Lollapalooza 2008 was held August 1-3 at the Grant Park in the heart of downtown Chicago. The epic line up included: Radiohead, Rage Against the Machine, Nine Inch Nails, Wilco, Kanye West, The Raconteurs, Gnarls Barkley, Dr Dog, Chromeo, Lupe Fiasco, MGMT, The Brazilian Girls, and Kid Sister just to name a few.
Since Ive been back from Lollapalooza many people have asked me to compare it to Bonnaroo and Rothbury, which is impossible. Lollapalooza is a completely different kind of festival experience. For one, Lolla is not a camping festival, scattered with sleep deprived, dirty hippies and jam bands. Lollapalooza is an urban Festival full of trendy hipsters, wearing their stylish sneakers, vests, and colorful sunglasses, as far as the eye can see. All of us trying to look like rock stars, myself included, as we wandered from stage to stage in Chicagos beautiful Grant Park.
Friday night Radiohead undoubtedly captured the entire population of Lollapalooza. Roughly 80,000 people swayed to the ethereal voice of Thom Yorke and were mesmerized and entranced by the blue-green lights that hung and trickled around the stage appearing to be surreal forms of crystals and rain, forming lyrics during parts of the show and dancing along with the music and the crowd. The Radiohead crowd spanned out across the park, pouring past a few of the other smaller stages, the audience was a sea of people so deep and wide that they seemed to almost go on for miles.
I started my Saturday off with the tunes of the wonderful Dr. Dog, swaying in the grass and spinning around in a state of absolute satisfaction and bliss. I managed to get backstage during the MGMT performance, and I rocked out to the catchy, electronic rock beats as I too felt it was my Time to Pretend that I would move to Paris and find some models for wives. As I wandered back around from the stage and back into the festival grounds I was overwhelmed by the size of MGMTs audience. It was dense with hipsters singing along to every song and loving MGMT just as much as me, it was very exhilarating.
Saturday night was a very interesting night. After jamming out to the rhymes of Lupe Fiasco, I prepared myself for a little bit of the very calming, melancholy tunes of Wilco, and the very heavy, beats and rhymes of Rage Against the Machine. Wilco and Rage played at the same time, but at separate ends of the park. The two bands are so different that it allowed for a form of crowd control, the audiences were pretty well split up on opposite sides of the park, however, there were many people like myself who wanted to catch a bit of both acts.
I had seen Wilco play a few times, but I had never seen Rage Against the Machine Play ever before. Although Im aware that Rage is an epic, must see band, I do love, love Wilco very much. Therefore, I caught the first few songs of the Wilco set, and then was shuttled back to the opposite end of the park to experience Rage Against the Machine. I found myself standing on top of an electrical box; plastered on the side of the box it said DANGER HIGH VOLTAGE. Looking back on it, rocking out to Rage with a beer in one hand, and a cig in the other, with at least five other people doing the same thing, on a high voltage electrical box, it probably wasnt such a good idea. But we did have awesome seats with a perfect view, and now I can be among the population that has seen Rage Against the Machine live.
Sunday was also not too shabby. I started my day bright and early with the fun and experimental Octopus Project, a perfect start for a perfect day. Then I caught Kid Sisters energetic and colorful beats. She was genuinely enthused to be performing on a main stage, which made the crowd equally enthused to watch her. Behind her energetic vocals and spinning DJ, she had colorful abstract dancers, wearing modern almost robotic looking gear, and a few girls painted in gold form head to toe joined on stage to help dance the set to a close.
After Kid Sister I caught some of the electrifyingly sexy Brazilian Girls, and was forced by the music to move my body and dance, dance, dance. I danced all the way from their stage to the myspace stage and continued to dance to the unbeatable syntho-beats of Chromeo. The crowd for Chromeo was almost too dense for me to get trough as I danced on by, feeling obligated to leave Chromeo and catch a couple songs of Black Kids. I was happy to see them since Id just recently gotten into Black Kids fun 80s inspired eighties dance tunes. To my surprise the lead vocalist Reggie Youngblood felt the same bittersweet feeling that I did. He kept admitting that he wished he could be watching Chromeo, and couldnt understand why they were scheduled to play at the same time. Their performance was good, but I still slightly regretted leaving the wonderful energies and beats of Chromeo.
Gnarls Barkley was another group that I had never seen before, so I was very excited to get as close to the front for Gnarls Barkley and feel the crazy vibes around me. Cee Lo and Danger Mouse werent dressed as eccentrically as I had expected, but nevertheless, they put on an electrifying performance, however, right at 7:15, their set time to go off, they insisted that they had to leave due to the clock.
I didnt leave my spot, and neither did thousands of other people who had the same idea about getting to the front for Kanye as me. After an excruciating, sweaty hour of pushing, re-shifting and a little bit of shoving Kanye West came on stage. To my surprise and everyone else around me, Kanye wasnt a couple hours late. I actually would like to refer to Kanyes Lollapalooza performance as his comeback, making him the Comeback King of the summer, after his embarrassing crashing and burning at Bonnaroo earlier this summer. It was obvious that everything he had been criticized about at Bonnaroo was actually ingested, analyzed and corrected. 1.) He was not over two hours late, 2.) He spoke to his audience, and interacted with us, 3.) The GPS system and fake woman was replaced by a live band, wearing Daft Punkesk masks, and a real live sexy lady. 4.) Kanye seemed happy to be at Lollapalooza and appeared genuinely excited to see the huge crowd that he had attracted. Kanyes won back a place in my heart after his Lollapalooza performance. I am relieved to be able to say I am a Kanye fan once again and not place him among my list of guilty pleasure and ex-loves.
Lollapalooza 2008 did not disappoint. As always I was very sad to hear the last note of the last song, for the last set of the festival. And I felt very tiered and melancholy walking away from Grant Park for the last time, until next years Lollapalooza. I always feel the same bittersweet feelings as I am forced to rejoin the regular civilization outside of the wonderful land of music festivals. Tis the end of the festival season, until next time.
Thanks to Affinia Hotel for donating a beautiful hotel room during Lolla. If you’re in Chicago, DC, or New York and are looking for a nice hotel, you should check out www.affinia.com for photos and more information. Thanks also to Great Lakes Ice Cream Company for helping us with the Blue Bunny Ice Cream pickup. If you’re in need of a truck for your next party or event around Chicago, they’ve got a nice Sprinter Ice Cream Truck for rent. Check www.greatlakesicecreamcompany.com for more info.