There is no shortage of 10,000+ people, outdoor music festivals in Chicago, but the biggest, loudest, most dense, and intense festival is Lollapalooza. It takes up nearly all of Grant Park, a whole mile along Lake Shore Drive, in the nexus of the city. Think of Lollapalooza as a blue whale, and we are krill: it’s easy to get lost in that mighty, churning gut. This guide and preview is designed to help the fans of new music and emerging artists find the best spots and survive the insanity with style.
Friday, July 31
If you want to see Paul McCartney, Friday’s headliner, then as soon as you hear the Star Wars theme song, heralding the opening of the gates, you’ll need to sprint to the Samsung Galaxy Stage. Hundreds of others will be stampeding with you. This is how you get a good spot. Then you will have to sit there, in the sun, with no shade, peeing into $7 water bottles for about eight hours as the mass of bodies around you becomes thicker, smellier, drunker, and abysmal. A better option would be to go buy regular Paul McCartney tickets and go see him in a normal show. This goes for all the big headliners: they exist to bring in a crowd, and a crowd they will bring. Don’t get swallowed up by that, little krill, there are better options at Lollapalooza.
Working backwards, Flying Lotus will be on at the same time as McCartney. He’s strange, fun, experimental and a little hip-hoppy: great to dance to. Before Flying Lotus, check out Gary Clark Jr. He’s heavy on crowd interaction and spontaneity. Moving over to the Pepsi Stage, you can show up for the 12 p.m. Gabriel Garzón-Montano show and stay for BADBADNOTGOOD followed by BROODS. By chilling at that stage, it’ll be easier to get close to the artists, and if you need to go get food or use the bathrooms, it’s easier to do that and get your spot back. Overall, on Friday the Pepsi Stage is a great place to park for some fresh tunes.
Saturday, August 1
First of the month! Don’t forget to pay rent today, and do it in the morning, you have a big afternoon ahead. Saturday has a lot of big bands: Death From Above 1979, Kid Cudi, and Metallica as the headliner. However, there are big rewards at the small stages. First order of the day: check out Jessica Hernandez & The Deltas. Reminiscent of Motown, they’re guaranteed to wake the crowd up. You can stay at the Sprint Stage for Ryn Weaver, a Beyonce voice with an indie backup, but if you’d rather dance, head over to Perry’s Stage for SNBRN. Or, if you want to see what the next generation is up to, watch the School of Rock Allstars at the Kidzapalooza Stage. By the middle of the day, you’ll be hot, tired, and hungry. Plan out your food and water choices based on your budget. If you don’t want to buy water, find a hose and camp there: the line will be long. Speaking of water, the Brooklyn trio, Wet, might be what you need to get out of the midday slump while you wait for three vastly different options for the evening. On your first stage you can see The Tallest Man on Earth, who was playing Iowa barn dances just a few years ago. On the other side of the spectrum is Tyler, The Creator. But if you want something in between, check out the Australian, Chet Faker. His mellow attitude might be needed if the day proves too hot and crowded. If Metallica sticks to their first three albums it will be a good show, but they won’t, so consider G-Eazy, because his rhymes are quite, quite sleazy.
Sunday, August 3
If Lollapalooza took place in, say, Duluth, Minnesota, Florence and the Machine would be the undisputed headliner. This isn’t a dig on the good people of Duluth, but in Chicago, home of house music, Bassnectar will draw a massive, dancing, insane crowd. Don’t worry about getting there early, the pit will be spitting people out and sucking new ones in for the whole show. Instead, warm up with a 7:45 show from NGHTMRE. Then, or rather before, since we’re going backwards, if you want to stay with an electric theme, go for ODESZA. Though much more mellow and vocal than the later groups, they’re worth the stroll to the Bud Light Stage. Might as well get a tiny, overpriced beer while you’re in the neighborhood. Don’t want to focus on iMac-generated-auto-music? The Lonely Biscuits will play at the same time as ODESZA, and they’ll satisfy the rock-n-rollers at the festival. However, if you do like iMac-music, go see Galantis! They’ll put on a mind-blowing 3:30 show. Sunday is heavy on the electronic scene, so if you don’t want to wear-out early spend some time with LION BABE at 12:50 on the Pepsi Stage. Her bumping rhythm will keep your heart pumping, but her melodic voice will keep you from freaking out.