The End of Something: Looking Back At Lolla and A Farewell to Arms Well to quote the Who (something I never have any quelms about doing), “this song is over, it’s all behind me.” This is not only referring to the end of one thing, but of two: 1. The Most Amazing Three Day Weekend (without fail) All Summer (every summer): Lollapalooza & 2. My Time Here At XRT. As is always the case with such things, I am feeling that all-too-familiar strange mixture of healthy sadness, a sense of accomplishment, and a good strong dose of premature nostaliga that leaves me with the overwhelming desire to reminisce. And what better way to reminisce, I ask you? than some top ten lists, first (looking back at the past weekend) of my favorite Lollapalooza moments, and then (from the archieves of my entire summer) of my best moments as an intern here:
The Sun, The Mud, and Other Musical Things: My Top Ten Favorite Lollapalooza Moments
1. The Foo Fighters Play “My Hero” In A Torrential Downpour
If I end up of dying of some disease that makes me lose my memory, I hope that- on my death bed- a couple of things stick with me: the memory of my first child being born (if and when that ever happens), for example, and singing along to the Foo Fighter’s “My Hero” at Lollapalooza 2011, getting soaked as a rainstorm all but obscured the stage, for another. Later in the concert, David Grohl himself drew attention to how amazing the moment was, in a bit of a “Thank You” speech that began with the line, “This has been really f***ing fun.”
2. Eminem Mashes Up “My Name Is,” “The Way I Am,” and “The Real Slim Shady”
Eminem is definitely tied with the Foo Fighters for my favorite show of the fest, and it was made extra special by the fact that I took my little brother to the show to see his first concert (his birthday present and also his favorite artist). As a side note, this also made it extra painful because I held the 14 year old- who is almost the same size as me- on my shoulders for the entirety of “Stan” and the encore, “Lose Yourself.” I must say, for a man who hasn’t toured in 5 years and who has been in and out of rehab, Marshall Bruce Mathers III has not missed a beat. He played “Cleaning Out The Closet” and his part of B.O.B.’s “Airplanes” (the two songs I had been most hoping to see); but my favorite piece of the rock solid show was the circa-1990s mash up of “My Name Is,” “The Way I Am,” and “The Real Slim Shady.” I sang along, every word.
3. Matt Shultz’s Crowd-Surfing Addiction
This year at Lollapalooza I had the priviledge of seeing my second Cage The Elephant show (the first was two years ago at the fest), and, as I knew they would, they delivered; but sounding great was only half of it. The real reason to see Cage live is because of Shultz’s stage antics which include stage diving the first song (which this year was my favorite of theirs: “In One Ear”) and only get crazier from there. I definitely sustained the majority of my Lollapalooza crowd-related injuries and soreness from this show, but it was worth every bruise.
4. Muse Lights Up The Night
I got off working at the XRTent Friday night just in time to catch the last half hour of Muse’s set, and it was a half hour of staring at the stage in awe, barely aware of the fact that my body- as if of its own volition- was dancing around (probably not in an un-embarrasing way, I might add). I don’t know which shone brighter: the crazy triangles of light radiating from the stage or the tiny little Commie-rockers shreading their instruments on that stage with the energy of a nuclear power plant. Needless to say, they killed it, all the way through the end of the encore: Knights of Cydonia.
5. Bright Eyes’ Final Chicago Set?
Say it ain’t so! Conor Oberst recently announced that he might be retiring the “Bright Eyes” moniker for good, and moving on to focus on his other projects. For a girl who grew up good-crying over Bright Eyes’ albums, this is heartbreaking news, but what better way for the lo-fi trio to leave Chicago for the last time than by filling Lollapalooza with a mixture of older mornful folky tunes and the newer, more rock-oriented, People’s Key Songs? I’m just glad I was there to see it.
6. Grace Potter’s Extreme Talent and Sexiness
O. M. GracePotter. Every year I leave Lollapalooza with yet another girl crush (last year it was Emily Haines of Metric), and this year was no different. Watching strawberry blonde Grace Potter rock out and sing like she came out of the womb belting Janis Joplin songs almost made me forget every man I ever dated. It was one of those shows that churns in your chest and your gut, the little white girl had more stage presence than most big, black, male R&B singers, and she did it all in high heels and an so-hot-its-on-fire! silver dress. Not to mention her repoire with her band, The Nocturals, who jammed together, seamlessly transitioned, and played one of the tightest sets at Lollapalooza.
7. Coldplay, Suprisingly.
Going into Lollapalooza… well let’s just say I wasn’t the hugest Coldplay fan; but I worked late at the XRTent Friday night and found myself cleaning up with a perfect view of the Bud Light stage and the band atop it. And Coldplay impressed the hell out of even a cynic like me, making even the sappy and overly-accessible “Yellow” almost anthemic LIVE under yellow lights. I think my favorite song I saw them play was “The Scientist,” so heartfelt by Chris Martin that it almost made me weep a little, however admittedly I only stayed for the first half of the set (so I missed classics such as “Clocks”).
8. Flogging Molly Out-Irishes Themselves By Throwing Guiness Into The Crowd
9. Super Mash Bros At Perry’s
Every year at Lollapalooza I make sure to spend at leat some time at the fest’s techno stage: Perry’s. Not only is it a scene of its own, with people dressed in full body suits, or wearing nothing but glitter, with elicit activities in every corner, and with a vibe that is pure DANCE! This year the show I ended up seeing was Super Mash Bros, which was typical Perry’s and also incredibly fun. Gotta love a place where you can dance your heart out without getting judged.
10. Eating Cubby Bear Garlic Fries
Parmesean. More garlic than you could even hope for. Perfectly greasy fries. Worth $7.
Parting Is Such Sweet Sorrow: My Top Ten Moments As An XRinTern
1. Terri Hemmert’s History of Rock Lecture
I did touch on this in an earlier post, but my favorite moment as and intern as XRT was getting a History of Rock Lecture from Hall-of-Fame DJ and all-around brilliant (and so so sweet) woman Terri Hemmert. And hearing her call Bob Dylan “Bobby” still stands as one of the more surreal moments of my summer.
2. Getting Into The Flaming Lips FOR FREE On The Guest List
Few things make you feel as special as walking into a venue (let’s just say the Aragon Ballroom), and saying “I’m on the list, and this is my plus one.” This, of course, is made infintiely cooler when the show you’re going to is a sold out Flaming Lips show, which was nothing short of incredible.
3. Marching In The Chciago Pride Parade
Also the subject of an earlier post, I want to revist the Pride parade as one of my best moments, not beacuse of how much fun it was (which it was), or because it was the first time I got to know a lot of the interns (which it also was), but because of the overwhelming feeling of pure hope and “love-will-overcome” that marching in front of XRT’s rainbow colored float, topped by float queen Terri Hemmert, gave me.
4. Handing Out Sweat Bands At Lollapalooza
Never again in my life will I feel as important as when I was handing out FREE XRT/Lollapalooza sweatbands to fest-goers. People were actually crazy for them, trying to collect all four colors, asking what color we would be handing out the next hour, flirting with me to get another sweatband, or a certain color sweatband, or a sweatband after we had finished giving them out for the hour already. People offered to pay me for them, trade me food for them, buy me a beer for them… it was a madhouse. Every hour on the hour we gave out more, and starting at the half hours lines started to form in front of our tent, lines that sometimes contained over 200 people. All of this re-affirmed two true-isms I have learned this summer 1. people love free stuff and 2. people love XRT.
5. Lin Brehemer’s Advice On “How To Make It In The Music Industry”
One of the first speakers we had at our weekly intern meetings was the reason I applied for this internship in the first place, my DJ-hero and now also my friend, Lin Brehmer. His speech was full of all sorts of good advice such as “this industry is about lying just enough to make people think you’re cool” and “when you meet someone, always say “Nice to see you,” instead of “Nice to meet you,” because God forbid you forgot the time you danced on barstools with this person in ’89 and it deeply offends them if you don’t remember,” and, needless to say, these are some of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever gotten. Lin is wonderful, and, while I was hanging onto every word of his, the radio personality went above and beyond all my hero-expectations.
6. The “Meet The Interns” Lunch
My first introduction to the full XRT staff came at the “Meet The Interns” lunch. I just remember staring in awe as the likes of Lin Brehmer, Mary Dixon, Frank E. Lee, and Marty Lennartz introduced themselves, sounding suspiciously like normal, approachable people. It was amazing to be face to face with all these people I knew only from the radio and to actually have them talk TO ME! To care about what I had to say. Plus, as the lunch we got my favorite, Potbelly, which is always a HUGE plus.
7. Lit Fest
Warning: English major geekiness ahead. The first festival I worked as part of XRT was Chicago Lit Fest, a celebration of reading, writing, and books. IT WAS WONDERFUL! I bought a couple of plays for really cheap and a book called “365 Days of Punk.” I also met lots of people who gave me advice regarding my ultimately career goal: to write for a living, as well as my favorite person I met all summer, a 5 or 6 year old biy named Austin who plays guitar in a band called “Austin and The Doughnuts.”
8. Winning Some CDs In The Weekly Intern Raffle
I should preface this one by saying that I rarely win anything luck related. I used to! When I was little I was winning raffles left and right, but no longer. So when, in the weekly raffle that XRT puts on for all the interns, my number was drawn to win a Beatles and a Clash CD, I felt pretty damn special about myself, especially since the Clash is one of my favorite bands. In fact, I was so suprised I won that our Supervisor, Kaitlin, had to call my number twice before i realized…
9. Old St. Pat’s
Old St. Pat’s Block Party was probably the weirdest fest I’ve worked all summer, with drunk single people at every turn, all of whom loved the giveaway we were doing- small packets of chewy Lemonheads- that they came back to our tent, sometimes five and six times, for more. But because of the weirdness of this fest, it was also one of my favorites, because some of the people we met were truely one of a kind characters, such as a women, a 50 year old rocker chick, who came up to the tent and drunkenly insisted that I promise her I will never get married or have kids because it’ll cramp my “rock style.” Also, Bare Naked Ladies played the party, prompting us interns to loudly sing along to “If I Had A Million Dollars.”
10. The End
As the Shakespeare-thieved sub-heading that announces this part of the post suggests, “parting is such sweet sorrow.” Yes, I am sad, very sad, to be leaving XRT, but part of that sorrow is sweet; because I have learned so much this summer, and I’m shaking with anticipation to apply what I have learned to my life, be it in my radio show or in small un-radio-related ways that I don’t even know about yet. As the George Harrison album-title suggest “All Things Must Pass,” but the fact of the matter is that passing need not be tragic, in fact, it can even be beautiful. I was part of something amazing this summer, and nothing, not even “The End,” can take that away from me.
And I guess that’s the end. A couple of XRT-shirts heavier, a summer of concerts buzzing in my head, with only the end-of-the-year roof-top Cubs game to look forward to (coming up on Wednesday!), I say goodbye to XRT and blend back into the world as an average citizen who’s experience with the station comes only through speakers tuned to 93.1 FM, which they will be, if only to remember Chicago’s Finest Summer by.