Lollapalooza: Day 1

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Well, today was the first day of Lollapalooza, Chicago’s three day music festival, and I wouldn’t be a music blog if I didn’t review it! So here goes.

My girlfriend and I started the day at 11 AM, book bags full with the essentials: blanket, shades, hand sanitizer, tissue, water, empty bottles, iced tea packets, cameras, phones, pen, map, food list, a tide to-go pen, and more. This was our first music festival so we made sure to be prepared. We made our way through the check in process, (bag check and wristband scan), in about 10 minutes. It was very quick and very inefficient lol. I saw prohibited items all day during the festival. After that was over, we walked around for a bit to get acquainted to the venues before we started our day.

We passed by a Samsung section with many booths where we were told if we collected 18 tokens, we would receive VIP passes for the entire day. You get tokens by going up to the booths and listening to the demos or playing around with Samsung Galaxy phone/tablet features. Well, turns out the VIP passes are only for people who collect 18 tokens AND have a Samsung Galaxy phone, so our time pretending to care about Samsung products was for naught. Moving on.

We started our music experience with Emeli Sandé at 1 PM. We got there around 12:40 and there were a decent amount of people there but there was a barrier blocking us from getting to the stage. We wondered why we weren’t allowed to be closer to the stage, but then at 1, the barriers were cut and the bulls took off. The good thing about the Lollapalooza stages is that even when you’re not that close, the view is amazing, especially compared to regular concert venues.

Emeli Sandé is a Scottish R&B/soul singer and she sounds amazing live. Every song she sang sounded better than it did on her album, Our Version of Events, and it already sounded amazing. Not only were her vocals on point, but she had a diverse couple of back up singers that were also very good. She’s a very energetic performer, even for her slow songs and I dig it. Her band is dope and she even showed off her skills on the piano. She ran through many songs off her album and even performed two or three new songs in her 45 minute set. This was a great way to start the day and I would definitely see her in concert.

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Karyn, my girlfriend, chose that we eat lunch at Edzo’s Burger Shop. We had never heard of it, but it sounded good. For $15 I got a delicious Wisconsin Bacon Cheddar burger, with a delicious ketchapeño sauce that made the burger stand out, and white parmesan truffle fries. We will definitely make a repeat trip to this burger joint after the festival ends. We made a pact not to eat at the same place twice in order to maximize our efforts at trying new things this weekend.

While we were waiting for Jessie Ware, a group called Ghost BC was playing at an opposite stage. We could see the screen from where we were so we looked at them for a bit. They’re pretty creepy haha. they’re a Swedish heavy metal band that wears hooded robes and skull makeup. Plus, a lot of their songs sounds like it was recorded by a deathly cathedral choir…..Yeah.

Next up with Jessie Ware at 3:15. She is an R&B/soul singer from London. Neither of us had really heard of her besides a couple of songs we’d heard by her, but this weekend is the time for new things! We got great positioning at the front and got pumped. From the get-go, her mic needed to be turned up and they didn’t really get to that until halfway through the performance. Jessie was great, though. She’s very engaging and definitely into the music. She has a nice old school sound and in many songs she reminded me of Sade and Chaka Khan. That’s proof enough that she has a versatile sound. She had an MPC machine next to her that she used to play background vocals and it was very tasteful. Her band didn’t stand out too much until she had her drummer come up and sing a duet with her while he played the drums on the MPC. He had a great voice. After this concert, I will definitely be looking for more of her music. She’s got a new fan.

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Now, this concert gave us the most entertainment that wasn’t the performer haha. First, there was the slightly inebriated woman who was really into Jessie Ware and kept talking to us haha. 

Quotables: “She’s Erykah Badu-y or even Jill Scott-y,” “Back up on dat!” “How long have you all been dating? I can see the love…and she’s light, you’re light. It’s perfect! Know what I mean?” Haha shout out to that lady.

Then there was the Beach Ball Bouncer smh. It has become a tradition at music festivals to throw around beach balls during the performances. Well, this event staff member wasn’t having it.

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Every time a beach ball went over the railing, he picked it up and, without a word, burst it in his hands haha. I don’t know what was in this dude’s job description, but he was clearly all about “no nonsense.” C’mon man, it’s a music festival! Peep the destruction.

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We immediately headed over to Theophilus London at 4:45. The venue was trashed. There was trash everywhere and the rain from earlier had created a mud swamp in the area right in front of the stage. Many people didn’t care and had their socks and shoes off, just standing in the mud and flinging it on each other, but needless to say, we stood further back haha. We still had a great view!

Now I’ve been meaning to study up on Theophilus for a long time now, like he’s been in my queue for like two years. I dropped the ball, but what better a time to get acquainted with him than his set? Theophilus London is a hip-hop artist that was born in Trinidad, but raised in Brooklyn. Now either he sounds different on record than he does live or I completely missed the fact that he sounds a lot like Kid Cudi. Like…a lot. Even his ad-libs were Kid Cudi-esque. But, at the same time, his style was so different. He had the crowd’s attention from the start. He’s not your average rapper. He played a song called “Why Even Try” and it sounded like it was straight out of an 80s disco club. A song he played later, “Inject Your Soul,” sounded like a James brown track. His music is funky and he gets you to move with him. it’s infectious. He’s pretty good at rapping and can definitely hold a note. His band was LIVE! His guitarist and bassist were moving more than he was! This has no bearing on anything, but his pianist looked like Trey Songz. *Kanye shrug*. Theophilus London is worth checking out and Lollapalooza was 3 for 3 with us. At the end of the set, he wanted to have a mini “block party” so he played his two favorite songs of the summer: “Versace (Remix)” and the latest Rick Ross/Jay Z collab. Needless to say, I got “turnt up.”

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Oh! Theophilus London was ten feet away from me and there was nothing between us but a gate. By the time I realized who he was, he had driven off in the golf cart full of festival workers. I wish I could do that moment all over again lol.

Chance The Rapper wasn’t on until 6:50 so we had some time to kill. We headed over to the venue he’d be at so we could get spots after the current band finished their set. 

Hey Marseilles was the band performing and they’re an indie rock band from Seattle. We sat in the grass far away and let them play to us while we waited for Chance lol. I wasn’t that impressed. Vocally, they had a lot of Mumford & Sons going on and when they broke out the banjo, the resemblance was uncanny. We already have a group that’s good at sounding that way. Musically and sonically, though, they were nice. Their instrumentation was refreshing to listen to. They had a lot of instruments. I saw a viola, cello, trumpet, and more. I don’t know if I personally would invest any time in them, but they had great “sitting in the grass” music.

We thought that people would clear out from Hey Marseilles so we could get to the front to see Chance, but turns out the Hey Marseilles crowd was just standing there so they could secure their Chance spots. Judging by the amount of people that walked away after their set, only 25 people in that crowd of hundreds was there to see Hey Marseilles….sorry guys. Well, unfortunately, we ended up further away than we wanted and it was CROWDED. Karyn couldn’t see until the very end of the set and we were shoulder to shoulder, front to back, and back to front with everyone around us. Luckily, I’ve seen Chance in concert twice, and Karyn has seen him once so we weren’t too upset. Well, Karyn was a little peeved lol.

Chance’s sets are very high energy, like the kind with crowd surfing, so things got heated for a bit and we bum-rushed every open space we saw. Chance came out and put on an amazing show, as usual. The crowd loves him and his energetic performance is a sight to see. He performed more than half of his last project, Acid Rap, and a couple songs from #10Day. Everyone in the crowd knew the words and he treated us well.

Notables: Macie, Greg, and Nico, formerly from Kids These Days, were a part of his band when he performed “Paranoia,” “Cocoa Butter Kisses,” and the outro. He brought out Vic Mensa AND Twista for ‘Cocoa Butter Kisses.” He brought out a raft and crowd surfed on it at the end of the set haha. 

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That was the end of our Day 1. We were exhausted by the end of Chance’s set, so we jetted. It was a great experience. Every concert, except one, started and ended on time, it wasn’t too crowded, and Lollapalooza has a great system for everything. I’m excited to go back tomorrow for Day 2 and trust that I’ll post about it. Enjoy.

-HB