Friday, August 1, 2008

The Most Painful Conflicts at Lollapalooza 2008

I go to college in the Chicago area, but I'm home for the summer working, so I can't go to Lollapalooza this year. Oh well, I'll just go to Outside Lands here in the Bay Area and get my Radiohead live fix then.

However, my girlfriend will be working the lounge at the Hard Rock Hotel for Lollapalooza this weekend, apparently getting to schmooze with some big time bands. Consider me jealous. In honor of that, I figure I'd write a little bit about the festival.

With most of these big multi-day, multi-stage, gaggle-of-bands festivals, there are some conflicts between two or more awesome bands playing at the same time. Lolla08 is no exception, and here are the worst offenders for most difficult decisions.

FRIDAY - Bloc Party OR The Raconteurs OR Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks - Between 6:15 and 8:00pm

Bloc Party is perhaps my favorite live band, and one of my all-time favorites to listen to. Jack White is a great stage presence, and the last time the Raconteurs played Lollapalooza they had a fantastic set. Stephen Malkmus is coming off another great album and is an indie-rock legend.

So who should you see? My hand tips toward Bloc Party, because they're concert is the most fun I've ever had watching rock music, and one of the few times people have actually danced for a rock band's entire set. Plus, they're probably debuting some new material, which is always sick to watch live. Also, going by the schedules, you could watch both Bloc Party and Stephen Malkmus instead of just seeing The Raconteurs and being all the way on the other side of the festival, risking missing some of Radiohead's set which is on the same stage Bloc Party plays on. Play it safe and stick with Bloc & Malkmus.

SATURDAY - Broken Social Scene OR Battles OR Lupe Fiasco - 6:30 to 7:30pm

Do you see a supergroup from the Great White North? A math-rock powerhouse quartet? Or one of Chicago's Big Three rappers?

Broken Social Scene are always a pretty cool show, but some of their members are currently touring as Stars, so it's a little unclear whether its the whole brood or just whoever isn't off doing something else. That's the one problem about seeing the band live, they're unpredictable about members.

Lupe is known to give great hometown shows, and has been at the top of his game. He's one of the few rappers I can listen to, because I just don't really like the genre. I definitely enjoy his rapping a lot more than I do a huge amount of rap, though.

Battles is one of the best math-rock bands out there, and don't let the genre name turn you off to them. They're a tight, rhythmic, electric quartet full of high-energy tracks.

Who gets the nod this time? Well, BSS is missing members, so they get knocked down just a tad and are out. Between Lupe and Battles, I'm going to have to go with Lupe. Battles may be a better experience, but even with fellow Big Three Kanye West headlining Sunday night, Lupe is still performing to a hometown crowd that will make his performance so much more amped up.

SUNDAY - The National OR Girl Talk OR Flosstradamus OR Gnarls Barkley - Between 6:15 and 8:15pm

The National have been riding a buzz high after Boxer made a ton of top 10 lists for 2007, and with good reason. Gnarls Barkley had a legendary summer two years ago after the release of their debut, which culminated in a Lollapalooza performance. Girl Talk is the best ADD DJ around, and he's just put out what I think is his best record in Feed The Animals. Flosstradamus is spinning for two hours, and was such a surprise playing at Northwestern's Dillo Day that he made it up into this battle.

Gnarls has had their time at the top, so I think they're not the top of the list here. The National have had enough buzz, but they're still really, really solid. Flosstradamus put on a great show at Northwestern, but they're playing for 2 hours, so you could just see them in passing the other groups.

My suggestion is to start at Gnarls for the opening tracks, then run over to Girl Talk's set, then head over to see the end of The National, hearing some Flosstradamus along the way. Sound like a plan?

So there you have it, my guide to conflicting sets at Lollapalooza 2008. I could've covered Wilco v. RATM or Kanye v. NIN, but it's pretty obvious you should see Rage and Kanye because one isn't touring and the other is in his hometown closing the festival; those aren't hard choices to make.

As a final gift, here's my playlist for the festival featuring many of the performers. Enjoy.

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