Monday, August 7, 2017

LollapaLOSER: Takeaways from Lolla 2017

While Mondays are usually recognized as the beginning of the dreaded work week, this particular Monday, August 7th, marks the end of Lollapalooza, a four-day music festival held in Grant Park. 

Through the Love Hope Strength Foundation, I was given the opportunity to work the festival and catch a few free sets. Day by day, here are a few takeaways, cringe-worthy moments, and footage of some incredible performances from my three days at Lollapalooza 2017. 


@ White boys: Have you ever even seen a real mosh pit? 

When $uicideboy$ encouraged their crowd to open up a pit, I was right on the edge of the action, waiting for the beat to drop. However, what ensued was not a mosh pit, but the largest gathering of teenage boys wearing basketball jerseys, jumping up and down, and chanting "hey!" I have ever seen. 

Chance the Rapper rules Chicago

Part of my job included helping attendees with media credentials, VIP, or guest list passes obtain their proper credentials and wristbands. If an attendee had a media or press credential, I was instructed to escort them to the front of the line. Or, if you were a part of Chance's 750 person guest list, you not only got to skip thline, but also were allowed to check in at an exclusive will call lane only for Chance and his crew.

Molly, alcohol, and dehydration don't mix

One of the worst moments of the weekend happened at the god forsaken baseball field known as the Perry's stage. I watched a girl drag her boyfriend into the crowd as his eyes rolled into the back of his head, his limbs twitched, and his lifeless body leaned against hers for support.

'Hey, what ever your boyfriend took isn't mixing well," I told the girl. "You need to get him to medical immediately, it looks like he may be having a seizure."
"No way, he doesn't want to miss the set!" she screamed at me. 

In addition to this incident, I saw a total of six people having seizures at or nearby the Perry's stage this weekend.

Memorable show: Wiz Khalifa

As with any performance, what matters most is not how an artist sounds on their record, but the merit of their live show. In my experience, this especially pertains to rap music. While I've seen some great rappers butcher their live sets with lip synching and overuse of auto tune, Wiz came out and killed it. He rapped every word to every verse and delivered his set with energy that captivated the entire crowd. And I have to admit, I was impressed by Ty Dolla $ign's vocals, too. 


Grant Park's South Side 

Walking down Balboa towards Harrison, I overheard the following conversation between two young men wearing Kanye's The Life of Pablo tour shirts:
Man 1: Dang man, I really thought we were going to get mugged.
Man 2: For real? What do you mean?
Man 1: Well, we just left out the south entrance. So we're on the south side of Chicago right now.
Man 2: Crap, I had no clue! No wonder this looks a bit sketchy

It doesn't get more generic than Lolla

Not knowing much about Foster the People, I decided to give their set a listen before I headed across Grant Park to snag a spot for the night's headliners, The Killers. It was mid set that I realized why Lollapalooza draws such impressive crowds. With a line up as bland, generic, and white washed as Lollapalooza's, it's impossible not to draw massive amounts of generic listeners. I'm sure the same is true of many other similar festivals. 

Yes, fanny packs and purses are bags

For my second day of work, I was stationed at the main entrance and helped guide people carrying bags towards the security lane where bags are searched, and people without bags to security lanes where only their person would be searched. Simple enough, right? However, the most frequent question I received was, "Is my [bag/purse/fanny pack/ huge container] considered a bag?" From 15 year-old boys carrying Camelbaks to moms in their mid 50's toting huge Michael Kors bags, I felt the light in my eyes drain a bit each time someone asked me this question (which happened no less than once every five minutes). 

Memorable show: The Killers

While screaming the lyrics to "When You Were Young", it dawned on me that I may have been a part of the largest sing along to a track on Guitar Hero 3 the world has ever seen. 


Memorable show: Glass Animals

I first saw Glass Animals at Lollapalooza in 2015. Two years later, their sound has evolved to incorporate more electronic and pop influences. Discovering them at Lolla 2015 was one of the highlights of that weekend, and seeing them in 2017 was no different. 

Final Thoughts

The Killers 

Whether I had listened to them my whole life or hadn't even heard their name until a few days ago, it cannot be denied that I witnessed some truly incredible performances at Lollapalooza this year. However, would I have paid the daily $150+  fee that general admission attendees dished out to see these acts? No way. To top it off, I only spent a few hours at a time on festival grounds, either because I was working or left the festival to avoid the insane food prices, and I still barely kept myself from giving some boys in basketball jerseys and girls in knit crop tops and mid-waisted shorts a well-deserved punch in the face. I can say with certainty that working the festival was much more fun and rewarding than simply buying a GA ticket. Plus, the private bathrooms, entrance, and free snacks and drinks didn't hurt either. 

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