Saturday morning, I made the quick trip down to Chicago for my first-ever (and the 20th annual) Lollapalooza show. I wasn't there all that long, since I was primarily tasked with helping out our friends from FM 102.1, who invited me, but I certainly lingered long enough to make a few impressions.
First of all, witnessing the event from both the press area and the audience's perspective, it's tough not to compare it to Summerfest. In some ways, the Big Gig clobbers Lolla; in others, it could learn something. At the end of the day, I'll stick with Summerfest. Here's why:
The grounds, themselves, were expansive. With 250,000 in attendance, Grant Park felt very spread out, with tons of space between stages. Organizers did a good job of using fences to separate areas, like the hundreds of port-a-potties, from the beer tents and marketplace. All day long, it never felt crowded. We didn't stay to see Eminem, but given the incredible size the festival had to work with, there was lots of room to roam.
However, the grass surface of Grant Park got wet, muddy and stinky on Saturday, and Lollapalooza felt like a farm that reeked of manure. That's not Chicago's fault, of course, but mud would never be a problem at Summerfest.
Concession-wise, Lollapalooza was stacked with food options, and even though I had no interest in a beer in the blazing sun, their choices (Budweiser, of course) were comparable at $5 and $7.
The Lollapalooza App was also very advanced, and technologically speaking, the festival ran circles around the Big Gig. All the details had a mellow, organized feel to them, from top to bottom. It certainly didn't seem "indie" in the least, though; overall, much more corporate that Summerfest.
Not that it's the concern of the fest going public, but Lollapalooza's press access is great. It's a cordoned off area with working wi-fi, tons of technology and beverages to hydrate in the scorching mid-August heat. In addition to the roaming performers and artist-only swag (did someone say free blue jeans?), we saw some random "celebrities" wander through, like Ashlee Simpson, Taylor Momsen and oddly, Tim Meadows (I only recognized Meadows). But, one can't see the bands from this media village, so it also felt very distant. Summerfest's media area is, well, non-existent.
Finally, in terms of music, I found the acoustics to be very good, since most bands had staggered starting times on the stage. I wasn't there to review any shows, specifically and I wasn't listening with a critical ear, but I will say that dollar for dollar, any day of Summerfest had an overall stronger lineup that Friday, Saturday or Sunday. No, Summerfest doesn't get Coldplay, but when you add a Marcus act plus a few side stage headliners, it's a much better value in Milwaukee.
For $215, yes, you have the opportunity to see some pretty big bands in a general admission environment. But even with a daily pass, Lollapalooza is nowhere the bargain that Summerfest is, and to me, not as much fun, either.
Andy, I went two days this year, and agree/disagree. Here are my impressions: 1) Yes there are a ton of drunks, I noticed (especially at Coldplay and Eminem) that most were underage suburban teens, but people in my hotel made comments about how bad it's getting compared to years back. 2) SF has a worse music lineup than Lolla for sure, but you can't really compare since Lolla targets a specific demo while SF tried to please everyone on the planet. 3) The corporate sponsorship at both places is out of hand 4) Better layout at the park this year made it seem never too crowded, but I don't care for a lot of the food vendors and the beer selection is horrible (Bud Light - really?). 5) SF needs to attract more buzz worthy acts that Lolla does right.
"Lolla is not loaded with a bunch of middle aged drunks just trying to relive their youth."
hoo boy! sounds like someone's never been to Lolla!
Big Audio Dynamite! Soundgarden! Strokes!
Jesus Christ. This is what we get from OMC for a Lolla write up? Generally like your stuff, Andy, but music (festival) critic you are not.
There is no way Summerfest has a stronger lineup. I feel like Summerfest will just fill the slots with any band just to keep the 11 days of music and keep the title of "The Worlds Largest Music Festival". Summerfest should try to be The Worlds Greatest Music Festival, and get over the size. Also, I thought I read somewhere that any band that plays Lolla, cannot play anywhere else within a certain distance for 60 days. If I was in a band and had a choice of either playing at Lollapalooza or Summerfest...hands down Lolla.
No offense Summerfest.
Show me the other 2 Talkbacks
7 comments about this article.
Post your comment/review now
Disclaimer: Please note that Facebook comments are posted through Facebook and cannot be approved, edited or declined by OnMilwaukee.com. The opinions expressed in Facebook comments do not necessarily reflect those of OnMilwaukee.com or its staff.
Recent Articles & Blogs by Andy Tarnoff
Published April 25, 2017
While planning next week's trip Up North, I started wondering just how much of Wisconsin I've seen over these last 37 years. So, I downloaded a map and started drawing on it, including the route I have planned for next week.
Published April 14, 2017
Milwaukeeans love our 414, the area code covering the city, the county and parts of Muskego and Brookfield. It's been since 1947, when Bell Telephone established it, along with 715, in Wisconsin. But why did they pick 414?
Published April 12, 2017
Maybe it was all the hard living back then. Maybe it was all the mustaches. But how old was this motley Brewers Crew back in '82?
Published April 3, 2017
The Brewers lost 89 games in 2016, finishing 30.5 behind the Cubs. Then they got rid of Chris Carter, Martin Maldonado and Tyler Thornburg. Is there anywhere to go but up?
Published March 14, 2017
In a market with plenty of big box stores, how does owning a neighborhood Ace Hardware store in this era make sense? Easy, says owners Bob and Kristin Nell. It's about customer service.
Published March 8, 2017
You may be surprised to read this from OnMilwaukee Publisher Andy Tarnoff, but claiming newspapers are dead is at best myopic, and at worst, just wrong. They simply occupy a different place in society now.
Published Feb. 6, 2017
Perhaps you're in the mood for eating some midnight sushi or buying a Rolex. Or maybe you want to gamble on the sinking of the Titanic. Las Vegas is your place for weirdness. Here's just a sampling.
Published Jan. 17, 2017
I don't entirely know what we're watching here, but I know it's funny and extremely inappropriate.
Published Jan. 12, 2017
I'm very concerned about the problem of "fake news" and what it means for journalists, politicians and the media-consuming public. But, really, this isn't a new concern of mine. For many years, I've battled with the concept that the internet is always right.
Published Jan. 9, 2017
On Dec. 8, Larry Hansen was injured in a horrendous and freak accident by a presumed drunk driver. While working on his car in his Okauchee garage. Five surgeries and 42 pints of blood later, Hansen has lost a leg, has a broken back and faces more surgeries.