This summer I went on my first road trip to Chicago for Lollapalooza from August 5th-7th at Grant Park. Me and some friends drove over twelve hours and stayed the weekend, exploring downtown Chicago while enjoying the amazing bands that performed. Originally I was convinced to go to the festival to see Metric and Phoenix, two bands which I absolutely love. Their sets were amazing and lived up to every expectation I had for them, but there were also a lot of other bands that had equally good sets and ended up being complete surprises to me. The entire festival was set up in a way that in between different stages there were fun things to get involved in which made being at Lollapalooza more enjoyable even when there was not a band I wanted to see. It is nice to say that after going to Lollapalooza, there are a bunch of bands that I have more of an interest in now after seeing them perform and I also discovered a lot of new music.
Chicago was an amazing place to visit for the weekend and stands, for me, as one city that I would definitely love to go back to sometime. Grant Park was a great place for a music festival with plenty of arrangements and fun things to do during times when there was not music I wanted to see or just for a break. There were free water stations all over the park which was an absolutely amazing idea. You just bring an empty water bottle and get free water for the whole day. It was so brilliant especially because Chicago gets pretty hot during the day. There was also a Hammock Haven which was another great idea with about twenty or so hammocks in a particularly shady area. There were a bunch of tents where you could enter raffles or play games to win free sweatbands, handheld fans, or even free VIP passes. The food was typically unhealthy and overpriced, but there was an entire section dedicated to the local vendors with more organic and healthier options which was nice to see.
Now to get to the music. There were very few disappointments for me, so I will start off by naming the few bands that, in my opinion, did not perform either up to my expectations or were just not that entertaining to watch. I was really excited to see the New Pornographers and they were by far my biggest disappointment. I thought that they had no energy and they hardly interacted with the crowd. They barely moved away from their respective microphones and I found myself dazing off during their set. My next biggest disappointment was Freelance Whales who was another main band that inspired me to buy my ticket in the first place. They had more energy and interaction than New Pornographers did, but their set arrangement was pretty boring. They played through their c.d., Weathervanes, in almost the same order it is set up in, starting off with their most energetic songs and then ending with one last boom. In my opinion, it should have been split up differently to keep the crowd’s attention, seeing as people kept leaving the stage. I am probably one of the few people disappointed by Lady Gaga, strictly because I did not camp out for eight hours to get to the front and was stuck in the back of the biggest crowd I have ever seen. A performer like Gaga is something you need to see the entirety of with all the costume changes and the elaborate set, and being short and stuck in the middle of a mob did not really help to make it memorable for me. My last disappointment was the XX who were just a little too mellow and boring to keep my attention for too long. They had a huge crowd though so I might be in the minority with that one.
Those few let downs were not enough to ruin what ended up being an amazing and completely unforgettable weekend though. The most surprising and best bands to have seen for me were Metric, Phoenix, Frightened Rabbit, and Dirty Projectors. Of course there were other amazing bands and performers, but those four stuck out the most to me. Metric had incredible crowd interaction and really got everyone pumped up and dancing, at least where we were standing. It was really easy to get into their set whether you knew every song they performed or none of them at all. Phoenix was a similar situation with everyone screaming lyrics and dancing. It was also really exciting when lead singer Thomas Mars crowd surfed and sang their last song held up by the crowd. Everyone went pretty crazy for that. Dirty Projectors are one of the bands that ended up being a totally pleasant surprise for me. They are a band that I have heard a few times but never got into really. They were performing at the same time as Matt & Kim and we were going to stay for half of each set but ended up getting drawn into Dirty Projectors instead. I am definitely not disappointed in having missed Matt & Kim, even though I like them, because the Dirty Projectors were so interesting to watch. They captivate audiences with the way they work with one another, making for an amazing set. Frightened Rabbit was a band that I discovered at Lollapalooza and I can say that I honestly loved their set as well. Their songs were fun to dance around to and the lead singer, Scott Hutchison, was talented and fun to watch. He was able to make people laugh and just made it an overall very enjoyable experience.
A bunch of other really great bands, some of which I did not see the entire sets for unfortunately, were Jukebox the Ghost, Morning Benders, the Strokes, the Ettes, Yeasayer, Gogol Bordello, Spoon, Arcade Fire, and Jamie Lidell. There was also one stage, Perry’s, that played all different kinds of DJs. That usually is not my scene, but we caught one headlining DJ, Digitalism, and he was so much fun to get into. We ended up missing most of Arcade Fire because we got so caught in the moment actually.
Overall, I loved pretty much everything about my weekend at Lollapalooza and I cannot wait to go back next year to see what the festival will bring. It was amazing to see such incredible organization and such variety in music, with bands from so many different countries with completely different sounds. Being slightly involved in this kind of thing due to BUMP makes me understand how much coordination all the workers and bands need, and how easy it is for one little thing to ruin the festival. It was a great time, though, and I appreciate everything I got to be a part of.