We want to hear from you — share your best Lolla story below!Share your story
As a first time Lollapalooza attendee in 2005, it was easy for me to see that history was being made and I was in the center of it. I was a native New Yorker spending my first college summer living in the squalor of my friend’s suburban Chicago abode. I just happened to be in the right place at the right time when the craigslist advertisement went out asking for volunteers for Chicago’s first Lollapalooza in Grant Park, and with nothing more than an MO to stay cool and look cool, I signed on for more awesomeness than I could have ever anticipated. I remember being at the show at incredibly early hours to help set up. I had never been to Grant Park before, and I needed a moment to awe at the skyline that surrounded me. City lights and big buildings aren’t new to me coming from New York, but nowhere in New York City have I ever felt as immersed and enveloped by a skyline, or rather, a city as I did in Grant Park. On one side there was a huge body of water. On the other side, antiquated buildings that seemed to glow as the sunset. In front of me I could make out bits of The Field Museum and a massive aquarium sitting upon a small but sturdy Chicagoan island unto itself, while behind me there were glimmers of a ceaselessly circling Ferris wheel. Chicago surrounded me, and embraced me, along with thousands of other concertgoers there for the experience of a lifetime. I had attended the event alone, though I certainly never felt alone. I remember lollygagging over to the tent I would be asked to stand at for the day for StopGlobalWarming.Org, drinking complimentary SmartWater (a new thing at the time) and talking to people about the day’s 103 degree heat index. The white wife-beater I had been expected to wear was soaked with sweat by noon, though my dampened bosom was more a conversation piece because of the command it posed for anyone who dared to stare for long enough: “Ask me why I’m marching.” I wasn’t marching in place or anything, the “march” was taking place in the virtual arena of the internet, and the inadvertent wet t-shirt contest I had entered had me literally stopping traffic and recruiting support while distant guitar strums and bass beats wafted in the background. Every once in a while, I had to shake off the touristy voyeurism that crept over me as I volunteered. Early in the morning The Killers were doing a warm-up set on a stage that must have been more than a quarter of a mile away from me, but was loud enough to fill the empty lawn and make its way to me at the tend, anxiously anticipating strangers to talk to about how “darn hot” the day planned to be. I felt like I was getting a private concert, and I was staring into the distance and bobbing my head, rubbing in extra sun block. I snapped out of it when I was asked to circle around back to find some walkie-talkies for the rest of the volunteers. I slowly made my way down a dirt path that acted as a perimeter of the venue and found myself among a series of trailers. Was that Primus’s giant inflatable duck they were pumping with air? Was that Perry Farrell that hastily past me reviewing a “power introduction” he would do later that day? Was I in the right place? Eventually a security guard noticed a stray wide-eyed groupie (i.e. Me) not keeping her cool enough to continue along the path. My own excitement gave me away – I was much too star-struck to be working back here, so what was I doing? I told him I had been sent to get walkie-talkies and he asked to see my “pass.” In his face, all I could read was “a likely story.” I didn’t have a pass, just my plebian plastic wristbands and a worried voice. I was ushered back to home-base: the tent for StopGlobalWarming. Fortunately, the person in charge of the booth made it clear to the security guard that I wasn’t just sneaking around/loitering in a prohibited area on my own volition, I had been sent there to do his bidding and pick up the required walkie-talkies. The concert hadn’t even started yet and I was already having once-in-a-lifetime moments! It wasn’t every day that security guards ushered me places. It also wasn’t every day that I felt like I was in trouble. How exciting! I was like a renegade concertgoer, being sent on missions under the guise of helping the earth, but really just seeing cool bands play! The security guard said he would have someone deliver the walkie-talkies to us, and within 20 minutes and no more musician-sightings, they appeared. But as luck would have it, security guards work in shifts, and walkie-talkie batteries need to be replaced. I was soon along the same dirt road behind beer-stands and merchandise tents, keeping my eyes peeled for mischievous opportunities. 80% of getting anywhere in life is looking like you belong there, right? When people asked me where I was going, I showed them the borrowed pass of the man running the non-profit tent. I kept a straight face and answered in way that said “no one looking to break rules here.” I made it all the way to the stages when CAKE began their set. There were risers on stage with plenty of open seating left available, and moving through as if I was some sort of friend or family or Very Important Person Who’s Importance Was Unbeknownst to Everyone (including me) I moved up to a riser on stage and watched them. The band playing on the stage next to them was playing really loud, and CAKE hoped that in playing softer, the other band would also turn down their sound system. It was so fascinating to see a rock band wait for the good will of others to follow their own mensche-setting lead. Even as I sat in a zone clearly marked off for more important people than myself, I felt like I was part of a community. This wasn’t like the Woodstock of the 90s where riots broke out and the heat riled up the rage in the masses. Lollapalooza was an event for people to come and be a part of something great. It set a gold standard in quality and community that has continued to keep it running. Even though Lollapalooza had major bands like Weezer, the Pixies, and The Killers playing, there was a respect for underground musicians or up-and-comers I hadn’t yet seen at major music event on the east coast. The community that I keep mentioning didn’t just include audience members from all walks of life or the musicians banking on each other’s consciousness of sound and space. This was a community where the differences in musicality, personality, and mission were accepted. Lollapalooza 2005 was an event that made attendees and performers Chicagoans for three days. This was my first festival experience, and it certainly wasn’t my last. Each year since then I’ve found myself existing as a citizen of Lollapalooza and Chicago for three days a year. Lollapalooza is my annual reminder that we are all marching, perhaps for something different, and maybe in a virtual way, but certainly not alone.
Knowing that it was going to be hot on the 2nd day of the reincarnated Lollapalooza (2005), I stopped at the local Ace Hardware to pick up one of those familiar fan-mist bottles to refresh my friend and I. Call it fate, but something compelled me to look past the standard bottle in favor of a larger, garden type variety. Sure enough, it was 108 degrees with the heat index that day, but as far as I could see over the ten hours I was there, no one among the 40, 000 was carrying a water bottle that could squirt any further than five feet- Turned out the industrial strength bottle I was carrying reached 45. The bottle had a rotating nozzle so the day began unsuspectingly as I lightly misted my friend and I as Dinosaur Jr took the stage. As mist does not exist in a vacuum, it didn’t take long to realize that anyone who caught some extraneous spray expressed instant approval. The transformation was sudden. By the third song, the nozzle had been adjusted to the far right and with hand held high in the air I sang with the band as I flexed my wrist muscles shooting liquid relief to as many as I could reach: “I feel the pain of everyone…then I feel nothing.” The nearby patrons shouted- ‘Oh yeah, get me… me…Over here, Over here…Squirt me, Squirt me.’…and with that, Squirt Boy was born. Contrary to how it may appear, Squirt Boy shares his story not to be childish or arrogant...but, quite simply, because it was one of the more memorable, unique and happy days of his life. Suspend judgement for a second and try not to think of this as pathetic. Here are the main reasons why it was such a special day: As great as the music was, many, many people were clearly wiped out by the heat and to provide that kind of instant gratification was and continues to be really quite unique. Squirt Boy's alter ego (Patrick) works as a psychotherapist primarily with people who are depressed and suffering, where progress is measured in very small steps over months and sometimes years… it is often frustrating, if not heart-breaking for the caregiver. For Squirt Boy, the suffering of those he treated on that blazing day occurred only for an instant, as unsespecting individuals felt a brief shock with being hit by a darting cold flood of fresh water. In every case, dismay turned in an instant to great smiles and relief. This is the main reason why it was such a wonderful day…that through Squirt Boy, I could provide relief without wading through elaborate defenses…regardless of the density of the crowd, the water held all the power. Still, there were more, perhaps selfish reasons why Squirt Boy was floating on a cloud that day. Anyone whose been to a festival knows that if you want to secure a great spot for a set, you must leave the previous set about 1/2 way through in most cases. Not for Squirt Boy. I'm 6'2 so I'm always especially aware not to cut in front of people at shows. Nothing irritates me more than people who show up as the show begins and cut to the front. Yet, Squirt Boy politely asked the crowds as he passed if they minded, all the while squirting and misting indiscriminately. When he got to his desired location (usually about 45 feet from the stage so he could affect the most amount of people with his circular, sprinkler like motions throughout the set), he again asked the people he was around if they minded that he had cut in front- the answer was one of unanimous acceptance, thus assuring that Squirt Boy could make his way to where he chose at any show at any time. Having had countless struggles securing good concert tickets on my limited budget throughout my life, this was a privilege of great satisfaction. The ability to squirt the masses was somewhat expensive, as free water was mild in temperature straight out of the fountain, but turned warm in a matter of minutes- no one in 108 degree heat wants to be squirted by warm water, so I purchased about $50 worth of ice cold water bottles to replenish Squirt Boy’s charitable weapon. Midway through the day, the kind workers of the Budweiser tent began giving Squirt Boy free water to continue his mission. Squirt Boy was thrilled with the generosity of many, as he was offered (and in some cases accepted) many things- food, free water bottles, beer, and many joyful smiling faces everywhere he turned. Truly life at its absolute best. I could go on and on with more happy stories (such as when the crowd cheered "Squirt Boy-Squirt Boy-Squirt Boy" and the lead singer of Spoon thought they were shouting for him), but there was one rough patch. Midway through Arcade Fire's set, Squirt Boy's whole arm went numb and he began to feel dizzy. His buddy rushed him out of the crowd to the caring tent of the Budweiser girls where the paramedics feared he might be having a heart-attack. As Bud-girl stroked his head with a cold cloth, the light-headedness quickly went away and Squirt Boy was able to move his fingers. He determined that his constant flexing of his squirt hand, had caused his hand to cramp and moved into his arm. He talked the meds out of taking him to the hospital (maily because he could hear the beginning of "Wake Up" and felt the "Oohhhh-Ohhh's" were calling him back). So perhaps this goes a little way in demonstrating that this was not merely a case of "squirting water on some people" and "not attaining 'man' status". I believe it says something about us, in how we choose to view Squirt Boy. Who among us, doesn't deserve to have a day where they feel that it is so very easy to make people happy? Imagine. I doubted that the weather or circumstances would ever again be fitting for more adventures, but to my surprise, Squirt Boy was welcomed again in 2006. Turns out people are still very hot even in 85 degree temps. A highlight that year was squirting people who had climbed up into the trees while singing along with The Flaming Lips- “With all your power…with all your power….with all your power, what would you do?” Squirt Boy has evolved over the 6 straight appearances at Lollapalooza. His utility belt also carries lollipops and another form of squirt, for the more sophisticated patrons- hand sanitizer. In 2010 he upgraded to a 4 gallon backpack with a long wand that provides a 75 foot constant stream of water. This made for some excellent visual effects when waved in a circular motion against the night lights at Perry’s. Even with all the great memories it’s likely that Squirt Boy will never again have quite as unique an experience as he did that sweltering day in 2005. Then again, an engineer is at work on a nozzle that shoots up to 45 feet on the mist setting. Perhaps the most meaningful aspect of the Squirt Boy experience is when, a few days after the fest, the squirt tank secured on the top shelf in the garage, I head back to work. The Vietnamese Monk Thich Nhat Hanh said “Sometimes your happiness is the source of your smile…and sometimes your smile is the source of your happiness.” With those thousands of smiling faces still in my consciousness, somehow it’s so much easier to walk into the world of suffering of my clients, even when the only water bottle in sight is the one resting in the cupholder of my office chair. http://new.music.yahoo.com/blogs/spin/9656/bestworst-of-lollapalooza-day-1/
When my boss told me.. you are fired, was days before Lolla 05, So unemployed, use all my back up money to buy a airplaine ticket mex-ord and a single pass to Lolla. When i land to grand park by subway and saw all the parafernalia surrounded by that magnificent buldings i feel like cryin´. (of joy of course) Then, i joined the festival and my first concert was Kaiser Chiefs, who been recently realesed "unemployment", that really was a shock in every sense. unemployed and crying (of joy of course.) One of my favorite part of the day was been in the Billy Idol concert, that was magical, even better when i ran behind a golf cart to join a record signature in a tent, when i shoke his hand i cryed again. (of joy of course) Still unemployed, historical Pixies was monumental, Weezer, from another planet. Next day i had the plan to walk around Chicago, but i walked throug the lake, listening to The Killers from outdoors. With that view and that music, that day, i cryed again. (of joy of course) Then, returning to Mexico, finded good job, but still feel that Chicago days like yesterday and felt so happy about it!!!
When I first heard about the three day Lollopalooza concept, I knew that I wanted to be apart of the extravaganza. Many of my favorite bands were in the line-up, so it made it for a very easy decision. What didn't make it easy, was that it was in Chicago and I was living in Flagstaff, Arizona. Luckily, I realized, that there is passenger train service to Chicago, from Flagstaff. I asked how much it was and then asked three of my best friends if they wanted to go. They decided that it would be a great idea, so we all pitched in for a sleeper car. We had no idea the comfort and service Amtrak provides when you go sleeper, so we had a nice ride all the way to Chi- town, and on top of that when we arrived the festival was great. First of all, my friends and I have never experienced a festival in the middle of a beautifully, huge city, so the atmosphere was surreal. My cousin and I were excited to see Weezer and see that Rivers was having fun and playing all the hits. Primus and Cake were also on our lists of favorite performances, but we will also never forget the performances made by The Pixies, the Killers, Trail of Dead, Billy Idol, and VHS or Beta. Everyday we were there, was a great experience. We were off from work for eight days and had fun all the way from start to end. I will never forget that trip.
My first music festival experience was at Lolla 2005 in Chicago. My friends and I traveled from Aspen, CO. This was my first time to the city on my own. What a wonderful place. It was HOT! On Sa we jumped in Lake Michigan right by the Marina. The water was not very clean and we got yelled at but it was worth it for the cool down. Lolla changed my life! I have been going to Lolla ever since, as well as many other music festivals. Since my first Lolla, all I care about is music. I try and see as many shows each year as I possible can. Weezer opening for the Pixies with the Chicago skyline in background is one of my fondest memories in life thus far. Such a beautiful city and amazing music to go with it. Best performance of the weekend were: Pixies, Weezer, Cake, DBT's, Dashboard Confessional (I love Chris Caberra!), Billy Idol, Satellite Party, The Killers, Death Cab for Cutie, Kasier Chiefs, The Bravery, and Primus. I did not want to leave Lolla. I never do. It is the best feeling in the world being surrounded by people who share your passion in music. I look forward to Lolla every year. This year the bands I am looking forward to seeing the most is Foo Fighters and Savoy! Lots of Love Lolla, Jen Muraske
With the waning popularity of traveling showcases and the success of more compact, weekend festivals, Lollapalooza daringly reinvented itself in 2005, bringing on Austin, TX’s Capital Sports and Entertainment (now C3 Presents) to help reengineer the flagship festival for a new generation of music lovers. Revisiting the diversity and excitement that were hallmarks of Lollapalooza’s original incarnation, great pains were taken to bring onboard up-and-coming talent from a variety of genres. Specifically, independent acts gaining mainstream momentum - such as The Arcade Fire and Death Cab For Cutie - were recruited, along with major label draws such as Weezer and The Killers.
Leaving behind the “touring” model that had propelled its success through the 1990s, Lollapalooza became a “destination festival”, redefined and revved up for the 2000s. The debut of the reboot featured over 60 artists playing on six stages across three days in Chicago’s Grant Park, one of the most famous and beloved civic green spaces in the country. The selection of Chicago provided a connection to the deep musical heritage of one of America’s largest and most storied metropolitan areas, further invigorating the festival.
Scoring high marks from fans and critics alike for its lineup choices, Lollapalooza de-emphasized the subculture-based themes of its early days. Lollapalooza 2.0 strove to be more inclusive. In addition to its changes in musical format, this focus was evident in Lolla’s rejuvenated emphasis on art, food, fun and community, as well as ongoing efforts to create an environmentally sound production from the ground up. Finally, a family-friendly aspect was incorporated with the inclusion of a “Kidapalooza” stage where performances by kid-friendly artists, including organizer Farrell himself would keep the little ones as entertained as the adults.
Light showers replaced scorching heat when Billy Idol took the stage for his fist clinching set. He delivered his chart topping classics “Rebel Yell” and “White Wedding” to a crop of new young fans, while the older ones sang along.