Chicago, like many other cities in the country this summer, is in the midst of a major heat wave. Friday started off like most other dog days this season: relentlessly hot and humid. The beaming sun persisted as throngs of people swiftly moved toward the festival gates. While Lollapalooza attracts a strong local contingent, it’s amazing to see how many people travel far and wide just to soak up Perry Farrell’s 3-day music fest. I chatted with two vistors from Pittsburgh, this was their 4th time making the trip. Shirtless boys roaming the main street, dripping in the afternoon heat, made their way here via Toronto. Their excited energy was palpable; these dudes were ready to tear Lolla UP. Walking into the press tent, I ran into a reporter from Mexico. She wasn’t able to attend the festival last year, but watched the live stream. She recounted events from a year ago as if they happened yesterday. This event inspires a certain kind of devotion, which is clear to see as one criss-crosses through the expanse of Grant Park.
Lollapalooza is successful in part because it creates a culture. After the end of the day’s concerts, I bumped into two girls, grinning from ear to ear. “We just spent the whole day at Perry’s Place! It was amazing!” Perry’s Place, like its namesake, Lollapalooza creator Perry Farrell, is something to be seen. It’s the home to throbbing DJ sets from noon until close, attracting people who don’t care about the heat, just want to dance and feel like a part of the crowd. Other stages may attract bigger crowds, but the people who get lost at Perry’s are a special kind of Lolla go-er. And it extends beyond Perry’s stage…the whole park pulses with a vibrant energy. Lolla’s vibe is its signature. The bill offers a wide range of acts covering multiple genres and everyone’s a part of the party.
Every year, there are many other attractions in addition to the music. Graham Elliot once again curated Chow Town, Lollapalooza’s own food court celebrating Chicago greats. With offerings from Kuma’s Corner to Connie’s Pizza and everything in between, Joonbug was especially tempted by Graham Elliot’s own Lobster Corn Dog from the Grahamwich tent.
By Friday evening, the heat settled down and Chicago lulled into a cool haze. As the sun set and the park was lit by the shimmering lights of the Chicago skyline, kicking off Lollapalooza 2012 in fine fashion.
Day 2 began with sweltering heat. And then the whispers started circulating…the park is going to close. It’s time to evacuate. Get out now. To the festival runners’ credit, all of this was done in a completely efficient, respectful and calm way. About 10 minutes after the initial warnings went out, mass texts were sent declaring that Lollapalooza was temporarily suspended and the park was closing due to severe weather. All guests were alerted of emergency exits and shelters. This was around 3:30 and the torrential storm didn’t hit until 4:30, giving concert-goers plenty of time to get out and seek refuge.
Other than a muddy park, the evening went off without a hitch. All signs point to a sunny day tomorrow, looking forward to it.
Sunday started off bright and with renewed energy. Beautiful weather resumed and the park, though a little muddy in places, looked no worse for the wear. The day began on the Red Bull stage, where fans flowed in at just past noon. Donning red sunglasses and Camelbaks to beat the heat, the final day of Lollapallooza was on.
Saturday night, after the end of festivities, a press release announced a third international outpost for the Lollapalooza festival, joining Chile and Brazil. Perry Farrell confirmed Lollapalooza Israel 2013. This exciting new development speaks to the power of the Lolla experience and how it influences music and culture worldwide. It’ll be interesting to see how the festival develops and takes on new personality outside of Chicago. On Sunday, it was clear to see how successful of a venture the concert really is.
Just looking around the park, from the wide ranging variety of soundstages to the shaded Kidzapalooza area, to the Green Street Market offering environmentally-conscious goods, to Chow Town and its accompanying bars and more. It’s an event that offers something for everyone and does so in a relatively seamless way.
It’s truly an experience from beginning to end. Entry into the park is quick and secure. Even though the park is crowded, the routes are clear and only in rare instances does it feel overwhelming. People are there to have fun, and the design of the event makes that very easy to do.
Just looking around, seeing everyone enjoy themselves, screaming the lyrics to their favorite song along with their favorite band, spending time with their friends…it’s pretty hard to beat. Lollapalooza 2012 was a wild, fun, hot, stormy and exciting ride and we can’t wait to check it out next year.
For an inside glimpse of the musical highlights of Lollapalooza 2012, check out Part I of our coverage here!