August 16, 2014 / 1:54 pm

Lollapalooza 2014: A first-timer’s unforgettable experience

When I was offered a three day pass to the Lollapalooza 2014 music festival in Chicago, I was unaware of how flattering the gesture actually is.


This year Lollapalooza sold out faster than any other before; solidifying the 10-year old festival as one of Chicago’s premier events, and attracting music fans from across the country. As a first timer to all things music festival, I knew it’s not every day I get offered the opportunity to attend a sprawling shindig that is so prestiged it attracted headliners Arctic Monkeys, Eminem, Outkast, Kings of Leon, Chance the Rapper and many others from an array of genres. Being a paycheck-to-paycheck college student like myself, doing the irresponsible thing is always worth it if you’ve got a good story to tell; and this is my Lollapalooza story.


One move out, one move-in, a night out for my 21st birthday, and a time zone change later Chicago’s Sears Tower is finally in full view.  Still slightly hungover from my previous night’s celebration, my friend who offered me the ticket reminds me with a smirk on her face, “you just don’t even have a clue yet.”  What’s there to have a clue about? It’s live music, live people watching, and three full days in the city with a hotel room close to one of America’s most infamous music festivals that it now tours in foreign countries such as Chile, Brazil and Argentina.


Being a city girl, the thing I personally loved most that makes Lollapalooza unique compared to several other festivals is it’s location just outside of Chicago’s hustle and bustle.  Grant Park is home to Lolla’s location right along Lake Michigan, however it is the view of the city’s skyscrapers that decorate the background and illuminate the sky for the headliners during the night performances. Unlike most popular music festivals, camping isn’t an option for attendees at Lollapalooza. Instead, many people rent hotel rooms or stay with friends who are fortunate enough to have a place in the city.  After a witnessing a few crowded hotel rooms full of individuals younger than me and richer than me when clutching their parent’s credit cards, my friends and I quickly ditched the hotel scene and headed to the streets.


Directly across from The Hilton on Michigan Ave. stood Grant Park beckoning us like a live music heaven.  Stocked with eight stages booked with performances from as early as 11 a.m. to 10:30 p.m., the devotees of 2014’s Lollapalooza were decked for a guaranteed good time.  Hundreds of people halted traffic entering the festival’s security lines, which was far more thorough than years in the past according to our group of dedicated Lolla-goers. When we finally entered ‘Lolla Land’ itself, slight showers of rain couldn’t contain the massive ball of excitement that hovered amongst the enormous crowds of people coming and going to different shows. I discovered first hand how serious the festival’s security was when I was denied a wristband for beer and had my Indiana ID taken because the festival volunteers believed it to be a fake.  Apparently our Indiana licences look like they “have stickers on them.”  Luckily though, I got my ID back and a wristband!


Event organizers provided an atmosphere that was suitable, safe and diverse for every wristband wearer.  With designated water-filling stations and vendors galore, the festival had us all pretty well taken care of so long as you could handle a possible fifteen minute wait in line for the Port-O-Potty.  While us young adults could run around however we please, there was even entertainment provided for the families of the festival.  The Kidsopalooza stage offered age-appropriate performers directed toward younger audiences, and the festival-goers of the future were allowed in free if accompanied by their guardians, along with massive Lake Michigan as the background to the venue.


For the older audience, Perry’s seemed to be one of the most popular stages, featuring mainly EDM performances from DJs such as Gramatik, Above & Beyond, and even a performance from Iggy Azaela.  I had never been one to get in to the dubstep scene but after seeing a variety of artists perform over the weekend, I left with a new appreciation for EDM…which is definitely not dubstep.  Flume was by far a stand out as far as non-headliners go, including synthesizer-enthusiast, Chormeo.  Both artists have a funky but still electric sound that adds to the complexity of EDM’s work. These sounds are less computer-like but still tuned unlike many instruments we hear today through the board of a DJ’s set up.
We even had the opportunity to see an after-show performance of Duke Demont and Flume at the Concord Music Hall.  Fellow WIUX-er Hannah Alani was also in the crowd for  Flume’s performance, saying “it was all super good, probably his encore with You & Me was my favorite.” The energy and excitement of an EDM’s audience is simply ecstatic, so much to the point that by Sunday’s performances, Perry’s and the majority of the venues were no longer meadows of grass, but piles of mud.  Destroyed shoes, ravers covered in dirt, wet T-shirts, and poorly drying hair are all a none issue when you are at Lollapalooza though.  Rain or shine, it was impossible for everyone who attended not to have  a good time.  Experiences like musical festivals are worth the oancho planning and penny pinching, especially Lollapalooza which returns with no mercy on July 31st – August 2nd of 2015.