Aug. 1-3, Grant Park, Chicago

click to enlarge POWER TO THE THRONGS: Rage Against the Machine at Lollapalooza.
  • POWER TO THE THRONGS: Rage Against the Machine at Lollapalooza.

The first words I exchanged with a stranger inside Lollapalooza, a refugee camp for free-spending music fans that now convenes each summer in Chicago's downtown Grant Park, were with a shirtless buffoon who stepped out of a portable john diagonally. He crashed onto the pavement as toilet paper fluttered behind him, but stood up smiling. I pointed out that fresh claret was running down the underside of his forearm. “Be careful not to bleed on yourself,” I told him, and a tone for the weekend was set.

Every day was hot. The park, though quite large, offered precisely enough space for 75,000 ticketholders to uncomfortably jostle without anyone getting trampled to death. Headliners Radiohead, Rage Against the Machine, Nine Inch Nails and hometown heroes Wilco and Kanye West ensured a healthy mix of apathetic Anglophiles, guys who shaved their abdomens, Goths well past their sell-by dates and gangly teens captivated by the nonsensical rumor that Barack Obama would appear Sunday to introduce Kanye “George Bush Doesn't Care About Black People” West.

To attend was to pay $190 to volunteer as an extra in a disaster movie set in a Hieronymus Bosch painting infested with Vice magazine DON'Ts.

And of the music? Radiohead was pristine, if not stunning. Bloc Party, bless 'em, are such fans of their own albums that they recreated them perfectly onstage. The National was offensively loud even by the high precedent set by their peers. The John Butler Trio, Spank Rock, the Raconteurs, DeVotchKa and Flogging Molly reputedly all offered solid sets; I can vouch only that the Brazilian Girls, Battles, Gnarls Barkley, Jamie Lidell and the nouveau bluesman Eli Reed all earned their paychecks. And the next time Gogol Bordello plays a show within 200 miles of you, dear reader, you owe it to yourself to attend, even if you don't yet fancy yourself a fan of frenetic gypsy punk rock.

The festival in the end belonged to the reincarnated Rage. The band played Saturday night before the most affected 30,000 or 40,000 people you'd care to see in one space. With a buddy I plowed my way to within 10 yards of the stage through successive layers of rampaging bodies. “Forget Armageddon: This is hell,” read one man's shirt, which I managed to point out to my friend before we burrowed further in. My shoe came off; my feet got stomped; I found my shoe. My glasses fogged over. Breathing was luxury. Everyone was smeared with everyone else's sweat. When we all tipped, which was often, the ground was hard to find underfoot. This continued through “Testify,” “Bulls on Parade,” “People of the Sun” — but around “Bullet in the Head” I decided to get some air. My friend and I reconvened later on top of a large generator on a hill, where we watched the throng slosh to “Killing in the Name.” I thought I was still short of breath until I realized I was standing over the exhaust pipe, inadvertently huffing carbon monoxide. Still, I figured, I was safer than I had been a half-hour earlier.




Showing 1-1 of 1

Add a comment

Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-1 of 1

Add a comment

More by Sam Eifling

Most Shared

  • Architecture lecture: Sheila Kennedy on "soft" design

    Sheila Kennedy, a professor of architecture at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and founder of Kennedy & Violich Architecture Ltd., will give the June Freeman lecture tonight at the Arkansas Arts Center, part of the Architecture + Design Network series at the Arkansas Arts Center.
  • Petition calls for Jason Rapert Sewage Tanks in Conway

    A tribute is proposed for Conway's state senator Jason Rapert: naming the city's sewage sludge tanks for him. Petitioners see a similarity.
  • Health agency socked with big verdict, Sen. Hutchinson faulted for legal work

    A former mental health agency director has won a default judgment worth $358,000 over a claim for unpaid retirement pay and Sen. Jeremy Hutchinson is apparently to blame for failure to respond to pleadings in the case.
  • Religious right group calls for compromise on damage lawsuit amendment

    The Family Council, the religious right political lobby, has issued a statement urging its followers to oppose the so-called tort reform amendment to limit attorney fees and awards in damage lawsuits.
  • Constituents go Cotton pickin' at Springdale town hall

    Sen. Tom Cotton, cordial to a fault, appeared before a capacity crowd at the 2,200 seat Pat Walker Performing Arts Center at Springdale High tonight to a mixed chorus of clapping and boos. Other than polite applause when he introduced his mom and dad and a still moment as he led the crowd in a recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance — his night didn't get much better from there.

Latest in Music Reviews

  • Cher in North Little Rock

    March 28, Verizon Arena
    • Apr 3, 2014
  • Red Hot Chili Peppers at Verizon

    The Red Hot Chili Peppers took a slightly different musical path to its May induction into the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame than most of their fellow honorees.
    • Oct 31, 2012
  • Arkansas Symphony Orchestra, Sept. 30

    The Arkansas Symphony Orchestra opened its season Saturday night with a return visit by the 28-year-old violin virtuoso Augustin Hadelich, who had appeared with the orchestra in the Beethoven concerto two years ago.
    • Oct 3, 2012
  • More »

Visit Arkansas

Little River County gears up for Sesquicentennial

Little River County gears up for Sesquicentennial

Historical entertainment planned for joint celebration of three Southwest Arkansas milestone anniversaries

Event Calendar

« »


  1 2 3 4
5 6 7 8 9 10 11
12 13 14 15 16 17 18
19 20 21 22 23 24 25
26 27 28  

© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation