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Lollapalooza 2011: The 20th Anniversary Edition

Julie Walsh

Lollapalooza turned 20 this year, and partied all weekend long to celebrate. The songs, the style, and the larger than life stages all turned up the heat in honor of this iconic three day music festival. So, here’s a recap from Lolla 2011: the good, the bad, and the ugly, and I am not just talking about Cee Lo Green’s performance.

First, let’s start with the good: Despite the fact that Lollapalooza sold out all three days, it was more accessible than ever to fans.  Not only could you get live updates, photos, and behind the scenes access from Lollapalooza’s Facebook and Twitter accounts, you could actually rock out like you were there thanks to the live stream on their YouTube page. And even though it was Lollapalooza’s birthday, they gave a gift to everyone else: a 20 song free download from iTunes, with a playlist that spans from Jane’s Addiction to a band whose sound and enthusiasm can only be match by their name: !!! (Pronounced Chk, Chk, Chk).

And of course you can’t mention the good without mentioning Eminem. Taking the crowd to Shady and back, Eminem packed the South stage and put on a fantastic performance, even though his hype man comically repeated “Chicago!” as if we needed a reminder as to what city we are in, in the heart of Grant Park. While I thoroughly enjoyed Eminem, the best show of the weekend for me goes to Girl Talk. Girl Talk performed at Perry’s stage, immediately after Afrojack who certainly had the crowd primed and ready for a Girl Talk performance. Between performing to a rowdy crowd on a Friday night, putting Perry’s stage under a tent to give it a more intimate feel, and the insane lights show that accompanied the music, Girl Talk was a wild Friday night dance party in the park that won me over.

And finally, you can’t forget the Chicago style food in the “good category.” People from all round the US come to Lollapalooza and it is important that we show them more than just good music and a good time, we have to showcase Chicago’s delicious bites.  Thanks to this year’s Lolla Culinary Coordinator, Graham Elliot, the food was top notch. The food was so good in fact, it even got a nod from Food Network Star, Guy Fieri, who brought his 15 year old son to the music festival.

Now onto the Bad: While I have very few things to add to this category, the rain on Sunday definitely put a damper on the outdoor fun, especially if you weren’t looking to get into a mud fight. However, the other two days brought great weather, and with great weather brought women wearing bikini tops as shirts. Not okay. We may have been in a park, but we certainly weren’t at beach. Also, while I am glad I decided to go to the Eminem show on Saturday night, it was rough to have to choose between Eminem and My Morning Jacket on the “Bud Light” stage on the other side of the park, making it almost impossible to really see both.

And finally the ugly: By far the most disappointing show of the weekend was Cee Lo Green. While I am usually a fan of a trendy or risky outfit, Cee Lo and his ladies just looked plain weird. Everything from their outfits to their performance all felt forced. Even when Cee Lo played his number one song and fan favorite sing along “Forget You” [CENSORED] the crowd couldn’t even get into it, probably because Cee Lo was barely singing it himself. From the technical difficulties that left long awkward pauses between songs to the lack of enthusiasm from both the performer and the crowd, it was tangibly awkward. Cee Lo ended the show 12 minutes early and even apologized for taking people’s time. Yikes.

Overall Lollapalooza 2011 was a big win for Chicago, getting the chance to showcase everything this great city has to offer.  Now Grant Park will just have to filter thousands of dollars into repairing the grounds, especially the mud slip and slide by the Music Unlimited stage. Good luck, and Happy 20th Lollapalooza.