Lollapalooza Breakdown: Take the Good with the Bad

Alright you Lollapalooza’ers, or Lolla’ers, or whatever the hell you want to call yourselves, the weekend is now over and it is time to break it down.

Lolla weekend is never short of entertainment… and I’m not talking about the music. This year, the festival reached a record-setting 300,000 visitors. 300 thousand people came to experience the crazy event which they call Lollapalooza.

It is pretty remarkable to think about that many people all in one place to listen to music. What is even more remarkable is how everybody that you know seems to find each other in one place for the duration of the weekend.  Its almost like Grant Park is a giant piece of land that is claimed by different settling tribes throughout the weekend and the population of those tribes just gets larger and larger as the days go on.

Where was my tribe, you ask? Well, I am from the North Shore of Chicago, which claimed the entire right side of the Perry’s stage. For those of you who went to the festival and are from my area, you know exactly what I am talking about. But let’s save that for another day.

With such commotion going on in one place, it is hard to believe that everybody survives until Sunday night. Today, as I was unpacking my bags, I found it relatively surprising that I had everything that I went down there with. I have my phone, my wallet (although not lost, all of my money is gone), my clothes, and everything else that I didn’t want to lose. To me, that is a success in its own.

So even within all of that commotion and craziness, there was still a thing called music, even though many of us like to forget about that part. Lets dive in and take a look at the good and the bad from this weekend’s wild music festival: Lollapalooza.

The Good

As NBA analyst Jalen Rose would say, “Got to give the peopleee, give the people what they want”. That is first off what mother nature and the city of Chicago did for the festival this weekend. Blessed with sunshine and blue skies for most of the weekend, the biggest surprise of all may have come on Friday when the heavens looked upon us and said, “Chi-town, your welcome” and continued to blow the thunderstorm that was supposed to hit right past us. No rain. No mess. No damage done.

As for the music, Friday hosted two performances that lay claim to two of my top four shows of the weekend. Those performances were made by Imagine Dragons and Steve Aoki. Now I didn’t see all of the shows nor do I have the same opinion as everybody else, but in my mind, these two concerts were exceptional in their own ways. I am not a big alternative rock guy, but Imagine Dragons gave me a little taste of what they can bring to the table. These guys had the crowd into it and performed much like they sound on the radio. Well done.

As for Steve Aoki, let’s talk about a guy who just loves to party. Night time at the Perry’s stage is just that. He put on a great show featuring all of his hits and brought on guest star, Lil’ Jon to help rock the stage. There is something about electronic music and the light shows that go with them at night.

On Saturday, there is not much more to be said besides: Good Kid, M.a.a.d City. Chicago raised it to another level for that man Kendrick Lamar. Not to mention that maybe the most underrated performer of the weekend gave the crowd a great show just prior to K-Dot coming on stage: Ellie Goulding. She was terrific. I’m now a fan. Topping off the night were Steve Angello and Mumford & Sons. Thoughts will come later on these…

Last but not least, Sunday was topped off with a couple of surprise performances. Nobody really had much hope for the last day of Lollapalooza but it turned out to offer much more than expected. Starting off, though I did not see them, I heard that Vampire Weekend put on a great show.

Next was the most anticipated concert of the day: 2 Chainzzzzzzzzzz. Going in with as low of expectations as possible for this guy, he performed right up to par. Blasting the stupidest form of rap out of the speakers, 2 Chainz was in form Sunday night. Anybody who went to this concert was not disappointed. Topping off the night was a DJ unknown to me, but famous to many others, in Knife Party. The performance was a pretty typical electronic show, but capped off the weekend well. It took an above average performance to make me want to keep listening to electronic music on Sunday at 8:45, and that is luckily what Knife Party gave me.

The Bad

Now for the bad. Based on my interpretation of the good from Lolla, you would think that there was no bad. Well, that is somewhat true. The festival was very strong and offered far more good than bad, but there were still moments that had me scratching my head.

First, the bad has to start with all of the kids (and adults) who did things that put themselves in the hospital by the end of the night. Far too many people were not well equipped to handle this weekend and it showed. My thoughts are out there for anybody that is still suffering because of it. Lollapalooza is a lot to handle and if you don’t know what you are doing, you could very easily end up being one of these people. That is all I will say about that.

In terms of the music, I might be the only fish in this pond, but I thought that Steve Angello and Mumford were both unimpressive based on what I was expecting. I went to both of these concerts and I was expecting both to be some of the best performances of the weekend… and I can’t say that they were. On Saturday, I believe that Ellie and Kendrick stole the show, leaving the “headliners” to dust.

I will say that I probably needed to take each show with a grain of salt. Mumford has a very slow approach to their music and it is not a concert that you should go to if you want fast. I think that they did a pretty good job of entertaining the crowd, but I saw more bored faces there than anywhere else. Maybe it was just me, maybe it wasn’t, but I think that they underperformed.

For Steve Angello, I was expecting a much more involved show. The beats and the music were both fantastic, but what do DJ’s need to be at a performance for if they are just going to stand behind a computer and hit play? I think that he needed to interact with the crowd some more and change it up. I found myself bored at times even with that type of music. I had high expectations for the former Swedish House Mafia member, and he did not quite meet that level. Again, maybe it’s just me, but that is what I saw.

Maybe the biggest personal disappointment from the weekend came on Friday, though, as Chance the Rapper took stage. Chance has come on as of late and has become one of my favorite rappers, but his show on Friday was very unimpressive. I had heard that he performs well in concert, but it did not show. Although he was not great, Lolla set him up to fail by providing him with the smallest stage in the park relative to the amount of fans that showed up. Nonetheless, I did not stay for the entire Chance concert, which will say something about how he was doing. Shame.

Wrap Up

All in all, Lollapalooza gave everybody some great memories as always. I will say that the festival needs to hit a home run next year and bring in a big time entertainer each night if they want to maintain credibility as the best of the best. I think that this year there was some definite talent up on those stages, but there was a lack of depth for sure. If Lolla can manage to bring back Kanye, or get a guy like Jay Z or Timberlake to show up each night, this festival could turn into something crazy. I am definitely bias towards rappers and DJs and am not showing love to the bands the way I should be, but based on my personal standpoint, the depth needs to improve.

Much like any team, you can have your superstars, but when those superstars are on the bench you still need to put on a show…

Lollapalooza, until next year…


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