Lollapalooza thunders away on Sunday


by Scott Wilson

It’s amazing to watch people not just brave extreme heat, but to openly defy it. Sunday in Chicago hits a high of about a trillion degrees by noon, with humidity so thick fish are swimming around in the air. But with absolutely no regard for the heat limits of the human body, the audience at the base of jackLNDN’s gigantic stack of speakers packs in chest-to-back and dance as if they might freeze if they didn’t. People would never do this sort of thing in any other situation. Do people squish each other at the grocery store line when the A/C is broken? Not likely, but if the muzak at Lollapalooza is bumping and the fellow shoppers have their stunta shades on lock, things might just pop off. It worked in the Galantis video.

When in the herd, people don’t think about themselves. This is how raves are able to function: everybody is moving as one. People get in a flow where all they think about is grooving and listening; a good DJ’s job is to help an audience reach this stage and stay there. Alison Wonderland’s style doesn’t sound like it would work for that, from a distance. She talks to the crowd a lot from her perch atop a tower of speakers, and sometimes she talks to herself, but the microphone is set louder than the music. However, it actually blends well, for what she does. The occasional breaks in the music for her voice, usually at a yell or a scream, gives the audience something to react to. It’s like a Basquiat painting, in that the underlying image can be beautiful, but then there’s some huge imperfection, like a bright orange smear, and it somehow makes the work look better.

Midwesterner’s know that when the weather is ruthlessly hot, that means it’ll soon be punishingly wet. The rain comes in at about 3 p.m., and the Lollapalooza Commanders issue a weather warning that means the park has to be emptied, so the people can seek shelter. Where will a hundred thousand people all seek shelter at once? Who knows? The logic is that people will have better luck not getting picked up by a tornado or struck by lightning on the streets of downtown Chicago than in Grant Park. Whatever. The rain isn’t that bad and after it lets up the whole mess of people file right back in to see the Galantis show, pushed back to four on account of the drizzle, which the two Northern Europeans would consider a nice day.

Most people returned, that is. Some poor, sorry music reviewers came down with a headache and couldn’t go on. Lollapalooza is a long, hot, three-day noise fest and a person has to plan accordingly by taking breaks and drinking lots of water. Following the excitement and not instincts is a bad idea if someone wants to last the whole festival. Let my cautionary tale be a lesson to the masses: don’t get old, stay young forever; don’t just visit Lollapalooza, be Lollapalooza.

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