Some Polite Suggestions For A Lollapalooza Itinerary (Including Aftershows)

Festival season is at its hot, sweaty peak, which means it can only be time for the big international bacchanal that is Lollapalooza in Chicago. There are some tough calls to be made with such a dense and eclectic lineup, so we did our best to try to plan out your weekend. Here are our suggestions on who to see when, including after the fest, although if you don’t have any tickets to this stuff or good connections, or your fence-jumping abilities are limited, you might be kind of S.O.L.

Also, if you are going, remember that it is going to be soul-destroyingly hot out there this weekend. This is in the middle of a park in Chicago in August. Stay hydrated, avoid heavy fabrics (jorts are deceptively suffocating) and look out for one another, y’all.

THURSDAY

7 p.m. – Technically, these count as before-shows as opposed to after-shows, we guess. You could start with S.O. Terik and FILTER Magazine’s free w/RSVP party at Logan Square Auditorium, featuring a DJ set fromPassion Pit, Twin Shadow and Neon Indian or sweet, hazy jams from Philly indie weirdos Dr. Dog at Lincoln Hall. If you prefer your gigs a bit freakier, join the weirdoes at Berlin for Do312’s sideshow-themed night, featuring an actual freak show alongside Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs and DJ Zebo.

FRIDAY

1:30 p.m. – Those lucky enough to skive off work a little longer could do worse than starting their day with Michael Kiwanuka (PlayStation Stage), one of our favorite new artists and the BBC’s Sound of 2012. Grab a beer (or a more hydrating beverage), find a spot in the grass and let his Bill Withers-echoing vocal styles take you into a sunny happiness coma.

3 p.m. – Don’t stray too far from the PlayStation stage because another favorite, Sharon Van Etten,will be on after Kiwanuka. One of pop music’s most distinctive, versatile and stunning voices, Van Etten’s music is quite intimate but her vocals can grow big enough to fill Grant Park. If you need more of a pump-up after Kiwanuka, there’s also Zedd spinning at Perry’s or psych-rockers Tame Impala at the Sony stage.

4:15 p.m. – Who’s excited for a reunited Afghan Whigs? We are! If you are too, you can catch ‘em at the Red Bull stage. If not, SBTRKT will be probably be sweating under their masks and bringing the funk at the Google Play stage.

5:30 p.m. – The smaller stages sometimes get lost in the crowd and the sound bleed, but musical omnivore and Beatle royalty Dhani Harrison’s band, thenewno2, is worth a listen. His new album, thefearofmissingout, features cameos from everyone from RZA and Ben Harper to Icelandic singer Thorunn Magnusdottir.

6:30 p.m. – Oh wow. Choices. If you missed Passion Pit’s aftershow, sing along to cuts from their great new album, Gossamer, at the Bud Light stage, or head to the opposite end of the park for The Shins, who don’t tour all that often but do usually bring it live. Swing by the Sony stage for a bit of the always-enjoyable M83 after.

8 p.m. – Sure, classic rock may not be your bag and sure, seeing acts from the 1960s and ‘70s can often be a crapshoot (remember that time The Who played the Super Bowl and it was kind of awful?) and sure, they probably won’t have their original drummer, but this will probably be your last chance to see Tony Iommi destroy some of rock’s heaviest riffs. It’ll be crowded, and it may not be perfect, but you can see The Black Keys any old time so get out there and see Black Sabbath, damn it.

10 p.m. – Pretty much all the good aftershows are sold out, so be prepared to fight some people (metaphorically or in battles of wits, not really), among them Bear In Heaven at the Empty Bottle and The War On Drugs at Schubas. Due to his unfortunately being sandwiched between some other big names on Saturday, though, test your luck camping out for Frank Ocean at the Metro.

SATURDAY

12:15 p.m. – Fight your hangover, down some mimosas and some eggs, put on all the sunscreen and catch some pretty excellent early-day acts. You could join Chicagoans at Perry’s in welcoming recent festival addition Chief Keef, the teenage hometown rap sensation who made the Internet explode with “Bang” and “I Don’t Like.” Or go with another hometown favorite, JC Brooks & The Uptown Sound, a funky, brassy outfit with an excellent front man and a surprisingly wonderful cover of “I Am Trying To Break Your Heart.”

3:30 p.m. – Remember that time Chairlift released a choose-your-own-ending-themed music video? That was pretty cool. Hopefully their show at the Google Play stage has that same spirit of adventure.

5 p.m. –2011 Pazz and Jop honorees tUnE-yArDs (Sony) amassed quite the following with the release of w h o k i l l last year. And multi-instrumentalist Merrill Garbus sounds just as captivating in person as she does on the record.

7 p.m. – Get ready to party like it’s 2004. Bloc Party heads up the Sony stage and the frenetic sing-along/dance-off that will likely occur. Mercury’s in retrograde, didn’t you know?

 8 p.m. – The Red Hot Chili Peppers (Red Bull Soundstage) are a consistent live band and will put you into a ‘90s nostalgia coma, and all the house-lovin’ bros will be fist-pumping to Avicii (Bud Light Soundstage), but you’ve also got Santigold (Perry’s) and Frank Ocean (Google Play, in case you didn’t go to his after show), who both put out great albums this year. Really, we’re having trouble making a definitive call on this one. Go with your gut. They’ll all be back after the whole radius clause thing or whatever.

10 p.m. – Calvin Harris leads the fist-pumping set at The Mid for those who still can’t get his songs out of your head and Childish Gambino will bring his pop-culture-reference-packed jams to The Vic Theatre. We encourage you to go to the latter show not because of Gambino himself, but opener Chance The Rapper, a fresh local emcee who cut his first mixtape, 10Day, while suspended from school. After Chance, head over to Vision Nightclub for one of the few afterparties not yet sold out, the Steampunk Circus from Wicker Park’s infamous debauchery-on-a-school-night party, Porn ‘n’ Chicken.

SUNDAY

1:30 p.m. – Fans of Bon Iver and Gayngs already known about Poliça (Sony), the current dreamy electro-pop project fronted by former Gayngs singer Channy Leanagh. Ease into your last day of the festival and get lost in Leanagh’s voice.

2:15 p.m. – I know, I know. Bluegrass isn’t everyone’s thing, but Trampled By Turtles (Red Bull Soundstage)are quite fun live. Be sure you’re not too hung over for a good stomping.

3:15 p.m. – A surprisingly tough call for midday between Little Dragon (Perry’s), Dum Dum Girls (Google Play) and Gary Clark Jr. (PlayStation).  Also, some really sexy jams for, like, 3 in the afternoon, but alright. Based on YouTube first impressions of their live shows, all of them are quite good—go with Gary Clark Jr., but if the whole resurgence of blues-rock isn’t your thing, then probably Dum Dum Girls. 

4 p.m. – I once had a roommate who said it was his dream in life to drop acid and go see Sigur Rós (Red Bull Soundstage). I don’t know where he is now, or if he fulfilled that dream, but you certainly can. And should. We’d endorse seeing them for sure, but maybe without the hallucinogens.

5:15 p.m. – Malian dynamic duo Amadou & Mariam (PlayStation)released one of the best albums of 2012, featuring shimmering blues-rock collaborations with the likes of Theophilus London, Jake Shears from Scissor Sisters and Bertrand Cantat. Perfect music for sitting and relaxing with the now warm booze you smuggled in, but if the spirit moves you, it’s alright to get up and dance.

6 p.m. – It’s all about the anthems and what kind of anthems you’re into. On opposite ends of the park, you have reunited hardcore stalwarts in At The Drive-In (Red Bull) and on the other, Florence & The Machine (Bud Light) cranking out the best guilty-pleasure adult contemporary sing-a-longs this side of Coldplay. Given that Florence tours fairly regularly and the novelty of the ATDI reunion, we’d go with the former, but they’ll both probably be fun. Icelandic outfit Of Monsters and Men will be holding it down at the Google Play stage, so try to catch them in between acts if you’re en route.

8 p.m. – The last night is all about the dancing, as evidenced by electronic headliners Justice (Bud Light)and Chicago-based house DJ Kaskade headlining Perry’s. On the opposite end of the field at Red Bull, the mods and rockers will come together for Jack White, usually an engaging performer and sitting atop a pile of new material from Blunderbuss, blistering and catchy alike. Definitely choose the latter if you’re too hot, hung-over or exhausted to dance.

10 p.m. – So members of Wolf Parade, Spoon and New Bomb Turks started a supergroup and called it Divine Fits, and they’re bringing their synth-packed sound to Schubas  alongside Bare Mutants. If Chairlift’s short festival set wasn’t enough for you, they headline the Empty Bottle

Is This Leaked Lollapalooza Lineup on the Level?

Is the 2012 Lollapalooza lineup set in stone? If this grainy snapshot of a piece of paper is to be believed, then the annual music festival will be headlined by the Red Hot Chili Peppers, the Black Keys, Black Sabbath, Jack White and Florence + The Machine, with The Shins, At the Drive-In, Justice, The Weeknd, Sigur Ros, and more swooping in for the supporting time slots. It could be completely b.s. — again, it’s a grainy snapshot of a piece of paper — but the lineup seems very appropriate to Lollapalooza’s big tent appeal, and some of the acts have already been hinted at through promotion on Chicago’s transportation system. Check out the full (rumored) lineup over at Pretty Much Amazing

There may be one fly in the ointment: Black Sabbath previously cancelled a summer tour due to guitarist Tony Iommi’s lymphona treatment, and because drummer Bill Ward had previously expressed reluctance to do the reunion without being fairly compensated. But as this Rolling Stone report notes, Sharon Osbourne said that the band would be playing one American show in August — and, as it turns out, Lollapalooza happens to be American, a show, and in August. There’s your smoking gun if there ever was one. At any rate, we’ll know by Wednesday when the lineup is officially announced. There will be all sorts of fun to had at the festival regardless of who’s playing, as you can see below.

Stream the Solo Album From Sonic Youth’s Lee Ranaldo, ‘Between The Times And The Tides’

Lee Ranaldo is about to be a man without a band, if those rumors about Sonic Youth playing their last show at Lollapalooza are true. (They do seem to just be rumors, but for what it’s worth, the band is included on the official Lollapalooza 20th Anniversary Sampler — along with other 2012 lineup non-factors like Jane’s Addiction and Sleater-Kinney, but still.) Next week, he’s getting set to relaunch his solo career with the release of Between The Times And Time, which features contributions from SY drummer Steve Shelley and former SY collaborator Jim O’Rourke, among others. I’ve posted about some of the songs before, but you can stream the whole thing at Rolling Stone, via Stereogum.

The whole thing is all types of jangly good, so check it out. ("Xtina As I Knew Her" is about Ranaldo’s time as a contestant as The Voice, as far as I can tell.) The album’s officially out on March 20, which is just next Tuesday.

Here Is Your 2011 Lollapalooza Lineup

The full Lollapalooza lineup was announced this morning, and despite our befuddlement as to why Muse keeps headlining festivals next to generation-defining acts like Eminem, Coldplay, and Foo Fighters, the rest of the bill looks exactly like every other major summer festival. Which is to say, awesome.

Below, a whole bunch of reasons to head to Chicago the weekend of August 5th:

My Morning Jacket A Perfect Circle Cee Lo Green Damian Marley & Nas Atmosphere Cold War Kids The Cars Ween Arctic Monkeys Lykke Li the Kills Bright Eyes Big Audio Dynamite Deftones Beirut Ratatat Explosions in the Sky Crystal Castles Sleigh Bells Death From Above 1979 the Pains of Being Pure at Heart the Drums Tinie Tempha Smith Westerns Foster the People Friendly Fires The Pretty Reckless An Horse Cults Noah & the Whale Ellie Goulding Ok Go Black Lips Best Coast Ryan Bingham & the Dead Horses the Vaccines

And, of course, much more!

Five Things Not to Do in Chile

Going to Santiago, Chile for Lollapalooza? We told you what to do. Now how about what to avoid? While the city is on everyone’s radar, Frommer’s Chile Editor, Kristina Schreck, reveals the five things you should absolutely not do in the South American capital.

Don’t expect a third-world city Many travelers make the assumption that any major city south of the border is poor, dangerous, and dirty — but not Santiago. Santiago is the safest metropolitan city in Latin America, boasts a booming economy, clean streets, a solid political system, and a modern infrastructure. The Chilean government implemented a series of projects during the past decade to celebrate last year’s Bicentennial that included a tunnel system for traffic to get from downtown to uptown in minutes, new cultural centers, shopping areas, and neighborhood redevelopment projects that include parks and hundreds of kilometers of bike lanes. Also, the Metro system is clean and cheap and stations are adorned with colorful murals and art.

Don’t expect fast service Chileans run on a different clock than the rest of us, and customer service— especially restaurant service—can be frustratingly lackluster and laid-back. Experience it as part of Santiago’s charm. Foreign diners expecting North American or European attentiveness will find themselves spending a part of meal time craning their necks looking for a waiter. The check will not automatically appear: you’ll always have to ask for it. Hotel staff will leave you languishing at the front desk while they attend to seemingly less important tasks, or the phone will ring endlessly while a clerk just decides not to answer, and don’t ever expect a Chilean to get right back to you–responses can come a day later. Again, part of the charm: “Santiago time.”

Don’t run to a chain hotel Traveling so far from home can be scary and some travelers are tempted to play it safe and book a room in an internationally known hotel chain. There are plenty in Santiago, and while they are perfectly good hotels with all the amenities and predictability, you’ll most likely be spending a lot of time in a rather antiseptic neighborhood like Las Condes and far from the local color most travelers delight in experiencing. Santiago has a surprising amount of hostels for budget-travelers that are downright chic and located in El Centro, Bellavista or Providencia neighborhoods, where you’ll find gems like the Andes Hostel, the Happy House Hostel, the Hostel Caracol and the Pure Lounge Hostel. On the upscale end, I highly recommend The Aubrey (pictured), the only true design boutique hotel in Santiago and located in a renovated mansion that is backed by the leafy green slopes of the Metropolitan Park. The Aubrey is in Bellavista, Santiago’s hip and artsy neighborhood, close to the Pablo Neruda Museum, the city zoo, and downtown attractions. Best of all, their terrific restaurant, Pasta e Vino, is where in-the-know gourmet lovers go to dine.

Don’t expect Chileans to love salsa or be as gregarious and extroverted as their fellow Latin Americans Chileans are incredibly friendly and helpful, but the fact that Chile is cut off from the rest of the world by the sea and the Andes has created a peculiar characteristic in the Chilean’s personality. Chileans are probably the most sober, inward-looking people of all of Latin America, and they are sometimes referred to as the English of South America. This is especially true when comparing Chileans to Central Americans or their closer neighbors Argentina and Brazil. This is not a nation that moves to the sound of samba or throws wild carnival parades. Chileans have a marginality complex and they can be self-critical and a little shyer than expected. So don’t worry, it’s them, not you.

Don’t stick around the city if the winter smog is oppressive One of the best things about Santiago is how close it is to wineries, the beach, and the Andes, and you can get to all three about an hour or two. Santiago is like Mexico City, surrounded by a ring of mountains that during the winter trap smog and dust under a thermal inversion layer. Although the city recently celebrated the lowest smog levels in 14 years and continues to fight smog-causing culprits, the city can get a little “unbreathable” from May to September if it hasn’t rained or a big gust hasn’t come along to blow it all out. During the winter, I recommend that travelers head up high to the Andes Mountains, the second-highest in the world, and go skiing or snowboarding at Valle Nevado. It’s a huge resort with fast lifts and heliskiing, and in a little over an hour you can be sailing down powdery slopes and taking in spectacularly rugged views, then spend the evening enjoying the nightlife, hotels and restaurants that Santiago has to offer.

5 Things To Do in Chile While You’re There for Lollapalooza 2011

The first and only Lollapalooza I attended was in 1992 (!), when I was in high school (!). Back then, Pearl Jam was a warm-up band, not a headliner. My friends and I missed them perform because we cut class much too late and didn’t anticipate the heavy traffic from Marietta to Atlanta, GA, but we did arrive just in time for Jesus and Mary Chain. I forget what drug I took, but I do remember the Red Hot Chili Peppers, a girl falling off the bleachers and being stretchered away, the tarot card reader who rolled his eyes when I approached his booth, and the fist fight in the mosh pit. In any case, you probably know by now that Lollapalooza is going international for the first time ever, on April 2 and 3, 2011. The mega-concert will take place in Santiago, Chile, at O’Higgins Park with the Andes Mountains as a sort of surreal backdrop. Try not to get too fucked up while you’re there, as I’m about to list my top five things to do in the awesome country, which I’m assuming you’ll take time to tour, considering the long-haul flight.

Sip some Pinot Noir in San Antonio Valley Sometimes it’s classier to get drunk in a vineyard. The popular Casa Marin—open only 7 years—has joined the ranks of other awesome vineyards that give the wine country its well received reputation. In fact, Casa Marin’s prime location (the closest vineyard to the Pacific Ocean in the entire country) contributes to the distinguished characteristic of the award-winning wines. You might as well bring your own cork screw.

There are Cool Things To Do in Santiago The late-blooming Santiago is swelling with a new sense of identity, regaining confidence and experiencing a truly optimistic renaissance, especially with all the recent set-backs. Check out Club Soda for late-night dancing, barrio Bella Vista for hip boutiques and galleries, Adra restaurant for homestyle cooking, and the semi-new W hotel—opened last year—that hosts a buzzing rooftop lounge with panoramic views of the city.

Discover Free Art in Valparaiso Valparaiso (or “Val-po,” pictured) is a port city that embraces its bohemian mentality and strong artist community. It easily turned out to be my favorite city in the country. Comprising 42 hills that roll down to the port, there’s something unusually “cartoon” about Val-po: the entire city is drenched in color, from wooden houses and industrial buildings to the wealth of street art on virtually every block, every spectrum animated and pigments enriched, as if a color laboratory exploded. Valparaiso is one of the few cities in the world where street art is blatantly ubiquitous. In fact, street art here shapes the city’s spirit, reflecting a liberal cultural slant and artistic flair. There’s even an open-air museum where commissioned artists’ work are brilliantly translated onto the city that acts as a canvas. And artists, as you know, especially Chilean ones, are pretty hot.

Explore Patagonia: Backpacker Paradise The most cliche thing to do in Patagonia is to smoke pot and backpack. Heck, whatever it takes to get you down there, do it. Seriously. Flat landscape reveals unbroken horizon views of the Andes and a whole lot of blue sky in Patagonia. The allure is rich in Punta Arenas at the tip of the continent, and Torres Del Paine National Park delivers the punch that takes your breath. Most camps and estancias are au naturale, with gauchos (Chilean “cowboys”) still giving the region some authentic flavor. The motherload of activity is in and around the jagged “towers of Paine,” which protrude majestically into the sky. Come face to face with icebergs on a guided kayak tour in Lago Gray and don’t forget to sip the water: the source being glaciers, it’s really fucking pure. March with the Penguins The bite-size island known as Isla Magdalena—just 45 minutes from the coast and surrounded by the Strait of Magellan—is well-known for playing host to tens of thousands of Magellan penguins that waddle unbound in their natural habitat. It smells like shit, it’s windy as hell, but the penguins are so. fucking. adorable!

Lollapalooza: A Green and White Festival

The Early 21st Century North American Music Festival: I have seen it. I have sweated into my shorts as the people beside did the same, bouncing, grinning, feet hurting, high on Bud Lite and/or grass, expectant, anxious, and bored. At such an event, pop music, often the purview of highly intimate and personal listening habits, is turned into an outsize spectacle meant to shock us with both our collective mass and our individual insignificance. I found Lollapalooza suffused with a kind of helpful, clean-cut, Midwestern vibe that stands in stark contrast to the usual agoraphobia generated at these sorts of things.

At one point over the weekend, I was riding around in a golf cart with Carl of Cleaning Events, a manager working for the subcontractor hired to oversee trash pickup. Catching rides in golf carts is one of the great perks of having a media pass; it saves time and whisks you grandly through the hoi polloi who stagger from one end of the park to the other. This ride was a little slower than usual, for every so often Carl would pull over to talk to some of his volunteer workers. We would pull up to a pair of teenagers carrying trash bags, and Carl would talk in fast, Jamaican-inflected English at the clearly uncomprehending boys, ending with a quick “…just keep doing what you’re doing,” before driving off. I told him it was the cleanest festival I had ever been to, and it was. The Green-ness of Lollapalooza, like its preponderance of uplifting guitar rock, can occasionally feel a trifle saccharine in its earnestness. In spite of this, there is a refreshing lack of guilt when one enters a festival on train and foot instead of a three mile long snake of idling automobiles. The water bottles are easily crushable cardboard containers and there is a bottle redeeming program wherein one can receive a free T-shirt for recycling a plastic bag full of collected bottles. I see a lot of these t-shirts over the course of the weekend.

In addition to being friendly and cheerful, everybody is also really, really white. Even in my experience of the fairly monochrome 21st century indie rock scene (whatever that is), the racial uniformity stands out, made more stark by the fact that about 75% of the event staff is black. I imagine much of this has to do with the presumably whiter demographics of the greater Midwest, but the festival organizer’s didn’t do themselves any favors, diversity-wise, in their booking. Cypress Hill is the largest of a very few rap groups in the lineup, and they’ve been playing to mostly white kids since at least 1998. I would know. There were certainly plenty of white people around as I sidled up to the stage were Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros were playing. Before this, I had been on the fence about Edward Sharpe & Co. I was, and remain still, slightly dubious of the L.A. neo-hippy scene with which I (perhaps unfairly) associate the band. Well, on the question of the band’s merits, consider me converted. Not to put too cynical a point on it, but I’ve never seen a more massive and complete proselytism of so many consumers ever before.

image It was a good show—a damn good show. I was able to sneak into the photo pit. On this smaller stage, there are no video monitors to dominate the crowds attention here in the shaded grove of trees at the northwestern end of Grant Park. The audience is in full-on, pants-pissing, screeching, beseeching Beatlemania mode, and the singers are very adept at receiving this adoration and amplifying it back into the audience. It’s really something to see. At one point Alex “Edward” Ebert crowd surfs and gets everybody in the crowd to sit down while he sings at and among them. The guy seems to have a pretty full-blown messiah complex but damn if it doesn’t make for good theater. The other standout of the first day is Devo. Devo is like a tiny, glittery gem of new wave keyboard music amongst the muddy brown waters of guitar rock. Devo’s stage banter is banal and hilarious (“greetings Shit-cah-go. It’s 2010, and we’re here to whip it. Again”) and their costumes are nerdy art-chic, but the music is tight and urgent. The crowd gets into the set even before they break into the hits, so that when they do, the crowd greets “Girl U Want” not with the desperate relief of nostalgic fans, but with the simple and frenzied joy of people looking to dance. Over the weekend there are other standouts, both good (Phoenix, who are built for this type of setting, even though their press tent acoustic performance reminded me of chained up circus monkeys) and bad (Lady Gaga, with her aggressively monotonous Ace of Base routine, although she still brought a huge gaggle of media folks over to the corner of the press tent where they could see the stage. Why, I’ll never know). Overall, Lollapalooza seemed quite successful in it’s modest aims: to carry out a friendly, clean, and relatively inoffensive music festival in the heart of a major urban center.

Photos by Myles Pettengill. And check out our Lollapalooza gallery here.

22 Portraits of Lollapalooza’s Hottest Acts

We know, we know, Lollapalooza has been over for almost a week. But that doesn’t mean you don’t want to ogle the good looking, impeccably-dressed musicians who made throngs of sweaty kids so happy last weekend, right? Going on that theory, we dispatched our resident festival photographer, the tireless Myles Pettengill, to round up some of the fest’s best and brightest for an impromptu, exclusive portrait series. Part-photographer, part-hustler, Myles managed to wrangle the perfect mix of artists to the media tent in between their sets. The result is a pristine series featuring some superstars (Phoenix and MGMT), some sleeper hits (Health and Fuck Buttons), some legends (Jimmy Cliff and Perry Farrell), and everyone else in between. Click through the gallery to see a bunch of talented musicians just, you know, being themselves.

Ranking Everything We Ate at Lollapalooza

This weekend at Lollapalooza, while everyone was busy clawing their way closer to Gaga, we had other things on our minds and in our bellies. Thanks to celebrated chef Graham Elliot Bowles, the grub at this year’s Chicago incarnation of the yearly musical smorgasbord was not your average overpriced festival fare. You might recognize Elliot as the puffy guy in white-frame glasses sitting next to Gordon Ramsay on Fox’s new hit Masterchef. But besides being a TV personality, Bowles is actually highly regarded in the food community as the nation’s youngest four-star chef. (Obama celebrated his birthday last week with Oprah and Elliot’s eponymous eaterty.) In his role as Lollapalooza’s culinary curator, Bowles signed on 30 local restaurants to be a part of Chow Town, two parallel strips of food tents located on the north and south perimeters of Grant Park. He told us he chose restaurants with an “independent, punk spirit that paired really well with the music this year.” If he had to pick his top three items, he’d go for the “lobster corn dog, the burger from Kuma’s Corner, and one of the milk shakes from Hoosier Mama Pie Shop.” Over the course of three days we tried all of those, and then some. Here’s our take on the best of what Lollapalooza had to offer (sorry, Gaga).

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1st Place, The Smokin’ Brat from Franks N Dawgs: The Smokin’ Brat ($8) comes fully loaded with a juicy homemade bratwurst, smoked gouda, and caramelized onions. Franks makes their own sausage, and after the first bite, that extra effort becomes apparent. What makes this hot dog really stand out, though, is the flakey, brioche bun. It’s more like a lobster roll than your typical hot dog bun. Soft as pastry crust, it creates a bite that is so effortless, your snack will be finished before you even remember starting it.

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2nd, Place, Pork Belly Sliders from Blue 13: Asian pork belly sliders with kimchi-cilantro scallion salad, Asian BBQ and wasabi cream sauce. It’s hard to live up to a description like that, but these delectable sliders ($7 for three) were layered with flavors so expertly that it was impossible not to pick up on every single one of them. We also detected a hint of truffle, which curiously was not mentioned. Needless to say, these were gone within seconds.

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3rd Place, Hoosier Mama Pie Company: Imagine a huge slice of homemade chocolate cream pie. On top is a gigantic, melting scoop of vanilla ice cream, dripping down the sides and into the crevices of piecrust. Now picture dumping that slice of pie and ice cream into a blender and merging the two until you form a milkshake consistency, making sure to keep occasional chunks of piecrust firm and unblended. Rich and creamy, it’s one of the most delicious things we’ve ever eaten—not just at the festival, but in life.

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4th Place, Pork Belly Tostada from Big Star: Big Star’s $7 pork belly tostada is a great example of how to not let a heavy ingredient, like pork belly, weigh down a relatively light dish. The meat was flavorful, but not dripping of sauce, and paired nicely with the fresh sprigs of cilantro and crumbled cheese. Resting on a firm, crunchy tostada—basically a gigantic tortilla chip—it was a nice change of pace from all the buns and brioche we’d been eating. After a few squirts of lime, it felt like one of the most summery dishes of the fest. image

5th Place, Lobster Corn Dog from Graham Elliot: Graham Elliot’s $9 lobster corn dog scored points for both innovation and presentation, but after we spit out a piece of lobster shell, we had to reevaluate. Though definitely a headlining act, we would compare this dish to Lady Gaga’s performance: it was something we had to see, whether we were in the mood for it or not, but once we got there and couldn’t see past the all chicks with soda cans in their heads, (or in this case nearly choked on lobster shell) we walked away kind of disappointed.

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6th Place, Cheese Pizza from Lou Malnati’s Pizzeria: Our first experience with Chicago deep-dish pizza couldn’t have been at a better time than right after MGMT played on Sunday, when we drank a few too many Budweiser Select 55s (their new, 55 calorie beer which tastes like water with a very, very faint taste of alcohol). Thanks to mounds of super tomatoe-y sauce and gooey mozzarella, even one slice of this pizza is heavy. The crust has the girth of a sugar cookie, and a similar crunchiness. No complaints as far as taste goes, but for the average East Coaster, comparisons to Dominoes deep-dish are inevitable.

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7th Place, Mango Orange Banana Smoothie from Maui Wowi: After eating pork belly, pork sausage, and more pork belly, the mango orange banana smoothie from Maui Wowi was like a watering hole in the desert.The fruit had restorative powers. It was over 90 degrees on Sunday but felt like 120, and we were beat. This smoothie saved us.

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8th Place, Kuma Burger from Kuma’s Corner: The Kuma Burger was ready for a photo-shoot the second we laid eyes on it. I mean, look at that sandwich, it’s gorgeous. Unfortunately, it looked a lot better than it tasted. All of the elements for a great burger were there; a buttery brioche bun, encased super-fresh lettuce, crispy bacon, and a thick patty. The downfall was in the burger itself, which was so dry and overcooked that we had to sip water in between bites just to get it down. With the longest lines of any station, Kuma’s Corner was by far the most popular stop at Chow Town. We’re blaming our burn burger on ill-timing; we ordered it just after 9pm, when the lines were dying down and stations were hoping to get rid of everything.

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9th Place, Bourbon BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwich from Rockit Bar and Grill: This $7 Bourbon BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwich was more sweet than it was savory thanks to an overflow of the bourbon BBQ sauce. I would say the sauce-to-pork ratio was something like 3:2. It was really more like eating a sauce sandwich, as the richness of the sticky conglomerate completely masked any taste of meat. While it might have been delicious in moderation, in excess we just felt sick.

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10th Place, Windsor Roll from Windsor Ice Cream Shoppe: The five-dollar Windsor Roll—vanilla ice cream rolled in chocolate cake with whipped cream and hot fudge—looks like a real winner. It tastes like Key Food’s best effort at ice cream cake. While the ice cream itself was creamy and good, there was such a small portion of it in that monstrous mound that we felt ripped off. And that moist, delicious looking cake? Dry. Like so many sundaes, it was all good looks and whipped cream. A sad display, especially when Hoosier Mama Pies are in the vicinity.