On The Record: My Lollapalooza Predictions
I have always had a rather inexplicable love for summer festivals. This is probably because when I was 14, I got kicked in the head during 's afternoon set at Lollapalooza '93. There can be no other explanation.
Because, really, when you think about it, summer festivals are awful. The sun is merciless, the lines are long and the port-a-potties are ripe. The tickets are expensive, the sound is terrible, and the sets are short. I can't really understand why anyone — aside from those with a death wish or a thing for sunstroke — would go to, say, Lolla or All Points West. And yet, they do. In overwhelmingly large numbers.
Which I guess I can understand, because, for whatever reason, I find myself doing the exact same thing. Year after year. It seems I can't get enough of crisscrossing a dustbowl several times a day to watch, say, the National perform for 45 minutes from a distance that would give a sniper pause. Apparently, I revel in the branding magic that manifests itself in the Budweiser Summer Shooters Tents, the SoBe Mountain Blast Chillax Lounges and the Scion Silent Discos. And it would seem that my faith in humanity is restored every time I wander by the ghost town that is Activism Alley, where the voter-registration booths sit empty and desolate.
But perhaps my favorite thing about summer festivals is that they're all exactly, totally and completely the same, and they've been that way forever (and not just because Jack Johnson plays at all of them). It doesn't matter if you were at Lollapalooza, H.O.R.D.E., Bonnaroo, Coachella or even Camp Bisco, you've had the same experiences I have. You probably drank and/or smoked too much. You no doubt sat in a mist tent, bought something made of hemp and paid too much for a bottle of water. You stood in traffic and saw an amazing set by so-and-so and maybe even made out with someone special. There is a familiarity there — it is refreshing and comforting, and it is at least part of the reason why we keep going back.
That said, if you've been going to festivals for as long as I have, they all tend to blend together (which is why I've been able to make it this far on sweeping generalities alone). It's easy to know what to expect, even if you're talking about a festival as epic — and epically hyped — as this weekend's Lollapalooza in Chicago's Grant Park, where as much of the chatter has been about the Sunday-night showdown between and as it has been about the rumored appearance by Barack Obama.
Clearly, this isn't your average summer slog through the dustbowl.
And yet, I'm sticking to my original hypothesis: All summer festivals are the same, no matter how many A-listers you pack onto one bill, or how many presidential candidates make appearances. And Lollapalooza is no different. So, as I board a plane bound for the Windy City, I'm drawing on my decades of experience to make 10 bold predictions about what you can expect this weekend at Lolla 2008. I'd say it's required reading, but you know that already. After all, I'm an expert. (Check out our coverage of last year's Lolla in the YouRHere blog.)
Prediction #1: Lollapalooza Mastermind (and psychotropic drug enthusiast) Perry Farrell will wander Grant Park wide-eyed and shirtless, play a DJ set of some form and pass out somewhere in Michigan. This will all probably happen by the time Radiohead take the stage on Friday. Actually, it's probably happening right now.
Prediction #2: Kanye West will fail to mention the fact that Lollapalooza takes place in his hometown of Chicago, because people don't really seem to care about that sort of thing. This is my mortal, lead-pipe lock for the weekend.
Prediction #3: Rage Against The Machine's incendiary screeds against evil, multinational corporations that trample human rights and blot out cultural diversity in a never-ending quest for increased profit margins and lower bottom lines will sound totally awesome broadcast live ... from the AT&T Blue Room and direct to your mobile phone!
Prediction #4: Barack Obama will make an appearance at the fest, though it won't be to introduce Kanye or Wilco, as many are predicting. Rather, he'll be on hand to catch the 12:15 set by electronic duo Holy F---, because he "loves their spazzy, frantic live performances and glitchy, noisy low end."
Prediction #5: Not to be outdone, presumptive Republican nominee John McCain will also show up at Lolla, but only because he mistakenly believes VHS or Beta to be a hot-button issue with the American public.
Prediction #6: The number of bands with the word "black" in their name (at first glance, three — Black Lips, Black Keys and Black Kids) will be far greater than the number of actual black people in attendance, by a wide margin.
Prediction #7: In 2015, one of the dudes in Innerpartysystem will be staring out of a window in an Ohio office park, drinking coffee out of a Styrofoam cup and muttering to no one in particular that he was once in a band that played Lollapalooza. The woman vacuuming nearby will smile and nod. It will be an hour before he speaks again.
Prediction #8: Temperatures in Grant Park will soar so high that translucent pop-chanteuse Duffy will suddenly burst into flames. This will somehow only improve her music.
Prediction #9: At some point during the weekend, I will call my wife and complain about any (or all) of the following: the heat, the dust, the cost of food, the selection of food, the distance between the hotel and the venue, my co-workers, the bands I've been forced to watch, the bands I've been forced to miss, walking, sweating, my shoes, my shorts and Chicago in general. I will also begin to consider that I am a terrible person.
Prediction #10: During his Saturday-night headlining set at the Perry stage, DJ Momjeans (a.k.a. Danny Masterson, the dude who played Hyde on "That '70s Show") will abruptly stop whatever record he's playing, think to himself "My God ... I am a total douche," and suddenly realize that his life is meaningless and none of this matters in the slightest. He will then curl up on in a ball on the floor, eyes vacant and wide. Never blinking. Never. The same will possibly (hopefully) happen during Louis XIV's Friday afternoon set.
Questions? Concerns? Predictions? Send 'em to me at