Lollapalooza 2011

My friend and I have wanted to go to Lollapalooza for a couple years now, and we finally made it! Here is a recap of our weekend at Grant Park in Chicago.


Sunny, 82*, with a cool breeze coming off of the Great
Lake of Michigan. You could not ask for better summer music festival weather to
kick off the first day of Lollapalooza. We arrived around 1:30 and walked
around, just getting to know the park and trying to find all the free stuff we
could. After filling our water bottles at the Camelbak station, and getting free
Toyota-sponsored Lollapalooza bandanas, we set off to the Bud Light stage to
see our first show of the day.


We arrived at the stage about 10 minutes after Grace
Potter and the Nocturnals started playing. I admit, I didn’t know much by them
besides the song, Paris (the one that was played on VH1 that goes like “ I’d
say, ooh la la la la la la la”) and that my neighbor-friend from home really
likes them. In the beginning of the show, it was just O.K, but as they
warmed-up, they got the crowd moving a lot more. One of my favorite parts of
the show was when the whole band went up to the drums and played them at the
same time; it was seriously awesome and electrified the air. My other favorite
part was when the Lollapalooza camera swept over me and my friends, and we were
on the big screens for .0002 seconds.


Much to the influence of Matthew, the very kind person that was
hosting us this weekend courtesy of Couchsurfing, we went to the Perry’s tent
to see Feed Me after Grace Potter and the Nocturnals. I am not going to try to
act like I know anything about electric/electronica/techno/dubstep/etc…
music, because I don’t; all I know is that I like it. Inside the tent, it was a
completely different atmosphere from the last show/rest of the festival at that
time of day. It was dark, there were lights flashing everywhere, and many
people were covered in glitter or neon paint. Anyways, my first impression of
Feed Me was that he was good, just good. It didn’t really change throughout the
show though. I felt like he lost the flow sometimes which made it difficult to
dance to, leaving people standing and waiting for one of the many drops in the
show. In the end, Feed Me was still a good show and a good opener for Bloody
Beetroots Death Crew 77.


After jumping/dancing/avoiding the mosh pit at Feed Me, I wanted to go see a
band that I had heard about a few times, but only knew a couple of songs by
them. My friend and I made our way over to the Google+ stage, which was hidden
by trees, creating a cool, misty, hideaway-vibe with it. We sat in a
grassy spot under the trees and listened to their set. The nice indie-pop music
Cults played perfectly complemented the environment and was a nice chill break
after Feed Me.


This was the first major conflict in me and my friend’s schedule.
I really wanted to see Skrillex, and Bright Eyes is one of her favorite bands.
After the suggestions of many other friends, we chose Bright Eyes. At 6:30,
they walked onto the Bud Light stage and started. One thing that I noticed
listening to them was their lyrics. They were angsty, clever, and really
well-written, which can be hard to find sometimes. They definitely played a
great live show and the crowd really enjoyed it, and in the end, I really did
too ( but I wouldn’t pass up a Skrillex show in Madison if he decided to come back…


Girl Talk and Ratatat were playing at about the same time, so we were
going to go to Ratatat first, then Girl Talk. After waiting about 20 minutes
after the scheduled time for Ratatat, we became impatient and slightly disappointedly
went over to the Perry’s stage for Girl Talk. I had seen him at Summerfest the
month before so I knew what to expect, but my friend who I went with was super
eager to see Girl Talk after I told her how fun the show was. The Perry’s tent
was probably about 100 degrees and everyone was dancing to the mainstream meets
classic rock meets everything else remixes of Girl Talk. It sounded pretty much
the same as his performance in Milwaukee,
but was still extremely fun. Whether you like him or not, you cannot deny the
danceability of his music, and who could resist Party in the U.S.A mixed into
Bad Romance mixed into Thriller?

We woke up to a slightly drizzly day, but by the time we were at Grant Park, it
was a beautiful hot, sunny, summer day again, more perfect festival weather. We
ended up lounging under the shade of the trees in the grassy area by the BMI
stage after Friendly Fires for a couple hours to prepare/conserve our energy
for all the acts we’d be seeing later that night.


We arrived at Lollapalooza a little later the second day, still trying
to get used to the whole walking around to see a bajillion shows for 10 hours.
I had heard of Friendly Fires in a few magazines but didn’t really know what
they sounded like. Then, we heard something that caught our attention in the
distance and sounded really good, and it was Friendly Fires. That’s one thing I
really like in a live show, something that really grabs your attention and
makes you choose them over the 3 other shows going on at the same time. We got
there about half way into the set and they had not only gotten our attention,
but had a pretty big crowd. I still haven’t really had the chance to properly
research/listen to Friendly Fires’ music, but from what I heard, they are
pretty good.


As I mentioned earlier, Lolla day one took a lot out of us, so
we went over to the cool lovely grass and lounged with many other tired/hot Lollapalooza
goers under the trees. Again, just like Friendly Fires, I heard something that
caught my attention coming from the BMI stage. I got up walked over along with
many other people from the grass to check it out, and it was Patrick Stump
(yes, the guy from Fall Out Boy). The sound of his music in his new solo-career was an interesting
indie-pop/R&B mix and was a successful creation; this is another act I definitely will look
into more.


After spending a few hours chilling in the grass by the BMI stage, we made our
way over to Ellie Goulding. The crowd was filled with a surprisingly large
amount of bros pushing their way to the front about 10 minutes before the show
began to snag the majority of the star-shaped Ellie Goulding sunglasses the
crew was throwing out to the audience. Ellie opened up the show and danced
around the stage. Her high, airy voice sounded nice live and she had a good
show. The only thing that took away from the quality of this show was the
crowd. I don’t want to seem like the boring person that doesn’t have a good
time at shows, but this was honestly the most annoying audience for me this
year at Lolla, but Ellie’s catchy, dancy, music made up for most of it.


I have never been a fan of hip-hop/rap, but again, several people including my
friend highly recommended going to see Atmosphere. I am so glad we went because
it was honestly one of the best live shows I have ever seen. The crowd and
stage had such a high energy that I had not yet felt to this extent at
Lollapalooza. I don’t know if it was my lack of super high expectations or
enthusiasm for the show, but Atmosphere definitely impressed. I wish I could
say more about how great this show was, but my description wouldn’t do it justice. If you want to see for
yourself, just find one of the recaps from Lolla.


After seeing the recap of Pretty Lights at Bonnaroo this year, he was
definitely at the top of my list of music to see that day. The lights set up at
Perry’s stage were the same as the ones at Bonnaroo. The first few notes of “I
Know the Truth” started as a teaser while Pretty Lights sans drummer got on stage, and the
show started. It was crazy and super energetic. The light show was impressive
and was quintessential for the show. I’m not saying that Pretty Lights isn’t
enjoyable through headphones or car speakers, but unless your car is surrounded
by 100 police cars with their lights flashing during a severe lightning storm,
you wouldn’t get as much of an experience. About 45 minutes into the set, we
were ready to go to the Music Unlimited stage and see Eminem.


All day, people were walking around wearing Eminem and Bad meets Evil
shirts, a sign this would be a huge show. When we walked towards the stage where Eminem was playing, we froze
at the top of the stairs that went down to the south side of the park. Not
because we didn’t want to get closer, but because there were at least 100,000
people (or it at least looked like it) there. As soon as we arrived, we didn’t
feel out of place, but felt like part of the crowd and danced/rapped along with
everyone. He played newer songs like “Love the Way You Lie” and even old stuff
like “Without Me” and “The Real Slim Shady”. It was a prime live performance,
loads of fun, and a great way to end day two at Lollapalooza.


The last day at Lollapalooza. It was another hot hot hot sunny day and
was going to be our busiest with all the bands we wanted to see on our schedule.
When the first downpour started, we eventually ran for shelter in hopes
of saving our phones/cameras, which made us miss a set and turned the park into
a mud pit.  On the way back to Grant Park, there was actually a double
rainbow; at the end of it, was Lollapalooza.


The first words that come to mind while listening to this band were
sweet and cute. Their dreamy indie-pop sound was a nice start to what was sure
to be a long day at Lollapalooza. This is another band that I had heard a lot
about but didn’t know that well; it also is another band that I am going to add
to my “check out this music” list.  (They’re coming to Madison actually in September so if you like
them, check them out!)


Last time my friend and I saw Cage the Elephant was at Freakfest two
years ago, and now they were at Lollapalooza at a bit bigger of a stage. Matt
Shultz, the lead singer, did not fail to impress everyone with the constant
energy burst that is his performance. He jumped, shook and twisted around on
stage, and eventually jumped into the crowd several times, once because he
wanted to go in the rain with everyone else. Cage the Elephant’s high-energy
alternative rock music was perfect for the atmosphere of the festival that day
and they had everyone dancing and jumping around with them. This show made me
remember why I like them, not only for their great music, but for their great
live performances.


After the downpour during Cage the Elephant, the rain let up a bit
and Damian Marley & Nas started performing at the Bud Light stage. It had a
sort of Woodstockish 1969 atmosphere with everyone coved in mud, dancing around
to a new generation of reggae music. They ended their set with a classic Bob
Marley song to top off the retro mood.


Everyone was still soaked and covered in mud from the sudden
downpour during a couple hours earlier. As we stood in the front/middle of the crowd
for Deadmau5 to start everyone noticed the skyscrapers in the distance were
fading and turning a greyish color. Slowly, the wall of grey got closer and
closer until a cool breeze swept through the crowd, followed by another sudden
downpour. Simultaneously everyone started yelling as the rain pounded down, and
seconds later Deadmau5 started up, about 20 minutes early. No other words can
describe this moment but epic. Something about storms just makes crowds a
little crazier. About 70,000 (I am terrible at estimating numbers, but I’m just
guessing) people were dancing in the rain and mud to Deadmau5 and the light
show was absolutely amazing. It may seem cliche or weird or something, but with
this show, I did not have to make myself dance, get into the music, or enjoy it
because I felt like I had to, but because I just didn’t have a choice. Blame it
on the music, lights, rain, or the overall atmosphere of the festival, but I
feel like anyone who was there would have felt the same. This was the perfect
way to end my first Lollapalooza, and the 20th anniversary of Lollapalooza.


I admit, I wasn’t as prepared as I would have liked to have been for
Lollapalooza. If I could change things, I definitely would have listened to
more of the bands playing before going to the festival. Also, it would have
been smart to bring a second battery for my camera (so I could have changed it when
it died right before Deadmau5), bring plastic bags for electronics just incase
of rain, and read a thesaurus so I can say something else besides epic or
awesome to describe the festival.

In the end, I really enjoyed everything about Lollapalooza. There is something
about listening to live music from your old and newly discovered favorite
bands, being around thousands of people who love music just as much as you, and
spending the whole day, outside in the summertime that makes the perfect
experience. The combination of these elements make one of the best things in
the world that is a music festival. The only thing that would have made it
better is if there was a big camp ground so you wouldn’t have to commute there
and back every day (oh wait.. that’s Bonnaroo.) I knew before I went that I
would have a great time, and now that I am back, it feels like it was all one
crazy, great dream. I will forever love music festivals, and even though I
don’t know when I will be able to go back to Lollapalooza, I will make sure my
first Lollapalooza will not be my only.


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