Lollapalooza 2011: Day Two
We got a late start today and after shopping at Macy’s, Filene’s Basement and some other stores in the area, we met a couple of old friends at Potbelly, a cool (but ubiquitous) Chicago eatery chain known for its sandwiches and, in our opinion, not-too-shabby oatmeal chocolate chip cookies. After grabbing a quick bite, we caught Fitz and Tantrums. They played on the Music Unlimited Stage at 3pm and had energy to spare. Their original material had a distinctive, retro flair to it and they turned a cover of the Eurythmics’ “Sweet Dreams” into a sing-a-long. Dapper frontman Michael Fitzgerald thanked the crowd, acknowledging the audience as “straight-up music lovers” before closing the set with “MoneyGrabber.”
Next up, we caught the Chain Gang of 1974, an L.A. band that owes a clear musical debt to Depeche Mode and Tears for Fears. Not that there is anything wrong with that. Singer Kamtin Mohager’s energy was infectious and he climbed into the crowd to perform one number at the center of a virtual mosh pit. From there, we went back to the Music Unlimited Stage to hear the recently reunited Big Audio Dynamite. Led by Mick Jones, the band’s mix of reggae and rock sounded sharp as it revisited hits such as “Medicine Show” and the set-closing “Rush.” Next up was the ever outrageous Cee Lo, who took the stage in an outfit that looked like something you’d wear to an S&M club or the set of a Mad Max reboot. He opened with his cover of Danzig’s “Mother” and then went into a cover of the Violent Femmes’ “Gone Daddy Gone.” The sound mix was off a little though, and his vocals were distorted or inaudible at times.
Looking for a chance to chill out, we headed over to “Green Street,” the area of Lollapalooza dedicated to all things eco-friendly. We ate a couple of tasty vegan burgers served up at the farmer’s market stand and then found a place to sit. We then caught a quick drink at the beer garden, the one place at the festival where you can buy something other than Bud, Bud Light or, of the three our favorite, Bud Light Lime. From there, we caught a bit of Atmosphere, a decidedly cool Minneapolis act that approaches hip-hop from an old school perspective.
Headliner Eminem was one of the festival’s biggest draws. That’s not only because he’s not touring much this summer but also because he hasn’t played in Chicago in several years. Fans secured spots close to the Music Unlimited main stage as early as 11am to make sure they would have a good view of the show. Eminem came out strong with “Won’t’ Back Down,” but then reverted to a series of medleys that dissipated the show’s original intensity. We stuck around for most of the set (and were thrilled by his execution of “Stan,” his collaboration with Dido). On our way out, we passed Perry’s Stage, where Pretty Lights, a Colorado-based electro act, had a capacity crowd dancing the night away in a rave-like setting.
We come to the city a couple of times a year, so here are a few Chicago entertainment and dining experiences we really enjoy:
A game and/or an afternoon in Wrigleyville: The neighborhood around the Cubs’ stadium is filled with bars (including Goose Island) and energy on game day.
Stopping by the original Billy Goat Tavern: It’s not the easiest place to find . . . across the street from the Chicago Tribune and underground . . . but for those of us who remember the short order cook sketch from Saturday night live (“Cheezborger! Cheezborger!”), this is a one-time must-visit.
Schubas Tavern for a show and some really great grub: Schubas offers diverse live music that includes Americana, rock, pop and jazz. (We see they’ve even added a few comedians to the lineup.) And the attached Harmony Grill offers way better than average American dishes including killer mac-n-cheese.
Seeing something we’ve already seen but is funnier the second time at The Brew & View at The Vic : The Brew & View shows second and third run films that are cult classics or mindless fun. Accompanied by three open bars and a vocal, enthusiastic crowd, you gain a new appreciation for an old fave shown in the company of new friends. (Admission is just $5 for 2 or3 flicks a night.)
Brunch at the Chicago Diner: Warning: We tend to eat more vegetarian than not. So, we’re super excited when we find a cool veggie-friendly spot that serves up fare that doesn’t taste like health food in 1973. The Chicago Diner has beer, wine, non-dairy “milkshakes” to die for, vegan, vegetarian, gluten free . . . and it tastes great. But be aware, the secret is out and you may have to wait to get through the doors.