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Sunday, September 26, 2021

Lollapalooza 2018 Recap: Performances were admirable but heat, lack of water put a damper on festival

Lollapalooza may have been a little over a week ago, but I’m still reflecting on the impressive, hot weekend. However, the heightened security and extreme heat didn’t stop the over 100,000 concert-goers, including myself, that gathered for four days on the dusty grounds of Grant Park.

Thousands flocked to Chicago’s famous loop area to see the major acts of the festival, and the crowds were as magnificent as ever.

While headliners like Travis Scott and Bruno Mars were what justified the hefty $335 price for a four-day wristband, C3 Presents, Lollapalooza’s concert promotion, event production and artist management company, did a great job of getting underground and up-and-coming performers to rejuvenate this year's festival at the shaded stages.

One of those shaded stages, the Toyota Music Den, seemed to have more of an audience this year than in years past. Acts such as superorganism and lovelytheband used the intimate and sheltered space to their advantage on Saturday and Sunday. Both artists opened for bigger acts on one of the larger stages at noon and then closed out the Toyota Music Den in the early evening. These two bands seemed genuinely excited to perform and made connections with the audience throughout their sets.

The American Eagle Stage was another space that stole the show this year. The stage had an outstanding lineup, from big-name rap artists like Playboi Carti to alternative rock bands and musicians like Cigarettes After Sex and Tash Sultana.

The heat was the largest concern to mid-afternoon headliners. Pop superstars struggled to have lively audiences throughout their sets. Post Malone, who arguably had the largest set of the entire weekend, struggled to keep the crowd invested. Post attempted to tone down the electronic instrumentals for a few minutes of his set to grasp the distracted audience: He sat in a chair and played the acoustic guitar. From the middle of the crowd it was a challenge to hear him through the random conversations of festival-goers trying to scavenge water from others surrounding me.

Access to water was one of the most frustrating parts of Lollapalooza this year. Tighter festival security, like additional concrete barriers, new item restrictions, airport-style screenings and an increase in undercover police officers, did not allow full water bottles into the festival. The free water stations that were provided often had lines lasting over 20 minutes. The security at each stage tried their best to throw water to dedicated fans near the front, but there never seemed to be enough.

Lollapalooza has consistently gotten one thing right from year to year: the food. Each year, the festival brings in the top venues from around the Windy City. The lobster corn dog, grilled cheese with chicken tenders and five flavor rainbow ice cream were all delicious and reasonably priced for festival food.

With many questions and concerns heading into this year's festival, Lollapalooza did an excellent job of keeping the festival operating smoothly for the most part. Even as two completely different artists, Jack White and Odesza, closed the main stages on Sunday night, audiences young and old seemed to be soaking in the last minutes of music they had set against the magnificent skyscraper backdrop at Grant Park.

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