Though Lollapalooza proper happens within the ever-expanding confines of Grant Park, the festival experience is felt all across Chicago. This year as much as any other, the pre-party and after-party experience was in full effect, with concerts, DJ sets, and exclusive VIP happenings occurring all over the city. Below is a sample of CVU‘s findings on the Lollapalooza experience, outside of Lollapalooza.
Thursday, August 2nd
On the eve of Lollapalooza, the festival atmosphere was heavy in the air. An early evening affair held by SPIN and The Windish Agency gave scenesters and attendees a chance to mingle on the spacious 6th floor deck of the W Hotel downtown. The vibe was light and breezy, as industry types drank wine and discussed who they were looking forward to seeing over the coming weekend.
The lighter mixer feel carried over to another early evening affair at Debonair in Wicker Park. Outside, one of the club’s windows boasted the guitar trophy for the weekend’s annual celebrity kickball game. Inside, the private meetup allowed industry types to pick up their wristbands for the weekend, while Do312’s Jeremy Scheuch DJ’d the event for bloggers, artists, and more. Given the tempest of a weekend on hand, a more intimate event was a nice calm before the storm.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, downtown’s Angels & Kings was packed and full of life, lights, and heavy branding. DJ’ing the room were Pete Wentz and Spencer Peterson of Black Cards, Wentz’s post-Fall Out Boy outfit. While the W and Debonair happenings were occupied by a fair share of industry, the AK soiree was held down in full by the downtown crowd.
Friday August 3rd
Friday afternoon kicked off the Hard Rock Hotel’s It’s So Miami Oasis three day run, which featured brands and vendors offering services and complimentary eats and drinks. The spread offered an array of amenities, geared towards those looking to relax on plush couches instead of sweating in the sweltering sun down the street at Lollapalooza. As with the AK event the night before, branding was in full effect from top to bottom, from couch pillows to model body paint. Outside, a 4th floor deck provided a view of Michigan Avenue, with fake turf underfoot providing artificial greenery.
Saturday August 4th
Saturday’s midday delay at Lollapalooza impacted not only the festival itself, but also after-parties, as well. Thus, local rockers Kill Hannah’s Saturday night set at Bottom Lounge was slightly delayed and abbreviated, but pleasing to the assembled crowd of RSVP’d attendees. During a compact performance, the power rockers dipped into their dreamier back catalogue, pulling from ‘90s fan favorites like “Hummingbirds The Size Of Bullets” and “Nerve Gas.”
Meanwhile, over in Wicker Park, Debonair hosted a full main room of drunken partygoers. So full was the club that it often proved difficult just moving through the crowd. On the decks, Chris Holmes of Ashtar Command and Greg Corner DJ’d, with the latter DJ/bassist arriving almost instantly after his Bottom Lounge set with Kill Hannah. Resident Lolla celebrity Aaron Paul, aka Breaking Bad’s Jesse Pinkman, held court inside and graciously posed for pictures with numerous fans.
Sunday August 5th
Closing out the weekend was the Hard Rock Hotel’s swan song event. Outside, lines began forming before the evening’s Lollapalooza headliners were even done performing. Upstairs, two separate areas hosted those who were able to find their way in, with a swank and plush VIP area on one side of a velvet rope, and a carpeted ballroom on the other.
Across the weekend, the festival’s after-parties and live music sets, afternoon escapes and brand campaign activations, proved successful and enjoyable. What’s more, the selections provided a level of variety on par with Lolla itself. A well executed delivery of ancillary events, surrounding a massive weekend of music and socializing.