Where some other festivals have focused on celebrity and influencer culture, Lollapalooza focuses on – for the most part – music; as it has in its 31 year long history. With over 170 artists that performed over the past weekend, it was definitely tough to have to cherry-pick which artists to prioritise and see. With that being said, there was definitely something for everyone: even children had the special Kidapalooza stage set up for them. This packed weekend made for a great experience to discover new artists by sitting through their sets whilst waiting for a good spot to see your favourite artist.
Outside of the performances, when it came to other activities for festival-goers, it felt as if they were far and few in between. Though there were several lounges that concert goers could access like the T-Mobile Club Magenta on the South Campus of the festival, the Toyota Music Den toward Northern part of campus, and activities were spread throughout the park, there wasn't anything much to indicate what certain activities had to offer. However, an app was available option for festival goers who wished to have such info in the palm of their hands. Furthermore, the festival seemed to be inclusive for members of the Disabled community and their companions; there were plenty of ramps, and at the Bud Light Seltzer stage they also had accessibility seating.
This weekend was monumental in the fact that two K-Pop powerhouses – BTS’ j-hope and TOMORROW X TOGETHER – were added to the bill at the last minute and exceeded any preconceived notions of fan turnout or performance that the acts themselves or many regular festival goers had. The best example of this would be for j-hope’s set on Sunday, where fans were lining up outside of Grant Park as early as 5AM to hear soundcheck, wait for his merchandise, and rush to the Bud Light Seltzer stage once the gates opened in order to secure a spot by the barricade.
Although the festival made strides in Asian representation by having the first South Korean artist to headline a stage at Lollapalooza, as well as having the first K-Pop boy group perform on their stages, when it came to Asian artists they were few and far between, despite all of them showcasing brilliant and diverse musical sounds. Talented singer-songwriter Dominic Fike performed to a packed out stage, with people rushing over in order to be able to catch him not just fantastic renditions of songs like 'Açai Bowl' but also an incredible cover of 'Everybody Talks' by Neon Trees that had the whole crowd screaming and singing with him.
Acts Griff and Audrey Nuna also performed brilliant and enthralling sets. Griff’s performances brought a gorgeous indie chill atmosphere to Chicago, and had the crowd in their feelings with her track ‘One Night’ being one of the songs performed prior to her singing a bit of ‘I Wanna Dance with Somebody’ by Whitney Houston and these renditions led to a wonderful moment where the crowd even sang it back to her. Audrey Nuna brought her own dazzling energy performing ‘Honeypot’; seeing her getting the crowd to bounce along with her was magical to witness. These two female Asian artists were powerful in their own rights as they owned both the Bud Light Seltzer and Coinbase stages, and we certainly hope that the high quality of all their performances will encourage festival organisers to add more artists of Asian heritage in the future.
Something of note was the disparity between the demographics of the festival attendees versus those of Chicago's own population. It wasn’t until Sunday that one could really see an increase of racial diversity within the crowd, that could have been attributed to the diversity within BTS’ own fanbase. Prior to the BTS’ member’s performance, Perry Ferrell, the founder of Lollapalooza, and the Mayor of Chicago, Lori Lightfoot, made a joint statement announcing a further 10 years of partnership between the city of Chicago and Lollapalooza.
Across even just the last two days of Lollapalooza, audience goers were truly spoiled being able to witness history by seeing two global Asian artists as well as two great Asian female solo acts take to the Lollapalooza stage to the backdrop of gorgeous 29°C weather. Hopefully we see the presence of Asian artists from all over the world continue to grow in future renditions of the festival, and that more POC audience goers will flock to Lollapalooza as they see more artists like themselves added to future lineups.