A special Wednesday Lollapalooza edition of Toe Jam Mondays.

Being that it was our first time in Chicago, we wanted to take advantage of this beautiful city. Unfortunately, that means cheap beer, late nights and hangovers.

That said, we had plans to get up and make it to the park in time for Morning Benders, Harlem and Dragonette, but that wasn’t so easy on a Saturday morning.

First on our list was a band that caused great debate between my boyfriend Jordan and me. I wanted to check out The xx and Royal Bangs, but I am dating a large Ukrainian man who would die if he didn’t get to see Gogol Bordello, and sometimes love makes you do crazy things.
In order for us to get a good spot for Gogol we opted to see Against Me! that was playing across the field. I am not a huge Against Me! fan but they put on a show that was true to their social and political beliefs. These songs were played with passion and you could tell the words were truly being sung in hopes their message was being heard.

Just before Against Me! was finished we headed over to the main stage to get ready for Gogol Bordello. I don’t want to spend time raving about front man Eugene Hutz, but look him up if you can, he is a really interesting dude. With members from The Ukraine to Israel to L.A, this line up of 9 musicians and performers, playing traditional instruments and incorporating interpretive dance, had me feeling like I was at a family BBQ after a couple too many shots of brandy, watching my relatives singing songs from the Old Country. I was home. Every person in this gypsy-punk band was integral to their show, and I think intensity was a requirement when applying for the job. I loved this live show and Jordan was a happy Ukrainian.

We headed to the other side of the park to see Metric, but stopped to eat and missed their opening. I guess I hadn’t realized how popular Metric was outside of Canada because we got there and had to battle a bottleneck of fans to get a spot. Emily Haines compliments the male line up well with her good looks, feminine voice and rock star sex appeal. I love that they have a New Wave sound with a good rock ‘n’ roll base and that they have managed to stay relevant over the years. I started to feel a little patriotic witnessing the sea of fans pushing to catch a glimpse of a hard working Canadian band and, in true Canuck style, hearing Metric express genuine gratitude for being invited to play at such an amazing festival.

By the time we got over to one of the small stages see Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeros the capacity crowd was crushing and we were pretty beat. We found a patch of grass where the sun was shining and the breeze was blowing and laid back to let Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros do their thing. This band has a retro sound with a bohemian sensibility. I imagine them all living in a run-down bus with tie-dye curtains and bonfire dinners, passing around a magical joint. As we laid on the grass I realized I had a live soundtrack to my life right now, so I decided to find my inner hippie and enjoy the moment.

To end our second day at Lollapalooza we had to choose between French synth-rockers and American Idiots. Although I’ve heard Green Day puts on an incredible live show, I am a fan of Phoenix’s latest release and have gained a new appreciation for them as a creative force after watching this segment from The Creator’s Project.

The sun was setting on the Windy City and we were excited to see Phoenix’s Dan Flavin-inspired neon light show begin. They opened with Lisztomania and the lights changed meticulously with every beat. You could tell that a lot of thought was put into making this show measure up to the size of the venue. Dressed like he belonged on a gondola along the Venice Canal, their touring drummer, Thomas Hedlund, almost stole the show. Perched above the rest of the band, his rock solid beat filled the large space. Singer Thomas Mars sounded almost shocked as he said, “This is the biggest crowd we’ve played to.” But they held their own with big sound and catchy melodies. They busted out 1901 to end the show, putting an instrumental twist on their most popular song to send us home.

A few minutes later, we were crossing a beautiful park bridge on our way back to the hotel. As we came to the end of the bridge, we were confronted by a security guard on a Segway and abruptly told to turn around and go back. To give you a visual, 90,000 concertgoers had just been unleashed on the streets of Chicago and this lady thought she could take us all on with a Segway. As I turned to reason with her, my aforementioned Ukrainian boyfriend peered over the edge to see if jumping was an option. He called my name and when I turned my head I saw the love of my life sliding down the side of this bridge into the darkness. Running to the edge, I watched him fall eight feet into manicured bushes, narrowly missing a drunk taking a piss. I was left on my own to run full speed in the opposite direction while being chased by a Segway. Thanks Jordan.

When Universes Collide – Gogol Bordello

Black Sheep – Metric (Scott Pilgrim vs. The World soundtrack)

40 Day Dream – Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros

Rome – Phoenix

* If you are a member or manager of the above bands and you would like your track removed, please contact us and we will swiftly oblige. Fans – new or old – please support these bands by using your coffee money to buy their records.