Festival Report Card

Festival Report Card: Lollapalooza Chicago 2023

Lollapalooza Chicago has been a destination festival for people from all around the world since it found its home in 2005. 

With this year’s stacked lineup featuring artists like ODESZA, Fred Again.., and Billie Eilish, fans had high expectations for this year’s event.

Upon entering the festival grounds, we felt as if we were truly in the heart of the city. The captivating city skylines, the iconic memorial fountain, and beautifully maintained landscaping welcomed attendees who were excited and thrilled to be a part of this historic event.

(Eileen T. Meslar/Chicago Tribune)

Vibes: A

In the past, Lollapalooza has garnered a reputation for having an “immature” crowd due to its all-ages access. Despite fans of all ages being present, the atmosphere was characterized by happiness and pure excitement. 

Everywhere you walked, you could see people smiling, engaging in conversations, taking pictures, and overall, expressing their joy to be there. 

Even with the presence of multiple generations, everyone we encountered was friendly, helpful, and, most importantly, welcoming. The park was well-maintained and provided ample space to accommodate its over 115,000+ attendees. 

This significantly contributed to the festival’s energy; people had room to move freely, dance, relax, and explore. While it did get crowded during the headline sets, as is the case with any festival, we observed minimal pushing or rudeness. 

Attendees seemed to come together to respect each other’s personal space, particularly when it came to families with young children.

The on-site staff were consistently courteous and helpful. Numerous information booths were available, and individual staff members held signs encouraging attendees to approach them with questions. 

This positively contributed to the overall vibes, as fans could navigate the grounds more efficiently, reducing stress and anxiety.

Overall, the vibes and energy at Lollapalooza 2023 were unparalleled. Despite being an all-ages, mixed-genre festival, it felt as if the spirit of PLUR was alive, and everyone present was there solely for their love of music.

Production: B

As an all-genre festival, we didn’t have high expectations for the level of production compared to other festivals. 

Additionally, the fact that Lollapalooza primarily takes place during the day makes it increasingly challenging to execute a high-level production event. The stages themselves appeared basic, with large LED screens featuring the artists at the center. 

There was no extravagant artwork or decor added to them. In a sense, all stages looked quite similar, making it difficult to distinguish one from another. Most are also corporately branded which detracts from a full production experience to see a giant logo overhead.

Despite the lack of unique designs, the sound quality was exceptional. Given the elongated layout of the stages relative to their width, Lollapalooza’s sound engineering team did an excellent job ensuring that every fan could hear the sets clearly, with minimal sound bleed at the main stages.

(Trent Sprague/Chicago Tribune)

Music: A+

When it comes to music, there was something for everyone. Whether you were a fan of singer/songwriters, rap and hip-hop, or dedicated ravers, the festival catered to diverse musical tastes. Moreover, many artists brought out special guests, enhancing their performances.

For instance, Dom Dolla invited Nelly Furtado to perform “Eat Your Man,” Fred Again.. featured Obongjayar for “adore u,” and Emo Nite brought back “3OH3” for a nostalgic rendition of “Don’t Trust Me.”

The lineup was not only impressive but also seamlessly blended a variety of sets, creating a cohesive and unforgettable experience for all attendees, regardless of age or musical preference.

Venue: B+

Historic Grant Park has been the home of Lollapalooza since 2005, which is suitability evident. 

Upon entering through the multiple access points, visitors are greeted by breathtaking views of lush green trees, the Chicago skyline, and the grand memorial fountain.

Moving between stages and vendors was hassle-free, with ample room for unrestricted movement. The only area where congestion was noticeable was in “Chow Town”, a lengthy stretch of road hosting food and drink vendors. 

While this layout might have been effective if there were no stages on the opposite end of the street, it led to crowding and a lack of organization as fans tried to reach sets while others sought refreshments.

The remainder of the venue was immaculate. The grounds were free of litter in contrast to other large-scale US festivals.  Flushable toilets were conveniently located throughout the venue and were exceptionally well-maintained. 

As day transitioned into night, the stunning Chicago skyline illuminated the surroundings, creating an immersive experience for attendees enjoying the closing sets from any stage.

Additionally, the level of security at the event was of the highest caliber. The perimeter was fortified with three layers of fencing to deter fence jumpers. These were not flimsy chain-link fences but industrial-grade crowd control barriers. 

Alongside the added fencing, a substantial presence of law enforcement personnel ensured safety. Groups of 15-20 officers were often seen patrolling the grounds to ensure everyone’s well-being. 

Given the festival’s urban setting surrounded by towering skyscrapers, the emphasis on safety was genuinely appreciated.

(Terrence Antonio James/Chicago Tribune)

Overall: A-

As first-time attendees of the Lollapalooza music festival, we were profoundly impressed by the organization, cleanliness, and positive ambiance of this year’s event. 

Despite past issues with fence jumpers and unruly behavior, it was evident that considerable effort had been invested in addressing and mitigating these concerns.

Lollapalooza’s recent ten-year contract extension with the city of Chicago (approved in 2022) bodes well for its future. 

It is safe to anticipate that the event will continue to improve. We eagerly look forward to returning and witnessing the festival’s evolution as it evolves and matures over the coming years.

Featured image provided by Lollapalooza on Facebook

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