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Music festival camaraderie: Lollapalooza totally worth it

Since coming back from Lollapalooza, much of the online discussion has been about the best and worst things about the three-day Chicago-based music festival.

I’ll just tell you this: It is absolutely worth going to.
Lollapalooza is a unique experience. Mostly, it is an amazing one, with a couple of caveats.

First, those caveats:

The obvious one is the music. If you don’t like music, Lollapalooza is not for you.

Another one is the crowds. One hundred thousand people crowd into “Chicago’s front yard” — Grant Park — each day during the festival. For the most part, the crowds are scattered throughout the seven-stage set up, but sometimes it feels like all 100,000 people are surrounding you and bumping into you at the same time. My wife and I felt that way after we watched Iggy Azalea perform.

The crowds can also test your patience, among other things, while waiting to use the restroom, which is the final caveat: Porta potties.

Sometimes the lines move smoothly. Other times you’re left wondering how long it takes to “go.” Thankfully the odors weren’t too bad, as workers did an excellent job keeping them clean.

Now, here’s the good news:

Music festivals are incredibly fun (even without doing drugs).

One major music festival promoter, Pasquale Rotella, told Rolling Stone:

“Festivals have become a huge part of American culture. When we first started, it was really foreign — all people could remember was Woodstock. It made it really difficult to explain. That’s no longer true.”

He’s right.

Music festivals are the new way to attend concerts. It’s all about variety.

Put it this way: I paid $120 to see Billy Joel at the US Airways Center in June– which was absolutely worth it. For Lollapalooza I shelled out $275 for one ticket to the three-day festival. I saw my favorite all-time group, OutKast. I saw Eminem perform for the first time in 15 years; Rihanna even joined him on stage. She sang the hook on Em’s “Stan” in a moment that had the Internet buzzing. Fortunately, I was there to see that moment live.

During the festival, Amy and I also saw others, like Skrillex, Iggy Azalea and Nas.

I’ve wanted to see Nas perform live for years but never had the chance. During his Saturday set, I was four rows from the stage watching him perform all the songs from his classic hip-hop album “Illmatic.” One word described it: Unbelievable.

There were even a couple of surprises.

Two Chicago-based EDM (electronic dance music) DJs known as Flosstradamus performed in the rain and mud. I loved it. Their performance became a huge outdoor party. As did rapper Childish Gambino. His onstage energy was infectious. He rightfully gained a fan after his performance.

Beyond the music, the bonus with Lollapalooza is location. Any excuse to travel to Chicago is a good one. Not only does it set a beautiful backdrop, but the city itself contributes to the overall “Lolla” experience.

That’s exactly why I’m glad my wife and I went.

Lollapalooza became one of those experiences my wife and I will never forget and because of that, it was worth every penny.