This year is the 40th anniversary of Woodstock, as any Baby Boomer would likely remind you, and of course it wouldn’t be an American summer rock festival without drenching rains, the whiff of marijuana in the air and occasional public debauchery, and Lolla ’09 lived up to that standard.
Let’s not forget the gate-jumpers. Late Friday afternoon while waiting in line at the restrooms, we witnessed a bizarre, jailbreak-like scene: At least a half-dozen young guys scaling over a line of porta-johns at the northwest corner of the grounds, then scampering freely away into the soggy masses. Apparently, charging $80 for one-day ticket during a recession is still a sticking point for some.
In another highlight, I let an extremely drunk girl from Houston borrow my BlackBerry to call friends she’d lost somewhere on the vast grounds, then let her cut in front of me in a long line for the restroom. Last I saw of her, she was stumbling away into the crowd.
There was water, water everywhere Friday, but the shows went on. This is the fifth straight year the music festival, launched in 1991, is being held in Grant Park. It will be coming back here every year until at least 2018, based on a contract the city of Chicago has with C3 Presents, the festival promoters. I’ll refer you to my friend Brett Chase’s All the Young Punks blog for further discussion on what to see and whether it’s worth your money.
As far as the opening-day shows this year, the Decemberists rocked, despite their preciousness. Of Montreal put on a good show, mixing Franz Ferdinand dance-pop with some Flaming Lips showmanship and creepy mascot-rock. And Depeche Mode defied my expectations with a tight, pounding, headlining set on the Chicago 2016 stage, despite the fact that these guys are older than me.
CKOW is looking forward to two more days of peace, love, music and extreme heat in Grant Park. We also hope that girl from Houston found her friends. For Saturday, we’re aiming for Animal Collective (2:30 pm & 7:30), Robert Earl Keen (3:30), No Age (5:00), TV on the Radio (6:30) and Tool (8:30). See you there!