Have you ever heard the old adage “Write your diary about the festival when your memory is bestival”? No, probably not, because it is weirdly specific and I just made it up. But that little tidbit of wisdom describes perfectly my situation for writing my Diary of an Intern post about Lollapalooza’s 20th birthday. It’s been roughly two weeks since the epic weekend of Lolla and as a result, so I’ll do my best to recount just how great that weekend was.
Lollapalooza and I are the same age, and the older and older we get, the more I recognize the importance of celebrating birthdays with those that are important to you. Lolla is definitely something whose birthday I won’t ever forget to celebrate. This year was my third straight Lollapalooza and as the years have gone by, the venue has grown and the experience has improved. Last year the festival expanded across Columbus giving itself an even larger amount of space to accommodate this year’s record setting attendance of 270,000.
Friday:I worked the morning shift on Friday morning, arrived at the XRT office at 8:30 and we caravaned over to Grant Park to set up the XRT Lounge. Located between Jackson and the fountain, the XRT Lounge was right in the shade with a bunch of lawn chairs, a phone charging tent, a tent to give away our free XRT headbands, and a misting tent. As we were setting up our area with the rest of Grant Park empty and still being set up, Chris Martin and the boys of Coldplay took to the Bud Light stage for a sound check. As they played their rendition of “Every Teardrop is a Waterfall”, I knew it was going to be a solid weekend. After a long 9:30 to 3:30 shift at the charging tent and handing out free neon headbands to the hundreds of enthusiastic concertgoers, me and the morning crew immediately headed over to the south end of the festival to be greeted by a jam-packed Sony stage for Foster the People. We got there pretty late in the set, but just in time to hear a cover of the Neil Young classic “Heart of Gold” followed by their hit “Pumped Up Kicks” which sent the crowd into a swaying, dancing, party. After Foster the People, it was a trip to the beer tent, then back over to the Google+ stage to see the new indie darlings Cults who put on a fantastic showas the the sun started to dip behind the skyscrapers of the Chicago Skyline. As the night wore on, we went back to the XRT Lounge to relax and say hello to our co-interns who were still stuck working and then went over to the headlining set of Coldplay. I won’t lie to you, I am not the world’s biggest Coldplay fan. However, when those four guys get on stage at a stage as epic as the Lollapalooza headlining set they put on a show. The lights, the songs and the feeling of Grant Park at night made for a great end to night one.
Saturday: No work for Pat on Saturday, so I got there at a leisurely 2 o’clock in the afternoon, stopped by the XRT Lounge to say hello and then went and flew solo for a little while. Saw the punk band Black Lips at the Playstation stage, caught a few minutes of Fitz and the Tantrums over at Music Unlimited, then got together with some friends to see the Drums at Google+. At 5 when some more intern friends got off work, we rushed Google+ over to Sony to see one of my favorite acts of the weekend, Local Natives. I had seen them once before, and they did not disappoint this year at Lolla. Also if any of my diary readers can answer this question for me, who was their bass player? He was definitely not their regular bassist, he appeared to be very young, and he was wearing a New Trier High School hat and shorts. So in my head, he was just a kid they pulled out of the crowd, which is the coolest thing ever. Lykke Li at Google+ followed Local Natives and we interns enjoyed it in the shade with a supply of some delicious Bud Light Limes (thanks Shane). The night ended with My Morning Jacket, yet another fantastic headliner on the Bud Light Stage. Day two, in the books.
Sunday:The last day of Lollapalooza 2011 started off as my sister, fellow intern Sue and I watched Noah and the Whale in the blistering heat. The band put on a incredible, high energy show, despite the fact that they were all dressed in three piece suits, which must have been brutal given the temperature. But they looked classy as hell, so mission accomplished. After their set, I had to go over to the tent and start my night shift from 3:30 to 9:30. The day continued along as usual, charging phones, handing out headbands to the masses until about 6 o’clock. Coming in from the north side of downtown were some of the most ominous looking clouds I had seen. We all kept our fingers crossed that it would pass and for a while it was looking as though it would. But Mother Nature had other plans, and the downpour soon came. Everyone headed into the tent for cover, until a corner of our fence had fallen and people started jumping over it and continuing to knock it down. That’s when me and Marty, one of the Promotions Assistants went out to kick some butt and take some names. Let me just say, Marty is a badass, and would not allow anyone to exit anywhere except the designated exit. Well done sir, well done.
After the first showers stopped, the day continued on its regular path. We could hear some of the music coming from the Bud Light stage so when Nas and Damian Marley went on at 6:15, we jammed around the XRT area. As the night wore on, all of us working began to get a little antsy and wanted to go enjoy the festivals last evening. Right around 8 o’clock our minds were taken elsewhere as the second round of storms hit downtown Chicago. DeadmauFive took the stage about the same time and as the rain barreled down, we could hear the unwavering dance beat coming from the Bud Light stage. We started to pack everything up as the rain continued which made the process even more difficult, but we eventually got off work at 9ish and went to enjoy Lollapalooza’s last hour. The four of us interns who had gotten off work (plus one who just wanted to tag along) made our way, soaking wet, across the festival to the south stage to catch a few minutes of Foo Fighters. After 20 minutes, we parted ways and some of us went one way, some went another. Walking out of Lollapalooza has for a long time been the moment at which I mark the end of summer. After that, most of my friends end up leaving for school pretty soon and even though I still have some time to sit at home by myself, Lolla always seems like the proper ending. As I stopped at Subway on my way out and then walked back to the Metra, everything was perfect. I could not have been happier about how Lollapalooza and I celebrated 20 great years of being around. Can’t wait to go big for 21 with ya next year, Lolla.