As previously established, I’m a hate-stimulating, stereotyped hipster. So I have no problem admitting to the fact that my absolute favorite part of summer is the live music you can listen to outdoors on top of someone’s shoulders while you hoist PBR. At school my friends and I developed a nasty habit of chasing around musicians playing in European cities (we saw Swedish House Mafia in Antwerp, Major Lazer in Amsterdam, A$AP Rocky in Glasgow… our bank accounts suffered dreadfully). But summertime music is infinitismally better — sticky and hot romps around festival grounds are what reminds us of the most sparkly parts of youth.
And so my festival/concert review of 2013 commences. Sniff, summer.
Lollapalooza Music Festival, Grant Park Chicago August 2-4
In my head, I’m still in Chicago. I’m still running around trying not to trip while I race to the front row to watch the Cure play “Just Like Heaven” and unabashedly jump a fence. Lollapalooza is what I think every music festival aspires to. Trapped between the backdrop of the Chicago skyline and the lake, Grant Park transforms itself into a spin of colors, people and pulsating sounds. It’s not nearly as disgusting as European festivals in terms of human sewage (Isle of Wight, Tomorrowland) nor is it as unbearably hot as Bonnaroo or trying as hard as Coachella (I’ve never been, but I have no interest in running into Vanessa Hudgens trying to be faux-punk at the Red Hot Chili Peppers).
Lollapalooza is the event of the summer you want to be at. You want to be able to duck between Robert De Long, Two Door Cinema Club, The Killers and Lana Del Ray. You want to be able to leave sweaty but happy, walk to the L and crash. It’s beautiful and perfect, and I wish I could exist forever hearing “Starry Eyed” while swaying in the Midwestern breeze.
Echo Stage, NE Washington gigs (any of them)
I feel dubstep coming on like an illness. In some way, it’s infected all of us. The technological revolution has made all music in some way computerized — and we now have fabricated sounds that have never been heard before. I’m sort of just riding the wave. I don’t dislike it; (in fact there are some groups that I have really taken to) but I’m suspicious. I go to these concerts and watch the crazy light effects and fake fireworks and smile, sort of like an omniscient parent when a kid asks if the moon is really made of cheese. Echo Stage is fun; a bunch of high school and college-age kids head banging and bracelet swapping and grinding to no tomorrow. In June I saw Krewella and Paper Diamond and I really enjoyed myself, much more than I thought I would. Watch out for some of the older adults there. They can get prickly if you back into them or attempt to initiate Friendly Raver conversation. They’re obviously there for something else, though I don’t know quite what that is. That breed of millennials is stuck between the late vestiges of pure rock/R&B and tween-like developing electro music. Poor souls.
Fort Reno (again, pick a monday/thursday)
I really, really like Fort Reno. I spent every saturday morning playing soccer in front of the tower and eating cupcakes on the well-graffitied stage. As I got older I realized its potential for teenage chillness. The concerts that go on there don’t have great sound- and the characters that show up are never entirely wholesome. But that’s it’s appeal- it’s not really about the music but just crouching on itchy grass and zoning out with your friends and a few hundred of your closest strangers.Bugs? Yes.Bring OFF.
Virgin Mobile Free Fest, Columbia Maryland, Merriwhether Post Pavilion
I’m super bummed that I’m going back to school before this happens this year. In my experience, it’s always a good time. Two years ago I saw Patti Smith, Cut Copy, and the TeddyBears, which was the weirdest conglomeration of bands ever but, strangely, was insane. It’s an old-school venue so don’t be expecting massive spaces and multiple stages- but it’s in the forest, the tech guys are friendly, and it’s got a decidedly DC local vibe. This year there’s Icona Pop, MGMT, Vampire Weekend, and CHVRCHES. (Note: Vamp Weekend is amazing in concert- if you’re there, don’t be fooled by their popularity. They’re legitimately good performers). It’s a nice end-of-summer concert closer, and the fact that it’s one day is sort of nice. You only need to haul ass to the boonies once.