Tag Archives: Eels

Lollapalooza 2006: Day One

Take the whole day off...Lollapalooza is a funny event. There’s a lot of history around it, culturally and personally. I attended the first year’s Lollapalooza 15 years ago with a car load of my college pals, and I’m proud to say I’m still in touch with all of that original posse. We’re spread out across the globe now, but thanks to the internet we know who’s living where, who’s changing careers, buying houses, all that. Lollapalooza was a crazy idea back then, a strange celebration of (some of) the music we liked and the politics we were thinking about. Or something… Anyway, it felt like our thing in all its early-90s, pre-internet, slacker glory.

I went the next year, too, this time with my girlfriend. The highlight of the second Lollapalooza, for me, was Ice Cube. Although I remember being annoyed by the abbreviated versions of songs and all the “wave your hands in the air” crap (which was a huge hip-hop cliche even way back then!), it was still exciting to see my favorite rapper in person. My girlfriend was excited about Lush and the Jesus and Mary Chain. The headliner that year was the Red Hot Chili Peppers, a band I didn’t care for even though Anthony Keidis is from my hometown. We both agreed they put on a good show, though, with the fire shooting out of their helmets and all.

Fast-forward fourteen years. That girlfriend is now my wife. And Lollapalooza no longer feels like our generation’s thing anymore. It’s not just that we’ve got about a decade on the age of the average attendee. There were plenty other people our age (and older, believe it or not), but there was a different vibe. Maybe it’s all the shirtless dudes. Maybe it’s the crass corporate branding on every possible surface. Who knows? It was still fun, and there were lots of great bands, and it’s cool that it takes place in my city so I can just take the El home at night. But is Lollapalooza any different than Coachella or Bonnaroo now? Does it have its own personality? Or is it just another victim of our cultural homogenization?

One other circumstance that might have affected my attitude, even when compared to last year, is that my wife is currently expecting our first child, a boy, and that seems to make you look at everything a little differently. And while I don’t necessarily want to be one of those dads who’s always deliberately pushing his own unfulfilled dreams onto his kid regardless of the kid’s interests, I’ve got to admit that since the cochlear structures of the fetal ear have developed, he’s already been exposed to several cool shows: Tom Jones and Etta James at Ravinia, the Mountain Goats, Art Brut, Mission of Burma, and Yo La Tengo at Pitchfork. The baby seemed to be pretty chill at those previous shows, but he expressed some strong opinions at Lollapalooza. For example, he hates the Dresden Dolls. And even though he let us know he didn’t appreciate Lady Sovereign’s warm-up deejay, he did enjoy Blackalicious quite a bit, particularly his freestyle.

What follows will be my take on sets I caught at Lollapalooza this year as well as the reaction expressed by another music fan in utero as measured by number of kicks…

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MC Honky – I Am The Messiah

MC HonkyI Am The Messiah (SpinART)

E of Eels fame takes a shot at Cocktail Nation kitsch/techno under the moniker of “MC Honky”. He’s about 10 years too late, but so what? I’m a sucker for this kind of stuff (Combustible Edison, Tipsy, Thievery Corps, Euro Boys). But is E’s late arrival to this genre worth the ticket price? The story E cooked up is that MC Honky, a reclusive, middle-aged sound engineer, decided to take his massive collection of records and make an electronica album of what he calls “self-help rock.” That fiction sets the tone for I Am The Messiah, which works pretty well overall. There’s some tricky mixing going on (“The Baby That Was You”), and some priceless samples of kitschy old records. E even throws down the gauntlet at Beck (“3 Turntables & 2 Microphones”). Some of this would be right at home in the club scene (“Sonnet No.3 (Like A Duck)”, “The Devil Went Down To Silverlake”); other cuts lean toward ambient/trance. And some other cuts sound like B-side Eels tracks (“My Bad Seed,” “Soft Velvety ‘Fer”), and add only filler.

So what to make of it? This isn’t exactly a retro-purist’s dream come true, but it is interesting and does expand the genre. If you’re looking for truly great lounge electronica, get Tipsy. Taken another way, it’s an unusually upbeat Eels album, although not a great one. “Sonnet No.3 (Like A Duck)” does rock, and wonderfully mixes a Shakespearean sonnet with an exercise record. That will make you put on yer dancin’ shoes.

Also included is a Quicktime animated video of “Sonnet No.3 (Like A Duck),” and it’s a gas. You can also sample it (and the entire album via RealPlayer) at The Eels’ website.