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Lollapalooza and Spreading Joy in the Music Culture

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Sep. 30, 2014

Soaking up the last days of summer this past August, I attended the 2014 Lollapalooza Music Festival in Chicago. Lollapalooza (affectionately abbreviated “Lolla” by the locals) is a 3-day festival in pop, rock, rap, and EDM in Grant Park – the heart of downtown Chicago. I went with three of my buddies, all of us new to music festivals. We arrived excited and nervous about what the day might hold.

Two of my friends are more into rap music while I’m a die-hard EDM fan, so we alternated between performances like Flosstradamus (a Chicago DJ duo) and Chance the Rapper. I guess that was the first sign that I had picked the right friends to go with; we compromised and ensured everyone was happy before each performance.

By midday we were soaked in mud, water, and sweat. Yet we still raved manically, and so did the other 100,000 folks who made Grant Park their musical playground.  It was a strange and wonderful crowd experience - no one was afraid to foolishly dance and sing in the muddy fields.

One factor I underestimated at Lollapalooza was the music festival culture. It definitely became a challenge to both my comfort zone and willpower. People at Lollapalooza come from all walks of life, and that includes the drug and hookup culture that our generation frequently encounters.

I came to Lolla for the music, fun, and memories. However, the music festival culture would put me to the test. Even if I could resist temptations, I didn’t want these experiences to taint my joy or cause me to judge others. After all, my friends and I were there for a celebration. We wanted everyone around us to be just as joyful and carefree!

I could have spent the day scowling at people making life choices I wouldn’t make. Instead, I decided to adjust my attitude, so I could radiate a Christ-centered joy to the whole city. I began to smile frequently, start casual conversations with strangers, and pray for the different types of people I encountered. I found myself more comfortable, enjoying the music and scenery even more! My joyful attitude helped me protect the safety of others too. At one point a few small girls were pulled unwittingly into an EDM mosh pit and I stepped in, gently maneuvering them away from the chaos. They thanked me afterward with smiles of glee and relief, and naturally I smiled back. Helping people in these simple ways is the kind of thing I live for, and I never expected it to be appreciated at Lollapalooza.

The biggest reason I was joyful in this culture was true friendship. I surrounded myself with trustworthy friends who wanted a safe and enjoyable experience. It is significantly easier for a relaxed student like me to enjoy myself at a festival when I don’t have to worry about a friend’s safety and to know my friends won’t tempt me. This comfortable environment allowed the joy to become contagious. We were all having a good time together, what more did we need?

By the time I came home from Lolla, I was caked in mud and had ruined a good pair of shoes, but the fun and memories I gained were priceless. I guess you could say Lollapalooza (like many other music festivals) is a test in personal strength and friendships. But it doesn’t have to be a grueling test.  I surrounded myself with good friends, good values, and a good attitude. I could feel the resulting joy (and the bass) radiate through all of Grant Park.