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Behind the Scenes at Lolla

By Kevin Robinson in Arts & Entertainment on Aug 5, 2007 2:15PM

Before we teleported up into the great nightclub in outer space, Chicagoist took a few hours to walk around Grant Park this weekend and have a friendly chit-chat with some of the many fine folks who came to Lolla this weekend. Some of them came from nearby - North Side, South Side and the suburbs. Others came from farther away, places like New Jersey. Still others came to visit us from other countries, like Ireland.

2007_8_lolla_by_the_lake.jpgLaura (19) and John (17), the first two people that we met this weekend, came from Arlington Heights. This was their first time at a large music festival, but not their first time seeing a show in Chicago "Oh yeah," said John. "We come here all the time. There's always lots of free shows here, especially downtown. We saw the Decemberists at Millennium Park." "I'm looking forward to seeing Modest Mouse," said Laura. "And Muse," she added. "Yeah, we love Muse," agreed John.

John and Ryan, both 22 and from Palatine, come up to the city "pretty often", usually to see the museums, shows, or to hang out around North Side neighborhoods. They thought Lollapalooza seemed "fun" and since they work for a company involved in the production of some of the promotional materials for the show, they had access to free tickets. While John felt like he could see himself living in the city "sometime in the next five years", Ryan was less certain. "I'm an art teacher," he told us. "Art programs are pretty neglected here in the city, and I need to live in the community where I teach." Regardless, both felt that Chicago was a great place to be, with a tremendous diversity of people, "ethnically, socially, and culturally."

Dan and Elizabeth, both in their mid-thirties, came from Maplewood, New Jersey. It was Elizabeth's third time in Chicago, but Dan's first. "I'm ready to move," said Dan, laughing. "Some cities, you're just like 'Wow. This is great!' The public art, how clean and pretty it is. And if you have kids, well, Chicago just seems so friendly for families." Elizabeth agreed, adding that she was looking forward to showing Dan Wicker Park, and taking an architectural boat tour over the weekend as well. "And The James. Write that down - we're staying at The James, and it's probably the best hotel in town."

Chicagoist has the unique pleasure of chatting with two city workers and two cops (who at their request asked to remain anonymous). "We were told not to talk to the media," said one of the Park District employees, an older woman from Bronzeville who was busy emptying garbage cans. "I think this is great," she told us. "More revenue for the city, and it just makes us look good as a city." As the officer looked over the crowd with his partner, he observed that "this is the kind of work that I like - everyone is having a good time, the girls are pretty, and we can relax a little bit."

Ronan, 21, came all the way from County Cork, Ireland for the summer on a work visa "trying to live the American Dream - have some fun and make some money." Like Americans who go to Europe, he wanted to come have an American experience. Staying on 53rd and Kilbourn, he likes Chicago, "except for the heat...." His brother Colin, 20, was a bit more forthcoming: "the drinking age in Ireland is 18, so it's not much fun." Colin flew in for the week to see his brother and take in the City by the Lake. "I like it so far, as there's always something on."

We hope you've enjoyed this weekend as much as we have, even if you're not from here.

Image via Smussyolay