The Blisters at Lollapalooza: Once more for the kids

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"I think the guys are worried some parents out there will be changing diapers right in front of them," he said. Indeed, moments before The Not Its went on, a mother had her toddler upturned on the grass, at the lip of the stage.

Tweedy and Holbert stretched their arms out and grabbed each other's shoulders, as though ready to rumble. Holbert asked playfully: "Spencer, are we going to do anything special for this show, Spencer?"

"Like?" Tweedy asked.

"Don't know," Holbert said.

"Don't know, either," Tweedy said.

When it came time for their performance, the scene was surreal. Hyams, introducing them, told the audience that the last time the Blisters played Kidzapalooza, five years ago, they were much shorter. The audience of maybe 200 was composed of the curious, a smatter of fans and a handful of family and friends from school, mouthing Mosher's lyrics.

Also at the front of the stage were a dozen or so children, cross-legged, staring up at the band with confused expressions. A boy in an AC/DC T-shirt and pink hair yawned and drifted off to sleep. No wonder: The Blisters sounded thoughtful, brooding, not very child-friendly — as much an indie band as any of the indie bands on the larger stages. The big difference being, those other bands didn't have to deal with adults squatting in front of them, trying to wrangle juice into the hands of fidgety toddlers.

After 30 minutes, the Blisters were finished.

"I feel good," Mosher said, coming off the stage.

"I couldn't hear myself, but it was good," agreed P-Lopez. A visitor asked if the children down in the front appreciated them.

"I bet it went over their heads," P-Lopez said.

The Blisters gathered their gear in silence and snapped guitar cases shut and zipped up cymbal bags. They didn't acknowledge that this could be one of their final shows. They talked about who they wanted to see now — Mosher wanted to check out Local Natives, Tweedy wanted to head to Unknown Mortal Orchestra.

Then the band drifted apart.

Tweedy stayed a moment longer. He watched the next act, a group of children's performers named Ralph's World.

"I am really happy with how it went," he said, turning and squinting in the sun. "It was gratifying to see teenagers at the front. But I was kind of smiling to myself: We haven't played to toddlers in a while."

A few feet away, at the narrow space between the chain-link fencing that served as the backstage entrance, his mother lifted her right arm, waved her access bracelet at the security guard and moved toward her son.

"Spencer," she said.

"Mom," he said.

"Spencer, the (gyne)cologist who —"

"Mom —"

"Who cut you out of my body —"

"Mom —"

"Wants to meet you!"

"OK, mom," he said, deadpan, happily defeated. "OK, I guess I'll say hi."

cborrelli@tribune.com

Twitter @borrelli

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