Sunday, August 16, 2009

Rock Chick

One of my favourite alter egos is Rock Chick, so last weekend saw me gallivanting along to the 3 day music festival in Chicago, Lollapalooza. In days of old I would have spent those 72 hours dancing wildly in a beer soaked haze. Now I am too concerned about having to venture into the horror of the plastic cage of hell, known as the portaloo, and would rather collapse into a dehydrated faint rather than risk having to answer a call of nature during the 12 hour periods of attendance. Which does tend to dampen ones enjoyment a tad.

However, prolonged dehydration does provide its own version of lightheadedness, which certainly helps to explain, if not excuse, the degeneration of my dancing ability as each day wore on.

The first day felt like a proper festival. The weather was dire - it had been tipping it down all day and by the time my friend and I arrived in the late afternoon the site was like an overpopulated swamp. There were drunk 'youngsters' careening about in the slop like 1950 B Movie mud creatures. Girls in barely there bikini tops and minuscule shorts wrestled each other in pools of sludge. The fields were strewn with abandoned flip flops, stuck deep in the mire. It was great.

Due to our late arrival we only managed to see three bands on the first day: Crystal Castles, Thievery Corporation and then Depeche Mode. I have seen Depeche Mode once before, many moons ago at Crystal Palace, and they didn't disappoint then or now. From a distance they seemed to have escaped the ravages of time. It was only when you saw their faces in close up on the giant video screen that the ageing process was cruelly confirmed. Not that it stopped them from putting on a fantastic show. The encore of Personal Jesus was worth the entrance fee alone.

Day 2 and 3 were in stark contrast to day 1, being incredibly hot and humid without a cloud in sight. After an hour or so I would have happily led the inebriated masses in an impromptu rain dance, for a brief respite from the overwhelming heat. The two main stages were a mile apart and it almost became too much of an effort to fight the crowds and trudge between them. After being, what appeared to be, the sole dancer at Ida Maria, Gomez, the Arctic Monkeys and Glasvegas I finally ran out of steam on day 2 and left before seeing either of the headline bands: Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Tool. I could feel my credibility as a Rock Chick dwindling as I sat on my deck that evening nursing a chilled glass of vino and the beginning of a headache.

After a good night's sleep and a glass of Berroca I re-entered the fray with a little more gusto and managed to summon the energy to see Friendly Fires, Bat for Lashes, Kaiser Chiefs (fantastic), Vampire Weekend, SnoopDog and The Killers. By the end of it all my blisters had developed blisters, I was covered in layer upon layer of baked on grime and my brain was resonating from the constant ringing in my ears. And boy, did I need a wee.

Although I had been looking forward to the festival for months - and now, on reflection a week later I will happily wax lyrical about what a great time I had to anyone who asks - in reality there were probably just 4 bands that I really enjoyed. And given the heat and the crowds, I would have much preferred to see them in a smaller, indoor venue where the acoustics aren't predominantly lost to the sky. I know I am missing the point of festivals in this preference. Whatever. I have been spoiled in Chicago and have had the opportunity to see many fantastic bands - particularly British bands trying to gain a foothold in America - in ridiculously intimate venues. As a result my Rock Chick expectations are ludicrously high.

After this overload of live music, it seemed a coincidence this week to receive several Facebook requests for the 'first 50 bands you have seen live' list. I'm not very good at responding to anything on Facebook apart from friend requests. The endless 'test your IQ / reveal your inner personality / see how much you have in common with...' opportunities do nothing for me and are always ignored. But, as much as I tried to resist, my brain began to populate the list of bands I have seen live, as though trying to desperately reassure myself of my Rock Chick credentials.

I am never going to get around to displaying this information on Facebook but just for the pure opportunity of having this useless information archived somewhere, here are the bands I remember going to see so far in my lifetime (in loose chronological order):

Paul Young, UB40, Level 42, Jesus Jones, Wonderstuff, Spear of Destiny, Soul Asylum, Squeeze, James, INXS, Michael Jackson, Madonna, Ocean Colour Scene, Dodgy, Kula Shaker, Texas, Lightening Seeds, Seahorses, Charlatans, The Verve, Sneaker Pimps, Embrace, Divine Comedy, Space, Ash, Mansun, Supernaturals, Reef, Supergrass, Oasis, Chemical Brothers, Daft Punk, Fun Lovin' Criminals, Moloko, All Saints, Blur, Manic Street Preachers, Suede, Faithless, Rolling Stones, Stereophonics, Paul Weller, Travis, Elton John, Alanis Morrisette, Coldplay, Gomez, Gorillaz, Franz Ferdinand, Dido, U2, Neil Finn, Duran Duran, Keanne, Snow Patrol, The Swell Season (duo from movie: Once), Lily Allen, Razorlight, The Ting Tings, Take That, MIKA, Kanye West, Crowded House, Friendly Fires, Thievery Corporation, Depeche Mode, Crystal Castles, Ida Maria, Kaiser Chiefs, Arctic Monkeys, Glasvegas, Vampire Weekend, Bat for Lashes, Snoop Dog, The Killers.

Eek. 85 bands in total (and they are just the ones I remember).

There's no one band that I can pinpoint as being the best gig I ever attended, although Michael Hutchence was hands down the sexiest front man by miles. This might diminish my credibility somewhat, but I think MIKA might even top the list for most fun/energy (hey - don't knock it till you've seen him live. He's fantastic.) Gorillaz was without doubt the most original.

Next on the list? Possibly Kylie in October, for the sheer entertainment factor. And I have all fingers and toes crossed for the possibility that Kasabian will tour in the next few months (once the lead singer has recovered from swine flu, obviously).

How about you? Are you a live music buff too? What is the best / sexiest / surprising / worst band you have ever seen?


  1. With you with Michael Hutchence. LOVED him so much as a teenager. Sigh.

    Award for you over at mine. x

  2. I'm so jealous. You've seen virtually all of my favourites live (I would have KILLED to see INXS). I love music but, I don't know why, I've hardly been to any live gigs. Combination of not getting round to booking tickets and hubby who hardly knows who anyone is. The last thing I went to was Robbie Williams live at Knebworth in about 2003. Robbie was great, but getting out of the carpark afterwards was hell on earth and that rather put me off. Festivals are great, though - an opportunity to pack in so many bands in one day.

  3. You know about U2 coming to the US in the fall, don't you? Perhaps they're not your thing, though.

  4. Glad you got to see Kaiser Chiefs, they are fantastic live. I too shudder at the thought of port-a-loos. Ever since I nearly fell down one at Glastonbury 2000, I've been very nervous about using them under the influence.

  5. I'm soooo out-of-the-loop with all this, though not quite at the 'who?' stage yet. That's the retired High-Court judge 'who', btw, not the legendary Daltrey-fronted rock-band. But I digress.... Police (best) and Specials (re-formed, very out-of-tune and grumpy) worst. There. Not quite in fogey-kingdom!

  6. Fraught Mummy - I have to say that Michael Hutchence live was like sex on legs. I was a lot younger (obviously) but couldn't help thinking the whole way through the concert...'can you imagine the sex that he has with Paula Yates??' Not that I imagined this involved a belt tied to a door handle of course...

    And thank you so much for the award. Wahooo!

    Nappy Valley - yes, Knebworth is a bitch to get out of after a gig. And festivals are a great way to see lots of bands in one go...but I am finding that I just tend to get 'banded out' after the first 3 or 4. Not good.

    Iota - I know U2 are in Chicago soon but I can't afford a ticket right now (especially after my Lollapalooza ticket). Have fun! They were amazing when I saw them a few years ago and I wish I was going to be there.

    Noble Savage - Hahahaha! Oh and thanks for the meme. (I think). It will give me something to think about (and panic over in my sleep...)

    Dotterel - would have loved to have seen the Police! And also The Specials (but preferably not out of tune and grumpy). And no, of course you are not in fogey-kingdom

  7. Wow! That is some list. I've seen very few but the most memorable was Blur in 1994....twice.