Ashley, our roving festival blogger reports from Lollapalooza!

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Pre-Lollapalooza Adventures – Thursday

Greetings from lovely Chicago, Illinois – the Windy City, former home of Oprah and host site of Lollapalooza. The adventure begins at 3:45 AM with Shay of SuperShuttles arriving at my apartment complex. Following some small talk, I realize his next stop is The Railyard – domestic dwelling of my travel buddy and photog Christine Chun. After scooping her up, we make one last stop before arriving at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport. In our early morning daze, we go through the motions of checking our bags and taking our shoes off for the TSA screening before heading to Salt Lick for brisket tacos. Almost soon after, we board our 6AM flight and find ourselves sitting next to Julian – an account manager for an Austin start-up who also has plans to attend Lolla. We chit-chat about neck pillows, Britt Daniels’ new music project Divine Fits and other relevant subjects until the sandman hits us upside the head.

In my slumber, I dream about music and the bands I plan on seeing until the thump of the airplane wheels on the ground wake me. Ah, we’re in Chicago! With the intent of meeting up at the fest, Julian and I exchange cards and go our separate ways.

“The Orange Line” … it’s the only line from the airport. 

Fairly unfamiliar with Chicago’s transit system, I text my friend Happy to ask him which “line” we need take. He replies with the “Orange Line — the only line from the Midway. Orange Line to Harold/Washington Library.” Traveling the distance between the airport and the city, we see large buildings, beautiful architecture and the occasional wall graffiti. Counting the stops, we finally arrive at ours and exit with The Palmer House Hilton set on Google Maps. After several walking blocks, we find ourselves in front of the beautiful, historic and elegantly designed hotel. Walking in, I can’t help but vocalize – “Thank you, Mr. Beveridge” in sincere appreciation for being put up in such a lovely establishment. Christine and I walk up to the registration desk, check-in and make our way to our room on the 16th floor. Depositing our bags, we hurry downstairs and “carpe diem Chicago” with a trip to Millennium Park. Playing the tourist card, we take an excessive amount of photos in front of the Cloud Gate and roll around in the grass of Jay Pritzker Pavilion.

Covered in sweat and content with our Instagram shots, we detour to Michigan Avenue to find a cheap, but legit bathing suit with a “tour de shop” with stops at H&M, Urban Outfitters, Old Navy, City Target, Forever 21 and Charlotte Russe, the success point. Following the exchange of money for suit, we stop in at the Palmer for a costume change and bus it to Oak Street Beach.

Incredible! A beach – (omg real sand) amidst Chicago’s big tall buildings? I think I’m in love. Chicago is amazing. A museum or  breath-taking architectural design at each corner; the people are nice, the streets are filled with public art and the transit system is impeccable.

To fast forward through the swim and wrap-up, we sealed the deal of our love affair with Chicago with a Tito’s family dinner at Graham Elliot, a thrice James Beard nominee and hit the home run with a night cap at The Violet Hour, “a hush and wonder” Speakeasy.

Lollapalooza Day 1, Friday – August 3, 2012 : Grant Park : Chicago, IL

The sun shined brightly and unmercifully on Grant Park with temperatures in the high 90’s. The sweltering weather brought out an exuberant amount of bathing suits, crop tops and jean shorts. Despite the oppressive heat, festival attendees remained upbeat and kept cool with H2O refill stations and shaded areas.

Photo Credit: Christine Chun

“Walk in with confidence” are the words that rang in my mind when I somehow managed to get side stage for the Black Angels. A daytime setting, while untypical, didn’t prevent the Austin based psych-band from further melting the faces off spectators. The 45-minute set included “Black Grease” and “Phosphene Dream.”

“You all are soldiers,” declared psychedelic rock project Tame Impala. The band which hails from Perth, Australia, took note of the humidity several times and thanked the crowd for toughing it out. At that point, I was ready for an exodus from the heat and trekked toward the Artist Lounge – an oasis of free Tito’s, restrooms, shade and a Whole Foods General Store with all you can grab Pop Chips, Kind Bars and fruit. Once recharged and replenished, I took a spot in front of the Red Bull stage and reunited with Christine for The Afghan Whigs. Unaware of the type of performance to expect, I turned to a girl in her early 20’s and asked “What does this band sound like?” She looked at me and responded thoughtfully with “No idea, but my dad told me to check them out and he’s got really good taste in music.”

Photo Credit: Christine Chun (

Clad in black and welcomed with loud applause, The Afghan Whigs commenced their set with “Uptown Again.” The alt-rock band only recently reunited in December 2011 since their breakup in 2001, played mostly older songs which included “I’m Her Slave” and “What Jail is Like.” The set concluded with “Rebirth of the Cool,” a track inspired by Miles Davis.

Next and last on the list for myself was Die Antwoord, a South African rap-rave group whose style draws from the Zef counter-culture movement. With vocalists Ninja and Yo-Landi Vi$$er at the helm, the fun bus with beats provided by DJ Hi-Tek kept a consistent and energetic pace to dance central. Sporting a matched hot pink crop top and booty shorts, accessorized with an excessive amount of colored watches – Vi$$er looked cuter than ever, her onstage presence remained on the same theme. Her co-pilot, Ninja wore his trademark black Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of the Moon” boxers from their viral video “Zef Side.” The energetic set included favorites “Baby’s On Fire,” “I Fink U Freeky” and “Enter The Ninja.” -Ashley Cass

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