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EVENT REPORT

Lollapalooza Returns With Bigger Footprint, Fancier Snacks, and Diner for Sneakers

Photo: Barry Brecheisen for BizBash

Mike Walker, operations manager at C3 Presents, slept in on Saturday until 4:25 a.m. The rest of the week, he was up by 4 a.m. and in Grant Park by 6 a.m. to take care of last-minute adjustments to the C3-produced Lollapalooza, which took place August 6 through August 8. “Anyone can put on an easy show,” Walker said. “Lollapalooza's not easy.”

Though not exactly a cakewalk, the festival does have some structural elements that remain unchanged from year to year. The 2010 version, for example, stuck with previous iterations by having eight main stages, which saw performances from headliners such as Lady Gaga, Green Day, Phoenix, and Soundgarden. But this year the event's footprint expanded west of Columbus Drive, resulting in grounds that Walker said were about 25 percent larger than in 2009.

The new layout was intended to “improve the flow and make more room for patrons,” Walker said. “It's better for everyone.” After a walkthrough during the Lady Gaga show, which drew close to 80,000 fans on Friday night, Walker noted that no particular area felt congested. Part of that, he said, was due to a new position for the V.I.P. cabanas, which corporations purchase to provide air-conditioned—and bar-equipped—viewing space for clients. Perched atop a knoll in the park, the cabanas were moved farther back this year to provide more room for fans below.

New attractions included the Green Street Farmer's Market, where Chicago eateries slung snacks made with local produce. Two so-called Chow Town areas, food courts on the park's northern and southern sides, offered higher-end snacks than in previous years. With Graham Elliott Bowles as its culinary director—the first in the festival's history—Chow Town had everything from Sunda's shrimp-tempura-and-cucumber sushi to strawberry-pie milkshakes from Hoosier Mama.

Sponsor activations included Adidas's new “Mega Shoebox.” Built to look like a diner, the temporary room had sneakers housed on cake stands, staffers dressed like servers in a '50s diner, and a photo booth. Sony and radio station Q101 were among the returning brands to sponsor on-site lounges.


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