Commentary

Canadians rescue Lollapalooza Day 3

Updated: August 10, 2009, 3:27 PM ET
By Paul Shirley | Special to ESPN.com

Carney was better than I expected, and I think the band might be headed for semi-stardom.

[+] EnlargeReeve Carney
Roger Kisby/Getty ImagesDon't be afraid of Carney, they might be about to break it big.

Friendly Fires was fantastic, and I'm glad I got to see them live. The band's energy was impressive to everyone in the crowd who would spend the rest of the scorching day trying to conserve theirs.

The Airborne Toxic Event gave me chills when they performed their signature song, "Sometime Around Midnight."

And Passion Pit lived up to my expectations by delivering a party-tastic set that was highlighted by lead singer Michael Angelakos' ultra-falsetto.

But, really, Day 3 at Lollapalooza belonged to a bunch of Canadians who hijacked my schedule. I couldn't be more glad they did.

I have to admit I was a little nervous about attending Lollapalooza in solo fashion. I shouldn't have worried; my cousin Stephen and his fun group were around for any road-blocking that needed to be done. But I couldn't glom onto their group all the time, so I spent much of the festival wandering around on my own. The lonesome scene isn't that strange at Lolla; even if I'd been with other people, it's likely that I would have abandoned the group when they were desperate to see Neko Case and I was content to watch Snoop Dogg from three miles away.

The Airborne Toxic Event
Scott Legato/Getty ImagesMikel Jollett of The Airborne Toxic Event provided chills and thrills.

But going it alone does get old. Therefore, I was pleased on Lolla's last day to be adopted by a group of Canucks headed up by new friend Chet. Yes, Chet, like the Hardy Boys' best friend.

Chet found me at Portugal. The Man, where I was trying to stymie the heat by draping a washcloth on the back of my neck. He reminded me that he had sent me an e-mail a week earlier and we spoke for three minutes, which was long enough for me to assume that I'd made it clear to his group that they were way cooler than I am. I made that leap of logic based on two facts: 1. No one in his group had sweated through a T-shirt. 2. Everyone in his group claimed Canadian heritage, and if there's one thing I've learned in this world, it's that Canadians are more fun to hang out with than I am. I wished Chet well and planned to never see his group again; it was challenging enough just to find the people I already knew among the hordes.

Later, at Dan Deacon (who was not that good live), our paths crossed again. I should have remembered that, while it may be difficult for me to find people in crowds, it isn't so hard for them to find me. This time, the connection took. I adopted Chet's Canadian friends as my own and, the next time I looked up, I had my shirt off at MSTRKRFT and was toting around an unknown young woman on my shoulders. It wasn't the night I had planned: I had hoped to see Band of Horses, followed by a rote viewing of The Killers. But this was way more fun. But my newfound crew and I gave up on seeing normal rock bands about the time that Deadmau5 took over the turntables, and we spent the rest of Lollapalooza dancing our pale faces off.

My night ended at a bar in Wicker Park with a Kronenberg and a conversation with an Irish girl. I have the Canadians to thank for that turn of events. If not for them, I would have had a perfectly lame Day 3 at Lollapalooza. But because their paths and mine intersected, I had a memorable final day. I made new friends and a few hundred people got to watch a 6-10 human dance like he was at an pre-Apocalyptic rave.

Cage The Elephant
Jeff Gentner/Getty ImagesMatt Shultz of Cage the Elephant performs Sunday at Lollapalooza.

And, really, what more could a person ask from a music festival? The performances at Lollapalooza were great, of course, but I have no doubt that I'll value the experiences I had outside the constraints of the standard concert format. I'll remember the endearing insecurity of Cage the Elephant's bassist. I'll remember the optimism of Carney's Zane Carney. I'll remember the beautiful girls in neon green bikinis on a hot summer day. I'll remember the mediocre food, the lines at the water fountains, and the all-too-frequent trips to the porta-potties.

And now, thanks to a bunch of Canadians, I'll remember my last day at Lollapalooza 2009 as my best day at Lollapalooza 2009. Because what's the point of a festival with such a fun name to say, if not to create the very fun it advertises?

Thanks, Lollapalooza. Until next year …

Paul Shirley has played for 13 pro basketball teams, including three NBA teams: the Chicago Bulls, Atlanta Hawks and Phoenix Suns. His book "Can I Keep My Jersey?" -- which is available in paperback -- can be found here. He can be found at Twitter (Twitter.com/paulthenshirley) and you can e-mail him here.

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