The logistics behind a festival like Lollapalooza are mind-boggling. It's more than just securing the line-up, although that alone is an epic task. No matter who you select to perform, some will love it, some will hate it, and all will have suggestions on who you should have chosen instead and who you should have next time. Then you have to worry about things like food, drink, safety, port-o-potties, first aid, and security. You've got paid staff and volunteers. You've got bands and all that they require. There have to be separate areas for media and artists and VIPs. You've got merch. With all of that, you've also got a little thing called scheduling. Who plays when and where and how do you make sure that the sound from that stage doesn't encroach on the sound from the other?
Lollapalooza has definitely had its issues over the years. Major complaints and issues sprouted from fence-jumpers and damage to Grant Park, Chicago's front yard. However, this festival is a living organism and it learns from its mistakes. Encircling the park with fortified gates made it much more difficult to gain illicit entry. Many areas of the park, including the lush gardens, were protected with fences and netting.
There's still a lot of work to be done. Drug use and underage drinking is rampant, and I have personally witnessed several sick and passed out people over the last five years. That being said, Perry Farrell and the crew at C3 put on a top-notch festival. There are reasons it sells out in minutes.
These are just a few of my reasons for loving this year's festival, and why I'm already anticipating next year's:
It was cleaner
Did you notice there was less trash strewn on the grounds? Thank Rock & Recycle. Attendees grabbed a trash bag and filled it with recyclable garbage in exchange for a commemorative Lollapalooza t-shirt and the chance to win a bicycle. You can also thank yourselves if you threw your trash where it belonged.
It was more polite
It's a fact that when you put a hundred thousand people or so in one spot you're going to get bumped and jostled. What's not a fact is an ensuing apology. I've just flat out figured that if someone rams into me on their way to see their favorite band or get another sport bottle of wine they don't even notice they've trucked over me like so much Grant Park grass. And if you're in the crowd watching a band? Fuggetaboutit.
Unless it's 2013 and you're at Lollapalooza. Sure, there were a few people who continued blithely on their merry way after nearly knocking me down, but many, many, many people stopped and - gasp - apologized. The first couple of times I thought it was an anomoly, but then it kept happening. Three times during The Cure fans stopped and said "I'm sorry" on their way to the stage. Made me almost say "Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me."
The weather was gorgeous
This has absolutely nothing to do with Farrell et al, but it had a lot to do with my personal enjoyment and, I believe, the happiness of the crowd. The temperature was just perfect. Chicago's weather reputation may be ruined after this weekend.
The food was a better Taste of Chicago
Lollapalooza has done a fantastic job of introducing Chicago's great culinary scene to a crowd of music lovers. Sure, there's pizza, but it's not your chewy greasy piece of flat fair fare. It's a slice of Lou Malnati's or Connie's or Bella Bacino's. You could also get a lobster corndog, a sandwich of smoked prosciutto, mozzarella, arugula, and olive oil, or an ancient whole grain salad. You don't just get a hot dog; you get a bacon mac 'n cheese dog. Popcorn and fries were enhanced with truffles, and vegetarians had several choices besides veggie burgers. Prices started at just $3 for a slice of Lou's.
All of the rest could be great, but if the music isn't there then it's not much of a music festival. I randomly hit three stages on Sunday and found three new bands to love. The Kidzapalooza stage proved once again that kids are rockers, too. The Cure, despite their reputation for being goth and depressing, put on such a happy set that even Robert Smith giggled. It was during Mr. Lovecats, and who doesn't giggle a bit during that song? But still, Robert Smith giggled.
And that's how I feel after this three day extravaganza. I feel giggly and giddy and just so happy to have experienced such an incredibly complex production that was pulled off so well. Great job, C3, and I know next year it will be even better.