I am a sucker for live music. Yet I hate crowds.
I love discovering new bands. I would say 75% of the acts at Lolla are new to me every year. And it makes me wonder where people are learning about these bands that they are screaming for. It confounds me at times. What am I missing? How can I be one of the cool kids?
I realize I do listen to some pretty eclectic stuff. I constantly hear the question "Who?" when I tell people about some of my favorite bands. But seriously, how do hundreds of thousands of people know about The Neighbourhood or Jessie Ware? Outside of Lolla, where are these twenty-somethings getting the 411?
Scratch that - because there were quite a few "kids" at this festival. And by kids, I mean between the age of 15-18. They all looked like carbon copies of one another. All the girls wearing their ray bans, camisoles, some making bold fashion statements by wearing only bras. And every one of them had that same bored, look at me expression as they proudly displayed chests covered in glitter, where it looked like someone slapped it on all in one place. The boys were not much different. The same loose waisted shorts hanging to expose their trendy plaid boxers. The hat brim to the side and the shouting to their other friends as they found them in the crowd. Paying little or no attention to the girls.
The stage that always intrigues me and makes me feel young as well as the oldest person on the field is Perry's Stage. Devoted to DJ's and electronic music, and perhaps just a tad too close to the largest stage at Lolla, Perry's is a constant dance party. It's hard not to bounce to the beats. We saw Kill The Noise and GriZ whip the crowds into a jumping frenzy. Kill The Noise's song "Kill The Noise Part I" sounds like the soundtrack for a George Romero 70's zombie movie. And the video is outstanding. Perry's was our fallback last year and this year we wished we could've spent more time checking it out but we were, well, trapped.
I don't know if Lolla was oversold this year but after seeing the attendance numbers for the weekend (a grand total of 300,000 people visited the festival), I have to ask: Really? Are you sure?!?! It felt like there a ton more people there. Especially when we were trapped against the handicapped riser at Ellie Goulding and everyone HAD to pass by us to get to who the hell knows where.
I realized a while ago, Lollapalooza is for the casual music lover. Sure the die hards attend, but I believe those are the people most annoyed at Lolla. There's a lot of movement at Lolla. Just because you camped out all afternoon for a good spot or you found what looked like a relatively unpopulated patch of grass to watch a band from, doesn't mean your personal space isn't going to be infiltrated.
For example: The Cure played Sunday night and we were off to the side of the field, in the back, by a tree. While the sound was a bit muffled and quiet, as soon as the band started, droves of people rushed to get to the field, most of them stepping over us, on our blankets, stopping in front of our sight lines to enter an area that was already to capacity. Now, if I were the biggest Cure fan in the world, I would either A. be really pissed, or B. be down in front. So after about half a dozen songs, we packed up our stuff and wandered off to our car, happy to beat the crowd out of the park. It made me thankful to find it all on youtube the next day so I could see what I missed (oh, Robert Smith, carbs are not your friend).
On the other hand, we had some really fantastic moments at Lolla this year.
The surprise act of the weekend was The Postal Service who made me appreciate the fact that a band can produce only one album and it can be so perfect, they never have to make another one. It makes me sad in a way too, because other than Death Cab (and Pedro the Lion) where can you get your Ben Gibbard fix?
By the way, being the first ones in the porta-johns every day was always a thrill too.
It's highly doubtful we will go to Lolla 2014, unless the bands are really, really enticing. I mean Rick frickin Springfield opening for Robbie Williams (who?) or Asia and Black Rebel Motorcycle Club play? Maybe...