No Direction Home

This humble blog was started to document our travels around the country during the summer of 2006, We have opted to continue updating it due to the requests from family & friends. Enjoy!

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Maybe I'm Amazed

August 3, 2015

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Maybe I’m Amazed

My crazy life of a traveling fool was at its most extreme during the first weekend of August when after seeing Counting Crows in Miami on a Thursday night, I was on a plane out of Ft. Lauderdale to Chicago at 5 AM the following morning on my way to catch the first day of the annual Lollapalooza festival held in Grant Park.

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I arrived in Chicago and by 9 AM, I was driving in to downtown to meet my friend Drew, who owns a ticket scalping business in Chicago and who once again had me hooked up with a single day VIP ticket to Lolla, after which I would be driving over to central Ohio to attend the Mid-Ohio Indy Car race over the weekend.

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I met Drew at a hotel bar across the street from Grant Park and the concert grounds where he had once again set up shop doling out tickets to his many customers. Though the place was a madhouse and chaotic as all get put, Drew remained calm and quiet, conducting business from a small table in the corner away from the mayhem. He got me my ticket and I joined him for a quick lunch as he went about dealing with clients. It is something to watch him work, the term wheeler-dealer does not begin to describe the frenetic yet somehow calm interactions he has while conducting business.

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My college roommate, Al and his family were in town so that his two daughters Emma and Sarah could attend Lollapalooza. Al and his daughter Sarah had just recently been in Key West and now here he was with his wife Jane, in Chicago from their home in Iowa where they met me before I went in to the concert. I had not seen Jane in years and it was great to see them both, even briefly. We spent a few minutes catching up before I headed in to the show where I would meet up with Emma and Sarah.

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I thought it was extraordinarily cool of them to come to Chicago while their daughters attended the concert, of course it was a nice little mini-vacation for them as well and try as I might, I could not get them to come in to Lolla to catch at least the Paul McCartney set, which is the main reason that I made the side trip to Chicago.

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Once I was inside the show, I texted the girls and met them next to the stage where James Bay was scheduled to play. I had spent time with Sarah, but it was my first meeting of her younger sister Emma who was making her first visit to Lollapaloooza. As expected Emma was as nice and charming as her sister and parents and it was great fun hanging out with them for a while. 

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James Bay, who I had first discovered last year at the ACL festival and who was one of my top ten concert performances that I saw last year was excellent again. Performing with a full band and a lot more acclaim then when I last saw him, he was wonderful, but not quite up to the performance at ACL. He was definitely a lot louder and raucous than the quiet mostly acoustic show that I had seen previously, while it probably translates better to the much larger crowd watching, I prefer the quieter set.

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After a quick lunch, I parted ways with the girls so that they could pursue their own fun without the old dude hanging about and went off on my own to catch the acts that I really wanted to see in advance of the headliner and main attraction, Paul McCartney. The first act that I checked out was Father John Misty. I had seen him at Coachella and he was much better in that performance than this one. Quite frankly, he sort of seemed strung out on drugs, making ridiculous pronouncements between erratic performances of his songs.

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Thankfully the next act I saw was the brilliant sibling duo from Sweden, First Aid Kit. They may well have been the highlight of the day. An amazing performance that included a brilliant cover of Black Sabbath’s “War Pigs” in addition to the soft, warm harmonizing vocals of their wonderful original songs. It was a great performance from a gifted pair of singing sisters.

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First Aid Kit

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After a relaxing meal in the comfy shade of the VIP area, I went to watch the set by a band that I was completely unfamiliar with called Ms. Mr. The flashy NYC based duo performed a fun and energetic set that the crowd really seemed to enjoy. It was a solid and fun set and made me make a mental note to check into their music more closely when I return home.

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Of course the main attraction was the headliner, the legendary former Beatle, Paul McCartney. I have seen Paul a few times in the past twenty some years and it is always a remarkable show and this one was no exception, in fact Paul seemed looser, less choreographed and freer. He really seemed to enjoy the massive crowd approaching 100,000 that packed the main stage area to see him.

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The crowd was a funny mix of 50-70 year olds packed in with the twenty somethings that make up the majority of the Lolla crowd, but it not only worked, it seemed to create an even more energetic response that McCartney clearly feed off of in delivering a blistering twenty plus song set that covered his entire career including many Beatles and Wings hits as well as his solo work. It was a truly wonderful experience culminating when he was joined on stage by members of the Alabama Shakes for his encore. Paul McCartney still rules the musical legend landscape and other than maybe the Rolling Stones, nobody even comes close.

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