This past weekend I went to Chicago for work to do remote production at Lollapalooza.
I was in Chicago just four days ago but it could have been a month ago.
Right now my life seems to be moving along so fast that it’s kind of difficult for me properly examine what is going on around me. I am working on ways to remedy this without compromising my lifestyle – I like being involved with different groups, events and plans but I do sometimes feel a bit overwhelmed (like most people).
A new development – This Saturday I am going to be shooting at the All Points West Festival (Radiohead, The Roots, Chromeo, Animal Collective, Kings of Leon, etc.) and on Monday I am producing an interview/shooting Trace magazine founder and editor Claude Grunitzky and asking him questions about his book, ‘Transculturalism: How the World Is Coming Together’. With that and other things going on, I decided it was important for me to reflect a bit on the past week’s festival experience before I moved on to something else.
Jet Plane Particulars
Work travel is still a fairly new experience for me. I don’t take it for granted that (sometimes) my work lets me hop on a plane and go someplace where there is a lot of action. I like action, and it’s certainly more fun than sitting at my desk all day.
My first work trip was to Las Vegas for the 2007 VMAs. It was also my first time ever going to Vegas. It was very surreal for me to experience Las Vegas, the strip, and the VMAs simultaneously and all for the first time. My schedule didn’t give me that much free time to ponder how it was that fate brought all of those things together and why, but I’ve noticed a similar pattern occurring lately in all of the things that I do, and Chicago/Lollapalooza was no exception.
That out-of-body feeling that happened in Vegas is what I also experienced in Chicago. I think it comes from experiencing an event from different perspectives simultaneously. Aside from being at Lollapalooza to do a job, I was also just a girl who was completely fascinated with the festival setup and all the people. I was also a music fan who was geeking out over being in such close proximity to some of my favorite artists. How often will I be able to say that I spent my work day near a stage where Radiohead was performing?
On top of that, being in a new city brings up memories from visits to other new places and so the whole experience becomes this melange of stimuli that sometimes is so much that I kind of end up tuning it out entirely. My experience would have been a lot different if I had been there in just one role, but I was there as a paid employee, a music fan and a traveler. Sometimes being a lot of things at once can dilute each individual experience, and it becomes this mostly conscious choice to inhabit one role from one moment to the next, depending on what is going on, in order to really be able to absorb it all from all angles.
(my portable work station that I carried around on my back)
Here is a video from Day 1 at the press compound area that pretty accurately sums up the vibe of what it’s like to work in this kind of environment.
Lolla Diary: Thursday, July 31st
I flew with Andrew Ross-Rowe, my work colleague and teammate for the weekend. We landed in Chicago around 10pm (here are more photos of O’Hare International, their interior is crazy), checked into our hotel and then ended up spending the evening looking for a place to eat that was open after midnight (and not a million dollars).
I was a little loopy from flying and had that jittery feeling of excitement/nervousness that I always get after flying, and realizing that I was walking around the city that The Dark Knight was shot in added an extra vibe of encroaching chaos.
So, this is what happened on Thursday.
Here’s the part where we go out looking for food and end up finding Rock & Roll McDonald’s, the most largest and scariest location I have ever seen.
It looked like the hive mother that birthed all the other McDonald’s in the world. I could swear it was watching us.
(magical McDonald’s wedgie at 1AM)
We met some dudes at this bar called “English”. They were in town for Lollapalooza too (just for fun).
Sometimes I like to pull out the gun show.That was Thursday night.
Lolla Diary: Friday, August 1st
This day was actually not that fun at all. The team loaded up in a van outside of the hotel at 9:30am and we headed off to Grant Park. The ride over felt like daycamp for grown ups. That was actually fun. The not-so-fun came later.
Granted, once we got there I was psyched about the bands (Radiohead was the closing set) and truly enjoyed the Spin magazine-sponsored SoCo tent that was a stone’s throw away (free booze), but my colleagues and I worked 16+ hours straight. I didn’t get to see a single band, which I know sounds like a really lame complaint considering, but fuck it. I didn’t get to witness even one second of Radiohead’s show and that was a little disappointing.
Luckily this happened on the first day because it helped me to really face the fact that I was there to work, and if I was able to see cool things, wonderful. If I didn’t – well – I was staying in a cool hotel for free and working in the sunshine. That’s not anything to sniff at so I stopped being a crybaby and looked forward to what was in store for me on Saturday.
Lolla Diary: Saturday, August 2nd
This was hands down my most favorite day of the trip.
Despite it being (of course) another long day, I was able to work out a deal with Andrew so that he could see a band that he liked and I could wander around the park for a while, scoping the scene.
I was able to experience the general vibe of the fest which seemed to be a combination of hipster, club kid, hippie, frat boy, people who looked like they were old enough to go to Woodstock, college kids and a lovable assortment of misc. freaks and geeks.
The first thing I noticed was how everyone was so nice. I didn’t have any flashy press credentials while I walking around (not that this would inspire anyone to be nice, but still) so I appeared (I guess) as a regular festival person. I needed help finding places so I would go up to strangers and ask them. They were 100% helpful and friendly each time, whether they were covered in body paint, wearing crocs (gross), had tribal tattoos or appeared very unwashed (or a combination of all of those things). People were polite, didn’t push me around while we moved as a mob from place to place, and it all felt pretty mellow.
People were sitting on the grass sunbathing or talking to friends, waiting for their band of choice to come on. There were people dancing around even when there wasn’t any music playing, drinking beers, playing with frisbees and hula hoops and enjoying the outdoors.
I made my way over to the Citi stage and was able to catch some of Spank Rock’s set.
I like Spank Rock but I’m not their #1 fan or anything – their set was simply going on during the time that I was able to get away for a while.
It felt really good to be able to experience Lollapalooza as a regular attendee, even if only for a few minutes. It almost made me forget that I had a gigantic pimple above my right eyebrow that was giving me magical powers and a migraine.
RATM was the closing set on Saturday. There was a lot of drama and some violence going on during the show, which Andrew and I observed through the compound fence. We were really tired and went a little gonzo during their set.
Pete Wentz & Cobra Starship: Two Things I Never Thought About Until Today
So a group of us left Grant Park, hit the hotel to freshen up and then headed on over to the club in our daycamp van (my name for it by this point). It must be that I am getting old because although I was psyched to be contributing to the shoot, the last thing I wanted to do was to be in a club. There was this huge line to get in but because we were there to shoot, we were escorted to the front without any wait at all. Inside, we were led into the back of the club to a private bar where we were all given free drinks.These sorts of perks are kinda of lost on me because I am not a club person anymore, but it was still an interesting experience. I pretended I was in the mafia.
After the introductions, our crew shot a set by Cobra Starship and Andrew and I took photos of the performance and of the interview between Pete Wentz and John Norris that was held in the bowels of the club. Everyone was smoking down there and after an hour I started to feel pukey.
You can see all the photos we took and the actual video from the show on the MTV Newsroom Blog (you can see how close I was to the stage in the flipbook), but here are two photos that I loved the most from that night:
Andrew and I took turns posing in this sick gangster looking chair while John interviewed Pete Wentz and his crew a few feet away.
Kiss my ring!!! (imaginary one)
After all of that excitement we still ended up going out to some bar that I don’t remember. I was starving and ended up going on a quest for deep dish pizza and wings. My food sonar sweep targeted a place about a mile away where I ended up meeting a bunch of Chicago characters who looked like they were on drugs. Being in that pizza shop was like something out of a Quentin Tarantino movie, you felt like shit was going down in there. Well, I imagined there was anyway. This is how my mind works.
This is yours truly and Will at Angels & Kings “earlier” that evening. His shirt is shwag from the Troll 2 release party that someone in our Santa Monica office went to and brought back for him. That movie rules.
I took a cab home with Will around 3am because I am old and don’t party anymore. I wanted to digest my pizza, watch cartoons, and rest before the last day of Lolla.
Lolla Diary: Sunday, August 3rd
The last day of Lolla went by in a blur of endless work activity. The only thing that stands out is that Kid Sister, one of my favorite artists, dropped by our tent and I was able to introduce myself to her and shake her hand. She gave me high five about something (I don’t remember what) and magically the awful neck pain I had immediately vanished. The woman has magical powers.
On Sunday I worked a lot, threw up in the porta potty because of how disgusting it was in there, kept running to the SoCo tent for free booze (it was watered down so I had to) and worked with Andrew to juggle the endless material that kept coming in. We kicked ass.
Kanye West was the closing act. I heard it over the fence. I suppose you have to see it to believe in it, because I wasn’t really feeling it.
When we returned to the hotel we had someone take a group photo of us. Robert Mancini, our boss, was cut off in it. The person cut him off three times, which I found hilariously effed up. How hard is it to take a wide shot?
I’m not actually working in this photo. This was taken at 3am and I am watching videos on YouTube.
I slept for a few hours and met the crew at 7AM to head off in our happy van to O’Hare International for our flight back to NYC.
After landing at JFK on Monday afternoon, Andrew and I had to go back to work to drop off our gear and then I headed home for some wonderful sleep. Ahh, sleep. How I love you. The photo above is of my thinking about how great it will be to sleep in my own bed.
So, that was Lollapalooza. If I could do it again I would, only this time I would bring my own toilet paper and a vat of hand sanitizer. I would have also eaten less deep dish pizza because now I am carrying it all around my middle.
Yeah right. I would have eaten more deep dish pizza. That ish was delicious.
ps: A photo from our shoot at Angels & Kings ended up on Pete Wentz’ blog. This was not a coincidence – I asked our senior writer to forward our links so exactly that would happen (posting a link to our content) and it did.
Part of my job is to do online outreach for our content, so I figured what better way to get more views for our Lolla coverage than to reach out to Pete Wentz fans who follow everything he does – especially his own personal blog.
If you think these kids are gullible for immediately following a link just because an artist tells them to, consider who’s targeting you. How do you choose what you buy and what you watch?
We are all always negotiating between exploiting a service and being exploited by that same service. I recently shut off my cable (not a financial choice) because I decided I was tired of having the illusion of so many choices.
Since I did that, I have been spending a lot more time with my friends, writing, reading and increasing the quality of my life. I still watch televised content – but on my own terms and in smaller doses. I actually only watch TV on the interwebs now. I have no reason to pay for TV ever again.
That’s it. You reached the end of my epic tale, congrats. ^_^