Saturday, August 14, 2010

Lollapalooza Day 3

By Day 3, I was exhausted. After seeing the Room the night before (of course, days and nights don't end with Lollapalooza! Night 1 I went to my friend Jenny's Hotel Hilton party, and Night 2 was a midnight screening of the campy cult classic The Room), I was pretty beat and began the day at the ripe hour of 3:15 PM, when I finally arrived at Grant Park to wait for Yeasayer to start their 4 PM set. Unfortunately, it seems that the bulk of kids at the front for Yeasayer-- one of my favorite bands of the year--were only there for MGMT, playing a bit later in the afternoon. Although Yeasayer played wonderfully, the crowd was only mildly enthusiastic.

Regardless, Yeasayer played a pretty good show. ESPECIALLY in comparison to MGMT, who, although playing all of their best songs, are permanently BANNED from my music library now (well, not really, but practically banned). Now every time I listen to "Kids" or "It's Working," I think of what is definitely the DOUCHIEST CROWD I have EVER seen, encountered, or heard of at a show. And when I capitalize my letters, you know I mean business. Talk to me about it in person... I have a pretty ridiculous story about telling off an incredibly sexist jerk standing right next to me. Ugh.

After MGMT, I was in a foul mood. The adrenaline rush that I got from yelling at the aforementioned MGMT fanboy, coupled with crowd surfers continuously falling directly onto my head (concussion?), and the bizarrely oven-like overcast weather, was... troubling. It was a balmy 89 degrees, but with the humidity it felt much higher. I felt myself fading in and out of consciousness, and my eyes glazing over and occasionally being unable to focus. Slowly I began to realize that I was getting heat exhaustion. I made my way out of the crowd before "Kids" came on as their second-to-last song.

After a half-hour or hour or so of sitting quietly on the grass and shoving food into my mouth (since technically standing up is exercising, and since exercising keeps one from wanting to eat, nobody ever wants to eat at music festivals because their bodies trick them into thinking they don't need it, when really their blood sugar is falling to near-dangerous levels), I felt a tiny bit better and wandered over to the National. I couldn't quite brave walking into the intimidating crowd, so I stayed behind the sidelines. It was then that I realized how much I love the National, and how depressed and angsty their songs make me. I resolved then and there never to see the National live again, regardless of how much I love them.

It's too bad I felt ill, because apparently this was actually a great show; the lead signer walked into the crowd at the end, and reappeared to sing the last song! And threw wine all over the audience! Silly heat stroke, or heat exhaustion, or whatever it was.


Unfortunately I couldn't get a good enough picture of the headliner of Day 3- Arcade Fire. By that point, I had mostly recovered my senses, but I was still relatively exhausted. Had I been at full capacity I might have wormed my way to the nearish front, but decided to stay closer to the middle. It surprised me how many people love the Arcade Fire, and all types of people-- bros, hipsters, old men, old women... but especially bros. Not that there's anything wrong with bros.

Arcade Fire began the set with my favorite song off the new album, the Suburbs (#1 album in America, weirdly enough!), entitled "Ready to Start" (how appropriate!) and then went into my favorite Arcade Fire song EVER-- "Neighborhood #2 (Laika)". They played every great song that they had, and of COURSE ended the set with "Wake Up," the song from the album Funeral which was used in the Where the Wild Things Are trailer, which probably got them unprecedented popularity.

Lolla ended with the crowd ambling out of the park at 10 PM, singing the chorus to "Wake Up" on Columbus Drive, Monroe Street, and Michigan Avenue... a fitting ending to a jam-packed, ridiculously dirty, smelly, painful, but exhilarating Lollapalooza.

Lollapalooza Day 2

You'll notice that with each day, my number of pictures decreases. This is mostly due to tiredness and consequential lack of interest in picture-taking. Sometimes, though, the crowd was simply too CRAZY to bother to take a good picture! (This is, by the way, always a good sign. Nothing screams "boredom" like endless concert photography)

Saturday, surprisingly, ended up being my favorite day by far. If looking at the schedule alone, I would never think to buy a one-day pass for Saturday. But the weather, the fans, the shows, the friends... it was one of the most perfect days! Awesome.

First up, GOGOL BORDELLO, probably my favorite band EVER. They stand for everything I find interesting and true and I believe in their message wholeheartedly (great interview with Eugene Hutz, lead singer/guitarist, here)!


Then Metric, now my SECOND favorite band! Well, ok, maybe THIRD, behind the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, who, now that I think about it, probably tie with Gogol Bordello. But Emily Haines, the lead singer, has almost as much rock star quality as Karen O. They're a little more pop punk and a little less punk than the YYYS... a little sweeter, a little quieter at times, but fantastic. They also played every song I loved by them (including Dead Disco, my absolute favorite), and Haines, aside from being gorgeous, was very charismatic on stage! The crowd was also pretty much perfect. A wonderful show.

Spoon, however... ehh. I'm not sure. They're a little above my head. I feel the same way about them that I do about My Morning Jacket... good, occasionally catchy music, but I can't fall head over heels in love with them the way I do with bands such as Metric. Maybe they're a little more subdued than I'm used to?

Green Day was the headliner. I was surprised to find that I knew about 90% of the songs they played, and the chorus of almost every one of those songs!! It's strange how much we remember from high school. An incredibly fun show, even though by this point my friend Ben and I were so excited that we drifted around in the back, sitting and stretching on occasion. Hey, standing up for 11 hours in a row is hard!

A view of the pretty ridiculous(ly awesome) set, which included a faux skyline, televisions, and crazy amounts of pyrotechnics, including fireworks... and these, intentionally! They also did a great medley which included the "I Can't Get No (Satisfaction)", "Shout!", and "Hey Jude," my favorite part of the evening. They played all the way up until 10:15, and therefore had to probably pay tons of Chicago fees since all of the artists are supposed to end at 10 PM sharp.

Lollapalooza Day 1

All photos taken from my Blackberry... forgive the quality!

Day one began bright and early, a little after noon, to catch the last bit of Balkan Beat Box. Balkan Beat Box: Most Fun Early Set, Even Without Knowing the Songs Beforehand

Then, in the afternoon, Semi Precious Weapons, a "garage glam" band that were INCREDIBLE, and who open for Lady Gaga when she tours. She even had a surprise appearance during the show, singing part of one of the songs and rocking out behind the stage! I couldn't catch her, unfortunately, over the tirade of cameras.
Semi Precious Weapons: Most Awesome Newly Discovered Band at Lollapalooza

Then, the Dirty Projectors: Most Disappointing Live Act at Lollapalooza.
The Projectors are more like music for musicians rather than music for the mainstream. I had an odd feeling that my ears were not sensitive enough for the Projectors, even though I loved Bitte Orca...

And of course, the Black Keys: Most Reliably Good Act
Oh man did I love their rendition of "Tighten Up" live. That song is pure sex. My friend Kirsten called the Black Keys "stripper music" once and I totally agree.

Closeup of Dan Auerbach:

And, of course, Lady Gaga!
Lady Gaga: Most Awesome Over-the-Top Spectacle of Madness

"Scream for me, little monsters!"

Halfway through the show fireworks spontaneously started going off behind the stage. I assume it's coincidental, but it sure looked pretty cool!

Overall Gaga was a great show. I can certainly understand why someone would pay more than half the price of a Lollapalooza ticket to see her... about 10 costume changes and plenty of ridiculousity, including an appearance with Lady Starlight in which both of them danced to a Metallica song and lit hairspray on fire. That was my favorite moment... it showed a Gaga before Gaga, when she was starting out as a music fanatic trying to make it in the industry.

Lady Gaga's appearance at Lolla also had added significance... she played here in 2007, back when she was a brunette, at one of the smallest stages, and left the audience stupefied. Literally, stupefied. No clapping, no enthusiasm. Just... awe, at this completely weird chick in a disco bra singing strangely catchy pop songs. And to be one of the most popular headliners at one of the most popular festivals in the country... well, that's pretty awesome. Go Gaga.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Artists! Poets! Craftsmen!

Spent the morning translating an incredibly cool Soviet TASS newsreel circa early 1942-ish (we're not quite sure of the date) for the AIC. GREAT fun! It's more difficult than you'd imagine, since the text isn't written, and therefore you're kind of screwed if you don't know how to spell a certain word. Regardless, here's the result, which I'm pretty proud of, and am mostly putting it up here for record purposes so I don't have to keep sending myself emails that I never open. Also, Lollapalooza pictures and details coming soon!

Newsreel Translation

Key: Bolded words are written out on the screen; all other words are spoken.

0:00-0:03 “Artists of the Capital City-Red Army.” Cinematographer: B. Makaseiev*

*last letter is cut off, says “Makaseie” on screen but probably should be “Makaseiev” since Boris Makaseiev was a famous documentary cinematographer at that time

0:07-0:12 The Studio of Moscow Artists prepares new TASS Windows

0:20-0:25 The artist Sokolov-Skalia creates a poster about the two Battles of Borodino

0:37-0:44 The subject of artist Aivazian’s poster is the victory in Moscow’s surrounding area

0:55-1:02 The artists will take their new work to the Front as a present to Red Army soldiers

1:03-1:09: Smashing satire – on the enemy!

1:10-1:21 Following the example of Poet Vladimir Mayakovsky's infamous ROSTA Windows, the Moscow poets and artists of the Great Patriotic War create TASS Windows.

1:22-1:28 During the Civil War a new style was born of precise and crushing caricatures and formidable, apt poetry.

1:29-1:36 TASS Windows, falling into the category of war posters and pictures, are as sharp as bayonets.

1:37-1:41 (reading the Alphabet poster aloud) Shchorse** beat the Germans in the Ukraine, they won't be spared, not even now!

**last name of famous Red Army general from the Civil War

(end reading the posters aloud)

1:50-1:59 Yet another instalment: the artist Savitsky finishes up a painting representing the daring attack of the Red Soldier-Horsemen on the fascist hordes

2:00-2:06 The artist Goriaev threw his poster-bayonets to create a caricature of the bandit and cannibal- Hitler!

(Художник Горяев плакатнaми штыками набрoсал карикатуру на опера бандита и людоеда Гитлера!)

2:10-2:16 The talented group of friends, famous by the name Kukriniksy, the artists Kuprianov,

2:16-2:18 Krylov,

2:19-2:21 Sokolov

2:27-2:34 With the sharp sting of their caricatures, they are helping to annihilate the enemies of our motherland.

2:50-2:52 (reading the poster aloud) The Fuhrer is getting ready for a long journey

2:52-2:54 To pin a cross onto his chest

2:54-2:56 But only one is yet unseemly

2:57-3:00 He'll get a cross from us as well!

3:01-3:04 The fascist operations… with vodka

(end reading posters aloud)

3:05-3:12 The Soviet people have already begun to love the TASS Windows, which mirror their deadly hatred of fascism.

3:13 Artists! Poets! Craftsmen! Sharpen your battle weapons for the complete destruction and annihilation of the enemy!

(all text copyright Julia Alekseyeva 2010)

Friday, August 6, 2010

Lolla Tips!

Tomorrow's the first day of Lollapalooza 2010, officially my third Lolla in a row, officially my second three-day pass to Lolla in a row. Huzzah! Now, I may not be the coolest person in the world (read: NERD) but I do know my music festivals, especially music festivals in Chicago. Actually, Chicagoan music festivals are the only music festivals that I know (and usually the only ones I'd choose to pay money for, anyway).

It seems that Chicago magazines (the Reader, Time Out Chicago, the Red Eye) are very fond of making "what to bring" and "what not to bring" suggestions for Lollapalooza. These, I quickly discovered, are not complete lists, as they cater to out-of-towners ready to sacrifice a good time for looking good. Not good enough for me! THUS, I present to you:


-No nice clothing. Nothing nice, actually. Nothing that you wouldn't mind losing, i.e. no fancy earrings, necklaces, etc. Things can get ugly, by which I mean awesome. By which I mean: keep your precious jewels at home and stop complaining.

-Hydration. I spent last summer's Lolla chronically starving and dehydrated because I was so obsessed with seeing as many bands as I possibly could. Not healthy. I ended quite sick, very disgusting-feeling, and barely able to handle the ridiculous moshpit of 19-year old girls that was last year's Passion Pit show. Bring sealed bottled water. You'll need it.

-Sunscreen (duh)

-NO umbrellas. All music festival guides discuss this issue. But let's be honest here. If you're going to get wet, you're going to get wet. A flimsy piece of plastic isn't much with the occasional torrential rainstorm. Concerts happen rain or shine, so no use hiding in the back and crouching under an umbrella when you can be one of the few front row and center, being deliriously miserable and having a great time.

-Short shorts. Generally, being clothed enough to be decent, but just barely, is good for hot, muggy days.

-No nice (read: workplace appropriate, "designer," etc) purses. They'll get screwed up in the heat and rain, and ruin other concertgoers' experiences if you continuously nudge up against them with a huge leather bag. A small messenger bag is key, or small backpack. Or nothing, if you've got pockets to spare.

-NO SKIRTS. They'll ride up while you're dancing, and unless you're the chill-in-back-with-a-beer type, you WILL have at least a few people seeing your underpants by the end of the night. Not cool.

-(probably) no flip flops. (painful? people stepping on you? losing them in a crowd? all possibilities.) Unless you're six feet tall. In which case, you deserve to get stepped on by myriad combat boots for your ridiculous luck. Us vertically challenged types can only HOPE to sneak a single peek at the hem of Lady Gaga's skirt, and even then it would be on a ten-foot screen.

-some sort of ridiculosity (I know that isn't a word. Something to draw you apart from the crowd, since cell phones often stop working at music festivals, especially one like Lolla, with over 240,000 people in a single small park.

-If you're going to look at merchandise, start early. Things sell out faster than you might think. Last year I waited until the third day to find a t-shirt and only the smaller bands had any merchandise left, and I believe it was all kids sizes. Fantastic. Explore the booths early, before the hordes arrive.

-Perry's, where all the DJs go, is a hilarious and awesome time-killer between big bands. It's like a mini-club within Lolla grounds, except instead of judging you on your lack of high heels and shorts skirts it's full of incredibly stoned people giving you glowsticks and passing around their crappy band's LPs.

-What did I forget? Oh yes. HATS! No fashionable black fedoras, stick to straw and summery. Or bandannas. You know, like the cool kids wear.

T-10 hours til Lollapalooza! Lady Gaga, Yeasayer, Dirty Projectors, Metric, Black Keys, Edward Sharpe, Gogol Bordello, Green Day, Arcade Fire, and MGMT here we come!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Xanga! Total Embarrassment!

Oh man, I was just reminded of Xanga by one of my facebook friends. In high school, or more specifically, from the end of freshman year of high school to the end of freshman year of college (2003-2007), I had a Xanga that I would update very often... at the very least, monthly, but usually, once or twice a week. Everyone who was anyone had a Xanga. It was our way of fighting passive-aggressively, of keeping up social networks without really knowing what social networks were, of writing a diary hoping at least one other soul would understand your angst and realize that it wasn't angst at all. Looking back on how we felt in high school, I can't help but feel a surge of embarrassment for being in a bad mood all the time. I had a pretty good time in high school-- far better than '90s movies would lead me to believe. But aren't the teenage years just so embarrassing?! I just browsed most of the entries for the past 8-ish years and realized just how much incredibly personal and, I think, absurdly obvious information about my personal life existed on the internet with my full name attached. I also wonder how I even got into college with all of this emotional baggage pasted on the internet for all the world to see. Ugh. I wrote about everything from crushes to teachers possibly being crossdressers to my "firsts". I copied and pasted a lot of song lyrics and did many of those ridiculously long, egotistical tests ("100 things few people know about me!" etc). I also used the Xanga as a dream journal before I began keeping one at the end of my freshman year of college (strangely, also the time I stopped using Xanga...) Mostly, though, I ranted. Pretty pretentiously.

It's also odd to see how my music and film tastes developed. Weird to regress from modern times to senior year, when I listened to the Yeah Yeah Yeahs nonstop, to the Cure (I thought I was so cool), to Led Zeppelin, and Tool before that... and the Doors and Bright Eyes... I also seem to have listened to a lot of Pink Floyd and the Requiem for a Dream soundtrack (creepy!)...

Snippets from my 2005-and-younger self:

"Tomorrow I'm getting four TOOL cds! I art rule."

"Mood: Melancholy, as always. "

"And maybe I will got to junior prom. I don't want to, though. If anything, to keep my division teacher company, who will inevitably end up sitting uncomfortably in a corner reading a novel. I guess I'll do the same. Too bad I can't go in ripped-up jeans and an old t-shirt." (NERD)

"I was a neurotic jerk yesterday. But that doesn't mean I had to get punched! Does my shoulder really deserve such a bruise? Ouch. Now I refuse to apologize. Fuckass." (Mean? Angsty?)

And aww, the first entry when I talk about wanting to go to Columbia: "I'm hoping that I'm going to get into Columbia University. It's both an ivy league and an artsy liberal arts school. The best of both worlds. We'll see where I go from there. I checked into it today, and they have coed dorms only! FUN STUFF!"

"Wouldn't it be weird if say... I was in my mid-twenties, and all the sudden someone comes up to me and says, "Oh, yeah, you're God. We forgot to tell you for the past 20 something years, but you are, and you have all these cool powers." Maybe that's why I kick ass at the Sims." Huh?

"There are no more cookies..."

"You have no idea how much I love iambic pentameter...

Or at least structural poetry,

although I love writing free verse and blank verse a lot better.

Usually blank verse.

Tres cool.

But anyways... GO POETRY!" (How to know that 15-year old me has NO IDEA what she's talking about)

"I love being liberal. Except for affirmative action. That shit should die." (I still believe this, but this sounds really strange and very egotistical coming from my old self)

Oh, and then there were the Theorems. I had Theorems. And because I love(d) Oscar Wilde so much, I thought a pretty sweet pseudonym would be Julia Wilde, so I called them my Wilde Theorems. For example: "[Wilde] Theorem 1-1: If a person perpetually claims themself as an intelligent person when it isn't necessary to do so, then they are most likely not very clever (or just plain stupid) to interrupt their conversations with exclamations of "i'm intelligent and don't deserve this." A true intellectual would usually shirk away from praise and, if needed, replace self-gratification with comedy." The more fancy words I use, the less I know what the hell I'm talking about, which is pretty obvious.

This is how most of the entries began: "I had an interesting dream last night… it was trés cool."

When I realized I hated economics after having to study it for Academic Decathlon: "QUESTION: If you could have been working at $24.00 an hour for the two hours it took you to shop for the $59.99 lava lamp, and its ugliness caused your rich significant other to break up with you right before he or she was going to give you a $100 watch, what is the total cost of the lava lamp? I have some problems with this... #5. WHO CARES ABOUT MONEY??? You just got dumped! For a lamp!You're not going to find out the economic cost of the lava lamp! You're gonna bawl your eyes out and empty out 2 pints of Ben & Jerry's!"

Nonsequitors: "Ugh, well, my contacts are messed up.

Funny moment today: (don't remember most of it, but I'll try my best)

(Ginny, Shaina, and I sitting on a front porch outside)

Me: There's an ant on my arm...

Shaina + Ginny: Flick it off.

Me: But it's so cool... so tiny and cute... it's running all over my arm... so tiny... and THEN I SMUSH IT TO PIECES!

Ginny: You are SO sadistic!

Me: ... (The ant doesn't die even after smushing, so I flick it off)

Shaina: You're such a freak!

Me: Says The Shaina...

Ginny: Shaina, she makes a point."