Dear Lollapalooza 2012:
We’ve all led lives and processed versions of ourselves that we’re not at all proud of. It’s no secret. In some conceptual potential worm-reality this is all of us. Almost all of us have been douchebags/baguettes at some point in our lives. I’ve been a douchebag at least once during the month of August so far. Hopefully we’ve been fortunate enough to look back at the douchebro moments of our lives, the cringeworthy “holy-shit!” fulcrum points of privilege, arrogance, stupidity, invincibility, preening and santorum, and made better versions of ourselves out of the experience. I’m not pointing fingers at anyone other than myself, bruh.
So, Lollapalooza 2012, I’m not some outsider drunk on his elitist superiority or anything. I bought a ludicrously overpriced ticket on Craigslist at the last minute with the express purpose of enjoying you with the free Sunday I had. You’re not bad people! Chicago in summer is lousy with amazing outdoor music festivals and I am perfectly willing to smuggle a flask of Few anywhere and everywhere with lax security and good times. For all that Pitchfork Festival and its attendees are ripe for mockery, I feel like [relatively speaking] the organizers genuinely work hard at curating a pretty damn good lineup, with a few challenging acts like Tim Hecker, and go out of their way to prepare a fun experience every year (important ps: fuck Heineken! Goose Island/Half Acre/Metropolitan/Revolution 2013!). And while there are plenty of ‘are you for fucking real, dude?’ insufferable hipsterbag people-watching opportunities, and many if not most people are there just to be seen or to loudly talk obliviously over the music, for the most part people there will let you enjoy your time with minimal hassle. But Lolla – how are you different? Let’s sit down and talk. Put away the Beats by Dre headphones and the Reason Dubstep ReFill pack and sit down here by the couch.
Lolla, you have a shitty crowd problem. I don’t mean you’re too crowded; you cater to big crowds and you have a big space and you deal with it to the best of your abilities and I never wait too long for the porta-potties. That’s fine. What I mean is YOUR CROWD IS SHITTY. In every way. Dear Lolla, you have a problem with ROVING PACKS OF CLUELESS BROS ceaselessly shitting on everything they see and endlessly WOOOOOOing and terrorizing innocent people who are just out to enjoy music and summer and peaceful vibes.
Did you hear about the bros and bro-ettes who confronted a mother and her 11-year-old daughter at Lollapalooza, demanded that the daughter give them the Lolla beachball she was carrying around, and when she didn’t give them the ball one of them PUNCHED HER IN THE ABDOMEN and stole the ball and walked away laughing? A 19 year old military academy kid slash wannabe EDM producer by the name of Conrad Slimak. When the little girl jokingly had said that they could have the beach ball for $50, the brobag replied: “I’m a college student. Does it look like I have money?” Despite the fact that him and his friendbags all had 3-day wristbands that cost $200? But nevermind, who the fuck does this shit? And if you think it’s an isolated shocking thing to happen at an otherwise chillbro festy, you’re wrong. Over and over throughout the day I witnessed heights of douchery the likes of which I’ve only seen on episodes of Jersey Shore. I’m not the only one – Chicago Reader says: “Lolla is… like a leech that attaches itself to a section of town and crawls away after a few days of wreaking havoc.” Also: “[E]very music fest has its issues. But Lolla is nonetheless its own special kind of nightmare. Attendees wore scannable wristbands and moved through Grant Park in packs, mindlessly cheering at any sign of excitement, which sometimes gave weight to the fear that this happy throng could turn into a headless mob without warning. (That could have happened after the festival was evacuated ahead of Saturday’s torrential downpour; once the worst of the rain cleared, thousands descended upon the main entrance, and a few managed to take down a traffic pole while agitating to get back into the grounds.)” Hipster Runoff (which, fair enough, has been a bit douchey itself since at least 2010) has been documenting unchill festival bros, the Great AltBro Exodus and dumb teens fingerin’ in the streets and stuff. But reading all this doesn’t compare to the full panoramic IRL experience, which is pretty much the festival version of being inside a Hieronymus Bosch painting, only with more neon green stunna shades.
First, let me describe to you the olfactory and tactile sensation of wandering into Lolla and stepping into a field of murky literal shit. I arrived on Sunday, having missed the torrential downpour and subsequent Red Hot Chili Peppers set which turned the Red Bull Soundstage into an EXXTREEEEME SLIP’N'SLIDE SHITFEST (gifs courtesy LA Weekly):
That mud wasn’t just benign fun – it was unsanitary toxic shit – the rain seemed to have dredged up all the manure from the soil and turned the mud in huge sections of the field into actual beast-feces repellant awfulness. Imagine the worst zoo shitting itself, repeatedly and helplessly, and you get a sense of what it was like to be at Lolla on Sunday. Those people who were having fun in the mud also reeked of actual poop for the rest of the day / their lives and most likely did not get intimate with anyone that night or the entire week after, or hopefully the rest of the year, regardless of showers or changes of clothes.
But I’m just setting the stage for y’all. The behavior of the crowd was more sick-making than anything my six senses could provide. I saw a group of bros in sports jerseys deliberately pushing a young woman in front of them multiple times – when she turned around and got mad at them and then left her close-to-the-band spot to get the hell away, they all laughed and one of them shouted, “What a fucking cunt,” and then they all laughed some more and some stranger bros around them joined in the laughter. At another juncture, I witnessed 5-6 people jump the fence surrounding the festival and make a run for it. Which, fine – if you want to be stupid and take the risk and you’re legitimately broke, try and tempt the security guards who do a pretty good job of finding you. But the entire crowd witnessing this CHEERED THEM ON, and there were shouts of “THIS IS WHY I LOVE AMERICA, GOD BLESS AMERICA.” (Weird non-sequitur patriotism was a recurring theme throughout the day.) Cooooool! Stick it to the man I guess! Or just cheer on any stupid thing happening in your vicinity as a victory for your awesome awful USA-centric worldview, whatevs. I’m sure the guy I saw wearing the “SORRY FOR BEING A REPUBLICAN AND PARTYING” t-shirt who gave me a disgusted glare approves.
Justice’s headlining set started with a group of bros near me, with matching American flag bandannas, inciting the crowd with a chant of “USA! USA! USA! USA!” despite the fact that Justice are French, very French. And also, Olympics notwithstanding, despite the fact that the USA really has very little to be proud of over the past few weeks (uhhh particularly the shock of the Wisconsin Gurdwara shooting from that morning very fresh in my mind.) Group of bros proceeding to “WOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!” and “YEAAAAHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!” and “WOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!” throughout the entire hour-plus time that I was there before I got a headache and decided to retreat away from the front of the band. Seriously, I’m fine with a WOOOOO now and then in between songs, but who makes it a point to just mindlessly scream their head off throughout the entire fucking set of a band? Is this a brobag thing? Is this a Lolla thing? Is this an American thing? LOOK INSIDE OF YOURSELVES, AMERICANS. THESE WOOOOOOOS ARE NOT THE WOOOOOOOS OF SOLIDARITY, I ASSURE YOU. Later on in the Justice set, I was stuck between a rock and a hard place. On one side of me a fight was about to break out. The people around me were getting pissed that other people were trying to inch their way to the front, and weren’t having it. First, they tried blocking people from getting past with their arms, then pushes, then screaming and clawing and people falling down in aforementioned shitmud. People shoving into me and screaming at each other. While all this was going on, on the other side of me I was feeling persistent nudges and jabs from a couple who were dry humping INTO me. Just recklessly and heedlessly dryfucking on top of me, using me as a wall for their drunken groping encounter. When I tried moving away from them, they just honed in on me like guiding missiles of luvvvv. Sex and violence and brobaggery and manure and AMERICAAAAAAA all blending into each other! LOLLAPALOOZAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!
By no means was this a full chronicle of all of the douchebrobaggery I encountered, I’m blocking out quite a few traumatic experiences FYI. Oh, I forgot this was an open letter. Dear Lollapalooza: probably just leave my lovely city of Chicago and don’t feel like coming back. You are an ooze, a sexually transmitted disease that creeps its way non-Euclidian-geometrically, Lovecraft-style into the heart of my fair city and punches 11-year-old girls and steals their beachballs and shouts “USA!” and then slithers away only to return again next year. All the worst examples of Suburban white-as-fuck tween privileged trainwreck confidence monsters oozing their way into my beloved town, with their tribal tattoos and acid-washed jorts and backwards hats and oversized NBA jerseys and double-fisted Bud Light tallboys. Okay, now I’m getting elitist. Now it’s coming out. Now I’m pointing fingers. I’m a bad person. Haha, seriously though, leave and never come back and there were a few good bands but fuck you ———-