By Jim Easterhouse
On the 25th anniversary of Lollapalooza, I renewed my vows to annually attend Chicago’s most illustrious music festival. It had been three years since I last strapped on my crimson Camelbak and voyaged to Grant Park for a weekend of spectating some of the most riveting artists in the music industry. And although some elements of the festival remained intact – teenagers still sported countless retro basketball jerseys – the additions of a tilt-a-whirl, a wine lounge, and a mammoth indoor merch complex were among some of the clear changes I noticed since my last rodeo. Throughout this four day journey, however, Lollapalooza once again proved to me that its stellar and diverse lineup remains the most engaging attraction amongst the abundance of other features it offers annually.
That was only accentuated by a collective like LCD Soundsystem headlining the tail end of Lollapalooza’s historically first four day festival. Even being that LCD had been listed on Lollapalooza’s stacked lineup for months, it was tough for me to fathom that I, along with thousands of other awed attendees, would be able to witness the resurrection of such an eclectic and supremely talented bunch. Seeing so many fans donning “Back From The Dead” LCD Soundsystem shirts was a constant reminder that the band technically announced their retirement as a collective long before even the last year I was at Lollapalooza. Witnessing live renditions of “I Can Change” and other tracks that I have heard on XRT airwaves for years made the set that much more surreal. To me, the thrill of seeing LCD Soundsystem encapsulated the excitement that so many Lollapalooza attendees experienced throughout the entire week. That, and the pleasure of finally devouring a lobster corndog.
And while the thought of experiencing artists like LCD Soundsystem, Radiohead, Jane’s Addiction, Leon Bridges, and many more was pedestaled in the minds of many attendees throughout the week, their zeal stemming from Lollapalooza simply being in town was evoked throughout countless other interactions. While handing out free fanny packs at Block 37 and outside the Chicago Athletic Association for the Pepsi Pop Up Parties and while raffling four day Lollapalooza passes at the Topo Chico Last Chance for Lolla event at the Jewel Osco on Wabash Avenue, visitors adamantly talked about which artists they’d be seeing this weekend, and hoped that they’d pick up the lucky fanny pack with tickets to the XRT Nathaniel Rateliff aftershow on Friday night. I really appreciated listening to so many attendees relish about the several opportunities they had to see dozens of artists that they really valued listening to.
I reveled in that opportunity on Saturday evening while watching Grimes. I flashed back to blasting “Flesh Without Blood” while listening to Jason Thomas on The Big Beat last Monday. Connecting her energizing set at the Lakeshore Stage to hearing her song during XRT’s pre-festival coverage reminded me of how much emotion and energy so many Lollapalooza attendees devote before, during, and after each festival. After how fulfilling her set and several others were this weekend, my anticipation and appreciation of August 3-6, 2017, has certainly been renewed.