Pack up your city bags and gas up the car (gulp) - its almost time for this summers Lollapalooza Music Festival in Chicago, a road trip that tons of Northern music fans look forward to, and one thats sure to be a hit again this year.
Lollas strengths have, to date, really been in the smaller, hipster acts, although they did manage to snag both Radiohead and The Raconteurs as the highlight headliners this year. The other headliners include Wilco, the overrated Rage Against the Machine, and the troublesome Kanye West, who hopefully wont repeat his prima-donna antics from Bonnaroo, via which he refused to play until the early morning hours - sorry, Kanye, thatll be an impossibility in Chicago due to city noise ordinances, so youll have to behave yourself.
Along with the two highlight bands, therell be plenty in this years lineup to keep you running from stage to stage. Among the bands causing buzz this year are Bloc Party, The National, Sharon Jones and The Dap-Kings, Jamie Lidell, The Go! Team, Booka Shade, DeVotchKa, Louis XIV, The Whigs, Foals, Flogging Molly, The Gutter Twins, MGMT, the return of Gnarls Barkley (a 2006 Lolla highlight), and, of course, fest founder Perry Farrell himself, who always manages to make a showing.
And if you find yourself missing one band to see another (a common predicament at Lolla, with that many stages fired up all at once), you can catch several of them later at the official Lolla aftershows, which will take place around the city of Chicago all weekend, and will include late-night sets from the likes of The Black Keys, Manchester Orchestra, Rogue Wave, Battles, Flogging Molly, and Broken Social Scene, among others.
Divided into Northapalooza and Southapalooza, the layout of Grant Park has been made a little more user-friendly this year, with the schedule even listing bands from north to south, complete with arrows for the directionally-challenged. All eight stages have returned from last year, although with a few different sponsors; the four main stages being the Playstation, AT&T, MySpace, and Bud Light stages, which will, of course, host the biggest acts of the weekend.
Smaller stages will feature the Kidzapalooza events as well as a plethora of Perry Farrell (the festivals founder)-helmed electronica/DJ events, and a couple of arrows marked ? near Grant Parks famed Buckingham Fountain will surely hold more Lolla surprises for all attendees.
Restrooms-a-plenty, two large (and surprisingly varied) food courts, a Recycling Center, a General Store and Lolla Merch Booth, two Lolla Lounges (north and south VIP only), two medical centers, dual ATMs, a whopping overload of 12 on-site bars and, as if that wasnt enough, the Lederhosen Biergarten, will make sure that every, er, need is fulfilled.
In case the dozens and dozens of bands arent enough entertainment for you, the Lolla grounds offer plenty of other distractions, fun, and conveniences. The F.Y.E. Autograph Booth is where many bands will be stopping by to shake hands and sign things, so you might want to start there (among those scheduled to appear are Louis XIV, The Kills, The Cool Kids, Booka Shade, Sharon Jones, and The Whigs). The MySpace Tent will host other photo ops, not with fans, but with your friends, so you can take home your own personalized Lolla pics.
Once youve checked your bags (and all your autographed things) at the NowWhat.com Bag Valet - a smart addition to the fest that will keep your things safe while you trek around - you can check out new games and computer tech at the Playstation Rock Star/Sing Star Booth and the Dell Dome, as well as at the AT&T Digital Oasis. AT&T will showcase their high-speed internet and Dish services, the Blue Room Music webcasts (which will play back the days performances), and, of course, that air-conditioned interior tent for escaping the heat; a Hammock Haven and lots of shaded areas throughout Grant Park will be other great places to take a break from the action - and you can be assured that there will be plenty of that all weekend long.
Lollapalooza runs August 1-3; tix are still available as of press time at