Saturday, August 18, 2007

I’ve gotta say...

...that I really like this Daily Swarm commentary even though I disagree with quite a bit of it. I agree with the spirit, though I dispute the facts. Or something like that.

Jane’s Addiction was one of the great bands of our lifetime.
No, it wasn’t.
Lollapalooza, at least in its first few years as a touring festival, was a musical and organizational revolution that inspired a generation. Porno for Pyros had some great songs, great shows, great moments.
No, they didn’t. Well...I guess I can't say that for sure...all I know is "We'll Make Great Pets" was awful. Horrible.
The Jane’s reunion was unsentimental and glam. But, as the fallout from Lollapalooza continues, its gotten really hard to take him seriously about anything, and his once stellar reputation as a cultural voice worth listening to is more and more diminished every time he opens his mouth. WTF?
Agreed. As we were saying all weekend in Chicago...thanks for the festival, shut up.
[Lollapalooza] is and remains his baby (if not his company). Its a nonsense word that he personally instilled with meaning; a brand name bigger than himself that, despite some late-era missteps, could have lived on in the dictionary and many people’s memories as a lasting symbol of a wonderful time in rock and roll history when boundaries were dissolving, intensity was celebrated, and friends new and old coming together under the banner of great music could cut through the crap and collectively speak out.

But the destination festival in Chicago that is Lollapalooza’s rebirth – and that Perry remains an active front for (if not a financial partner) – is not only the disaster that critics have rightfully and unanimously skewered.
I’ll discuss this link in a moment.
The new Lollapalooza is quickly becoming a visible, singular representation of the failure of Perry’s own original ideals to take root. The Lollapalooza that once was the place where society’s outsiders could congregate to fly their freak flags and rage against the machine while being exposed to a brilliantly programmed lineup of diverse and challenging music has devolved into a slick, by-the-numbers, marketing juggernaut that caters almost exclusively to its advertisers, sponsors, and VIP high-rollers at the expense of the kids on the field. It was gross, and under any other banner, easily forgotten. But as “Lollapalooza,” it was a painful assault on whatever shred of purity music for the masses may still hold.
I can kinda see his point here. I really, really enjoyed myself at Lolla, and I thought there was an overriding energetic spirit throughout many of the performances, from Ted Leo & The Pharmacists to Ben Harper to The Roots to The Hold Steady to My Morning Jacket to Pearl Jam. However, that spirit had nothing to do with Perry Farrell or Lollapalooza. It was a spirit unto itself...pretty much the spirit of fantastic, relevant music and nothing more. It was a good festival, but I guess it wasn't "Lollapalooza".
To make matters even worse, at the moment when Perry’s voice was most desperately needed – the week after Lollapalooza when the AT&T censorship of Pearl Jam’s anti-Bush lyrics was coming to light – he was notably silent. His headliner – and the only act on the bill who could legitimately share some of the credit for giving the festival its cultural cache – had its mouth taped shut by people who were, at least conceptually, working for, or at least with, Perry to produce his mega-event. It happened at his party, and not a peep from him about it
I agree somewhat, though his speaking up wouldn’t have even remotely helped the cause. As mentioned earlier, his voice has lost its resonance, and honestly...he just doesn’t really make sense half the time.

Now, to the article linked above. It focuses on a lot of criticism from Chicago music critics Jim DeRogatis and Greg Kot, and both have pretty legit points. DeRogatis focuses a lot on the corporatization of the event, with VIP boxes cluttering things up...things like that. I actually didn’t think his points were all that brutal in their criticism, though honestly, the corporatization could have been a lot worse—I think I set my standards pretty low, but I was beyond pleased with the food (Pad Thai for $5!) and drink (water bottle = $2), I was able for the most part to just ignore the VIP boxes and things like that. They weren’t right in front of the stage, so I was okay. However, after an interview with DeRogatis, Farrell was, well, stupid.
“You guys want me to come back next year, don’t you?” Farrell asked the crowd of about 20,000 in between songs. “The Sun-Times doesn’t want me back! They don’t think we have good manners.”
Never mind that he equates himself with Lollapalooza (“you guys want me to come back”), and never mind the stupid “manners” comment (WTF?)...DeRogatis prefaced his whole idea as ways to “improve” the festival...not get rid of it, and Farrell tried to rile the crowd up for no reason.

Also from the article:
The Chicago Tribune’s Greg Kot was only slightly more charitable, repeatedly hammering the lineup as “lacking a drop-everything-to-see-it headliner;” “lacking diversity;” having “few collaborations;” and some great performances “amid lots of filler.”
Kot wrote a wonderful book about Wilco a while back, so I know he has good taste, this point, Pearl Jam is the very definition of a “drop-everything-to-see-it headliner”...though I’ll admit two things. First, they could have done far better in their selections for Saturday night closer. Muse might have been fantastic, but not a lot of people knew about them. Second, hip hop was pretty underrepresented, and there could have been a couple token country(ish) acts. But as far as the rock spectrum goes, there was a strong amount of diversity.

And he’s also probably right when it comes to the collaborations least aside from Eddie Vedder’s attempt to perform with every artist/band at the festival.

Bottom line for me is, no matter what name it went by, the festival that took place two weeks ago in Chicago was wonderful for my taste in music. There were bands I was really curious about early in the day (Ted Leo, Tapes ‘n Tapes), there were bands I knew and loved (Pearl Jam, Ben Harper, The Roots), and there were bands I was starting to love and was dying to see (My Morning Jacket, Hold Steady). Add the Flaming Lips and a couple more hip hop acts, and it would have pretty much been the perfect weekend.

And while I'm defending the festival, I should mention that the scheduling was, for a festival, fantastic.

The first thing my buddy Walsh did when he got back to Dallas after Lolla was check out the Austin City Limits Festival schedule to see if he wanted to go (he assumed he would). When you look at the lineup (similar to Lolla only with Wilco, White Stripes, and Bob Dylan), it appears to outshine Lolla. However...the scheduling is horrid. None of the big names play in the afternoon (unlike Lolla, where you could catch The Roots or Iggy Pop in the 4pm range), so you end up having to make choices between LCD Soundsystem and M.I.A. on Friday (my choice would be neither, but if you like dance/electronica, you’re probably pretty pissed that you have to choose one or the other), Arctic Monkeys or Muse and Arcade Fire or White Stripes on Saturday (how unfair is that??), Wilco and My Morning Jacket on Sunday (?!?!?!?!?!?!), etc., and by the time you’ve made your choices, half the great acts you wanted to see are off the lineup. The people who drew up the Lolla schedule did a great job of making sure that, if you liked a certain type of music, you'd see just about everybody you wanted to see. Really, only the Modest Mouse vs My Morning Jacket decision was an unfair one.

In the end, I find myself pretty much in the middle here. I did not think Lollapalooza was nearly as corporatized as others did, and I thought the lineup was almost as good as I'd ever seen for my tastes. Plus, as I mentioned in an earlier post, I love that it makes Chicago the main hub for great music for at least a weekend each year. The city has embraced the festival, and I hope it remains there for years to come.

However, when Perry Farrell defends himself, I almost instinctively want to take the other side. Thanks for the festival, Perry. I really mean it. Now shut up.

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