Nightshows, Afterparties, Brand Activations and Buddy Guy’s Birthday: Three days in Chicago during Lollapalooza

Chicago is transformed by the iconic music festival Lollapalooza every year, giving the some 100,000 attendees – alongside those who didn’t get a ticket – the chance to experience the bands and the flavour of the incredible music that the event offers. Last year, we headed to Chicago to check out the festival and also see what else the city had to offer…

Lollapalooza aftershows were strung all across the city of Chicago, from Wednesday night all the way to Sunday. We only headed along to one such event, when Brisbane’s Sheppard opened up for UK artist Marina and the Diamonds. Both acts got the room singing, with “Geronimo” by the former leading plenty in the crowd to realise that they knew the band after all. But this was a room of Marina’s fans, and they knew every word of every song. Her performance disappointed no one in the room.

Though not an official aftershow, James Bay made a surprise appearance alongside Mike Wheeler and two of Buddy Guy’s sons, at Buddy Guy’s bar Legends, at a party thrown to celebrate his 79th birthday. Though he didn’t play guitar, Guy sang us a bit of music with his sons by his side and we all got cake, as he simultaneously celebrated the release of his latest album Born To Play Guitar. It was a wonderful night.

The same night, Lollapalooza founder and Jane’s Addiction frontman Perry Farrell had a party to celebrate the tequila he’s a spokesman for – Maestro Dobel. I spoke to Farrell briefly about it all and asked him about how he came to represent the brand:

“They came to a Jane’s Addiction concert, and after the show they asked a mutual friend if they could speak to me about representing their tequila. And I said – well, you know, I’ll talk to them – but I wasn’t thinking I’d really do it, because my name only can be attached to something that is incredible, qualitatively. You’ve got to taste it, or see it, or hear it and you have to tell your friend and talk about it. And I’ve got to tell you that this tequila is that good. This tequila is amazing. It’s made by masters.”

Then we did a Extra-Anejo tequila shot (that was delicious, I might add), I told him how great King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard are… and I don’t remember much after that.


Broods perform at FloodFest

FloodFest, which happened alongside Lollapalooza, saw events at the Virgin Hotel from Thursday night to Saturday night. Though open to the public, it was a hard event to get into, with acts like Father John Misty and DJ Windows 98 (Win Butler) amongst the performers making it hot and in demand. We were invited to an exclusive showcase featuring Broods and Coasts (pictured below) in intimate, acoustic mode, and it was wholly enjoyable.

Broods delivered stripped back versions of songs like “Four Walls” and “Bridges” (which Georgia delivered solo on the keys), alongside newer material, while Coasts teased us with just three songs, including “Rush of Blood” and “Modern Love”.

On site there were plenty of activations, too, that saw pop up performances amongst an array of branded activities. The Toyota/SPIN acoustic stage was hidden away, and we didn’t find it until the final day – but it saw some pretty massive names take to the stage, including Of Monsters and Men, Night Terrors of 1927 (pictured), Zella Day and more! And that was just on day three. The activation also partnered with VH1 Save The Music in Support of Music Education, with Toyota donating $1 to VH1 Save The Music every time the hashtag #ToyotaGiving was used on social media. For more on this great cause, visit http://www.vh1savethemusic.org/


Photo by Neilson Barnard/Getty Images for Dell

And finally – though we’ve only scratched the surface in this article – there was the Dell party, located across the street from the festival, have you panoramic views of Lollaplooza from the balcony, while they took over several floors of a building to help launch Windows 10, while the likes of A-Trak and Morgan Page (pictured) performed. Heading up on Thursday night, we even got to see McCartney soundcheck, albeit from a great distance. And that was pretty cool.

This is just a taste of what Chicago has to offer during Lollapalooza, which returns to Chicago this July for a four day event (a first for the festival which is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year). You can check out the lineup and find out more details about the event HERE.

All photos by Larry Heath unless otherwise mentioned.