[Festival Journal] Lollapalooza,The Indie Music Launch Pad

By Berkley Aiken

It’s been a week since Lolla…

Lollapalooza: defined as a person or thing that is particularly impressive or attractive.

Lollapalooza Festival in Grant Park (Chicago, IL) is just that—particularly impressive and attractive. Not only does “Lolla” engulf over 115 acres of downtown Chicago every year for an entire weekend at the beginning of August, it showcases 130+ artists and brings music fans together for the sole purpose of rocking out in true music camaraderie. To describe it as impressive might be an understatement.

I was honored to attend this year’s Lollapalooza. It’s one of many large music festivals that I crossed off on what I like to call my: ‘Music Bucket List;’ full of others like Austin City Limits, SXSW, and Coachella that I hope to attend some day. Lolla was my first. The excitement was building in the days prior and when we finally landed in downtown Chicago on Day 1, it became overwhelming. Festival-­‐goers peppered the streets and you could easily pick out the Lolla veterans. So let’s set the scene: take 200,000 people, throw them in the middle of one of the largest cities in the United States, add in a bit of grunge and booze, with a side of extreme talent from some of the most decorated artists from around the world—and you have Lollapalooza. It’s kind of incredible if you ask me. And the bands this year are the launching pad for the up and coming indie music scene.

Best way to get the most out of your Lolla experience: get organized. Plan your day. Use the ‘Notes’ section on your iPhones, tattoo it on your body with a Sharpie, whatever it takes. Believe me, it helps. And thankfully the staff provides maps for the park. Handy little things for Day 1. Dr. Dog started our first day with an energetic indie rock set. Most of the sets are 45 minutes, so it’s easy to bounce from stage to stage.

Highlights from Day 1 (Friday, August 3): Blind Pilot, The Head and the Heart, Dawes and The Black Keys.

Head & The Heart’s ‘Lost in My Mind’ and ‘Rivers and Roads’ kicked the level of enthusiasm up a notch. The crowd was there for a purpose: to be engulfed by the vocal harmonies of this west coast folk-­‐pop group. Clapping and singing from the crowd ensued. Dawes was a refreshing change of pace as the slightly smaller crowd was at the highest level of fandom. The brothers Taylor and Griffin rattled the masses with such celebrated songs as “When My Time Comes” and “Fire Away.” Ending the evening with The Black Keys left us on a high and ready for our next day. Side note—it’s nice to have a day off to break up the festival. We bought our tickets late so Saturday was left for exploring the city.

Highlights from Day 3 (Sunday, August 5)—Trampled by Turtles, Gary Clark Jr., Sigur Ros, Toro y Moi, Of Monsters and Men, Florence & The Machine, Jack White.

The mixture of music this day was like ingredients for one of your momma’s favorite recipes. Full of heart and soul; it just worked, no matter what went into it. Gary Clark Jr. had an electrifying set, packed with guitar solos that would blow your mind. Columbia’s own Toro y Moi produced a very polished, piano-­‐infused progressive rock show with a crowd all the same. Out of all the artists who performed at this year’s festival, Of Monsters and Men was easily a favorite. Their energy was contagious and the crowd barely fit between the trees that lined the stage. Fans proudly displaying the Iceland flag were chanting lyrics to every song. This was the true sense of music camaraderie mentioned above. “Dirty Paws” and “Little Talks” took the forefront of the set. With “Dirty Paws’” slow intro blasting into the changing pitches and horns of “Little Talks,” the sense of pride among the fans during the set was infectious. You couldn’t help but jump and sing.

The smell of music—grimy festival-­‐goers, greasy local foods, beer, sunscreen, and the occasional green stuff. You can’t help but take all these aromas in when you attend a music festival to this caliber. There’s nothing like them. I’m ready for #2!

Berkley Aiken


Redbird Music House