Another Lollapalooza has come and gone leaving fans wet, sunburned, and thirsty for their next festival – well some of them. We’ll get into the details of the type of crowd(s) Lollapalooza attracts later in this post, but for now, we’re going to take you on a brief journey back to Grant Park as we recap our experience attending what some call a “three day orgasm in your ears.”
This year the festival brought in over 160,000+ people to Chicago’s Grant Park to see Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Black Sabbath, Jack White, The Black Keys, and a ton of other amazing bands and DJ’s from around the world. With it being our first year covering the festival from a media outlet standpoint and it being the first time I’ve ever gone personally, we were ready to see all the debauchery first-hand.
If you’ve never been to Lollapalooza before, your first instinct is to ask someone close to you for all the juicy details. After 21 questions with the first person, someone else chimes in and gives you a completely different perspective. After this realization, I decided it would just be best to cut the questions and find out what the deal was live and direct. That’s exactly what we did and here’s our recount through the haze, the storm, and the ridiculous amount of people we encountered. Follow us after the jump, and if we offend you, good. We’re not a cake, we don’t sugar coat.
Words below by Andre Velez.
This year’s lineup made room for one of the most eclectic group of performers Lollapalooza has ever seen. Gone are the days when only 90′s rock bands drove in fans from around the country. With headliners like Sabbath, The Chili Peppers, Jack White, Passion Pit, Bassnectar, Justice, and Kaskade, groups of friends from all around the world littered the streets of Chicago for this once a year showcase. We managed to strike up conversation with some interesting folks, from the 50 year old biker still clinging on to the Black Sabbath glory days, to the 13 year old ring pop-raver asking to borrow a cell phone to call mom.
No matter who was there however, everyone seemed to coexist and made for a magical weekend. Although the lineup has evolved over the years, good or bad, diehard Lolla fans were still treated with stellar performances by Jack White and veteran Lolla headliners The Red Hot Chili Peppers. There’s nothing a skull thumping bass line from Flea, or a blues infused guitar solo from Jack White can’t fix. But, what if they weren’t there? With Perry’s stage upgraded to the serious size that it was, many people’s attention was turned onto Electronic Dance Music. It was amazing to see how much more fun the Perry Stage was than the rest. As amazing as Jack White, Florence + the Machine, and Passion Pit were, the party was at the Perry Stage, which was nestled into the southwest corner of the fest.
I could only take so much standing around at the Red Bull and Bud Light stages, and like many other people, I found myself getting pulled into the Perry Stage thanks to all the the flashing lights, dancing souls, and underdressed ladies. It was a full on party and it wasn’t uncommon to see people who never even heard of EDM standing off to the sides taking in the spectacle that is the Perry Stage.
Words below by Zachary Walker.
In my opinion, the most beautiful thing about Lollapalooza is the various acts that attendees have the opportunity to see. The lineup is so eclectic, offering fans the opportunity to catch their favorite DJ/Producer on one stage, while also giving them the chance to head over to another stage to see one of their favorite bands they listened to while growing up – The Peppers. With such a diverse mix of music, there’s something there for everyone to enjoy and ultimately, everyone is there for the music so everyone leaves pleased (or do they?).
Another great thing about Lolla is all of the vendors, food, merchandise, and everything in between. There’s no shortage of things to do in between sets and if you’re hungry, what festival gives you the opportunity to test out some of the city’s most amazing food. Yes, I’m talking about you Frank N’ Dawgs. I love you. No festival has food vendors like Lolla does. There’s also enough to go around. Lines, what lines? Yea there was a line for that standard pizza slice vendor but if you really did you research and you wanted to get the most out of the food, lines weren’t much of an issue.
Lets talk security. I have to place them in the ‘good’ category on this end because I feel as though they did a phenomenal job. No crazy lines on the outside (besides Saturday after the storm), no mobs of fence jumpers, just smooth sailing getting in and getting out. At some festivals it’s always a pain getting into the venue – not the case here. It’s funny going from TSA style security at the Congress Theater to a huge festival like Lollapalooza where it’s more laid back. Yes, I know they’re completely different but it’s interesting seeing the opposite ends of the spectrum.
There were a few things that struck me as being “bad” about Lollapalooza. With it being my first time, I was exposed to a certain group of “festival” goers on such a scale that I had not been exposed to before. I’ve been to many festivals in my day, a few in the city (North Coast), but obviously Lollapalooza is on a completely different scale and so are it’s attendees. Little kids – check. Middle school kids – check. High school kids – check. Frat boys and bros – check. Grunge and goth people – check. Lolla brings out all walks of life and it’s awesome to see such a diverse crowd, but when you enjoy electronic music like I do, you notice that it truly brings out the “bros” and the “bros” are not my kind of people. But hey, everyone is there to enjoy the music and that’s ultimately what we did. Diverse music brings a diverse crowd, simple as that.
The storm. It got ugly and it got wet. Luckily I just missed it as I walked over to the Hard Rock Hotel for a special event, but I saw a ton of people get stuck in the massive storm that rolled through Chicago around 4:30pm Saturday afternoon. Evacuation notices were sent out via their iPhone application, they had everyone clear out of the festival grounds, and a mass exodus of humans spread out over the streets of Chicago wondering “what do we do now”? The storm passed of course and luckily everything was OK to enter the festival grounds again around 6pm. Talk about a serious bottleneck though. A mass exodus out was a mass exodus in once everyone got word they were opening up again.
We’re going to keep this short because there wasn’t much ugliness about Lolla, but lets talk about that Red Hot Chili Peppers show. Awesome! You want to know what wasn’t awesome? Trying to get to it. You know how you always hear stories in the news about people being trampled to death or scenarios of the like? Well this was probably pretty close to being just that. It’s hard to paint a picture for people who weren’t there but it was bad. People basically body surfing down the walkways trying to get to the main stage to the see The Peppers. Claustrophobic? It would have been your worst nightmare. One thing that contributed to this was the fact that people would just sort of hang out on the walkways to get to the various stages. No security was there to move them or to tell them to keep going so imagine a baby entering the world for the first time – tight squeeze right? It was indeed. When all was said and done though, everyone made it through and luckily there weren’t any injuries (that we know of). Hopefully next year they’ll find a way to combat it and make it a smoother transition from stage to stage.
Oh, and can I briefly mention the influx of people who came to the festival on Saturday? To me it seemed as though all neighboring states took all their middle school and high schools and dropped them all in Grant Park. For those of you who only like buying day tickets, I suggest not making Saturday one of them.
It was an amazing experience. We saw amazing bands and Perrys Stage, wow! From people I talked to about previous years of Lolla, they had told me Perry’s used to just be a tent. A tent to what it was this year – one hell of an upgrade. Great music, great food, the people – eh, but all in all, would I do it again? Damn straight. Special thanks to everyone at C3 for allowing us the opportunity to cover it. Until next year folks…