"Lollapalooza not cutting edge but it's still a remarkable rock fest | GoRockfest.Com - The Latest Rockfest, Artist's Live News"
Ted Cox | Daily Herald Staff
Ted Cox | Daily Herald Staff
Something kicked in for me last year at Lollapalooza - as a fan and as a media professional.
Assigned to get some local comments from suburban concertgoers, I was having the darnedest time finding any. Frustrating as that was, as I chatted idly with several out-of-towners who stepped in for a few moments to get out of the rain under the same concession-stand roof where I was holed up, it was kind of remarkable, too.
When I saw a guy with a T-shirt from Hot Doug's, the North Side Chicago gourmet hot-dog emporium, I figured he had to be a local. Yet he turned out to be from Hobart - and not Indiana, but Australia. He was doing the grand tour all Australians do when they save up enough time and money to finally get off the island, and he had swung down from Toronto just to attend Lollapalooza and, not coincidentally, have some of our city's finest food.
What can I say? The guy had great taste.
So that's when I had my epiphany. The world had come to Chicago to see one of the biggest concert festivals on the planet. Despite the rain, Grant Park served as a wonderful setting for the several stages, and the skyline made for a beautiful backdrop.
So I surrendered to Lollapalooza.
For all its flaws, and how it no longer serves the rebellious purpose it did in its original design as a traveling extravaganza and freak-show rallying point - usually a sacred cause for rock critics - Lollapalooza is still a remarkable festival, and a source of pride for the Chicago area.
It could be held anywhere, but instead this year it celebrates its fifth anniversary centrally located in Chicago when it starts up Friday, Aug. 6, with no sign of moving on any time soon.
So there'll be no kvetching here about the promotional stages or the ticket prices ($90 a day or $215 for all three) or the headliners both trendy (Lady Gaga) and tiresome (Soundgarden) - or even the continued lack of Wussy on the bill (the best unheard band in the land). Sure, the Pitchfork Music Festival has more indie cred, and there are any of several concert venues in the area where it's better to hunker down and immerse yourself in a favorite band's music. Yet Lollapalooza is still a terrific opportunity to see a gaggle of bands for the money, and a way to experience the old Woodstock rock-festival sense of community - as it exists in the 21st century.
If it's more commercial than Woodstock ever was, there are trade-offs, like the food this year organized by Graham Elliot Bowles and including pork belly from Big Star, sliders from Kuma's Corner and Graham Elliot's own lobster corn dog - fare Wavy Gravy and his hog farmers could never have dreamed of.
So if the entire world wants to come to Lollapalooza, that gives locals all the more reason to take advantage of it. It might not be "our" festival, but it's chosen our city as its home, and who can take issue with that good sense?
What: Dozens of bands and disc jockeys, with headliners Lady Gaga, Green Day and Soundgarden
Where: Grant Park, Chicago. Main festival entrance is on East Congress Plaza Drive off Michigan Avenue.
When: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday, Aug. 6, through Sunday, Aug. 8
Tickets: $90 a day, $215 for a three-day pass, available at Lollapalooza.com
Getting there: Parking is available beneath the park in underground garages, but your best bet is likely public transportation. Check metrarail.com for schedules.