I can sum my Lollapalooza experience up quite easy: an incredible time with great friends.
Any chance I get to return to the city of my birth I’m excited but add in a music festival with 100,000 people in Grant Park and you crank it up to 11. This year I approached Lolla a bit different and wasn’t running from show to show. I took the pace down a little and really stepped back to enjoy it a bit more. I was late to some shows which was unfortunate but at the end of the three days I was still stoked about who I saw and just wonder what may have happened if the Saturday afternoon storm evacuation didn’t cancel acts like Alabama Shakes, The Temper Trap, B.o.B. and the band I was most hoping to see, The Dunwells. Props to C3 Presents for acting swiftly to recover and push back start times, reschedule bands like fun., Chairlift, Empires, etc. C3 also did an incredible job of scheduling overall forcing the crowd to pick and choose like I’ve never seen. When you are looking at a mile walk from the Bud Light Stage to the Red Bull Stage, it’s just not really possible to get everywhere you want to be unless you are a marathon sprinter.
A breakdown of who I saw each day:
Friday: O Rappa, Michael Kiwanuka, The Black Angels, The War On Drugs, Metric, Die Antwoord, Passion Pit, Black Sabbath, The Black Keys
Saturday: Of Monsters and Men (off the grounds), fun., The Weeknd, Red Hot Chili Peppers
Sunday: Outasight, The Devil Makes Three, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, Trampled by Turtles, Gary Clark Jr., The Gaslight Anthem, Of Monsters and Men, Florence + The Machine, Miike Snow, Jack White
Headliners: I have to be honest, you shouldn’t have gone to Lollapalooza just for the headliners. Talented musicians indeed (and ones I like) but you can’t compare The Black Keys, Black Sabbath, Avicii, Justice, Jack White and Red Hot Chili Peppers to last year’s of Coldplay, Muse, My Morning Jacket, Eminem, Foo Fighters and Deadmau5.
My First Show: O Rappa
My Final Show: Technically Jack White but essentially I caught all four final acts bumping to Kaskade, hearing Childish Gambino drop “Heartbeat” and hearing one of my favorite Justice songs, “On’n’On.”
My Moment of Joy: Seeing the rambunctious overfilled crowd on hand for Of Monsters and Men Sunday night time slot.
My Favorite Show: Didn’t actually happen at Lollapalooza. Off-site Of Monsters and Men show on the rooftop of a condo tower for Gilt City’s ‘Better Than Backstage’ party. Thanks to my friend Nicole for making it happen! Seriously one of the top three bands I was dying to see at the festival and here I am just inches away as they rocked out. A tip of the hat to an amazing group of musicians doing big things.
Best Overall Show: Die Antwoord, my second time seeing them and this was just flat out awesome. They had the crowd mesmerized and loving every moment of this high energy set.
Best Bud Light Stage Show: For me, Passion Pit – flat out great performance but easily it was Florence + The Machine, she had at least half the festival goers on hand to hear that incredible voice. I remember the first time I saw her was in a small tent at Bonnaroo and she owned Lollapalooza. Say hello to next year’s festival circuit headliner.
Best Red Bull Stage Show(s): I guess The Black Keys, those guys are just so honed in and solid in front of big crowds.
Best Playstation Stage Show(s): Die Antwoord, Gary Clark Jr.
Best Sony Stage Show: Last year I spent the most time at this stage. This year I only really saw Miike Snow.
Best Google Play Stage Show: The Gaslight Anthem, the Jersey rockers did exactly that making the most of their 45 minute set.
Best BMI Stage Show: Well the only one I actually got to this year was Outasight and he had the crowd bouncing.
Best Perry’s Stage Show: In truth, I didn’t even see a show here, passed by a lot but didn’t get caught up in the pandemonium but the stage setup that may have been the best show. LED bonanza creating quite the visuals.
Overall Stage With The Best Performances: Hands down Google Play, they stacked the deck with this stage and fans responded packing all of these shows. Big time acts like The War on Drugs, Blind Pilot, SBTRKT, Band of Skulls, Dawes, Wale, GIVERS, fun., Washed Out Twin Shadow, Frank Ocean, Of Monsters and Men, The Gaslight Anthem, Hey Rosetta!, The Big Pink, Childish Gambino
Biggest Surprise: How much I enjoyed the Metric show.
Best Legend Show: I just have to say Black Sabbath for the sheer fact that I saw Black Sabbath, even if Ozzy is starring into gigantic teleprompters and not sounding too good.
Random Moment(s) Of Awesomeness: fun. show being rescheduled after the Saturday evacuation and just owning the crowd for a 35 minute set filled with their hits.
Most Entertaining Show: Die Antwoord, if you’ve never seen them, you can’t help but be entertained
Most Disappointing Moment: not getting to see a bunch of acts I was super excited to see for the first time like Milo Greene, First Aid Kit and The Dunwells (the rain ruined that one for me) and some of my favorites like GIVERS, Chancellor Warhol, DAWES.
Next Big Thing: I want to say The Dunwells but the evacuation for the storm forced a cancellation of this show. And I sincerely hope more people discover Michael Kiwanuka; he’s got an incredible voice, great songs and is an absolute treat to listen to live.
Giving it a shot: The Devil Makes Three and I absolutely loved them.
Top Party: I’m giving this to Passion Pit because it was entertaining, full of energy and well I am a fan.
Funky Good Time Show: Gary Clark Jr.
Band I Was Sad To Miss: Sigur Ros
Best Intro: Rahm Emanuel introducing The Black Keys
What Would Have Been Great: Having less scheduling conflicts so I could see more bands
Top Moment: Choosing to skip Milo Greene, Chancellor Warhol, JEFF The Brotherhood and GIVERS for a once in a lifetime moment with Of Monsters and Men on the rooftop with the Chicago skyline serving as the background.
Best Festival Eat/Drink: Uncorked Wine Lounge
Best Place To Cool Off: I didn’t really find one and it was hot and humid
Biggest Waste of Time: The Toyota Crane game thing that totally wasn’t a crane
Evacuation Nation: Wow, getting 100,000 people out of the park in approximately 30 minutes before the torrential storm came in was pretty incredible. Holed up in a steamy Irish Pub with $6 Bud Lights wasn’t ideal but it was festive and one of those random things you won’t soon forget.
Clutch Move: Popping out a little early on Friday night to head over to Big Star, my favorite taco and mescal joint in town.
Tip For Next Year: Coming a day early again and leaving on a later flight on Monday.
More Tips: drink water, more water, sunscreen is your second best friend after water, if you see someone struggling give them a hand or find someone to help.