Venue: Lolla is awesome because it is right in the heart of downtown in beautiful Grant Park, which hugs the shore of lake Michigan in this beautiful city. Massive office buildings and residential condos surround Grant Park, making the ambiance of the festival simply incredible. The women, mostly college aged, are just as beautiful as the surroundings.
Getting there is easy. Chicago is a short flight from almost anywhere, and most kids our age know someone in the city they can stay with. Once you are in the city you can take the L train right into the Loop and Grant Park from any surrounding suburb, and although it was sometimes difficult to fight the congestion, it never got absurd.
The festival itself is absolutely massive- over 100,000 music lovers flood in from all over the country to come check this modern marvel of live music. For some, this is a bad thing- trying to navigate through this place was incredibly difficult, and if you thought you came to see your favorite big name acts like the Red Hot Chilli Peppers- think again. Tens of thousands of people will have already beat you to the stage, placing you what seems like miles from watching without the aid of the huge displays on the sides of the stage. Can you say FOMO?
The only other complaint I would have about Lolla is that the festival ends at 12pm. This really, really puts a damper on things. Chicago is HOT and HUMID. Getting to the festival at 12 or 1 in the middle of the day is suicide, preventing you from showing up too early. Because of this, you miss a lot of sets you want to see and it shortens the amount of time you get to spend at the festival. I am sure this is some requirement from the city, but something promoters should try to change in the future.
The Food: The food? Yes! The food! This is something you never really write about at a festival because the offering is usually total crap, but the food here was amazing! Instead of trying to reinvent the wheel with lame ass hot dogs and burgers served by some poor Aramark sap, the organizers of Lolla showcased Chicago's best offerings in the city. Lou Malnati's, Kuma's Corner, and even Gibson's had booth's here, offering competitively priced food that was awesome. Lolla gets infinity thumbs up for this because I intentionally went the festival hungry every day just to sample everything they had.
One thumbs down however for the $8 beers. Ouch!
The Production: Again, this festival was absolutely massive, meaning the stages were like mini Titanics as the artists attempted to be their icebergs.
The Red Bull Soundstage and Bud Light Stage were just as big, if not bigger than the main stage at Coachella. Even the more mid sized stages, like the Google Play and Sony Stages, were huge. It was nice to see the organizers bring out the big guns here. See the map below for the layout:
While I wasn't in attendance last year, everyone I spoke with noted the biggest improvement from last year was Perry's tent, which was actually no longer a tent, but a huge stage with a top flight production. The stage was surrounded by an approximately 20 x 60 foot LED back drop that resembled Swedish House Mafia's production. The DJ booth, also guarded by a large LED front, was raised high enough to showcase the DJ from any viewing angle. The area was also doubled, illustrating the organizer's anticipation for the massive crowd of electronic music lovers. What stuck out however were the 2 additional LED towers halfway from the back that provided more lights and visuals of the show for those way far in the back. Coachella better step it up this year because Lolla's electro section blew me away. Sahara what?
The Crowd: One of the coolest parts of this festival was the crowd. Chicago has that New York feel without the New York city attitude: the midwesterners we encountered were incredibly nice, helpful, and fun. No d-bags here.
The makeup of the festival crowd was very symbolic of what makes America, America: All races, ages, and backgrounds were represented. Our crew even had a 50 year old dude that was open to hear "anything," that was until he heard some dubstep.
As expected, Colorado was all over this festival, because we know how to show. Flags, hats, Buffs jersey's and signs representing our amazing state were in full force.
Just as a note to our readers: we would like to have covered a LOT more artists, but getting around Lolla was hard. The amount of people and the size of the venue made it easy to miss acts, especially if you wanted to get a good spot at a following act. Just a reality of any music festival, really.
Metric- It’s only the dedicated festival attendees that brave the sweltering heat to see their favorite bands during the day. Even though the temperature was nothing compared to the heat wave that pummeled Chicago last year during Lollapalooza, it was still freakin’ hot outside as we made our way to the stage to see Metric. Their vocalist, Emily Haines, is a badass and most def girl-crush worthy. She conducted her performance with a charismatic stage presence that can’t be taught and the vocal talent that she possesses takes her to the next level; the girl can sing and plays the synthesizer and the guitar. Talk. About. Talented. if you didn't catch their set, you missed out. Enrapturing the audience with classics such as “Help, I’m Alive” and “Youth Without Youth,” they killed it once again.
Madeon- This daytime set was better than his set at Coachella, but not better that his set at the Ogden. As an early 20-something, it's obvious that Madeon is going to be one of the top DJ's before he can even rent a car (at least in the US). Still, in this set he played some other DJ's songs without putting his own style on it, an annoying trend I have noticed within EDM. We know you have the skills to make every track your own, so do it! We love to hear your take on things, it’s what makes you so impressive.
Passion Pit- I really, really, really don't understand where all the hype for Passion Pit comes from. This day set on Friday was totally underwhelming. The sound was so bad, some songs were unrecognizable. Maybe Michael Angelakos cancelled his Red Rocks show because he knew it just wouldn't be good due to his mental state.
Nero- Does this trio ever disappoint? Playing all of their own original, bass filled tracks, this was my favorite set at Perry's. Their set was so loud it was flooding into the other stages, sucking people away from other acts to see what the hell was going on. While Daniel and Joe played some Trap, they kept it brief and put their own spin on it. Nero is an act that should not be missed when they come through your vicinity.
Bassnectar- Though Lorin Ashton is arguably, my favorite DJ on the scene these days, I wasn’t as blown away by the set as I usually am. Though his set list was excellently chosen, the sound levels didn’t seem to be as epic as they would prove to be for other names throughout the weekend. I felt that Calvin Harris’ decibel level far exceeded Lorin’s, who is usually the king of bass. Ahem, sound coordinators, pump up the bass so we can hear the beauty of Lorin’s musical genius at full force. It was decent set, but it was a little trap heavy for our taste. I really do appreciate how Bassnectar pushes the limits of comfort zone, but sometimes I feel it's at the expense of his true fans. I wish his sets would go back to playing all of the hits and the songs we want to hear. Not just "Lights," but songs like "Wildstyle Method" and "Teleport Massive" are songs I haven't heard at a Bassnectar set in a really long time, and those songs are why I like Lorin's style.
Black Keys- Cunningly deemed “Black Friday” among Lollapalooza attendees, Friday’s lineup featured legendary metal heads Black Sabbath as well as The Black Keys. The Black Keys have been killing it on the festival scene this year, headlining Coachella, Lollapalooza, selling out everything on their tour including multiple nights at Madison Square Garden; this band knows what it takes to play a show and they do it consistently. With their brazen rock and roll sound and a set list featuring favorites such as “Girl is on My Mind”, “Thickfreakness”, and opening with “Howlin’ For You” – the thousands of people dancing their asses off was a testimony of how amazing this band really is.
You can check out videos from all the major names on Lollapalooza's YouTube site here!