By: The Busted Amp Staff
Joseph: Wow. What a show. I last saw Kamasi Washington at Bonnaroo 2016, where he was right next to Pearl Jam for my favorite set of the festival. So, needless to say, I was giddy with anticipation at the chance to see Kamasi again. In a full set, too. Fortunately, Kamasi and his band, some of the best jazz musicians in the world, did not disappoint. After a short but sweet set from opener Moonchild, (never thought I'd see some frat bro wannabes rip it on a bunch of different instruments, but that's a pretty good summary of them) Kamasi took the stage. And boy did he tear the roof down.
There's something special about seeing jazz live. The environment at these shows is completely different than the environment at a traditional show. The crowd is engaged, and hanging on every solo. They applaud constantly. They cheer after a player does something great. There's an energy there that you don't usually see, and when you happen to have one of the best jazz musicians of the 21st century in front of you that feeling is amplified. The crowd had a lot to cheer about as every member of Kamasi's band got the chance to blow our minds with at least one epic solo. Even the bassist got a feature! Despite the set running almost 2 hours, Kamasi only played 7 songs. Those solos really up the run-time! There were a few moments where the pace slowed down a bit, but those moments were very welcome as it gave the crowd a chance to catch their breath. But man can Kamasi rip it on the saxophone. The rest of his band is pretty darn good too. All in all I loved every minute of this set. There's no doubt you'll be seeing it again when we talk about our favorite sets of 2017. This one will be VERY close to the top. If you have the chance to see him, do yourself a favor: drop everything, and go see Kamasi Washington live.
Oh and Derek and I got our picture taken with Kamasi after the show, so that was pretty cool.
Derek: I think Joseph summed up most of my feelings on the show. Seeing Kamasi Washington live is a thrilling experience, and since jazz isn't exactly the most popular of genres anymore (despite Kamasi breathing new life into it in the past few years), you know you're going to be surrounded by like-minded fans who are there for the love of the music. It's a great atmosphere to experience.
While the band wasn't exactly the same as when I saw him at Midpoint Music Festival in 2016, staples like drummer Ronald Bruner Jr., keyboardist Brandon Coleman, and trombonist Ryan Porter are all stars. I'm a little biased, but I did miss bassist Miles Mosley this time around, and singer Patrice Quinn has never been my favorite; I've always like Kamasi's instrumental pieces much more. But songs like "Truth" and "Humility" sound fantastic live, and Washington shows no signs of slowing the momentum he gained from The Epic. I just wish more people had been there to experience it.
Leroy and Lanisha
The Rhythm Changes
By: Joseph Kathmann
My partner-in-crime Derek is in Ireland right now, so that means you're stuck with me as we talk about our latest adventure with Foo Fighters. While (obviously) nothing will compare with our once-in-a-lifetime experience with Foo Fighters at the Metro during Lolla, I still went into this set excited to hear what Foo Fighters sounds like in the arena world they've been forced to inhabit. Of course, they didn't disappoint.
First up, though, was The Struts. A (supposedly) sold-out US Bank Arena slowly filled in and the sleepy crowd was greeted by the hard-rocking, head-bobbing 80s-esque rock group, but few seemed to be really turned on by their sound. Which is a real shame: I've been a fan of the group since they toured the festival circuit last year (I last saw them at Pilgrimage 2016) but their sound is just not meant for an arena the size of US Bank. The lifeless crowd didn't help much, either, despite the bands desperate pleas to get up and move, they stayed largely still in anticipation for the headliner. I don't know if it's because of the cross-genre appeal of FF, but this crowd was not the best of crowds by any means. And, while it was great to hear some of their great hits like "Kiss This" and "Could Have Been Me" again, their set remains almost identical to what we saw last year, right down to their on-stage banter. While I do look forward to some new material from the group, and will enjoy seeing them again at that point.....I have no plans of seeing this group again until then.
Finally, though, came FF. The biggest rock group in the world took the stage and tore through a 27 song set that lasted nearly 3 hours. It's hard to believe this band performs at the level of intensity they do for 3 hours night in and night out, but the band's endurance is so absurd they were outlasting a vast majority of the crowd as the set went on. But what a set it was. While it was eerily similar to our Metro set, (they even played the same Tom Petty cover in Cincy as they did a few months earlier....though they did play that song this time around to commemorate Tom Petty's birthday) and the banter, aka Dave Grohl telling the crowd they were going to be there all night, was similar.....it still felt organic. Maybe it's the fact that the band has been touring for 20+ years together, or maybe its because they're one of the best live acts the music industry has ever seen, but it never really bothered me that this set was so similar to what we got in Chicago. I still loved every second of it, and it sure seemed like the band did too. The set featured only a few songs from the latest album (the crowd seemed very disinterested in these songs) and leaned heavily on the band's massive list of hits and singles. Front man Dave Grohl even got a little cheeky with the audience right before the encore, inviting one of the cameramen backstage and toying with the crowd about how many more songs they were going to play. The band sounds great anywhere, and even though they definitely sounded better in Chicago, it was still a blast to see them again here in Cincy, and I can't wait to see them again. There is no bigger rock band in the world than Foo Fighters, and it is awesome to see this group while they are still at the height of their prime. If you haven't seen these guys yet, take it from us and put them on your bucket list. It's more than worth it.
You can check out a setlist of their Cincinnati performance here, and check out a live performance of two of their new songs, "Run" and "The Sky is a Neighborhood," below.
By: Joseph Kathmann
Rounding out my group of festivals for year is once again Pilgrimage. Nestled in beautiful Franklin, TN (about 15 miles south of Nashville) the festival has always been a great spot to escape from the troubles of the world in a somewhat intimate, somewhat hippie atmosphere. The lineup predominantly consists of folk, jazz/soul, and indie rock, which I always appreciate, but there's always a pop artist or two thrown in as well. The festival takes place at the historical Park at Harlinsdale Farm and, even though this year was its biggest year yet, it has yet to feel even remotely cramped. I've gone every year (and even provided the merch for them last year) since the festival began back in 2015, and have been amazed to see how far it's come in the past few years. The festival features a ton of local food vendors, as well as local arts and crafts vendors, and because of this pricing around the festival is very reasonable. This year the festival partnered with Bells Brewery, which mean every drink tent had a healthy selection of Bells Beer. Needless to say this was by far the best beer selection I saw at any festival this year, and that doesn't even mention the craft beer hall at Pilgrimage. The musicians were good, too. Here's some of the good, the bad, and the out of place acts that this festival had to offer.
Leading the charge for me this year at the festival was the legendary Mavis Staples. Boy, am I thankful I can now say I've heard this great soul singer's voice in my lifetime. Staples had a shortened set, and a few times had to sit down because "She can't keep up with us nowadays," but her set was still enticing and engaging. The crowd watched her set with the reverence she deserved, and it was pretty awe-inspiring. Staples has done a great job this year putting her name back at the forefront of the genre thanks to several high-profile collaborations in recent years, and her voice is still something to behold. Check this set out if you can.
For those who may not be familiar, Amanda Shires is the wife of Jason Isbell, who may very well be the best singer-songwriter of our generation. Derek and I have repeatedly praised his talent, but I was excited to see his better half and see how talented she is in her own right. Shires did not disappoint. She, too, is able to craft vivid stories in her songs, and also has a great deal of stage presence. I had a blast during this set, despite it being in a hotbox of an area (please guys, do something about this stage the gravel makes it 10 degrees hotter than everywhere else it's miserable) during the height of the heat for the day. It was also neat to see Jason Isbell on stage, but doing is his utmost to not take away any limelight from Amanda. I don't even think most of the crowd realized that was him playing rhythm guitar and providing the occasional backup vocal. (On the far left in the pic) Now that's true love right there.
Trombone Shorty and Orleans Avenue
Walk the Moon
Fitz and the Tantrums
You probably could've seen this one coming if you looked at the bill and saw their name on it. Derek and I have gone out of our ways to criticize the looooong, hard fall of a band that was once one of our favorites. Unfortunately this downfall has affected their live show as well. The band was, once again, lifeless in the performance of their hits, and are very clearly just going through the motions. Their new material, unsurprisingly, sounds awful live, and, despite the atmosphere, Michael Fitzpatrick and co. didn't change their setlist at all. As a result most of their set was their pop-y new material, instead of their soulful older material. It showed with the crowd too: most of the time the audience was very bored and talking over the set. I was included in that mix, and ultimately I decided to check out some football in the beer tent instead of watching the rest of the trainwreck. Hard pass.
The Out of Place
This is by far my biggest criticism of Pilgrimage 2017. The atmosphere and talent all jived well with each other this year, (minus Fitz and the Tantrums) but the headliners felt grossly out of place. While Vedder makes this list simply because of how boring his performance was, Timberlake is the primary complaint here. He did his best to appeal to the tone of the overall festival, even bringing Nashville superstar Chris Stapleton on stage for a few songs, (Timberlake is part owner of Pilgrimage now and lives in Franklin, TN too) but the crowd he brought just did not follow suit. Timberlake's day was far busier than Vedder's other day at Pilgrimage, but a great majority of Timberlake's crowd came in and camped at the main stage waiting for him, and were pretty awful in the other sets before he came on. It reminded me a lot of the Lolla vibe we saw this year, particularly before Chance's headlining set, but the second I left the main stage and went literally anywhere else, it was gone. I don't know if this set, and the obvious money it brought in, is a sign that Pilgrimage is going to try and go more mainstream in the upcoming years, but this year it did not fit in well the rest of the festival at all. Vedder is on here too because....it was just him. I was really expecting Vedder to bring out a band and showcase his solo material in addition to some Pearl Jam staples, but what we got was just Vedder and a guitar. He was just a glorified singer-songwriter, and for a festival that has provided us with some great headliners in years past (Beck, Willie Nelson, Wilco, and Hall & Oates) this year's group was either out of place for the crowd or very weak.
Despite this (once again) being the hottest festival of the year for me with highs both days well into the 90s, I had an overall great experience with (most of) the acts and the vibe of the festival. The atmosphere is great, the prices are reasonable, and the crowds are (mostly) fun. Why can't they all be like Pilgrimage?
By: The Busted Amp Staff
Derek: For an artist that I didn't know had any new music released until I heard the single on the new Madden video game, I was surprised to see the lack of hype for Big Boi at Madison Theater. Yes, lack of hype. Why? Well, we're only a few years removed from one of the biggest reunion tours of the last decade when Outkast held an expansive, uber-hyped festival hop in 2014. Yes, the tour received mixed reviews and Andre 3000 has since admitted that he only did it for the money and felt like a sell-out in doing so. But despite all of this, Outkast's music has legendary status, especially among the late 20 - early 30 somethings who grew up listening to "Hey Ya" and the plethora of other memorable tracks the Atlanta group released. So when Joseph and I walked into a half-filled theater, I was shocked and, frankly, disappointed in the Cincinnati scene.
It certainly didn't help the performance. Big Boi appeared like he was phoning it in nearly the entire night, and even great cameos from Killer Mike couldn't save what ended up being one of the most forgettable shows of the year. If not for the memorability of the selection of Outkast songs, it would have been even more forgettable than it already was. Killer Mike's flow is much better than Big Boi's at this stage in his career, and it felt like Killer Mike was getting the bigger cheers too. It doesn't hurt that Killer Mike is in the currently relevant hip-hop duo Run The Jewels. But I'll just go ahead and leave it at that.
Joseph: I'm gonna have to side with Derek on this one. I was pretty hyped to see this duo here in Cincy going in. Two of the bigger names in hip hop teaming up for what should be a unique co-headlining bill? Sign me up! However, it was not to be. Apart from the extremely disappointing showing from the Cincinnati music scene, (c'mon, guys!) Big Boi was anything but energetic as he slugged through his mostly forgettable set. Killer Mike stole the show whenever he was on stage, but I was disappointed to see him only get two or three solo songs. I thought this was to be a co-headlining set with each receiving equal solo time on stage, but clearly the set was Big Boi with Killer Mike. Frankly I felt a little deceived by the billing.
That said, I did feel some nostalgia hearing those classic Outkast tracks again, but this notion was already tickled last year when Derek and I saw Big Grams at Bunbury. (Big Boi + Phantogram) So unfortunately this set didn't bring much to the table other than Killer Mike reinforcing the notion that he's one of the best rappers out there today.
Check this one off the list ladies and gents.
Check out Big Boi's new single "Kill Jill" featuring Killer Mike and Jeezy
By: Derek Jung
DEREK: Joseph and I have been avid followers of The Church of Joshua Homme for as long as we can remember. Our love affair with Queens of the Stone Age dates back to when our adolescent musical tastes were just starting to grow, and it hasn't lessened for any album, lineup iteration, or side project that Homme has thrown at us. The band's latest album, Villains, was a banger, and we were excited to hear the songs performed live.
This was probably the tightest I've ever seen the band live. Every member was in perfect sync, playing off of each others' grooves and licks, and Homme, albeit visibly intoxicated, was really enjoying himself. There have been a lot of rumors swirling around about his mental state, but hopefully chainsmoking, boozing, and badassery are his only vices. All that being said, he looked in prime form on Tuesday.
The band focused mostly on Villains and their previous album, ...Like Clockwork. I was pleasantly surprised to hear "I Appear Missing", which I was disappointed they didn't play the last time I saw them, and the one-two-three punch of "Head Like a Haunted House" -> "I Appear Missing" -> "Villains of Circumstance" was one of my favorite moments of the show. It was the perfect amount of insanity, jamming, and psychedelic stoner rock.
I'll go ahead and omit the fine, but otherwise run of the mill opening set from Royal Blood. Seeing them for the first time on this album cycle at Lollapalooza was great, but seeing the same thing twice from a band that relies so much on riffs and British swagger, it was extremely boring.
Queens are touring through the middle of next year, so there are still plenty of opportunities to see them.
JOSEPH: I don't have a whole lot to add here. Derek and I feel pretty similar about QOTSA and go way back with the band. I just wanted to bring up that I feel like Joshua Homme is one of the last true rockstars of our time. Derek put it lightly relating to Homme's intoxication. He was wasted, like the rockstars of old. Yet he was at the top of his game. Pretty impressive, if you ask me. I also agree with Derek on Royal Blood. This was the third time I've seen the band on this tour, and even though I'm the resident riff rock lover between us, I couldn't help getting bored seeing the exact same set for a third time. Hopefully they start to add some spontaneity to their set as they continue to develop. But when it's all said and done.....go see QOTSA if you can. It's worth it.
Go With the Flow
The Lost Art of Keeping a Secret
Feet Don't Fail me
My God Is the Sun
The Evil Has Landed
No One Knows
Make It Wit Chu
Leg of Lamb
Head Like a Haunted House
I Appear Missing
Villains of Circumstance
If I Had a Tail
I Sat by the Ocean
The Way You Used to Do
A Song for the Dead
By: Derek Jung
Nestled in a quaint park amphitheater on the banks of the Great Miami River in Hamilton, Ohio, David Shaw's Big River Get Down has put together one of the better single day festivals in the area. Shaw, lead singer of The Revivalists and Hamilton native, assembled an eclectic, good vibes focused lineup that delivered from top to bottom. Coupled with great weather and a crowd eager to soak up the sun and enjoy a day of music in an otherwise quiet town, The Get Down was a huge success.
Rev. Peyton's Big Damn Band
Ironically only featuring three members, Peyton's energy, enthusiasm, and monster beard makes up for what the band lacks in size and, frankly, a vocalist. With slick slide guitar, smooth blues licks, and a hypnotizing rhythmic sound, Peyton and company commanded the stage for their 45 minute set. I found myself constantly watching Breezy, whose instrument is scratching a washboard.
Yes, this is a band from the 21st century.
Set highlights "Something for Nothing" and "Clap Your Hands" are worth the price of admission alone. Don't miss out on seeing The Rev if he comes around again.
The Marcus King Band
I missed seeing Marcus King earlier this year at 20th Century Theater because of a snow storm, so seeing he was playing The Big River Get Down was icing on the cake when I went to purchase tickets. The 21 year old blues guitarist has been playing live for a good portion of his life already, and being associated with legends like Warren Hayes certainly hasn't hurt his young career. Similar to Hayes, King's southern blues style bring back memories of The Allman Brothers and Gov't Mule. With accompanying horns and keys, King's guitar playing didn't take the spotlight quite as much as I would have liked, but there's no denying the kid's talent and passion for the blues. I'm really looking forward to hearing how his sound evolves, because there are certainly some growing pains involved. (His voice being one of them) But I have high hopes.
The Record Company
Seeing them open for My Morning Jacket earlier this year was a revolution for me. I'd heard their single, "Rita Mae Young" on local radio, but never thought they'd rock as much as they do. These three guys bring the hard pounding throwback southern blues rock riffs, a little twang, a little harmonica, and top it off with a dash of slide guitar. The resulting rock 'n' roll sundae is enough to fill the appetite of even the hungriest rocker out there.
Some would argue that The Record Company isn't bringing anything new to the genre, which is probably true, but why mess with a formula that's been so successful for so long. There's no denying that what the band's doing here sounds just as fresh as it did when Muddy Waters pioneered the genre in the 50's and 60's.
By: Derek Jung
There are few modern country stars that I can, without any shame, say that I am a fan. Chris Stapleton just happens to be one of them. I've been a fan of his since he broke onto the scene under his own name with his debut album Traveler. Stapleton, who had been writing for Nashville superstars for years, proved that he could be his own star and amassed a number of yearly awards for the release. Earlier this summer he released his sophomore album, From A Room: Volume 1, a collection of soulful country ballads that we at The Busted Amp thoroughly enjoyed. Friday night brought a good mix of both, as well as a number of great covers.
Chris Stapleton looks like a southern outlaw. Bearded, with long hair and a cowboy hat, his presence on stage immediately draws your attention. His voice demands it. The show began with the mood setting single "Might As Well Get Stoned", an apt description to the amount of smoke that was rising from the crowd all around us. It was a down home country throwdown, and the sold out crowd at Riverbend Music Center ate it all up.
It was also a sad night for country fans, as country legends Don Williams and Troy Gentry passed away earlier that day. To honor their memories, Stapleton played two Don WIlliams covers during the encore and introed a snippet of Montgomery Gentry's "Hillbilly Shoes" before "Nobody to Blame".
Stapleton is on the road through the middle of November. Check him out if you get the chance.
Might As Well Get Stoned
Nobody to Blame (intro of Hillbilly Shoes by Montgomery Gentry)
Midnight Train to Memphis
Trying to Untangle My Mind
I Was Wrong
Whiskey and You
More of You
Outlaw State of Mind
Tuesday's Gone (Lynyrd Skynyrd cover)
The Devil Named Music
Second One To Know
Amanda (Don Williams cover)
Tulsa Time (Don Williams cover)
Sometimes I Cry
By: Derek Jung
Seeing any musical act in a sports arena is a gamble. For one, the sound system built into stadiums are not made to handle the intricate sounds of a live band. They also are not shaped to handle the way sound travels in space. We see this almost every night at Reds games with the now infamous wooing that echoes through the mostly empty stadium. The last act I had the displeasure of seeing at Great American Ballpark was Billy Currington during All Star Weekend. It didn't go well, and luckily we only had to endure two songs from the country star. Because of this, I didn't have high hopes for The Avett Brothers, who have a much larger, fuller sound.
The stage for The Avett Brothers was, unlike Currington's positioning, directly behind second base facing home. I can't imagine what the sound was like for anyone behind the stage in the outfield, or even more down the first or third baseline, but where we were sitting, we had a good view of the stage. Speaking of which, there were seven people in the band packed on a tiny stage, much of which was taken up by drums, a piano, and keyboards. For a band with as much on-stage energy as The Avett Brothers, I was worried we wouldn't get the full effect. Thankfully, my worries were quickly dashed, but not without some downsides. As I feared, the sound was immediately an issue for those of us in the upper seats in the stadium. The speakers in the upper levels were a good half second behind the on field speakers, which we could still hear. This resulted in an almost unbearable echo for the first few songs. Eventually, the sound evened out (or our ears got used to the echo) and the show progressed like normal.
The band, who headlined Bunbury Festival in 2015, returned a month later but have not been back to Cincinnati since the release of their latest album True Sadness. It was nice to hear a few new songs live, even though I thought the album as a whole was lacking in the punchiness that I've come to expect from Avett Brother releases. Most of the night, however, was dominated by their acclaimed 2009 album I and Love and You, and the band still puts the same amount of energy into it as they always have.
Our show was also one of the last for multi-instrumentalist Paul Defiglia, who departed the band less than a few weeks later. The band is on tour through the beginning of next year, so you'll have plenty of chances to see them on the road in the coming months.
Live and Die
Satan Pulls the Strings
Another Is Waiting
Head Full of Doubt/Road Full of Promise
Ain't No Man
Paranoia in B-Flat Major
Talk on Indolence
I and Love and You
Kick Drum Heart
I Shall Be Released (Bob Dylan cover)
By: The Busted Amp Staff
DEREK: Lollapalooza. The festival we at The Busted Amp thought would be a one time affair after our adventure in 2016. But as with most things in the music world, we should never said never, because when the festival dropped a lineup stacked top to bottom with solid acts, we had no choice but to return to the hallowed grounds at Chicago's Grant Park. While what we witnessed ultimately failed to live up to 2016's peaks, the festival overall left us musically satisfied. The atmosphere, however, did not.
But we'll get to that.
Derek: For the second year in a row, the festival's closing act turned out to be its best. Arcade Fire, on the heels of their so-so new album Everything Now, took the stage at Grant Park on Sunday evening and played a whirlwind, catalog-spanning 90 minutes filled with their signature indie rock anthems. Hearing the chorus of "Wake Up" yelled by a field of tired festival goers was almost as awe inspiring as dancing myself clean with LCD Soundsystem last year. Filled with energy and positivity, Win Butler and Regine Chassagne brought the house down. "Everything Now" and "Creature Comfort" were clear highlights from the new album live, and old favorites like "Neighborhood #3 (Power Out)" reverberated off the crowd with the same effect that they had over ten years ago - sonic majesty and the emotional punch that will bring even the hardest of detractors to tears.
Joseph: Derek and I will have very similar opinions on most of the festival, but I'll add my thoughts here and there. While we disagreed somewhat on LCD Soundsystem last year, (at least with calling it the best of Lolla 2016) we are in unison with Arcade Fire. My most anticipated set of the festival turned out to be my favorite as well, as the band closed out an otherwise lackluster weekend in considerable style. "Creature Comfort" was one of my favorites, as the song (which I wasn't too high on on the album) turned out to be quite an awesome banger live. I also loved "Signs of Life," which was an incredibly groovy number to dance to. While those who made an effort to see the band's official Lolla aftershow at The Metro the night before might have found the setlists to be eerily similar, it was still a great way for us to close out Lolla 2017.
Run The Jewels
Derek: What a relief.
After their nauseatingly bass-heavy performance at Forecastle earlier this summer, I was hesitant to see them again at Lollapalooza, thinking that bigger stage speakers would only make my issues with their live mix worse. Oh how I was wrong. Killer Mike and El-P were at their best in Chicago, and absolutely tore through their hour long set in the late afternoon on Friday. One of the more memorable #LollaMoments happened when the duo invited a sign-wielding fan up on stage to rap the beginning verse of "Legend Has It". He nailed it.
These big stages are perfect for Mike and El-P, and given their continual rise in popularity, I don't see them playing anywhere smaller anytime soon.
Joseph: I did not see RTJ earlier this summer, but thanks to Derek's poor reception of them at Forecastle, I set my bar very low for this set. However I'd say this added to what we ended up with because....holy crap did RTJ blow me away. RTJ is at a point right now where they can put together a solid setlist top to bottom with 3 LPs, and their mix through Lolla's giant sound system was incredible. Additionally, unlike at many hip hop/EDM/pop sets of the weekend, the vibe here was pretty positive, as it seemed most people just showed up to dance. This set was undoubtedly my runner up for best set of the weekend.
Cage The Elephant
Derek: When it comes to legendary sets, there are few in recent years that compares to Cage The Elephant's rain dance/mud wrestling set in 2011. That's why, with more rain threatening this year's set, it wasn't beyond possibility for a repeat. Fortunately (unfortunately?), the rain held off, but the band was still on fire. There are few frontmen that have the energy as Matthew Schultz, who wore a dress for the majority of the set, before triumphantly taking it off toward the end. Not to mention guitarist Brad Schultz, who brings every bit as much energy as his brother, furiously strumming his guitar and yelling into the crowd. By the end, when Matt climbed to the top of the sound booth, the crowd was eating out of the palm of their hands. At this point in their careers, Cage the Elephant has enough material to be a go-to festival act. We saw this in action the week after Lollapalooza when they were booked to fill the space at Outside Lands when Queens of the Stone Age cancelled due to injury.
The Lemon Twigs
Chance the Rapper
Derek: Few bands had a bigger crowd of college douchebags during the weekend than Glass Animals, and for the life of me I really don't understand why. With the exception of "Life Itself", which was one of my favorite songs of last year, the rest of the band's material is incredibly bland, especially their album How To Be A Human Being. Not surprisingly, their performance wasn't much better, yet the crowd was thrilled to toss around mini blow up pineapples (a reference to the song "Gooey") and get really really high. I'm not kidding. I can't think of another act with a thicker haze swirling around the immense field of festival attendees. Maybe I didn't understand because I was stone cold sober, but I didn't hear anything worthwhile from their hour long set.
Joseph: I don't think there was a set over the weekend that better encapsulated what's wrong with Lolla today than Glass Animals. The vibe at Lolla has gone to hell, and at sets like Glass Animals, it was all too present. Many in attendance were just there for "Gooey" and "Life Itself," (which the band opened with so they really took the anticipation out of it with that one) and the rest of the time they couldn't care less what Dave Bayley and co. were doing on stage. What's worse is this isn't the first time this has happened to me watching Glass Animals. While I didn't bring them up in my official recap, I was very low on their set at Bonnaroo this year for similar reasons, and insisted on seeing the band again in the hopes that that negative vibe (which ran counter to most of Bonnaroo's weekend) was a fluke. It was not. I almost hate to say this about any band, but for now avoid Glass Animals and their awful crowd at all costs. It's just not worth it.
Car Seat Headrest
Derek: Don't listen to the folks at Stereogum, who praised the band's set as one of the festival's best. This set was doomed from the very beginning, and had everything to do with the mix. If you've listened to CSH before, you know that lead singer Will Toledo's voice is pretty abrasive. That's not necessarily a bad thing, but combined with a mix that was a muddled mess and you have a recipe for disaster. It quickly spawned Reddit threads, complaining about the poor sound quality. Would this be the Bastille set of 2017? The short answer is absolutely, although after I left for ten minutes to catch the end of Noname, who was fantastic, I returned back to be pleasantly surprised that there was a small but noticeable improvement in the sound. It was, however, too late to save the set as a whole, and thus Car Seat Headrest goes back on the list of bands I need to experience in their true form, because we certainly did not get it here.
Joseph: So this is the one point where I will kind of disagree with Derek. I'm definitely not with Stereogum on this set, but to me it can just be summed up as.....meh. While the AWFUL mix initially didn't help matters, after they fixed it somewhat, the set itself was just mediocre to me. I've never fully understood the hype behind CSH (though I can definitely appreciate the fact that frontman Will Toledo looks suspiciously like Boris Grishenko from 007's Goldeneye) and after seeing their set I still don't understand it. Their set, to me, was just average, and I have very little desire to see them again. (Even though I'm glad I did get to see them) So I guess I didn't hate this set as much as Derek did, I just found the band as a whole to be very meh.
Derek: There are few modern rock stars that have the reputation that Liam Gallagher has amassed his twenty years in the spotlight. The singer, formerly of Oasis, was a surprisingly solid get for the festival as he ramps up touring before the release of his first solo album. Unfortunately for those in attendance, Liam made it only three songs into his set before calling it quits without so much as a word to the crowd. He would later tweet of vocal issues, but I don't believe that for a second. The crowd briefly chanted his brother's name "Noel. Noel. Noel" as the crew began to tear down his gear. Given their much publicized dislike for each other, I can only dream of being a fly on the wall of his green room as the echos reached his ears.
Joseph: Hey, remember the days when Liam Gallagher wasn't an asshole? Neither do I. Sorry this post isn't any longer. My hands hurt from all that typing. I'm gutted.
Derek: While the trend of younger and younger Lollapalooza attendees continued this year, exacerbated by the ever present bass booming through the park from Perry's, I was happy to see that those crowds generally stuck in and around that area. There were only a few acts that were inundated by drugged up high schoolers, one of which made the bad list above. There weren't many other noticeable changes to the festival format. Of course, everyone was bummed that Thursday's headliners were cut short because of severe weather. I was at Lorde and Joseph was at Muse during that time.
The best change for 2017 was the addition of separate urinals, which really sped up bathroom wait times, and also flushable toilets, which kept them cleaner for longer. If I were to take a stab at attendance, I'd say that this year was better attended than last year, especially on Saturday for Chance the Rapper's hometown headlining set.
All of that being said, I still think Lollapalooza has an identity and culture problem. So many people, especially over the age of 20, continue to decry the existence of Perry's, and Perry himself has teased the possibility of running his own underground house music festival to counter the mostly generic EDM that is featured on the stage bearing his name. The problem, ultimately, is that EDM brings the crowds and money that indie music can't bring anymore. Those that grew up in the early-mid 2000's during indie-rock's boom aren't attending as many festivals, and electronic music is the name of the game for the high school and college demographic. And when it comes down to it, Lollapalooza exists to make money, and it certainly does year after year. I think it's safe to say, however, that they won't be getting any more from me. Maybe I'm just getting old.
Joseph: Lolla 2017 was a Jekyll-and-Hyde tale for me. Unlike Derek, I don't necessarily mind the identity/culture problem. I think that can be summed up as "We're old and no longer the most important demographic for music, and we're just not that into EDM." What I do mind, however, is people who can't get their act together and, frankly, handle their shit. I see more people passed out at Lolla than at any other festival, and that's saying something since I go to a 4 day camping festival in the middle of the TN summer every year in Bonnaroo. I just don't understand why people feel the need to have a total disregard of their limits. Why is that even a thing? What benefits do you get out of it other than waking up in an ambulance or medical tent having no idea where your phone is and realizing you missed the headliner you wanted to see because you were passed out?
Additionally, I am so frustrated by the selfish, entitled mentality that comes with so many of the crowds at Lolla. The day Chance headlined was undoubtedly the worst of this. While I had a great time at Chance's set, and will likely be talking about it for years to come as it was one of the biggest crowds for a Lolla headliner ever, I came home to read horror stories on Reddit of entitled Chance fans ruining the show for everyone else who camped the Grant Park Stage right before he went on.
That said, there are still many things Lolla does better than any other festival I go to. Front and center is their easy to use cashless wristband system. No other festival has their act together as much as Lolla does with this system, and it's paired with some incredible food which, believe it or not, is the cheapest I saw at any festival in 2017. Believe me when the year started I did not think I would be typing that sentence, but $5 for a slice of authentic Chicago-style deep dish pizza was the deal to beat at any music festival in 2017. As Derek mentioned, the flush-able toilets (and urinals) were an EXTREMELY welcomed addition to the festival this year, and the festival crew added an extremely welcome third set of speakers at the main stage as well. Security started out pretty lax but got their act together as the weekend went on, and the watering stations are still the best of any festival I go to.
Unfortunately, though, the negatives outweighed the positives for me this year, and I am going to have to side with Derek on my final takeaway. As much fun as it's been going to Lolla these last two years, it would take an absolutely incredible lineup in 2018 for me to even consider coming back and dealing with all the BS that comes with the festival. And given the overall trend of these festival lineups the last two years, I am not holding my breath for a stellar lineup in 2018. It's been real, Lollapalooza. Thanks for the memories.
By: Derek Jung
So many Lollapalooza attendees expect to witness a #LollaMoment, a special cameo or performance from a band that will go down as a unique, memorable piece of festival history. These moments are unpredictable, and people wait through entire sets to witness anything at all, oftentimes walking away disappointed when nothing of significance happens. There are, however, rare occasions where a #LollaMoment is all but guaranteed, and Foo Fighters playing an intimate club show is one of those occasions. The band wasn't even booked at the adjoining festival, but announced an after show less than a week before the festival occurred. The ~1,000 available tickets sold out in less than an hour, and by the time Joseph and I arrived at the venue at 9:15, 15 minutes prior to the doors opening, the line stretched down and around the block. The excitement was palpable for everyone, and those without tickets were offering hundreds of dollars to anyone willing to sell their guest ticket.
It's quite the feeling being less than 30 feet from the stage to see one of the biggest bands of the last two decades. By the time the show started a little after 11, we were packed in like sardines, but that didn't prevent us from yelling and cheering at the top of our lungs. What proceeded is what I can only call "legen-wait for it-DARY". 3 hours and 30 plus minutes of non-stop, in your face, rock n roll. Perry Ferrell, lead singer of Jane's Addiction and founder of Lollapalooza appeared for a cover of "Mountain Song". David Bowie's guitarist was in the balcony and the band paid tribute to him, as was Dave Grohl's cousin who inspired him to get into punk music. The Foos also played 5 tracks off of their upcoming album, Concrete and Gold, and a wide range of different covers from AC/DC and Queen, to The Rolling Stones and Tom Petty. It was, quite frankly, the best show I have ever seen.
The band is gearing up for an extensive world tour supporting Concrete and Gold. We'll be seeing them again in October, but we highly doubt it will come close to matching this one.
All My Life
Times Like These
The Sky Is a Neighborhood
Something From Nothing
Cold Day in the Sun
La Dee Da
Skin and Bones
Mountain Sound (Jane's Addiction cover w/ Perry Farrell)
This Is a Call
I'll Stick Around
Miss You (The Rollings Stones cover)
Under Pressure (Queen cover)
Stay With Me (Faces cover)
Breakdown (Tom Petty cover)
Best of You
Let There Be Rock (AC/DC cover)
Who are we?
Derek Jung and Joseph Kathmann -- Just two ordinary (debatable) guys that love talking about music. You can read more about us here: