Lollapalooza Afterparty at Hard Rock Hotel
Lollapalooza! You'd have to be in a coma not to know that the annual music festival was this past weekend, but I suspect that even the comatose were aware of the extravaganza in Grant Park. I fully planned to avoid anything to do with Lollapalooza because being surrounded by questionably-clad, sweaty, sunburnt, intoxicated people is not my idea of fun. Well, not anymore. It was back in 1991 when I went to the very first Lollapalooza in my oversized overalls (which I swear were considered stylish at the time). Then, being in such an environment was invigorating, not annoying. Now, I'm old and cranky.
So, when I was invited to attend a Lollapalooza after party I hesitated a bit. But just a bit, since I'd be a member of the press (shorter or no lines) and there was free alcohol. It was mostly the free alcohol. Drinks taste so much better when they're free.
It wasn't until after I agreed to
drink the free booze cover the party for the Local Tourist that I learned I'd get to interview the band headlining the party. That meant not too many of the free drinks or my slurred speech would hinder my already shaky interviewing skills. I invited a friend to act as co-photographer, fellow interviewer, and companion drinker.
VH-1 was one of the sponsors so behind each Belvedere Vodka-bar – there were several – there was a large screen advertising the upcoming season of "Pop Up Video." There was a DJ behind a Red Bull set up. There was Smart Water. There was Vitamin Water. We were told to Rock the Vote whilst wearing Ck One. There were a lot of sponsors.
The crowd at the Hard Rock Hotel was a mix of muddy Lollapalooza attendees – a severe thunderstorm had literally muddied the field – and folks who had dressed for the occasion. Truly it was a mixed crowd. There were preppies who looked like they got lost on their way to a J. Crew photo shoot. Many ladies had on gorgeous party dresses and fabulous shoes. I saw two people with no shoes at all. Despite the apparent differences, everyone was there to have fun.
The drinks were tasty and plentiful, but if I could offer a bit of advice to party organizers it would be to make the names of the pre-selected drinks so different that even in a loud venue where DJs are pumping music and a band is rocking Gulf-style (more on that later), the bartenders can pour the drinks the patrons want. The bars were temporary set-ups with limited inventory so all of the mixed drinks were pre-mixed; the bartenders simply poured the ordered drink over ice and served. More than once I ordered a ski breeze and ended up with a sea breeze, the later having the dreaded grapefruit juice. The bartenders couldn't hear me, and reading my lips offered no further clue. Go ahead and find a mirror and see if your mouth doesn't do the exact same thing when you say "ski" and "sea." Yes, I drank the sea breezes anyway, and of course I tipped, but I – and many others – would have been a lot happier if we had gotten what we ordered.
Finally, it was time for the band to play. Rosco Bandana is a seven-piece band from Gulfport, Mississippi. They are also the first band to be signed to new record label Hard Rock Records, which was why they were playing at the Hard Rock Hotel. Rosco Bandana put on an energetic, fun, somewhat brief show that everyone at the party really seemed to enjoy.
Then it was back to DJ'd music. My friend and I were sure Rosco Bandana would go up for another short set but we were wrong.
After getting lost in the VIP area we caught up with three members of the band, Jennifer Flint, Emily Sholes, and Barry Pribyl Jr., for a short interview. All three were very nice and extremely charming. It didn't hurt that they had adorable Southern twangs and said "y'all."
I was interested in why Rosco Bandana decided to sign with a record label when it's so easy to self-produce, self-promote, and self-release music using social media and computer software, especially when record companies are notorious for passing little profit on to the artists. Barry said they had almost signed with other record labels, but after having attorneys take a look at the contracts they settled on Hard Rock Records because it was so generous to artists.
For example, traditionally the record label, not the artist, owns the master recordings of an album, which means it’s the record label that decides when to release, what to release, and how much money they make. This is why some bands have re-recorded their hit songs or albums many years after original recording – so they can have control and make money from their hard work. Hard Rock Records’ contract assures the artists that they own their own master recordings, and they can do whatever they want with them upon termination of the contract term.
The contract term with Hard Rock Records is just one year, but the year begins when their album is released. For Rosco Bandana that has meant recording and promotion prior to the album release – in September 2012 – has been on Hard Rock’s good name and dime. A dime the band does not have to pay back, another major change from traditional record contracts.
When asked what they want out of their Hard Rock Records contract, Emily, Jen, and Barry all said they wanted to expand their fan base and connect with audiences. They’ve already done that along the Gulf Coast – often playing shows at small clubs like Miso’s in Ocean Springs, Mississippi – by rocking literally all night long since bars in the area simply do not close. Barry and Jen assured me that Rosco Bandana has played music until 8am in some places. The Gulf seems to have prepared the band for the hard work of promoting an album – they, too, thought their set that night was short.
They enjoyed working with producer Greg Collins, but they look forward to working with other producers as well since they have so much material – already enough for several albums – that could benefit from other input. The band is all about collaboration, with three “lead” singers, and every member contributing to the songwriting.
This was the first time Rosco Bandana had been to Chicago and dubbed it “clean.” My friend and I were incredulous. Clean, even on Lollapalooza weekend?! Yes, compared to New Orleans. Rosco Bandana is right, Chicago does have a distinct lack of plastic beads and public vomiting when compared to the Big Easy.
The group hasn’t taken the show on the road very much outside the Gulf Coast area, but Emily wants to be sure to make it to Ireland, and Barry wants to go to the Carolinas, from where a Rosco Bandana influence, The Avett Brothers, hail.
Be sure to check out the video for their first single, “Time to Begin.” I challenge you to not get “Time to Begin,” a catchy, upbeat tune, stuck in your head. If you like what you hear you can preorder the album on iTunes.
It was time for my friend and I to go back to the party. A couple of DJs set up on the stage that Rosco Bandana had previously occupied and the thumping club music and laser light show began.
Along with laser lights and a smoke machine, there were sparks. Many, many sparks controlled by a … sparkist? I thought the show may have been meant for people who were imbibing in substances other than alcohol, but the crowd seemed to respond nonetheless. There was dancing and bouncing and the throwing up of hands.
There were also a lot more people than there had been earlier. We had no idea where they all came from or where they had been when Rosco Bandana played, but the increased population allowed for increased people watching. Isn’t people watching why people go to parties?
And then suddenly it was over. The bouncers wasted no time getting everyone out to the street where, thankfully, there were plenty of cabs.