Each week, Lizzy Goodman guides you through the dirty streets of rock and roll.
“I would be happy just to have clean feet,” muttered the woman in the hot pink tutu and Keds standing behind me in line for the bathrooms backstage at the artist area at Lollapalooza last weekend. As you’ve probably heard, this year’s incarnation of the festival was temporarily evacuated on Saturday afternoon when what festival founder and Jane’s Addiction frontman Perry Farrell rightly called a “wicked mother” of an electric storm rolled through downtown Chicago. Remarkably, the shut down went smoothly, as approximately 65,000 people filed out of Grant Park without smushing each other. Half an hour later I was tucked into a booth at the Pump Room Bar, Ian Schrager’s refurbished boutique hotel, sipping lavender daiquiris and joining Santigold’s band at the window to marvel at the absurd torrential hail. “Sometimes adversity bonds people,” Farrell later told me.
“Like a dilapidated Camelot, the ballroom’s chipped paint and castle-themed interior added to the surreal post-apocalyptic feeling that we were all getting away with something wild.”
He was right. Tucked away in hotel bars around the city, artists and fans co-mingled, united by a potential crisis that thankfully became no more than a minor delay. Sets by Franz Ferdinand and Santigold, among others, were rescheduled for a bit later in the evening, and within a few hours everyone was filing back into the park, marveling the reprieve the storm brought from otherwise brutal humidity and heat. In exchange, though, nature brought with it lots of mud, hence the sticky, stinky gunk fouling up everyone’s summer sandals.
Lollapalooza is a great place to be a rock star. Backstage it looks like the summer camp set of Wes Anderson’s Moonrise Kingdom with cute little white air-conditioned cabanas, Airstreams set up as gifting suites, and a giant tented complex that functions as a full-time buffet and a kind of lounge packed with armchairs, foosball tables and pinball machines. It’s a wonder bands make it to their sets. And yet, for Farrell, the ten-hour-a-day blitzkrieg of giddy fun Lolla offers just isn’t enough. This year he’s branched out and started hosting official Lollapalooza after-parties, beginning with a set featuring Franz Ferdinand and Jane’s Addiction at the famed Aragon Ballroom on Saturday night.
By 11 p.m. that night a couple thousand dirty, sweaty, ecstatic festival-goers filed into the venue. Like a dilapidated Camelot, the ballroom’s chipped paint and castle-themed interior added to the surreal post-apocalyptic feeling that we were all getting away with something wild in having survived the day to party at night. I’m not going to lie, the sound isn’t great in this place, but that hardly mattered as fans pressed up against each other in grimy rock abandon and celebrated breaking double digits in alcoholic beverages consumed. (Seriously, I heard one dude in a Nirvana t-shirt and fedora held up his cup and announce “This is my 10th beer!” like a proud father.) “My friends were high and healthy and in love,” Farrell summarized post-show. See you all next year.