Lolzafest Chicago 2021

We’re going to pick this up more or less where we left off from The Getaway Hostel post yesterday. If you haven’t read that yet, check it out by clicking this help highlighted text that’ll take you straight to it.

A Chicago river. They have a few of these.

So let’s just quickly jump back to our arrival at The Moxy, which, for the record, I can’t recommend enough. On google it’s listed as a 3 star review but it has nearly 5 star reviews and it definitely deserves them.

When I booked The Moxy I really didn’t know what I was getting aside from quickly glancing at a photo of the room I chose (is that a double or a queen bed? $250 a night roughly? Hell, let’s take it. – My internal monologue).

Chicago hotels are otherwise stupid expensive as far as I could tell and was told, with most of the ones downtown starting at like $300USD/night. Criminal, really, when you consider it’s just some bed linens they bought at a discount due to bulk ordering. I digress.

Here’s some snaps of the lobby and my room. Full disclosure, I actually don’t take THAT many photos typically, but I will fire off a few rounds of the same thing if I’m not sure how I might want to alter it later. And in particular on this trip I was having severe phone storage issues so, I kept it pretty low-key.

When you first enter the Moxy it’s clear it’s a pretty artsy place, so I felt right at home. It has a fairly large lounge area where you can play scrabble or a small arcade box, plus it has vinyl and loads of books all around to take in at your leisure. I didn’t spend any time in here, but it always felt good to walk through. They even had some old-school Death Cab for Cutie on hand! You can check out more pics on their website of course.

It also appeared to me pretty quickly that it seemed to be an LGBTQ+ friendly place, which although I’m a heterosexual woman, also gives me comfort since I was on my first solo-travel trip and not exactly looking to make “acquaintance” with any strange men.

All the staff were friendly and kind. When you check-in, they give you a poker chip to redeem at their bar. I didn’t end up using mine (sober, and not keen on chilling in bars when I can help it). They also had a grab & go area full of snacks and drinks (I snagged a pop one morning, it was reasonably priced), and at Taco restaurant that you can either dine inside, outside, or take to go. I didn’t try it but hell it smelled good!

After getting a proper shower in (thanks for the complimentary shampoo and conditioner Moxy!) I got changed and dealt with my first issue of the day.

As you read in my previous post, I was issued a refund for my stay at The Getaway Hostel. Unfortunately, when I read the receipt it was clear to me there was a big mistake; the last 4 digits on the credit card noted on the receipt didn’t match either one of my cards.

Damnit, Getaway Hostel, you’ve done it again.

I had half a mind to walk back up to deal with it in person but to be honest I had no interest in heading over there; I would be heading to Lollapalooza later that afternoon for Jimmy Eat World and had enough on my plate.

So I sent them an e-mail.

Here’s the exchange.

Here’s the receipt. You’ll note there’s no customer signature because that’s how quickly they wanted me out of there. I also paid more than $99.90. And that card number isn’t mine (you’ll have to trust me on that one). Further, they definitely had my real address on file, again, on account of how I booked this place like a month before coming to Chicago and used my very real Canadian credit card.

The initial e-mail from me to The Getaway Hostel:

And this is the response I got from Vincent from The Getaway Hostel, who I believe to be the white guy with light eyes who I first thought might be Ukranian. Turns out his last name might actually be Irish, so, I was off on that one.

Also him and his croonies kept saying I’d have to contact Expedia when we last spoke in person which was also confusing to me because I knew I hadn’t used Expedia. Anyways, here’s what he said.

Thanks Mr. Sassana.

So I was still a little irked by this because again, the receipt still should’ve had my actual last-4 digits if they did it properly. So I responded as such:

He never replied.

I still have the key card, though. Memories, you know?

So in any case, I knew my conversation with Vincent was beyond over and I will have to keep an eye on my credit card statements to ensure the refund is processed correctly, but I’m sure between Hotels.com and I, we’ll get it sorted it.

My next issue was that I had to prepare for Lollapalooza day 1. The only day I would be attending.

Updated Bag Policy

As I may have mentioned in my previous post, the festival updated their bag policy sometime around 8:00PM the night before; not a whole lot of notice for people coming in from out of town like me, but I get it; I’ve worked live events for years and I know how quickly these things can change. But I had some issues with the policy; I’ll post the e-mail with it for you here:

So the first thing to note about this festival is that due to the ongoing pandemic, you are required to bring things you otherwise never had to before, like your vaccination sheet or a proof of a negative test.

I’ll also note that on this particular morning the weather forecast was showing rain, so you’d be wise to bring an umbrella or raincoat as well.

Plus, since it’s an all-day festival, you might be interested in things like a blanket, your own empty reusable water bottle, your wallet, keys, cash for you know, eating and drinking and stuff, and maybe your phone charger and phone if you’re someone like the millions of others at Lollapalooza who like to take photos or have a way to communicate with friends and family.

Now imagine for a moment you’re a solo-travelling woman from Canada with only a normal backpack and you read the updated bag policy at 11PM the night before the show.

Shit.

Also take a look at that hydration pack policy: empty of all liquid. Okay, sure.

Since I’m from out of town, the other silly policy Lollapalooza laid out for us is that I couldn’t simply print my ticket from home and bring it to the gates; I had to go to will call, presumably to show my ID and get my wristband.

I knew Jimmy Eat World didn’t hit the stage until 5PM and really that was the only reason I was attending this type of festival; they’re not exactly my scene, especially alone in a foreign city. So I decided to find out how lax they might be able this bag policy. I even sent the festival a courtesy e-mail ahead of time.

Just lookin’ out for the other festival go-ers, you know?

I didn’t want to waste the sunny morning so I got all my things ready and started making my way to Grant Park because I had no idea where will call would be and didn’t know how long just that part of the experience would be, and of course, I needed extra time for what would no doubt be an interesting conversation about the bag policy. I just knew I’d have an issue, you know? I just knew.

The funniest part about coming across “The Bean” in downtown Chicago is seeing how many people take their photo from the “wrong” side. I think it’s just because there’s more standing room on that side, but wow, it was amazing to walk to the other side and see the skyline in the mirror image and note that only like 6 of us seemed to understand that this was where you’re supposed to stand for these tourists shots.

Of course, you can’t see me in mine, because I am a ninja.

Will Call; 2PM or so.

By the time I got to an entrance at Grant Park I knew I needed to ask for some clarification. I was on the Bud Light Seltzer end of the grounds just behind it and asked a woman checking wristbands where will call was. I also took note of the many many backpacks being let through the first gate.

She explained I had to go down to the end of the street and hang a left and keep walking. She said a street name but I was unfamiliar and figured signage should suffice, and it did.

By the time I got over to will call there was already a pretty long line and a girl ahead of me surmised it would probably take at least half an hour. She was pretty accurate.

Standing in line I started to take in the vibe of Lollapalooza. People were dressed so strangely. And I don’t say that to be mean or anything but rather just because there’s no way in hell 16 year old me would have dressed in such a way at that age, fest or no fest; hell, 31 year old me was in a tank top and denim shorts with runners.

I’ve seen pictures and videos of these festivals online but never been to one like this in person. I get that it’s all in the name of “self expression” but you can’t fool me; this is less about self-expression and more about getting noticed and laid.

As we crawled through the line a tall dude behind me caught my eye; not because he was attractive, although he probably cleans up alright, but because he was so trashed he could barely stand up even while holding the will call railing. His friend with him had a coffee and had given him a can of water. Buddy needed to sober up fast.

I wondered how he even made it past the 20+ Chicago police officers right outside the line, and why nobody else seemed to give a damn how incapacitated he was. In the entire time we made our way through the line, only 1 person spoke up and asked him if he was okay; he drunkenly slurred back something to the effect of “yeah.” Totally, dude.

I had half a mind to say something to the person at the door of the will call building but, she seemed exhausted already and I was already pretty beat from my morning with The Getaway Hostel folks. Speaking of which, that symbol on the P.A speaker right outside will call sure looks a lot like the little Getaway Hostel logo. Funny that.

Once I was inside two funny things happened.

  1. The young girl behind me who was excitedly showing her friends her brand new drivers license (16 in U.S, right?), was also snap chatting or similar with some guy. Some guy who looked just like the drunk in line behind us. He had sent a picture to her obviously before arriving, looked like it was taken in his home or hotel.

    This kind of thing is why I never want kids. He is WELL older than her.
  2. When I finally got to the desk to pick up my wristband, they didn’t even check my ID or credit card or anything. So now I was mildly annoyed because clearly Lolla could have just sent me a normal ticket or something in the mail. The guy handed me my wristband and I said, “that’s it?”. ‘Yeah, that’s it.’ Cool, whatever, I’ve gotta get into the show now.

Lollapalooza multi-checkpoint entry, 2:45PM or so.

There were multiple ways to get into the festival which on the one hand is good for crowd control, but on the other hand is a nightmare for the festival itself and its many volunteers.

I found the first one I came across and started to make my way in.

The first step was to show your wristband. Got it! Okay, that one was easy.

The second step was to show your vaccination. Got it! Okay, not too bad. Feeling like we’re almost through this hassle.

Then after walking down a long concrete path, there’s one more check-point. Back check. I walked up confidently after watching several people with a wide variety of backpacks and bags enter with ease, many had the clear vinyl, and I put my bag on the table.

Security: You can’t enter with this.

Me, aloof: Oh? How come?

S: It’s a full bag.

Me: What’s the difference between my bag and those bags you just let in?

S: It has 3 zippers.

Me: Is that the only difference?

S: Look at the size of it, it’s a full backpack.

Me: You can check the bag, there’s just very basic —

S, cutting me off: This isn’t allowed.

Me: Listen, I’m from out of town and this is the only bag I had with me.

S: The bag policy says —

Another security guard joins us and the move me away from the line.

Me: Listen, I don’t drink or do drugs, everything in here is stuff that literally can’t fit in my pockets (denim shorts, remember?), you can search the bag.

S: You can’t bring it in. Look, here’s the bag policy.

Security pulls out her phone to show me it.

Me: If I was a mother you’d let me in with this bag because of all the stuff I’d have to bring in for my kids.

S: But you’re not a mother.

Me, amused and now louder for all the attendees to hear: Again, listen, I don’t drink or smoke, I’m here from out of town for a 1-hour set. You can check my bag. *I opened it* there’s a sweater, my wallet, my vaccination papers required…

S: The bag policy.

Me, annoyed, watching several other people get let in with bags ahead of me now: You’re not even checking those bags at all.

Do you guys know how easy it was to sneak alcohol and drugs into Lollapalooza day 1? Because I do. Clear vinyl doesn’t mean shit if you let people pack them full with stuff and then proceed to not open a single one. And hydration packs were all full, you know how I know? People were drinking in line.

S: You can’t come in with this bag.

They were playing hard ball. I knew they would with me.

Me: So what would you recommend someone like me do, my hotel is way outside of the core and I’m not even from here.

S: You can go to Trader Joe’s an buy a vinyl bag.

Me: So now in addition to my ticket for this show you want me to go spend more money on a bag just because you won’t verify the contents of this one?

S: Yes.

Me: Thanks, I’ll be back later.

I left Lollapalooza Checkpoint 3, 2 and 1 in a hurry, also wondering why literally it took until this stage of entry for a single person to say anything about my backpack. Do you know how many people saw me before this moment? So many people, dude!

The Mad Dash

I literally ran back to the Moxy, which is no problem because I’m in pretty good shape and I do run for exercise semi-regularly. I was in such a hurry I forgot to bring my sweater with me, but it was hot out and at this point I didn’t care because I just wanted to make sure I got a good spot to stand at the stage.

Checkpoint 1 again; wristband? Check!

Checkpoint 2 again; vaccination? Check!

Checkpoint 3 again; no bag, no pat down. Check!

*Flick of the wrist to check the time on my Fitbit* approximately 3:40PM. Phew, time to spare.

We’re in!

Once I got onto the grounds I did what every sensible festival go-er does and I sought out a map.

Sorry festival attendees but you were in my shot.

Great, I’m basically right where I need to be, I’d actually walked past the Bud Light Seltzer stage.

Seemed pretty straight forward, thought it’d be a half decent festival set-up, but truly didn’t understand why they’d complicate it with so many entry points and so many check points. A lot of this stuff could have been done at the same check points (for example, wristband and vaccination could had saved you like 100 volunteers, Lollapalooza).

I went to grab myself a reusable water bottle (since I didn’t want to carry anything on my run back to the fest except my wallet and phone) which was $6USD. Not bad, I’ll allow it considering in Canada most reusable water bottles start at like $20+CAD for reasons I don’t understand. And it came full of some nice cool water which I desperately needed in that moment.

But there was something that was irking me and I had to snap a couple pics. Check out all these backpacks, Lollapalooza!

Some of these were full on hiking/backpacker packs, dude! And so many non clear vinyls! Way to train your volunteer security, Lollapalooza. If I had to rate your check in system out of 10, for this alone it fails miserably. 0 stars; on account of all the dehyrated festival goers who couldn’t bring in their own reusable water bottles and were taking molly all day.

Anyway, I was starving so I found my way to the Bud Light Seltzer stage, found the nearby pizza stand, and grabbed myself my first slice of deep dish (allegedly).

Connie’s Deep Dish. Tastes a lot like a lot of other non-Chicago pizza I have had in Canada. Still tasty. Extra cheesy, just the way I like it. Thank’s Connie’s!

This was one of the best meals I had my entire time in Chicago; Connie’s Pizza. I didn’t finish it, it was pretty filling, and I had to run to the bar to grab two Coke Zero’s for myself and secure my spot my the stage. This is what it’s like to party at a festival by yourself when you’re 31 and sober. Exciting stuff, I know.

By the way, there are no affiliate links in this post, just like normal links for your references.

Okay, time to get to the stage.

By 4PM, after watching Zach check his kit set-up from the other side and deciding maybe this vantage point would be better for me, I parked my feet just behind a couple girls who were sitting on the ground. I was 2nd/3rd row and started to take in the festival attendees a bit more.

A young teen boy and his dad popped up beside me; good, some company I can relate to.

Those of us early-birds were patiently waiting when some obnoxious Lolla dudes showed up and took the spot right against the railing in front of us. They looked like university frat bros. Great. Whatever, no big deal, I know how these things go. Then a chick with I kid you not 8″ platform shoes popped up and secured her spot right ahead of me just to my right. Great, another total douchebag.

I overheard the boy say to his dad something to the effect of, “I want to break this guys legs.”

I laughed. Me too, man.

Here’s the thing festival goers, if you see a bunch of younger people who have already secured their spot at a stage well ahead of you, you’re straight up just an asshole if you do anything like this, especially if you’re obnoxiously tall to start with.

And not for anything, but it was clear to me these people were not as big Jimmy Eat World fans as me, and I wanted this kid to have a good experience.

We didn’t cause a scene; that’s not my style.

I thought it was funny watching the Jimmy Eat World stage show set up. Snook a pic of Jim signing some autographs when he appeared from the curtain, and of Robin while he was making sure his set-up was good, too. I kinda laughed when I saw the Jimmy Eat World team uses Mbox’s still, but it definitely got the job done.

And for what it’s worth, this was the best sounding set of the day; if you ask me anyway. Good job crew! At the top of the set it was way too bass heavy but they corrected that quick, sometime around when Jim motioned to the monitor mixer to up his guitars (or something like that anyway, I’m not a minder reader, I’ve just worked some shows and have ears).

A quick video of Jimmy Eat World rolling through “555” one of the first songs of the day.

I was pretty hype to be so close to the stage. I sang along to every song and bobbed my head around. Even the kids dad beside me got into it at one point; good company.

His kid was funny as hell, too. He was really excited to see the All Time Low set playing on the Tito’s stage behind us following this one and nervous about missing anything if they didn’t leave before they started, but they stayed for just about the whole thing.

When “Chase This Light” came on, the kid excitedly said, ‘hey, I know this one!!”. I think he had a great time.

The only bummer about being on this end of the stage (and truly, I didn’t look at the crowd behind us at all this whole set) is that I noticed Jim kept his attention on the other side of the stage. Fair enough that it’s a ton of people, but I could count on 2 fingers how many times he looked over in our direction, and this is something important to me as both a performer and an attendee.

The university frat bro’s also bummed out the experience quite a bit on our side. They clearly didn’t know any songs, and only after hearing the closers “The Middle” and “Sweetness” did they pipe up, ‘well that was worth it’.

Fuck those guys, they should have stayed in the back.

Anyway, it was really a great show. They had great energy and sounded flawless. I think Jim might’ve blew out his voice a bit at the end, but I did, too.

Woah-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh!

Worth the $100 ticket.

Wish I coulda swam in this.

Taking In The Sights & Eats

I checked out a little bit of All Time Low’s set afterwards from pretty far back. They had a great sound system there, too, very crisp. But I didn’t stick around. A combination of getting too many eyeballs from drunk men and feeling a little annoyed with their immature stage banter. I like that band, the earlier stuff, but I really fell off of them like 8 years ago or so after my friend beat one of their records to death at my cottage. The one with like, “Hello Brooklyn” and all that on it. Way too overplayed for me, can’t really stand it now.

Afterwards I tried to source some more food but it seemed like slim picks, but maybe I didn’t find the right place and frankly couldn’t be bothered to look at the map again, so I settled for some cheesy waffle fries just to get something in my system and had a bite to eat with Abraham Lincoln while I waited for the only other show I was really interested in checking out, Miley Cyrus closing out the T-Mobile stage on the other end of the park.

There was an ant in my fries but he didn’t put up a fight when I asked him to leave. Thanks lil’ guy.

I hate taking selfies because my face always looks dumb as fuck trying to focus on getting the shot and looking normal at the same time. But I knew I’d be writing this blog so I took a few for the CF team. (I am the team).

Having such a great time!

Okay so, when the sun started to go down I knew I was going to be cold as hell while I waited for the Miley Cyrus set. So I went over to the merch tent to see the selection. Basically nobody other than Jimmy Eat World had sweaters (trust me, I looked). I have enough Jimmy Eat World merch but hell if I’m gonna spend $50USD on anyone else.

Kind of an annoying thing about this merch tent is that they didn’t want you to try anything on. I initially asked the girl to show me a Small even though she recommended a Medium for me. (The thing is, I’ve bought several Jimmy Eat World sweaters before and even some of their prior Small sizes are more like Women’s Large’s).

When I asked if I could try it on she said no, you could only hold it up to yourself. Which is hard to gauge.

So I asked to see a Medium to compare. She seemed annoyed by this, and I expressed that, “well for the price of it I want to be sure.”

I ended up going with the Medium and she responded, “See, I told you.”

I still hadn’t tried it on. Pretty sure a Small would’ve been fine, but whatever, I was just cold.

This rule makes zero sense whatsoever. Why is it acceptable for hoards of people to touch and handle band merch but not okay for attendees trying to purchase them to put them on? This rule needs to go, or just don’t sell merch at the festival; dumb as hell, and I was growing tired with rude Chicagoans.

Migrant Motel at the BMI stage. Great set, Highly recommend you check them out.

This band was really cool and was literally the only other stage that drew me in this day. The singer is from Peru and the drummer from New Mexico. Or vice versa, I forget. In any case, very cool band with great stage presence. And they made a point to thank their sound tech and crew which I always appreciate; and the stage sounded great.

Somewhere up there is Steve Aoki.

I couldn’t get a great pic of this but Steve Aoki’s stage was visually very cool, as most DJ stages are. It’s not really my vibe and there were way too many drunks kicking around back here so I didn’t hang around, but it was cool to watch a little bit of it.

Then I walked across to the Miley Cyrus set and was thoroughly disappointed.

I’ve never been a big fan of Miley’s music per say, but I know she’s got a killer voice and I’ve seen some videos of her where she really kills it. But I hadn’t heard the newer stuff, and as it turns out it’s not my thing.

Billy Idol was a guest which I thought was cool; I’ve seen him before, Steve Stevenson is one of the world’s best guitar players in my mind.

Unfortunately her stage sounded like total shit from where I stood, and I didn’t seem to be the only one who thought so.

Also, has Lollapalooza ever heard of stage risers? Would’ve made the viewing experience, you know, viewable for the hoards of people watching.

Honestly Miley sounded sick as hell singing, so even vocally I was unimpressed, and the drum kit seemed out of sync with the P.A’s near me, which was annoying and distracting. And the guitar lines during Billy Idol sounded straight up awful; bad tone.

I left early.

Leaving Lolla.

I walked back to my hotel feeling all in all pretty good about the day; the Jimmy Eat World set was THAT good.

I hoped onto Vividseats.com when I got back to some stable WIFI.

The initial plan for me in coming to Chicago wasn’t about Lollapalooza at all, rather, my birthday falls on July 30th and after having a pretty shitty couple years, I wanted to do something for myself and go see their show on that date specifically.

The show sold out quick online when it went on sale but after committing to my Chicago trip and having the terrible experience at The Getaway Hostel, I was like fuck, I’ll just spend a little more and go to this show if I can find a scalper.

The ticket was marked up significantly landing around $100USD before tax. Thanks “Jeremy”.

Before I came to this show I had $3000 to my name, lost my job, and quite a bit of credit card debt, which again is why the only reason this trip even happened was my flight to Chicago was free from my Aeroplan points and my hostel was initially only a cool $130.

I walked everywhere to save money and ate sparsely.

The Lollapalooza day ticket was $100USD.

My upgrade to the Moxy ended up landing over $1000USD. Fuck.

Fuck it, it’s my birthday.

Stay tuned for my Metro Chicago round-up, coming soon!

6 thoughts on “Lolzafest Chicago 2021

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