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Lollapalooza: The Tour Is Getting Soft

The culture vultures are underwhelmed by this year’s Lolla lineup, giving more ammo to those who call it WalMart by the Lake. But it’s closer to Costco, and besides: there are other, cheaper options.

Lollapalooza Chicago

The Lollapalooza lineup is out, and the fans are restless. Or maybe restful.

“Putting Coldplay on in front of tens of thousands of people suffering low-grade heatstroke is either going to cause a riot or a mass coma. Or both.”

“So much for alt festival, this looks a lot more like one of the touring pop shows from the 50’s to me.”

Jim, I know you were already turned off by Lollapalooza, but you have to admit that this set of headliners is particularly soulless and unintriguing.”

“your use of words like ‘fatigue’ and ‘malaise’ are on point. the headliners sound like a 1999 NME cover story.”

Etc. But I think Tankboy, Chicagoist’s music expert, has it about right:

“I think you nailed why the echo chamber of Twitter and the music blogosphere paints an incorrect picture of the realities of Lolla’s booking choices. They want to sell tickets; they don’t care about ‘making a statement.’”

Jim DeRogatis likes to call it WalMart on the Lake. It’s more like Costco on the Lake: you go once, spend too much money, get everything you need for awhile, and pretty much everything you get is totally fine.

Like the best band in the world, the Mountain Goats, though a large outdoor venue isn’t the best place to see them (see video below). There are a couple worthy Chicago acts, Disappears and the Smith Westerns. There are bands that should be great in the venue, like the Black Lips, Titus Andronicus, and Sleigh Bells.

But if Lolla is too square for you, there’s Pitchfork, which is sort of Lollapalooza 2012-2013.

Truth be told, I think the best music festival this summer might be the city’s free Downtown Sound festival, and by “best” I mean “has a higher percentage of bands I like,” as it says in the dictionary. The first three shows are all promising: Bonnie “Prince” Billy (with the Cairo Gang, featuring local guitar virtuoso Emmett Kelly), Justin Townes Earle, and Iron and Wine. And it’s free.

Only $5 more expensive: the Green Music Festival, which only has four acts so far, but I can vouch for two of them, Yo La Tengo and the Thermals. $5 is beyond a bargain for YLT.

Here’s the Mountain Goats’ John Darnielle playing “Ezekiel 7 and the Permanent Efficacy of Grace” from The Life of the World To Come.

 

And doing “The Seed Song,” from his/their lo-fi days:

 

Photograph: tammylo (CC by 2.0)

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