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Get The Most Out Of Lollapalooza, Whether You're Going Or Not

By Staff in Arts & Entertainment on Jul 31, 2014 3:00PM

20080803_lollapalooza 158-1.jpg Photo by Jim Kopeny / Tankboy

Look, let’s just admit previewing something like Lollapalooza at this point is a little pointless. When tickets sell out before the line-up is even announced it’s fairly obvious folks aren’t really going there for particular bands. Heck, many readers aren’t even going to the festival!

So this year we’re taking a slightly different tack and decided we’d tell you which bands on the undercard are worth seeing, just in case you’re open to some new music, as well as what treats and libations you should look for should you find yourself in Grant Park. But we’ve also decided to throw in a couple events and suggestions orbiting the festival for everyone to enjoy.

If you’re at Lolla, step outside and try some of this other stuff out, and if you’re not attending, here are some ways you can still feel a part of the weekend that—for better or for worse—holds Chicago in it’s grasp over the next couple of days.

Soooooo, let’s go! — Jim Kopeny / Tankboy



Photo by Jim Kopeny / Tankboy

In lieu of our usual annual survival guide—though you should still check out last year’s as its general tips are still helpful—here are a couple really pro tips to getting the most out of your weekend on the actual festival grounds. — Jim Kopeny / Tankboy

Top burgers, hot dogs and fries to chow down on
A weekend spent using porta-potties as your bathroom of choice is not the weekend to get adventurous with your food choices. Sticking with the classics is always a good bet when grabbing a meal at Lollapalooza. Thankfully the festival brings in some pretty damn great creators of the classics, burger, hot dog and fries, for you to enjoy over the weekend. If you are craving a few patties between a bun, we suggest either heading to M Burger for their double cheeseburger ($9) or hitting up Edzo’s Burger Shop for their Wisconsin bacon-cheddar burger ($9). Edzo’s always has amazing ingredients and a wonderful blend of meat at their shops while M Burger has delivered a fresh, better quality take on fast food in Chicago.

If you are craving something tubular, we suggest grabbing The Southerner ($10) from Franks ‘N’ Dawgs or a blueberry bratwurst ($7) from Goose Island Brewpubs. We’ve always enjoyed the creative spins Goose Island creates with traditional fare and Franks ‘N’ Dawgs buns are one of our favorites in the city, although it doesn’t hurt that The Southerner packs Slagel Farms pork loin, caramelized onions, corn bread and cherry bourbon BBQ sauce into that delicious bun.

As far as fries go, two of our top picks in the city will be at Lollapalooza, so obviously we suggest you pick up some of the fresh cut fries with sea salt from Edzo’s ($5) or the triple truffle fries from Franks ‘N’ Dawgs ($7). Although we wouldn’t judge if you throw caution to the wind and just order the massive signature chubby cheese fries from Chubby Wieners ($7). You may want to bring your own fork though, as we learned during Pitchfork Festival the hard way. —Lisa White

Sir, we like your style. Photo by Jim Kopeny / Tankboy
Best drinks that aren’t Bud Light.
Various places around Lollapalooza

There are bars all over the festival grounds, but there are alternatives to the the same ol Bud Light or Bud Light Lime.

Thorny Rose Wines
Relax in their shaded Uncorked Wine Lounge where you can watch the current performers on a giant video screen, or walk away with an entire bottle of wine in a plastic sport bottle. It’s become a popular way to get the most bang for your buck while sharing pulls off the bottle with friends. Because the only thing better than being drunk in the hot sun is being wine drunk in the hot sun. Choose from Red Blend, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio and Riesling. The wine lounge is located just south of Buckingham Fountain.

Da Beers Garden
For craft beers on draft, head over to Da Beers Garden. In the past they’ve had brews from Chicago’s own Goose Island, Hoegaarden and Stella Artois. You can also find Da Brats to go with Da Beers. Da Beers Garden is located just west of the BMI Stage.

Non-alcoholic options
We’re certainly not condoning this, but we know there are some of you who will opt for the “byo” option, in which case there are plenty of non-alcoholic beverages for sale including Seasons Soda, Peeled Juice Bar, Shadetree Fresh Squeezed Lemonade and Tradewinds Iced Tea. But, you’re obviously creative enough that you don’t need our help finding mixers for your hooch.—Michelle Meywes

Best place to be if you aren’t getting loaded.


For those interested in staying substance-free at the fest, Lollapalooza is offering the support of Soberside. In their own words, they “help navigate what might otherwise be a slippery environment for sobriety.” They’re not affiliated with AA or any other programs; they’re just providing fellowship for like-minded individuals. Hey, just because someone doesn’t want to get buzzed, doesn’t mean they don’t like fun! Meetings are at 1 p.m., 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. each day, but they’re always around if you need to talk. Soberside is located right by the Toyota Space Disco near the Buckingham Fountain entrance. —Michelle Meywes

The Cheapest Food You’ll Find in the park
Lou Malnati’s Pizzeria

Greasy festival food is key to the full Lollapalooza experience. A household name in the fiercely competitive world of deep-dish pizza, Lou Malnati’s has been serving up that greasy goodness for over four decades. If that weren’t enough, the Italian powerhouse is selling slices of their signature cheese, pepperoni and sausage pizzas all weekend long for just $3 a pop. Lou’s is far from artisan offerings of their Lolla competitors “Stella Barra,” but when you’re dead tired and down to your last few dollars, it’ll keep you going for that crucial moment when OutKast encore’s with “Hey Ya”. —Robert Martin

2014_07_rock_the_vote.jpg Don’t be a square, voting is cool!
Rock the Vote registration booth at Green Street North in Grant Park

Did you know R.E.M.’s Out Of Time was perhaps the most politically packaged CD due to the Rock The Vote folks? it’s only a really early example of just how long this organization has been trying to get people off their butts and into the voting booths. If you’re not registered to vote yet, make sure you stop by their booth and do so this weekend. Seriously. If you don’t I don’t want to hear you griping about how crappy politics is today. — Jim Kopeny / Tankboy

Best sweet treats you’ll find in the park
You’ll likely spend a good amount of Lollapalooza sweating it out in the hot sun, so during festival season we always like to find at least one refreshing sweet treat to cool down with during the weekend. Thankfully Lollapalooza has a variety of great offerings (at a decent cost as well, all of our picks are $6 or less) when it comes to satisfying your sweet tooth. Sipping through a straw is more ideal in a packed crowd, so we suggest you head over to Chow Town and grab a root beer float from Gale’s Root Beer. The Gale behind this brand is no other than James Beard-award winning pastry chef Gale Gand, so expect something a little more elevated in flavor over your typical A&W. If you aren’t a root beer fan, they also have strawberry sorbet floats. If you want something a bit more hearty, Seedling Farms from Michigan will be whipping up their fresh fruit smoothies that we love in the Farmers Market.

As far as actual frozen confections goes, you’ve got a couple of options but our best bets would be the classic Original Rainbow Cone, the light and refreshing lemon frozen yogurt from Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream and the equally light and refreshing lime cardamom pop from Yoberri Gourmet. We’d stick with lighter flavors and not too much dairy (exception being Rainbow Cone because it’s Rainbow Cone, of course) to refresh but not leave your stomach feeling twisted. And if you want something a bit more substantial yet still light, Rock ‘N Roll Noodles will be offering sticky rice with local market berries and coconut cream in the Farmers Market as well. —Lisa White



08052009_lollapalooza 796.jpg
Lykke Li at Bottom Lounge, photo by Jim Kopeny / Tankboy

Oh yeah, there’s music onsite too, huh? While most will find a favorite place to stake out and spend their days based on the one or two acts they really want to see, we do have a couple humble suggestions. — Jim Kopeny / Tankboy

Best heir to Prince without the ruffles
Blood Orange at the Grove Stage on Friday at 4:45 p.m.

Dev Hynes is a chameleon of an artist excelling as a musician, songwriter, and producer and embracing styles that range from folk-pop to rap-metal. As Blood Orange, Hynes disperses pop music through his distinctive prism reflecting a spectrum of 80’s R&B, funk, and disco. Hynes’ music achingly translates the universal melancholy of yearning, yet part of Blood Orange’s mystique is the conviction that you can groove through it all. —Jessica Mlinaric

Best reason to get bewitched
Lykke Li at the Lake Shore Stage on Friday at 7:30 p.m.

The Lollapalooza state is nothing new for Lykke Li, and her performances are consistently some of the most memorable we’ve seen. Bringing an atmospheric, moody quality to Swedish pop she can possess you with up-tempo electro indie-pop or mournful ballads. Lyke Li’s most recent album is also her most vulnerable, and her live show is guaranteed to make you feel things, perhaps even purging your demons right along with her. —Jessica Mlinaric

Most likely to get a bunch of adults trampling over kids.
Z-Trip on Perry's stage on Saturday at 2 p.m.

Z-Trip is, hands down, one of the most entertaining DJs we've seen, juggling truly eclectic mixes that draw everyone within earshot into their embrace. But words don't do him justice. Here, check out this awesome set he did in honor of Barack Obama a few years ago that still stands as a piece of high art while simultaneously being a dancefloor filler. — Jim Kopeny / Tankboy

Can They Make The Big Leap?
Typhoon on The Grove Stage on Saturday at 6:30 p.m.

Typhoon impressed us when they played at Lincoln Hall last fall, but we're wondering how the show will translate to giant stage and in front of a large audience. At least there will be plenty of room to fit all 11 musicians on stage. Seeing the band work in an intimate setting like Lincoln Hall gave us an appreciation as to how the musicians were able to work together with well-crafted arrangements and create an immense sound that hit hard. It will be difficult to really get that same feel on The Grove Stage Saturday night. That leaves us to take in the songs themselves, which are really just O.K. at best. The songs can get rather raucous at times, but that really has more to do with the size of the band rather than the tunes themselves. We'll see, but it could get kind of interesting. —Casey Moffitt

Vic Mensa photo via his Facebook page

The Rising Star from Chicago
Vic Mensa on the BMI stage on Saturday at 6:50 p.m.

Former Kids These Days frontman Vic Mensa has only expanded his stylistic palette since leaving the group for a solo career in May of 2013. The 21-year-old recently released his single “Down on my Luck” where he pulls off a perfect rapid fire flow over heavily house inspired production. The Chicago native is well traveled after touring with everyone from Danny Brown to Disclosure and is primed for an early-evening set back home at Lollapalooza. After close friend and collaborator Chance the Rapper’s wildly crowded set at the same stage last year, it’s safe to say Vic will draw similar attention. —Robert Martin

Sure to be more entertaining that OutKast, we promise.
Cut / Copy on the Grove stage on Saturday at 9 p.m.

These Aussies have never, ever let us down. Even when a late flight made them late for their first Pitchfork Music Festival appearance they still turned in an amazing set, and their appearance at that same festival a few years later proved they could get massive crowds moving even in the daylight. Unless you're really sold on a particular nostalgia act playing elsewhere in Grant Park at this time, these boys are your best bet for a good time after a long day. — Jim Kopeny / Tankboy

Wait you love (that band) Fun.? Well have we got a band for you!
Bleachers on the Lake Shore Stage on Sunday at 1:30 p.m.

Bleachers is Jack Antonoff's new band and it's no surprise it sounds like the other groups he's best known for, Steel Train and Fun., though it tends to be even more over the top polished pop than either, if you can believe that. Bleacher's debut album has yet to truly grow on me like output from his previous projects has, but the few live performances we've seen on TV leads me to believe it might blossom on stage. And if it doesn't at least you have a really good chance of seeing his girlfriend Lena Dunham cheering him on from the side of the stage. — Jim Kopeny / Tankboy

Perfect post-brunch / pre-dancefloor warm up.
RAC at The Grove stage on Sunday at 3:30 p.m.

RAC's Andre Anjos grew to fame turning indie rock tunes into underground dance tunes, and his first solo album of all new material kept that aesthetic while creating brand new grooves he could call his very own. Live the guest celebrity vocals are delivered via backing track, but he plays with a full band that approaches the show like a cross between DJ set and indie club gig. When we saw him last he had a packed Lincoln Hall eating out of his hands even though the beats were more on the mellow side, so this should be a great mid-day set. — Jim Kopeny / Tankboy

Gesaffelstein via his Facebook page
The French Techno Guru.
Gesaffelstein on the Perry’s stage on Sunday at 4:15 p.m.

Producer Mike Lévy is not like his bouncy EDM counterparts.The producer crafts a far more ominous sound. It’s a soundtrack for those who are still dancing when doomsday comes. Tracks like “Pursuit” and “Aleph” are better fit for a sci-fi space battle than the club and bring to mind Giorgio Moroder’s “sound of the future”. Taking the stage at Lollapalooza Sunday afternoon,we’re anxious to see how the bass hungry masses receive Gesaffelstein brooding beats and intense builds. Forget what you know about “raving.” It may be a good idea to dress in all black for this one. —Robert Martin

We're sexy and we know it.
Chromeo on the Bud Light stage on Sunday at 4:45 p.m.

This duo's sets at Lolla always seem to be in the daylight, which is a pity since their light show—even the one we saw in a smaller venue like Lincoln Hall a few months ago—deserves to go large. Luckily for all involved their music needs to probe to get folks slick with sweat, and their latest LP White Women is a goddamn electro-funk masterpiece. We can't wait to see a bunch of sexy boys and sexy girls singing "Sexy Socialite" to each other with sexy pouts. — Jim Kopeny / Tankboy

Best Chance to Slow Down and Take A Breather
Glen Hansard on the Lake Shore Stage on Sunday at 5 p.m.

We're not quite sure what Glen Hansard is doing on this Lollapalooza bill, but we're happy to see him on it. The Irish singer/songwriter got his break fronting The Frames, which he's done since 1990. He's not a young, up and coming artist, but as a veteran musician he doesn't have a lot of gravitas that would seemingly land him on this festival. Sure he had a role in The Commitments, but really that and $2.25 gets him a bus ride to the gig. Perhaps he was invited to change up the pace a bit and give people a bit of breather, allow them to sit on this on the grass and chill. Hansard's music is distinctly Irish, as it tends to be perhaps a bit bleak, but under the brooding tunes there is an uplifting message and spirit to it which makes it pay off and well worth a good listen. —Casey Moffitt



Interpol plays the SPIN party at Thalia Hall Thursday night, photo via the band's Facebook page

Annnnnnnnd here’s the stuff for the 99.9% of you folks not going to Lollapalooza that still want to feel like you're part of the fun. Oh, and for the folks wise enough to ditch Grant Park if they are attending, if only for a few hours, to get a taste of some of the other cool stuff going down. — Jim Kopeny / Tankboy

Let’s get this party started early!
Interpol, Gemini Club, Wildcat! Wildcat! Thursday night at Thalia Hall

Whether you have tickets to Lolla proper or not, here’s your chance to see ‘00s bad boys Interpol, Chicago electro-glam-poppers Gemini Club and woozy dance rocker’s in the brand spankin’ new Thalia Hall for the SPIN-sponsored party to kick off the long weekend. Tickets are free through an RSVP through Rabbl. — Jim Kopeny / Tankboy

Hell, let’s keep this party going on!
Various venues, Thursday through Sunday

Both The Reader has a nice rundown on official afterparties. Granted quite a few of the official parties for the larger acts are already sold out but there are still plenty smaller bands to see (Bleachers is still not sold out?!). Gapers Block put together a good list of sponsored—read: free—parties, and I’ll be honest, as the years go on I tend to have more fun at these events than I do traipsing from one side of Grant Park to the other seventeen times a day. We should correct on their listings though and mention that the nightly parties at the Hard Rock are they’re free and you don’t need an invite at night but the lines are loooooooong. — Jim Kopeny / Tankboy

"Grim Tales (2013)" by D*FACE, showing in the Shepard Fairey curated 'Art Alliance: The Provocateurs' exhibition, photo by Jim Kopeny / Tankboy

Get your art on with Shepard Fairey (and friends)!
Art Alliance: Provocateurs exhibit at Block 37 from Thursday through Monday

Art Alliance has teamed up with Lollapalooza to bring this temporary gallery curated by Shepard Fairey to the heart of the Loop, and we’ve seen a preview of it courtesy its other sponsor Hennessy and can confirm it’s well worth checking out. This is incredibly high caliber work, the likes we would usually expect to see in a museum collection rather than a pop-up gallery space, and we can’t recommend it enough. The exhibit includes work from Fairey himself, alongside other heavy hitters including Keith Haring, Mark Mothersbaugh, and 40 or so more artists. Some of our personal highlights included particularly provocative pieces from D*FACE, Winston Smith and REVOK. The exhibit runs from 10 a.m. - 6 p.m. each day and tickets are available in advance. — Jim Kopeny / Tankboy

I couldn’t afford a ticket but my favorite band is still playing. What do I do?
Watch the Lollapalooza livestream

Let’s say you're one of those folks that actually likes a bunch of the bands playing but didn’t get a ticket in time (or more likely couldn’t afford one because holy hell, are they expensive!). Or maybe you just want to see how much more awkward Big Boi and Andre 3000 have gotten as their not-so-great reviewed OutKast reunion has been making its way through the festival circuit. Either way, Lollapalooza has your hook up! The festival is being cool enough to livestream many of the acts playing over the weekend so pop a cheap beer or gallon of wine, slap some mud on your ankles, and you can pretend you’re there from the comfort of your own couch! — Jim Kopeny / Tankboy