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Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Banding Together

Liz Armstrong and gang go on the road...

Recently two friends and I planned to spend Lollapalooza weekend in Chicago partying with CSS, the enthusiastic alterna-jam dance band from Brazil, and then hightail it back home to New York by Sunday night. Of course we took our sweet-ass time getting there. We stopped in a rundown mining town outside Pittsburgh for a night, then spent another at my parents’ house in the Windy City, soaking in their rave-style hot tub equipped with a 16-color light show as Lykke Li blasted through the surround-sound system.

Finally, on Friday, we arrived at Lollapalooza, with its immense fairgrounds bursting at the seams with ladies in bikini tops and shady characters (aka potential new friends) rolling joints in the bushes. We tiptoed into the CSS bus and, lo and behold, there was my soul-twin Cody Critcheloe, the wizard behind the hi-NRG prop-punk band SSION, sitting next to the fantastic Miss Peggy Noland, costume designer for CSS, Ssion and Tilly and the Wall. Peggy—who's the subject of my next blog, a Q&A—calls everyone "babe" because she really thinks everyone is one. There's a genuine smile on her face at all times, and she keeps her hair styled in an immaculately wild bouffant. Though she'd forgotten her own clothes on her bed in Kansas City, at least she remembered to bring a stash of costumes for CSS's Lovefoxxx, which she had stuffed into a dirty canvas bag and decorated with a dollar sign, like she'd just robbed a bank and decided to carry around the evidence.

Lovefoxxx rummaged through the selection and pulled out body leotard after body leotard, one a metallic silver with polyester vines and flowers dangling off the neckline like some kind of glamorous Swamp Thing, another a burgundy crushed-velvet number with a Holly Hobby-esque doll on the rump like a pervy bustle. She settled on the most outrageous of the offerings, a bright red outfit entwined with a garish garland of purple and yellow flowers, which came with a matching halo. Suddenly everyone in the band burst into a crazy Brazilian song about a guy who needs bread and tea.

Before Lovefoxxx got dressed, we all hit the press tent for free booze, pizza and some desperately needed armpit fanning. (Okay, no one provided that last service except ourselves.) Renata, creator and star of the video for “Left Behind” (the first single off CSS's new CD) and also the band's backup dancer for the weekend, strolled up wearing the exact same neon tunic as Lovefoxxx. Oops! Most stars would freak the hell out, point a finger and dismiss the duplicate, but not in this case. They simply stomped around the fairgrounds together.

From then on, the weekend was a nonstop memory-in-the-making, the kind of weekend you can't process until after it's done and you look at the photos, thinking, “When did that happen?” We danced our brains out, sang Alanis Morissette’s “You Oughta Know” at karaoke, partied on abandoned train tracks, shopped for cowgirl gear (watch out for my new fall look—yeehaw!), enjoyed a limo ride courtesy of a club where CSS was DJing and danced some more while ripping up posters and throwing them in the air like confetti.

Around 3 am on Saturday, we called it quits. We looked like we'd been hanging out in a hamster cage, covered in bits of paper stuck to our bodies with champagne. Into the car we went and, like total badasses, headed home straight from the party. We took a small break around 7 am, found a cheap motel in our new favorite town of Elkhart, Indiana (where the McDonald's has a fancy fireplace and leopard-print window treatment) and crashed for exactly three hours because one of us had the scientific notion that any more or less than that would mess with our biorhythms. So we set the alarm, made ourselves rise from the dead and got back in the car. It was total tweaker town in that vehicle, I tell ya. We talked about everything, just to stay awake. Nothing was safe or sacred. Good thing there was no recording device, except for my camera with a dwindling battery...

Dancing at Lollapalooza / Lovefoxxx checking out costumes

Lovefoxxx and Luiza onstage at Lollapalooza / Carol DJing

Lovefoxxx and Luiza in the limo / Heading home

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