Entering Chicago for the first time in my life, and being relatively constricted to suburbia for majority of my time on Earth, the view of the skyline looming in the background of I-94 was overwhelming. I was awestruck and under-prepared with the bustle of the city. Hell, a Hispanic man nearly ran me into the concrete median on the freeway while I was staring like a wide-eyed child.
Opening day of Lollapalooza in the historic Grant Park was even more of a breath taking and exhausting spectacle.
The day started early with a press conference led by festival founder and Jane’s Addiction frontman Perry Ferrell, commemorating the 20th anniversary of the festival, followed by a handful of supporting speakers commenting on the shows enhancements over the years.
There was still plenty of time to kill before the bands flooded the eight stages scattered on the park grounds, so Kevin Romanchik and I decided to take a stroll from one end to the other to get a lay of the land, approximately a mile hike.
We did this several times over the next fourteen hours.
The sun was already burning greater than the muscles in my inner thighs by high noon when British newcomers The Vaccines took the Music Unlimited Stage, one of two larger showcases. Immediately realizing their music did not translate well to a live setting, we shuffled across the park to catch Young the Giant on the Bud Light Stage, the other main stage on the complete opposite side of the field.
Instant gratification came when Young the Giant entered into their youthful catalog. The bands tunes were executed with perfection, and the songs I was unfamiliar with had me tapping my feet and clapping my hands like the already-topless Jersey Shore look-alikes flocked in front of me.
I think after this I blacked out walking down the street for a 45-minute period while watching the Naked and Famous. While I was looking forward to seeing the New Zealand bands dark electro-rock performance. I have no shame in admitting I spent a high portion of the day shuffling my feet like a zombie, running into any of the roughly 100 thousand goons like myself in attendance.
Ill prepared, the 3 p.m. set by Foster the People got me back on my feet. Performing their album ‘Torches’ on shuffle, their high-energy, danceable set had a sea of fans fist-pumping and singing along about their pumped up kicks.
After the heart-pumping show, I passed out face first in the grass somewhere and heard White Lies in the background moaning about death, love, and the death of love. White Lies is a band I do like, but not one that I love, and certainly not one beyond me ripping on their unoriginality and sometimes agonizing lyrics of typical heartbreak and post-relationship tears.
By 5 p.m., the sun was still kicking our asses and we needed to get some real food in us, not just the organic vegan granola and almond bars in the media lounge. We wanted to get a giant, grease-drenched gourmet burger to represent the entire city of Chicago out on the strip mall of food tents.
That line was way too long, so we settled on a bao.
What the expletive is a bao? I still don’t know, and I ate two of them. Imagine if you squeezed a stress ball until it exploded spicy beef stroganoff by way of Laos.