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Lollapalooza: Life Behind the Mesh Fences

By Lizz Kannenberg in Arts & Entertainment on Aug 6, 2007 7:46PM

To background, I manage a Chicago band called Tom Schraeder & His Ego, which landed a coveted spot on the 2007 bill. Though our slot was early (12:30 p.m. on Friday), 2007_07_schraederlolla.jpgthe work for artists doesn’t stop once they’ve loaded up their vans (or in our case, the hearse) and exited the festival grounds. To give our esteemed Chicagoist readers a quick sketch of life deep on the Lollapalooza undercard, I kept a scribbled-note journal of the big day:

7:30 a.m.: Meet Tom at the Starbucks on Damen and Irving, load up on coffee and hit the road.

8:05 a.m.: Arrive backstage at the BMI area, where we’re greeted by our friendly stage manager, Quinn, with the straight-faced report that “[our] hearse has already arrived.”

8:25 a.m.: Make our way from the BMI stage to the artist area to pick up our artist credentials and treat ourselves to the impressive catering tent’s breakfast spread.

10:45 a.m.: Back to the stage via the “Fest Express,” one of those drunk trolleys that’s ubiquitous in Wrigleyville on a weekend night. Last year they had golf carts serving this same purpose — running bands between the artist area and the stages — but they traveled on the sidewalk and not the city streets. Since the trolley couldn’t pull over on LSD to let us out, we end up taking the roundtrip back to the artist area and hopping on a golf cart as I fielded frantic texts from the stage manager and the band as to our whereabouts.

11:15 a.m.: Make it to the stage on time only to realize that I’ve left the keys in the ignition and my car on for the last 3 hours. Totally out of gas.

12:20 p.m.: Tom’s elves return from handing out free CDs in the park, and the shady knoll that is the BMI stage begins to fill up with Tom fans and curious early birds.

12:30 p.m.: Tom & band hit the stage to about 500 onlookers and play a really tight set of Brit-pop Americana tunes, despite distractions that included a woman in a silver space suit waving a bubble machine in front of the stage.

1:45 p.m.: Get the band off the stage and all of the photos taken and autographs signed, and it’s off to the press tent to convince the fickle Lolla media-pass holders to write about an unsigned kid from Chicago.

2:15 p.m.: Tom plays acoustic set for a podcast in the press tent, then gets snagged for an on-air interview with Los Angeles’ Indie 103.

4:00 p.m.: I leave Tom chatting with Jim DeRogatis of the Sun-Times and head to the accounting trailer to settle with Lollapalooza.

4:15 p.m.: I’m told that we’ve already been paid, which we have not.

4:30 p.m.: Finally have our modest paycheck in hand, and it’s off to grab a soothing cocktail in the open bar-equipped artist lounge.

5:00 p.m.: Notice Pete Wentz and Ashlee Simpson holding court in the artist lounge. Consider asking him what the balls he was thinking at Schubas several weeks back.

5:40 p.m.: Get a call from the director of the Lollapalooza documentary saying that they’d like to interview Tom in 15 minutes. Scramble to locate my cell phone-less artist.

5:47 p.m.: Track down Tom via a bandmate and get them on a golf cart, headed back to the interview tent.

5:50 p.m.: Get second call from the documentary director, postponing the interview to accommodate something Perry Farrell wanted filmed. Le sigh.

6:30 p.m.: Realize that what Perry wanted filmed was his band’s set. Fine, you’re slightly more important than we are.

7:30 p.m.: Just deliriously tired enough to bob around to LCD Soundsystem’s fantastic set.

8:30 p.m.: Daft Punk blows the festival’s first night out, though we can only hear from the artist area.

10:30 p.m.: Briefly consider hitting the Polyphonic Spree after party at the Hard Rock Hotel before coming to my senses and collecting my band to head home and collapse on a futon in my living room because I’m too tired to shower off the festival dirt and crawl into bed. But don’t get me wrong — we did it all again the next day ... and the day after that.

Thanks to Laura Gray for the above photo.