Lollapalooza is a festival like no other. Set in Grant Park, Chicago’s “front-yard,” it’s a four-day long assault on the mind, the body, and the eardrums. The space itself is large — a mile separates the two main stages — and the lineup is immense. To see all of the many standout acts on the bill is to pay in sore feet, mild dehydration, and an aching spine. For four days, I dragged my slowly disintegrating body all around Grant Park, walking miles and miles and miles each day, all in the pursuit of that indescribable catharsis that drives people who truly live for live music. Lollapalooza isn’t for everyone, but for the ones who it resonates, there’s hardly anything better in the world.
Placing enthusiasm before practicality, I arrived downtown just as the gates were opening on the first day so that I could catch an early one-two punch of Evanston rapper Kweku Collins and vintage rock throwback White Reaper. No regrets at all, they were both fantastic. Things were going well right up until Liam Gallagher’s set. The Oasis front man was making a rare solo appearance in America and drew a pretty impressive-sized crowd out to the main stage late in the afternoon.
Liam opened with “Rock N Roll Star” and then segued into “Morning Glory.” I was totally in my element. The same could not be said of the man onstage. Gallagher clearly seemed pissed off about something. Some posited that it was an “I Love You Noel” sign out in the crowd, alluding to his estranged brother, but he claims it was the state of his voice following a gig the night before. Just 20 minutes after he arrived, he walked out with nary an explanation. The crowd began to chant “F**k Noel” to entice him to come back out, but it was to no avail. It was a bummer, sure, but such is the reality you face when you place your hopes with one of the most volatile presences in rock from the past two decades.