When I found out the first issue of the NerdGlow periodical would coincide with the week following the Lollapalooza music festival, I was incredibly stoked. I knew I’d have a platform to unload from the past weekend. The trouble is that I forgot to actually write much of anything about music. So allow me to re-live through the bounty of horror that is Lollapalooza.
My first greeting from Lollapalooza was a six-foot wide opening at the front gate of the festival. Through this breach hundreds of selfie-taking 15-year-olds and I were expected to pass simultaneously under the watchful eye of a rent-a-cop. That’s just phase one of a three-part process to get in. Next, in a feat of amazing dexterity, patrons would empty the contents of their pockets, hold it all in in their hands which are now raised above head level and at last turn around to face away from your next assailant. This hokey pokey concluded with two or three less than friendly tugs at your belt, lest your underwear wasn’t wedgied enough before. If you’re lucky enough to not have your ziplock bag of vodka burst all over your crotch, then you’re free to proceed to the next checkpoint. God help you if you brought a handbag into the park. Have you ever scanned a badge before? If not, don’t worry the final gatekeeper will proceed to grasp your wrist and karate chop the turnstile with it. Those things can be so tricky sometimes.
This ritual seems to ever-mutate throughout the years. God forbid people get so comfortable with their inward passage that they start smuggling in booze. Oh wait that already happens. Listen, I get that you need to keep throngs of fest-goers safe, and having eyes on every single life form entering the gate is probably a good idea, but the lengths in which you’re eyeballed, patted down, poked and prodded is getting less and less worth the price of admission. Maybe if beers weren’t eight dollars you wouldn’t have so many people trying smuggle in crotch packs of alcohol. Then you could focus more on, oh I don’t know, looking for weapons.
The Dress Code
So now I’m in the park, but I forgot to mention one important detail: the dress code. Did you know there’s a Lollapalooza dress code? It’s very strict. For girls it is absolutely paramount to wear high-waisted cutoff shorts. Regardless of whether or not the look is flattering, there are no exceptions. Neon tank tops are also a must for ladies. A floral wreath headband is preferred but not required. Men must wear the following: ’90s era basketball jerseys featuring names of players who had their heyday before you were born, neon framed sunglasses and a snapback hat that is made to look like you swiped it from your dad’s dresser but really you just paid thirty dollars for it at Urban Outfitters. Bonus points are awarded to those who can find Space Jam jerseys. I failed to comply with any of these standards, so I wasn’t allowed see Skrillex unfortunately.
In between people watching (read: sneering at teenagers), I did happen to catch some live music. Fate smiles upon those with niche musical tastes. If you at all have off-center likes in music, take refuge in the smaller draws at Lollapalooza. Among my favorites were Warpaint, a quartet of alterna-dream-pop sirens, Parquet Courts, snarky but razor sharp slacker punks, and Run the Jewels, the supergroup alternative rap collaboration of El-P and Killer Mike.
I’m done bragging about my clearly-better-than-your music taste for now. There were some big name acts that really brought down the outhouse as well. I really enjoyed my now second viewing of Arctic Monkeys, which has clearly grown up over the years. I also managed to avoid getting bitten while watching it. Spoon, although relatively geriatric by indie rock standards, completely killed it during their set with the perfect smattering of well-known hits included with new material. I would have also been a fool to have missed the nostalgia inducing set from OutKast.
The best part of main stage shows is that I get stand further back and avoid starting a scoff war with shorter folks behind me. Which leads me to my next point. I am six foot, three inches tall, but that does not signify some evolutionary advancement in telescopic vision, which some shorter ilk seem to think I have. In the rare cases where I would like to make my way closer to the stage, I am an opportunist. If I see an empty bit of real estate, I’m going to stand in it. If that impedes your view, then it’s time for you to become an opportunist as well and find a spot in front of me. If you think your passive aggressive snorts are going to stop me, you’re wrong. At least I have the courtesy to save my passive aggressive whining for a blog post.
The Lollapalooza lineup throughout the years is not immune to recycling artists. I’m all for being eco-friendly, but the 2014 lineup seemed awfully green. Five of the six prime slot, mainstage acts had played the fest within the last five years. OutKast being the sixth act, but they just came off of a seven-year hiatus so they don’t count. Whether or not I can get over the rapid re-bookings, I was none too impressed with the 2014 offerings, of which the other festivals like Bonnaroo and Coachella knocked out of their respective parks this year. While the Lollapalooza lineup showed glimpses of resembling it’s fest siblings, it lacked the diverse undercard of acts the others had.
So what draw does Lollapalooza rely on then? Electronic. Dance. Music. Every year that’s the mainstay. Focused within the park’s epicenter stage “Perry’s,” named after festival founder and Jane’s Addiction frontman Perry Farrell, dance music is the pied piper to Chicago’s suburban youth on summer break. You will never find a more wretched hive of teenaged drug disasters. The Perry’s stage is designed to keep festival goers heading back to it all day, as the music seemingly never stops for setup time. That shouldn’t come as a shock to anyone, however, as most of the acts are a laptop plug in away from being able to hit the play button again. How do these “musicians” get away with playing other people’s music at live performances? Acts like GTA and Chase & Status literally played top forty hip hop tracks end-on-end with minimal alterations. At least when Girl Talk “plays” he doesn’t pretend to fiddle with any equipment other than a delapitated HP notebook from Office Max. I had to keep banishing the thought from my mind that people actually paid close to three hundred dollars to stand at this stage all weekend in a full-on stupor. It hurt my brain too much.
Now that I’ve sufficiently used up my joke references to teenagers, I suppose I can wrap up this post. But before I tell you to get off my lawn, I have to admit that I actually did have a great time at Lollapalooza when I actually focused on the music. I know that I continue to go to Lollapalooza to be a part of the gathering and to see and to be seen, but I end up spending the whole time wishing I wasn’t around so many people. That irony isn’t lost on me. So my advice is to develop a case of myopia. Focus on your immediate surroundings that you fill with friends old and new, and go see the acts you actually want to see. Listen to the music and imagine they’re playing it just for you. You’ll have a good time and you can still bitch about it later on the internet. Of course, if they just would have booked Future Islands, this would have been a much more saccharine piece of writing.