iced coffee horchata, and non-dairy ice cream of deliciousness. I mean really, what the heck kind of festival food is that, even? Other than the spinach pie (which had feta in it), I was vegan all weekend and I don't regret it for a moment, except I did kind of want ribs, but Robinson's always smells good.)

4:30 (B) DJ/Rupture--By most accounts, I should regret not going over to see the Thermals, but I heard a bit of their opening and they sounded like everything else (this is also why I didn't go see Fucked Up, but I don't regret that either), so I went over to stage B for DJ/Rupture, and I don't regret it, because every one of us was dancing. I don't think I mentioned my goal of dancing through an entire set at Pitchfork, but this set accomplished it with flying colours, and so I'm happy. I also realized I'm endlessly fascinated by DJing (I was pretty sure of it after hanging out at the techno stage at the festival I went to in Logan Square, but this pretty much cemented it).

5:30 (B) Japandroids--Kind of meh. I stayed for a while just because I was over there. They had a lot of energy, but it really just wasn't my thing, so I went to get ice cream and then wandered around Flatstock. If I wasn't going to Hillside this weekend and spending more money, I think Flatstock would've bankrupted me because oooh so many pretty posters.

6:30 (A) M83--I was going to watch Vivian Girls, but the crowd was just too massive for me to hang around at the B stage when I knew that Grizzly Bear was going to be next. I do regret not seeing them; M83 was good, but not exciting. In hindsight, I probably could've wound my way into a decent-enough spot for Grizzly Bear even if I'd been over at Vivian Girls, but as it was, I got to meet a very nice guy who was sharing his tarp with people and had a nice long sit in the grass.

7:25 (C) Grizzly Bear-- ^_______^ When people toss around the factiod that "Veckatimest is the most collaborative record [of theirs] to date" I want you all to know that it really, actually means something. I think everyone sang lead on something. The only person who wasn't habitually switching instruments was the drummer (and I mean like, switching: guitar to recorder to omnichord, bass to clarinet to flute). Their monitors kept breaking and buzzing and they kept going anyway. And they were fantastic. I love them more than I did before.

8:40 (A) The Flaming Lips-- I suspect Wayne just wasn't that into us until about halfway through the set, after we were done showing our displeasure at his disinterest in whole "Write the Night" idea. Personally, I thought he did much better with the things they hadn't played recently, and I imagine part of why they said they'd do the fan-request thing was that they were under some sort of assumption that Pitchfork-type fans would vote up obscure songs rather than knocking out a greatest-hits list. They're obviously going for a different direction, and man, I mean, I don't blame them. Most of their mainstays are from Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots and The Soft Bulletin, which are, at the least, seven years old. (I actually could've sworn that Yoshimi... came out in 1998/9, along with everything else I loved in high school, but apparently I was off by a bit. Somehow, this makes me feel even older.) Anyway, despite a lukewarm beginning (I think the crowd was tired and wanted more pandering and less showiness, which was silly considering it was the freaking Flaming Lips, and what you get is explosions no matter what) they put on a good show. I kind of wondered how, with all the balloons and confetti, the festival kept its carbon footprint small. I wonder how many green energy credits they had to buy to offset it...

All in all... not quite as solidly amazing as Saturday, but definitely a Sunday well-spent. Even if I was braindead all day today, and probably will only recover in time to die yet again this weekend at Hillside. (Woo!) Now, if only work wasn't in a state that makes me really wish I could come in this weekend and iron out all the little disasters crashing together...

There are also a grand total of three pictures over at my Flickr. There would be more, but I really hate most crowd pictures and every picture of any band looks the same, so you can have balloons, confetti, and sunset instead.
evilhippo: hippo (72 [word])
( Jul. 18th, 2009 10:49 pm)
In contrast with yesterday, today I basically have nothing but nice things to say. And so I will attempt to say them briefly, mostly because I am frak-all tired.

1:00 (A) Cymbals Eat Guitars--I wasn't there for the whole thing, but they were just so adorably nervous. Like they weren't entirely sure why they were invited, or why such a large crowd had shown up so early in the day for them. And they weren't bad, for being music I wouldn't normally listen to.

1:45 (B) The Dutchess & The Duke--Very nice, but pretty typical folk rock band. They appeared to have a band member who played only the tambourine.

2:40 (B) The Antlers--Another band that was adorably into the whole festival thing. The keyboard player stood around during sound check taking pictures of the crowd, and the lead singer constantly thanked us. I think I'll end up liking them in the same way I like Cold War Kids. Quietly, and for their intensity.

3:35 (B) Bowerbirds--Probably the weirdest experience of my day: I was stuck right in front of a bunch of (literally) screaming fangirls. I didn't think the Bowerbirds were at the point yet to have screaming fangirls, but they do, and they know all the words. Also, as soon as they started the press pit filled up with seriously the most photographers I saw all day. It was kind of bittersweet for me, like I was seeing them off. Oh Bowerbirds. I'll forgive you for getting your break and leaving me in the dust, because you all looked seriously happier than when I saw you at Schubas.

4:15 (A) Final Fantasy--Actually my dinner set. I kind of hung back for this and scoped out the food. I'm going to see him in Canada (probably) anyway. What I did catch was pretty cool, though, and I suspect it would've sounded better if I'd been in front of the stage.

5:15 (C) Yeasayer--MADE IT RAIN ON US. But were good enough to make up for it, I think. The only proper dancing I saw today was during this rain. Definitely fun music--not sure I'd listen to it on its own, but definitely fun live.

6:15 (A) Doom--Watched him on the jumbo-tron while camping out a spot for Beirut. Couldn't make out a word he sang. He appeared to be wearing leaves, in addition to his mask. Not the worst rap I've ever heard through a crowd at knee-level, though.

7:35 (C) Beirut-- ^_____^ Also, there was a crowd surfer during "Scenic World," which was pretty hilarious.

8:40 (A) The National--They're so good, I really wish I liked them! As it was, I hung back in the crowd, found a nice spot on the grass, and unwound from the rest of the day. The sunset was pretty. And in the end, I made it out before the biggest part of the crowd pushed onto the CTA, so I didn't have to fight to get onto the train.

All in all, a pretty awesome day, despite the occasional rain. I'm pretty excited for tomorrow. I hope I can manage to wake up for it.
evilhippo: hippo (111 [danger])
( Jul. 17th, 2009 10:10 pm)
First order of business: Chicago weather, freaking warm up! That awful cold drizzle on my way home actually made me glad I was too tired and chilly to stay for all of Built to Spill. I don't like being glad I didn't stay for an entire set!

As for the music... for once, I am going to observe the "if you don't have anything nice to say..." rule. Basically, I went today to get a sense of the place, and because it made sense at the time to get a 3-day pass (and I hoped that maybe Yo La Tengo or Built to Spill would be interesting beyond the one song each I'd heard). Jesus Lizard was one of the most bizarre things I have ever seen on stage, mostly because it was raucous and noisy in an early 90s grunge sort of way, and everyone on stage was greying or grey and the lead singer crowd-surfed and whipped off his shirt to reveal his slight old-man pudge. IT WAS WEIRD. Totally freaking hilarious, to me, standing around squished between all kinds of (slightly less greying) people, some of whom looked like they'd wandered in from a truck stop. You'd think that at a show in the middle of a park, where people basically wander back and forth between stages, you wouldn't be able to tell the demographic shift, but apparently all the plaid, tight-jeaned hipsters hid from Jesus Lizard, and black t-shirt wearing old guys pumping their fists in the air replaced them. (In the end I hung out by the port-a-potties for most of their set, so come to think of it, they scared me away too. But in a totally bemused, I should really call someone and tell them to watch the webcast of these shenanigans sort of way.)

I was glad to see that our little free subset of the Tribune told people they needed to see pretty much everyone I don't care about. (And, given the fact that they gave Torchwood: Children of Earth four out of four stars, I think it's safe to say it's pretty much always an advantage to disagree with the Red Eye.) Mostly I'm just happy that maybe there won't be an unmanageably huge crowd for Beirut if everyone else has been told to see Matt & Kim.

And finally, I know I'm going to want to say this at least fifty more times this weekend, but you have no idea how weird it is to turn around and constantly be running into guys who look just like my father. 1) The 70s are over for a reason, you silly hipsters! 2) Please stop, it freaks me out. 3) That photo was actually in an issue of Easy Rider, which makes me laugh every time I see it. After I finish laughing at how incredibly dorky it is, and how every goshdarn 20-something male in the indie subculture has somehow gravitated to a style my now-retirement-age father sported decades ago. (There's also a photo I've seen at home of him in tight jeans and red converse high-tops, with a worn-out, faded t-shirt. Whyyyyyy, hipsters, whyyy! (Alternately: I was apparently raised by a hipster and a hippie! Whyyy!))
evilhippo: hippo (116 [music])
( May. 1st, 2009 09:48 pm)
All right, I am a complete sell-out hipster and an embarrassment to myself, but if anyone else is going/wants to go to the Pitchfork Music Festival this summer, I could use the company. I'm going now because Beirut is going to be there and that officially puts it over the number of bands I can stand missing, even when music snobs and hipsters are involved.

I officially offer you a free spot on my couch and my Chicago expertise, and some pancakes, if you want.

Seriously. If anyone is considering going, I need someone to protect me from the hipsters. And, I mean, we're all supposed to see the Flaming Lips before we die, and Beirut is awesome, and so is Grizzly Bear, and I suspect I may actually learn to like The National if I see them live. Plus all the people I have no interest in/have never heard of, who may turn out to be cool.

I promise I'm actually a happy-go-lucky concert-goer, and not the sort of downer music snob who doesn't enjoy anything anymore (that's who I want you to protect me from).

Anyone, anyone?
.

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