Quantity? Check. With about 100,000 attendees per day, it is surely one of the most densely populated weekends in the city. Mobility? Check. People have to keep treading over 115 acres to see the 130-plus featured artists. Quality? Check. You need to be truly committed to attend Lollapalooza, and that kind of effort goes into dressing as well. Variety? Check. Coming from all corners of the world and ranging from the fashionable to the bizarre, most try to bring their best (casual) game. Plus there’s the extremely cute Kidzapalooza crowd.
AUDIENCE CHOICE: Millennium Park, 201 East Randolph, between Michigan and Columbus
Best of Chicago 2013
What to do when hazardous weather forces Lollapalooza to give you the boot into the Loop? Don’t head to Barnes & Noble, which went on lockdown and refused to let anybody new inside like they were zombies from “The Walking Dead” hungry for flesh. Skip the Harold Washington Library, too. There’s no worse time to be in a library than when drunk attendees hyped for some EDM decide to crash. Epic Burger, on the other hand, was proximate, open and hardly packed. Order a burger, snag a shake and hit up the bar seating to rub shoulders and commiserate with fellow festival-goers. Who knows, you might even make a friend.
Epic Burger, 517 South State and additional locations, (312)913-1373, epicburger.com
Best of Chicago 2012
Pitchfork Fest is a local treasure, presenting a smorgasbord of rock, electronica, hip-hop and more in a friendly, affordable setting. It’s certainly a great alternative to the expensive mob scene that is Lollapalooza. But after witnessing a particularly overblown set at Pitchfork, it was refreshing to head down to a Little Village warehouse for Bitchpork Fest, the three-day, totally illegal extravaganza that’s an alternative to the alternative. With more than sixty acts, Bitchpork featured more bands than its namesake, including more local musicians and louder, edgier sounds. We’ll take Chicago garage duo White Mystery’s red Afro-ed headbanging over James Murphy’s caterwauling any day.
2106 South Kedzie
Best of Chicago 2010
The Jesus Lizard
Pitchfork Music Festival’s Friday scheduling continues to be the high point of the annual weekend, and this last summer was no exception. Chicago fearsome foursome The Jesus Lizard triumphantly and ferociously reunited for its first show in a decade and has not missed a beat. David Yow, as biting, sarcastic and, at times, downright scary as ever, leapt into the crowd within the first minute of the set, as the rest of the band suckerpunched the crowd into submission. A fantastic, powerful show, a performance for the band to live up to during its upcoming two nights at Metro at the end of November, as well as at its New Years Eve engagement at the same venue.
Best of Chicago 2009
As far as outdoor venues are concerned, it’s tough to top Grant Park in the summer. Remember Radiohead’s unbelievable show in Hutchinson Field during the “Amnesiac” tour? Multiply that by, oh, a hundred, spread over three days and expand the playing field by three. With the country’s best skyline on one side and the haunting, beautiful lake on the other (Buckingham Fountain spouting in between), Grant Park hosts with elegance. Even the unplanned Soldier Field fireworks—which erupted in the middle of Pearl Jam’s set this year, illuminating the sky—capped a weekend visual marathon.
Best of Chicago 2007
Each act that performs during the exhausting three-day affair is contractually prohibited from performing within a ninety-mile radius of Chicago for sixty days before and thirty days after the festival closes, which effectively shuts down the city, musically, for the entire summer. And it hurts the local bands (and clubs) the most, certainly, especially those that play around town every few weeks but would like to reach a wider audience by playing the fest.
Best of Chicago 2007