The term “Lollapalooza” is defined by dictionary.com as “an extraordinary or unusual person, thing or event.” This year’s Aug. 3-6 festival lived up to its name.
While there’s no doubt Lollapalooza shows great variety in its music lineup, diversity lingered throughout the festival in a multitude of other ways, from its audience and artistic performances, to funky fashion and a wide selection of foods. Although it has been a week since Lollapalooza ended, it continues to leave an impression on me when I think of the unforgettable ways both the artists and attendees made the remarkable event their own.
After celebrating the event’s 25th anniversary with its first-ever four-day weekend last year, Lollapalooza decided to make the expansion permanent in 2017. This year’s line-up was a vast improvement over last year’s, with artists such as Muse, Lorde, Chance the Rapper, Arcade Fire, The Head and The Heart, The Killers and Blink-182 headlining. The diverse lineup allowed for various musical tastes to be appreciated and discovered by a wide audience, enticing a crowd from the Chicagoland area and beyond.
While music is the whole purpose of Lollapalooza, its underlying power of art and personal connection drew me in the most. Throughout the festival, I noticed a sense of community develop as concert-goers experienced their favorite bands with a crowd of strangers. Lollapalooza catered to almost 400,000 people this year, according to WGN, all from various cities, states and even countries. But when I attended the Head and the Heart’s performance, the crowd didn’t seem so overwhelming. I danced ridiculously with another concert-goer to a mutual favorite song, “Lost In My Mind.” We played air-guitar and air-piano together without caring about looking silly. Looking back at the experience, although I didn’t know this person at all, I realized that there was a specific energy within Lollapalooza that encouraged me to meet others through the power of music.
The Lollapalooza experience allowed attendees like me to be appreciative of art at a higher level. One of the unique trademarks of music festivals is its ability to bring art front and center, a moment that calls for vulnerability, especially when that art is shared with the voices of a thousand different people. Suddenly, when a song like “Mr. Brightside” by The Killers or “Pumped Up Kicks” by Foster the People began, an overwhelming flood of emotions drowned the audience. Here, the concert-goers amassed into immense crowds, and I became a witness to the audience’s intense joy, dance and amusement.
Besides the music, Lollapalooza welcomed opportunity for expression in another art form: fashion. Girls covered themselves in body glitter and adorned their heads with flower crowns, while guys wore funky clothing with cartoons and floral patterns or bandanas tied across their foreheads. The people who stood out the most, however, were those who were not shy to wear the most vibrant colors, style their hair in an unusual way, wear adult-sized footsie pajamas or carry balloons tied to their wrists.
The unusual, funky fashion of Lollapalooza translated to the performers, who also featured outlandish outfits. Lead singer of Cage the Elephant Matt Shultz stepped on stage in a glamorous pink, sparkly dress with the intention to promote freedom and self-acceptance. Similarly, Grouplove’s singer Hannah Hooper wore a hot pink, skin-tight velvet romper, while other artists were adorned with trendy instruments such as bedazzled guitars.
Along with diverse music and fashion, the four-day festival provided a wide range of foods at Chow Town. Bars and food stands lined Columbus Drive from Butler Field through Grant Park. Some offered pizza, burgers, cheese fries, ice cream, tamales, nachos and Asian noodles, to name a few. Some classic restaurants featured this year included Edzo’s Burger Shop, Billy Goat Tavern, Lou Malnati’s, Kilwins and Wow Bao. There was also a food stand that offered healthier options, such as granola bars and coconut water.
Near the Grant Park stage, there was a large wine tent called Cupcake Vineyards’ Uncorked Wine Lounge. Here, people could buy creative drinks such as sparkling rosé, cupcake frosé and poptails, which are cups of wine with popsicles in it. This lounge was a favorite for concert-goers who wanted to conveniently carry bottles of wine with them to the shows, and they received a free flower crown for posting a picture of their purchase on Instagram.
Usually, if you go to Lollapalooza one day, it’s already tiring. If you decide to go three or four days, you are likely exhausted by the end. Yet, despite the muscle cramps, the terrible back pain from standing long hours and the five blisters I found on my feet, I still wanted to go. Lollapalooza is a festival that never seems to end, but in turn, it offers experiences with friends and music and art that are not achievable to the same degree anywhere else. The festival knows how to entertain the masses, providing the most popular artists spread across an easily accessible schedule that tempts you to go every day you can.
At this festival, there is always something to see, someone to meet, or something to eat and drink. If a break from the limitations and sameness of the real world tugs at you, then Lollapalooza is there to offer diversity, release and fulfillment.