Let me start off by saying that I went to Lollapalooza last year for the 20th anniversary. Ruined a pair of shoes in the mud, got run over by an asshole in a wheel-chair, and lost my iPhone to water damage when the unexpected rain fell and I had nothing to put my phone in. There were a lot of people, and I swore that festivals are just not for me, I’d much rather go to a small show where people are more in it for the love of a particular artist than for the festival experience of getting on the waste and humping random people.
But, then they released the 2012 lineup. I was charmed by a bunch of my “must-see” artists like Sigur Ros, The Shins, Bloc Party, Metric, The Black Angels, The Growlers, and Bowerbirds playing in the same place in one weekend. So I bought tickets. But they were sold out of regular passes, so I splurged on the “Travel Package”. Last year, stayed at the Parthenon Hostel, which was the worst. The grumpy Greek man yelled at me for touching my own piece of toast when grabbing it from the toaster at breakfast, and the walk was pretty annoying after a day of being herded around Grant Park. This year with the travel package, I was really stoked about getting to stay at the Intercontinental Hotel on the Magnificent Mile. Overall the travel package was a win. Checked into the hotel and they give you your tickets, a pair of posters and T-shirts, and two $50 car vouchers for the weekend, which we should have used but we didn’t really go anywhere far enough to warrant a cab.
Now, on to the festival itself. As is expected with a large festival… overpriced food and drinks. $6 for a normal sized can of Bud Light… seriously. If they were giving me some good beer options I would be more okay with it, but it’s just a bunch of piss water in a can. They have an abundance of food choices, which is nice. Literally anything you would want, they probably have. We only got cheese fries one day, best. But I had the pizza last year which was good. Also on the last day look out for deals, food vendors will give away stuff for free or cheap. One slice of pizza is usually $3, we got a whole pizza for $5 on the last day last year. We didn’t really keep an eye out for it this year but we were given free lemonades and waters on our way out. Another thing that they did last year that may have been a 20th anniversary thing that they should have done this year (or maybe they did and I just wasn’t paying enough attention) was they would tweet out their location and you’d get free stuff if you got there fast enough… we got a bunch of food coupons last year that way that were literal best.
Mud… now obviously the festival cannot control the weather. (I came prepared this year with waterproof bags to store my valuables in the event of rain again!) The second day was evacuated when a huge storm rolled in. Lucky for us, we hadn’t left the hotel yet when I got the message saying they were evacuating. So we sat in our 10th floor hotel window and watched the storm move in and all the humans on the street freak out. Hilarious. However, once we finally were allowed back into the festival and made our way over there, the place was so grossly muddy. I mean, obviously rain makes mud. But, this is clearly something that Lollapalooza faces pretty regularly, so they should maybe come up with some kind of management for the mud. Of course there are those people that love it up and roll around in the mud… but that’s just not for me (and I think my fellow germophobes will agree). It could be as simple as plywood over the mudpits, or something. It would also be easier to avoid the mud if my next point were addressed…
My major gripe with Lollapalooza this year (and last year too but this year was way worse) way too many fucking people. Red Hot Chili Peppers was probably the most obvious example of it, between the two entrances to get into their stage you could hardly get in enough to be able to see the screens, much less the stage. We opted to find a place along a fence that allowed us easy exit, because we we’re that stoked on seeing RHCP, but figured we should see them since we were there. People were coming out from deep in the stage telling people walking towards it to turn back, “it’s fucking terrible, it’s not worth it!” etc. Everyone was covered in mud to their knees, or if they were lucky only to their ankles. We watched at least three people get carried out by the Medical Services team. Not really sure what was going on down in there, but I can almost guarantee it was the cause of too many people and too much ruckus.
Overall, this year’s Lollapalooza left me feeling like I will never ever attend a large outdoor music festival again. You lose a lot of the value of seeing your favorite artist because most of the people there are going for the sake of the festival and are on drugs or are incomprehensibly intoxicated. It is ridiculously hot, crowded, dirty, and expensive. It seems great, all these awesome artists in one place, but for me, I would much rather experience an intimate show where I can truly appreciate the artist’s work, where they know that I am there to see them and will put on a much better show for that reason. Plus there is the constant running around to catch artists, it’s fucking stressful. Plus I was with someone who didn’t have similar interests as me, so I missed out on a lot of the bands I would have seen if I were on my own (as if I’d go to something like that alone!)
That said, all of the artists put on great shows! I’m sure they hate it, for the reasons stated above, because I would sure be bummed out seeing a bunch of people more interested in rolling around in mud than listening to the music I’ve worked to hard to bring to them. Seeing Ozzy Osborne live in person was by far one of the most amazing things that I wouldn’t have paid to do on it’s own. Jack White was amazing. The Growlers, great as always. Sigur Ros moved me to tears, as did The Shins. Gambino and Macklemore were super. And all the other bands I saw… wish I could have seen them all!
*I should also mention, as a footnote, the sketchy experience of hanging out at the Gary Metro station… but seeing as how parking in the city would cost like, $100 for the weekend, and this way parking and transport into the city only cost me about $15, so worth it. Although I had a couple panic attacks thinking about how everyone looked like they wanted to kill me.*