CHICAGO From Thursday through Sunday, the Hard Rock Hotel was home to BMF Media Group's Music Lounge. Billed by its producers as a “V.I.P. and artist retreat,” the temporary lounge during Lollapalooza weekend offered gifting suites, complimentary spa services, and activations for brands that ranged from Clearasil to Popchips.
“We're in our fifth year, and that's a big milestone for us,” said Bruce Starr of BMF. The anniversary celebration included some new touches—Thursday night, for example, celebrity blogger Perez Hilton hosted his first Chicago iteration of the “One Night in...” event series at the lounge. The soiree offered live sets from Lollapalooza artists such as Lissie and Nneka, and bars slung cocktails made with supporting brands Red Bull and UV vodka.
New sponsors included clothing retailer Express. During the Thursday night kickoff party, the clothing brand let guests pose in front of mannequins dressed in its styles while photographers snapped a series of photos. The shots eventually became online flip-books that partygoers could post to their Facebook pages. For the ensuing three days, a cafe with bars, free snacks from China Grill, and live acoustic sets was dubbed “Express Rocks! at the Music Cafe.”
Vodka brand Belvedere became the presenting sponsor for a series of nighttime events referred to as “Belvedere Nights,” which replaced the former “Rock the Vote Nights.” Held in the hotel's Fender ballroom, the happenings struck up at 10 p.m. each night of Lollapalooza and offered performances from up-and-coming artists like Mike Poser, Neon Hitch, and Foxy Shazam. Other new sponsors included Carrera sunglasses, Bugera guitars, and Onitsuka Tiger shoes. Signage and test products from all the brands peppered the lounges.
Starr said that the lounge drew about 600 guests per day and 1,000 each night—along with countless inquiries from would-be attendees. “The amount of pre-attention that this received was off the charts,” he said. “We had emails pouring in with people asking to be added to the list before we had even announced that we were coming back. That was what the event was about for us this year. It was about creating a special experience for the people that come and supporting the brands that help put it on.”