Lollapalooza – Definitely Not Groundhog Day

In the movie Groundhog Day, Bill Murray’s character is stranded in Punxsutawney Pennsylvania and cursed to relive a cold day in February for a seeming eternity.  The monotony of living the same day on repeat has, as expected, negative effects on the psyche of the character.  But if the fate of Murray’s character was instead to relive this past weekend in Chicago, it might not feel much like a curse.  From Friday Aug. 5th to Sunday Aug. 7th the 20th Anniversary Lollapalooza festival played out with over 200 performances.   Shows included some stellar festival sets, numerous aftershows, and a few celebrity sightings.  With so many shows to choose from, the possibilities of a unique experience were endless.
My personal experience consisted of some on-site, and some off-site shows, including sets from A Perfect Circle, White Lies, and Muse on festival grounds, as well as sets from Light, the Vaccines, and Two Door Cinema Club off festival grounds.  Some of the acts I’d seen several times and some I’d never even heard of.  And, for the 2nd year in a row it was an act previously unknown to me that ended up being the diamond in the rough.  Last year it was Eric-Jon.  Performing a solo show in the truest sense of the term, he played with no backing band, modern effects, or elaborate stage show.  Just one man, his guitar, and an arsenal of captivating pop vocals.  This year’s newfound gem was another solo artist, Holly Brook Hafermann, a female vocalist better known by her stage name of Skylar Grey.
Grey played an unprecedented 3 shows on Saturday.  The first was an afternoon solo show, with backing band, on festival grounds.  Her second show, also on festival grounds, was as a guest during Eminem’s headlining set.  The final show was a band backed set at the W Hotel’s (172 W. Adams St.) Belve Music Lounge event.  I was lucky enough to catch that last show.
I had never heard of Skylar before the show.  As it turns out, she is semi-established, providing hooks for the tracks “Coming Home” by Diddy-Dirty Money and Dr. Dre’s “I Need a Doctor”.  But even without any background knowledge of Grey, she drew me in and kept me there from the moment she walked on stage.
Entering hooded and head down, Grey wore a coat with hanging tatters seemingly styled after a straitjacket.  She stood silently, and when she began to sing her vocals were haunting, and the music behind them ethereal.  As her vocal styling swayed from haunting to angst-driven and back again, the pain and sincerity in her voice became palpable.  She was passionate.  And that passion permeated her song set, whether singing one of her own compositions or her take on a track popularized by another established artist.  And through it all, she failed not even for a moment, to captivate.
It is captivating performances like Skylar Grey’s that leave Chicagoans, myself included, yearning each year for more Lollapalooza the moment it has ended.  But, the show I caught was only one out of literally hundreds.  With more time I’m sure I would have found more stupendous acts.  It is impossible to experience everything Lollapalooza has to offer, but one thing is for sure.  With 200+ on and off-site performances, the possibilities for the weekend were endless, and to have to relive Lollapalooza weekend would be anything but monotonous.
Skylar Grey’s debut single, “Invisible” comes out today.  You can download it for free HERE.  Her full-length album releases later this year.
My Lollapalooza story is just one of many.   We’d love to hear yours.  You can comment below, or email me at

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