Complain about Lollapalooza for being too corporate, too big, too money hungry, too overrun with kids on molly, or played out. Find fault in the festival’s radius clause that makes it hard for clubs to book bands in the summer. Scoff at the promoters’ ability to avoid paying taxes for the first few years that the fest was in Chicago. That said, one thing has never changed in the 25 years since Perry Farrell started Lollapalooza – they still put on a hell of a show.
In celebration of Lolla’s silver anniversary, a fourth day was added, which seemed like a bit much. By Day 4, those who had been there for the duration were sunburnt, dehydrated, glazed over, and more than a little bit spent. And yet, some of the best sets of the weekend were on Sunday with Haim, LCD Soundsystem, Fidlar, Halsey, Third Eye Blind, Bryson Tiller, and Vince Staples delivering noteworthy performances.
One saving grace of the fourth day, which organizers have now confirmed will be permanent, was a lack of huge conflicts that we’ve seen in year’s past. Things were better spaced out, headliners tended to swing one style to the other on opposite ends of the park, so people could map out their schedule more effectively and take their time getting from stage to stage.
As an eight-year veteran, I still walked a lot (my Fitbit registered at just under 47 total miles from Thursday to Sunday); I just didn’t have the sprints I’ve had in other years where I’m panting, discombobulated, and frantically trying to remember the lyrics to the songs I ran over to see in the first place.
What Lolla has always done well is bridge the gap between generations. Sure, the festival belongs to the teens now (and that’s okay!), and it’s getting harder and harder for those older fans who have made the weekend an annual outing to avoid the throngs of retro jersey-clad individuals who party aggressively and end up with no spacial awareness or ability to act on a human level. But there’s still something magical about younger fans who maybe are discovering a band for the first time that influenced all the groups they listen to now.
Hearing kids on the train say “Jane’s Addiction is one of those ‘old’ bands – they’re pretty good though,” or watching girls hop around enthusiastically to “Dance Yrself Clean” the same way they would at a Marshmello set, is incredible. It speaks to what Lollapalooza has tried to do for 25 years, and it’s hard not to think about those new parents who went to the very first Lollapalooza bringing their own kids to the festival – complete with huge headphones to help block out the noise – to share their love of music and pass it on.
Here are a few highlights from the weekend, in no particular order.
Harambe Would Have Loved Lolla
I’m going to try and explain this the best I possibly can: Lollapalooza has always had an element of “what in the heck is going on” to it, it was the perfect place for the now-internet meme Harambe to thrive. All four days, there were people with signs and shirts for Harambe. One guy even had a blowup doll with Harambe’s face on it. Modern Baseball dedicated their dang set to him. And all throughout the weekend people just yelled “Harambe” whenever they felt like it.
Wherever Harambe is right now, I’m sure he’s smiling down on all of us, and even he had to love seeing Joey Purp randomly bring out Twista to perform “Overnight Celebrity.”