Lollapalooza 2017 photos by Roger Ho
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Get An Earful: Lollapalooza Discoveries

I don’t mean to sound like Grandpa Simpson yelling at clouds, but back in the ’90s Lollapalooza was THE summer extravaganza everyone looked forward to, so much so that it was even advertised as “Take the Day Off”. Us Gen-Xers didn’t need to wait until the weekend to get our alternative on; we were perfectly content with jam-packing all the music we needed into a single weekday.

Yes there were plenty of big names that brought all the grungy boys – and girls – to yards such as Molson Park in Barrie. Ah, memories…maybe it was because we had to travel so far up Highway 400 from Toronto that it wasn’t uncommon for the place to be filled before the first note was even played. Many a “recommended if you like” was made in the days that followed after seeing a band play their hearts out in the early afternoon.

Lollapalooza is obviously not the same festival as it was back then. With the glut of destination-type events that bloat the North American landscape, Lolla’s specialness has been stretched razor-thin, and as a result of having to share artists who pull double duty at things like Osheaga taking place the same weekend in Montreal, it’s had to expand waaaaaayy past its Alternative Nation core to include hip-hop, EDM, and even pop. This year Bruno Mars is a headliner, and while I predict he’ll put on a show for the ages (seriously), there seems to be a lot of his music ilk spread throughout the four days. Camila Cabello, Will Smith’s kid Jaden and some girl Justin Bieber came across on YouTube closing one of the side stages? That wouldn’t fly in the olden times when Lollapalooza travelled from town to town like a magical music caravan.

Photo from Lollapalooza 1992 by Rick McGinnis (

With nearly 200 acts now converging in Chicago’s Grant Park, there are still lots of opportunities to discover new faves of the rock variety. I’ve gone through Lollapalooza’s entire 2018 schedule (being very mindful of conflicts), and have curated a Soundsgood playlist of a dozen must-sees IMHO. There are multiple indie imports from the UK, some CanCon thrown in for good measure, those kids that sound just like Zeppelin, fiercely resonating ensembles fronted by females, and how could I not include something going by the handle of Rainbow Kitten Surprise? Don’t worry if you can’t swing a last-minute trip there – The caffeinated folks at Red Bull have you covered with their live broadcast!

Gilles LeBlanc

Gilles LeBlanc literally fell into “alternative rock” wayyy back at Lollapalooza 1992, where he got caught in his first mosh pit watching some band named Pearl Jam. Since then, he’s spent the better part of his life looking for music to match the liberating rush he felt that day, with a particular chest-beating emphasis on stuff coming out of his native Canada. It took him awhile, but Gilles now writes feverishly about all things that rock (and or roll) through his ROCKthusiast alter ego.

Gilles LeBlanc has 104 posts and counting. See all posts by Gilles LeBlanc

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