Lollapalooza is my favorite weekend of the year. It’s like my birthday, spring break and Christmas all rolled into one. It’s the place I get to see all of my favorite (and next favorite) bands all at once, and for someone who loves alternative music as much as I do, this is heaven on earth.
For the past 3 years now, I’ve somehow managed to make it to Lolla, even when my summers are unpredictable and I have no idea where I’m going to be. This year, I didn’t even buy tickets until the week of (and on Thursday, I bought a Thursday pass the day of for $30), and got to go on Thursday, Saturday and Sunday. It’s 100% worth it to me. I strategize my entire schedule around which bands are playing at what times, and this often causes dilemmas (Arcade Fire vs. Justice), but if you do it right, you can see a solid 6 or 7 shows in one day. Now multiply that by 4….I’ll let you do the math, since I can’t do math.
And now it’s Monday, which means no more Lolla-land and back to reality. But that doesn’t mean the Lolla fun has to stop at work. Every year, I create a Post-Lolla Playlist compiling the best songs from the bands I saw, so I can re-live the memories of Cage the Elephant crowdsurfing from my desk at work.
In order of appearance as I saw them at Lollapalooza:
Day 1 (Thursday)
I hadn’t planned on Thursday since I knew I had to work, and it wasn’t worth going at 5 for a pass at full value. BUT my coworker wasn’t able to sell her pass, and I took it off her hands for $30. Super worth it. I sprinted from work to my apartment, underwent a transformation, and then showed up in time to see Cage the Elephant start their set.
Cage the Elephant, “Cold Cold Cold”
Cage the Elephant was incredible. They gave an energetic performance (which is crucial for an outdoor festival like Lolla), with the frontman running back and forth and even jumping into the crowd. I think they might’ve dropped him. Oh, well. This song was my favorite of the night.
Spoon, “Do I Have To Talk You Into It?”
I was literally walking by the stage without any clue that Spoon was performing on it, but I heard them playing this song and was like, wow, who is this? They sound awesome. Turns out it was Spoon, and while I’m obviously not a knowledgeable fan, I still really enjoyed their show.
Muse, “Dig Down”
GOD I LOVE MUSE. They were actually my first concert ever my sophomore year of high school, and even though I stopped listening to them as they came out with their newer albums, I was impressed with this new single that they opened with at Lolla. We watched them in the pouring rain, and they killed it for a few songs before the thunderstorm finally came and we had to evacuate the festival. I was beyond bummed, but grateful I got to see them perform at least a little bit.
Day 2 (Saturday…skipped Friday due to work)
Was super salty that I had to miss the Killers on Friday, but Saturday made up for it.
The Shelters, “Gold”
Possibly my favorite song of the weekend. The Shelters were a 12:45 p.m. show, a slot usually for smaller-up-and-coming acts, and I am always blown away every year by at least one band that I hadn’t heard of before. They had three guitarists and performed with the energy that I sometimes only see in those smaller bands.
Alvvays, “Archie, Marry Me”
Not my favorite, I’ll be honest, but my friend was a fan and no one else in the group had a preference on any of the shows playing at that time, so we went over to Alvvays. They were chill, and I liked their sound, but the vibe was probably too chill for me. I tend to like the head-bangers at festivals, but that’s just me.
Colony House, “You & I”
We got to the front row for this one, since they were playing at a puny stage. They were great. “You & I” is probably my favorite new song from the weekend. It’s just so swingy and beachy and dance-y. They also were one of those bands that sound the same live as they do in-studio. Normally I have a slight distaste for bands that sound too mainstream alternative, but Colony House was pretty decent.
Alison Wonderland, “I Want U”
That said, I was tired of the swingy, beachy alternative bands at this point, so we took a break and stopped by Perry’s (the notorious EDM stage frequented by the high school crowd). Unfortunately I could not tell you what exactly we were listening to. I can tell you that I’m pretty sure this song was something I heard. I think. I was kind of distracted by the flames shooting out of the stage.
The Head and the Heart, “Library Magic”
In the middle of the show, I turned to the group and was like, “I like these guys.” Which was surprising, because this isn’t a band I listen to. I’m just not a folk fan. But I was impressed by the artistry of each band member, since they played actual instruments like the piano and the violin. I guess it’s hard to follow Alison Wonderland with a violin, but they made it work, and I had an awesome time. We also made it onto the jumbotron.
Chance the Rapper, “Chain Smoker”
Ah, Chance. I saw him 5 years ago, when he performed at my college (I saw him for free, since I worked on the concert committee) on his Acid Rap tour. Then he blew up overnight, and I was seeing him performing on SNL. WTF. Seeing him in Chicago was a surreal experience, since Chicago is his hometown and the crowd was absolutely packed. I chose “Chain Smoker” for this list because I got to see Chance perform it twice– first early in his career at an auditorium on a college campus, and then at the pinnacle of his career, with a field filled with passionate fans.
I have honestly never felt such unity in a crowd. Chance should probably start his own church. We all were just happy and having fun listening to great music. And that’s all you can ask for in a music festival.
Day 3 (Sunday)
I was exhausted at this point, but ready for one last round. I was most excited for this day of the three– if I hadn’t found passes for cheap, I would’ve splurged on just Sunday. The main dilemma of the day, of course, was Arcade Fire vs. Justice, since both played at the same time. Read on to find out what we chose…
Car Seat Headrest
Whoops, we missed that one…
The Shins, “Australia”
The Shins were alright. They made me happy. They were fun. I think I spent the show mostly dancing around and getting excited for Justice (or Arcade Fire?).
Grouplove was our most anticipated act of the day, and thankfully we made it to this one, because they did not disappoint. While I love their classics like “Colours” and “Tongue Tied,” what really won me over was their cover of The Beastie Boys’ “Sabotage.” I am a sucker for covers.
Justice was FIRE. I can’t even pick just one song because they blended everything so seamlessly and beautifully that it was like hearing everything for the first time. Which is hard for an electronic artist to do, since the songs are all produced electronically and basically sound the same live or not.
Arcade Fire, “Wake Up”
Surprise! We saw both Arcade Fire and Justice, since we couldn’t bring ourselves to choose. We tore ourselves away from Justice when Arcade Fire had 20 minutes left in their set, and made it back to see plenty of Arcade do their thing. Wake Up isn’t normally my favorite Arcade Fire song, but this was just absolutely perfect for a Lolla setting. The crowd went nuts. And it was such a bonus that we made it there after Justice.