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Five Reasons Why Lollapalooza 2013 Was Absolutely Fantabulous

Veronica Werhane |
August 5, 2013 | 4:40 p.m. PDT

Senior Arts Editor

As a Chicago native and first-time Lolla-er, not knowing what to expect from the legendary music festival yet having heard endless testimony to the greatness of Lollapalooza made for an eager and excited festival-goer (that would be me).

After three days of spectacular music, non-stop entertainment and pure fun, it became abundantly clear why nearly 300,000 people flood Grant Park for three days straight in the sweltering Chicago summer every year. It wasn’t just the amazing musical performances — although the performances themselves are reason enough to go. There were several highlights of Lollapalooza that made it extra enjoyable for guests, which I believe are worth sharing.

Ellie Goulding took the Bud Light Stage at Lollapalooza in Grant Park in Chicago (Veronica Werhane/Neon Tommy)
Ellie Goulding took the Bud Light Stage at Lollapalooza in Grant Park in Chicago (Veronica Werhane/Neon Tommy)

1. The Venue

If you’ve never been to Chicago or visited Grant Park, you should add that to your to-do list ASAP. If you have, then you know how beautiful it is with Buckingham Fountain in the center surrounded by the breathtaking Chicago skyline.

Lollapalooza is set up with eight stages spaced far enough apart so that sounds don’t clash and so that there is plenty of room for thousands of guests to enjoy every show. Every stage has a piece of the skyline as a backdrop, so festival-goers get an added aesthetic bonus of Chicago architecture behind each and every performance.

I’ve never been to other music festivals like Bonaroo or Coachella, which I’ve also heard are a lot of fun, but you really can’t beat the Chicago skyline as a scenic backdrop. You feel like you are in the heart of the city yet you and your fellow Lolla-ers are on a private island separate from the rest of the world. Thus, Lollapalooza united the best of both worlds: good old Chicago and Lolla-land all in one.

2. A+ Food

While most Lolla-ers come to enjoy the music (and rightly so) everyone needs fuel at some point to sustain them for hours of nonstop walking, dancing, singing, jumping, etc. And to me (a huge foodie), access to good food was second only to music in level of importance. Well, Lollapalooza did Chicago proud. After all, this city is known for its killer culinary chops, a reputation well earned by several top chefs and renowned restaurants.

Several top notch food establishments served up delicious food at Lollapalooza (Veronica Werhane/Neon Tommy)
Several top notch food establishments served up delicious food at Lollapalooza (Veronica Werhane/Neon Tommy)
In a city famous for jus-soaked Italian beef sandwiches, mile-high cheesecake and deep dish pizza so dense it makes sturdy paper plates look like napkins, Lollapalooza had dozens of healthy, fresh and local food options to appeal to every taste bud and culinary preference and accommodate those who didn’t want calorie-laden festival fare. And this was not a lackadaisical attempt.

Organic, vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free, soy-free, peanut-free, dairy-free, non-GMO, local, raw options were all represented at the festival. From a 37 year-old family-run mushroom farm outside of Chicago serving up vegan and gluten-free portabella tamales made with non-GMO masa to all-natural and nitrite-free bacon sausage served on a stick or between a pretzel bun with seasonal veggies and Templeton Rye Whiskey BBQ Sauce, Lollapalooza’s grub hubs were definitely not lacking.

Of course, Chicago classics like Lou Malnati’s deep-dish pizza and Original Rainbow Cone were in attendance, as were buzzworthy establishments like Bar Toma and Billy Goat Tavern & Grill. Since good food is so important to me at a festival (or any event), Lollapalooza’s plethora of fine food joints scored triple bonus points in my book.

3. Mutually Beneficial Sponsors

Camelbak and Samsung Galaxy were among the sponsors of Lollapalooza, and both promoted themselves in ways that were not only fun but were also a huge help to guests. Camelbak set up free water refill stations throughout the park where guests could refill their water bottles, which was much appreciated after spending hours in the sun each day. Lucky for everyone it was below 80 degrees all weekend (in past years it’s reached 100+ degrees) and only rained briefly on Friday, but dehydration certainly does not discriminate.

The Samsung Galaxy Experience at Lollapalooza on August 2, 2013 in Chicago (Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images for Samsung Galaxy)
The Samsung Galaxy Experience at Lollapalooza on August 2, 2013 in Chicago (Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images for Samsung Galaxy)
The Samsung Galaxy Experience offered customers charging stations for their mobile devices, which were bound to lose battery after being out for several hours. They even offered complimentary fruit popsicles as a refreshing pick-me-up, which I’m sure made a lot of overheated people very happy.

4. Mile-High Steel Fence

Surely there are creative ways to sneak into festivals. I don’t have that rule-breaker confidence; therefore I know that if I were to try, I would be the one who gets caught. That said, there are many people in this world who live on the edge and bend the rules successfully. These people are also likely to sneak into places without getting caught.

However, Lollapalooza would not be one of them—at least not this year. Lollapalooza’s festival organizer C3 Presents brought a new addition to the festival this year, erecting eight-foot steel fences around the festival grounds to ensure that nobody would be hopping over; and certainly deterred many who thought about it. The security system as a whole was tight and secure, and clearly much thought has been put into improving security for the festival grounds. The security team members were no-nonsense and efficient, but they were also extremely friendly and fair to patrons.

After eight years of Lolla, it’s not surprising security seemed to run like a well-oiled machine. I was still grateful, though, for the hard work that allowed all of us festival-goers to have a good time while feeling safe. I give a huge tip of my hat to the Lolla security, staff and volunteers. The medical team, too, since I know they can get very busy with intoxicated guests, injuries from fights, and other medical emergencies.

As the daughter of a nurse, I am extremely appreciative of medical teams at events like Lollapalooza, since they help so many people and know exactly what to do in emergency situations. Most of us walk right past the medical tents without thinking twice, but they sure did a heck of a lot of work to keep us all safe this year, and I’m sure they did in years past.

Dada Life entertained thousands at Perry's Stage at Lollapalooza on Saturday (Veronica Werhane/Neon Tommy)
Dada Life entertained thousands at Perry's Stage at Lollapalooza on Saturday (Veronica Werhane/Neon Tommy)
5. The Music

As I said before, this point alone is enough to deem Lollapalooza 2013 a grand slam. As a festival that started out featuring less-known artists, Lolla sure has come a long way in mixing up the performances to showcase talents across the board. Day One was flooded by Lolla-ers before noon to see opening artists, who were joined by more guests as the day went on. Be it calmly rocking side-to-side in the (relative) peacefulness toward the back of the crowd or shoved up against the metal barriers in the front row singing their hearts out, festival-goers enjoyed every note of the music played by all kinds of artists from a variety of different music genres. Kendrick Lamar and 2 Chainz shined in the rap spotlight, while Lana Del Rey, Imagine Dragons, Icona Pop and Phoenix attracted huge audiences.

Eric Church drew a big crowd of those craving country music, as did Mumford & Sons, who headlined this year after playing as an opener a few years ago. Big names like Ellie Goulding, Queens of the Stone Age, The Postal Service and The Killers also entertained large audiences.

DJs were not neglected, either. In fact, they seemed to draw some of the bigger crowds. Even people who were unfamiliar with some of the DJs gravitated set after set to Perry’s Stage to listen to the nuclear-level bass drops and rage-worthy sets. Dillon Francis put on an energetic performance on Friday, as did Steve Aoki on Saturday, who was joined by surprise guest Lil’ Jon for their collaborative hit “Turbulence”. Dada Life was humorous and upbeat on Saturday, which brought a lot of energy and fun into the crowd. Skrillex and Boys Noize teamed up as Dog Blood on Sunday before Major Lazer took the stage, followed by Knife Party as the headliner.

See the full slideshow here:

As a first timer I wanted to soak in the full Lollapalooza experience to see what Chicago’s biggest music festival had to offer, and Lolla sure didn’t let me down. The performances were top notch and entertainment was never in low supply, but the added bonuses of Lolla-land made the festival all the more enjoyable. A well-fed, well-hydrated and aesthetically pleased person makes for a happy festival-goer, and Lollapalooza definitely made that happen. I’m already looking forward to next year’s festival, and I encourage all to experience Lolla-land in 2014.

Read more of NT's music festival coverage here.

Reach Senior Arts Editor Veronica Werhane here. Follow Veronica on Twitter here.



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