Sponsors and "Free Sh*t" Abound at's Lollapalooza Music Lounge

By Jenny Berg August 5, 2008, 2:43 PM EDT

The Music Lounge Presented by overtook Chicago's Hard Rock Hotel from August 1 through August 3.

Photo: Red Eye Productions

From August 1 through August 3, otherwise known as Lollapalooza weekend, Chicago's Hard Rock Hotel became “the Music Lounge Presented by,” a crowd-and-heat respite for artists, media, industry folks, and V.I.P. ticket holders. Open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day, the lounge was produced by BMF Media and located across the street from Grant Park.

Daytime activities, which took place on two levels, included everything from Guitar Hero to complimentary tattoos and gifting suites. At the temporary Eastsport Café, sponsored by the bag manufacturer, guests took advantage of free China Grill-catered lunches, Bustelo coffee drinks, and Ciroc-spiked cocktails with thematic names like the Diddy. Rock the Vote Nights, also presented by, overtook the Music Lounge from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. each evening, featuring performances from the likes of Samantha Ronson.

With the Ciroc cocktails flowing and the music pumping, guests seemed to be in high spirits; some even offered hugs in lieu of comments. Those who did speak up, however, had plenty to say about swag, sponsorship, and the lounge's “vibe." 

This whole experience makes me feel like a kid in a sweets shop. I'm just taking in everything with a little look here, a little taste there. My favorite part of the gifting suite? I'd say the bling [Skullcandy gave out necklaces with silver or gold skull-shaped charms.] That's what we all need: bling, bling, bling.”
Satin Singh, percussionist for Mark Ronson

“The best things that I got in the gifting suite are these Skullcandy headphones and a [swag-filled] backpack that I've yet to explore. I've been up all night, though, and I'm still sort of drunk, so I don't know...I'm probably the wrong person to interview." 
Kurt Hunte, Philadelphia-based rapper

“I'm a little overwhelmed—I'm not quite sure where to go, but I'm happy by the open bar. Can I just ask, though, are they actually tattooing people here? Because that's retarded. This is not the right environment for that.”
Steven Horowitz, music journalist for

“I'm here shooting [interviews with musicians] in the Diesel booth. What can I say about the experience? There are a ton of sponsors here and plenty of free shit—who doesn't love that? Also, it's just a chill vibe, and everyone's really nice in here." 
Joshua Winkler, film director

“This is my first year in the music lounge, and I love being here. I just love working with loud music and tattooing. I've tattooed a ton of musicians throughout my career, so being here [and offering free services] isn't really about exposure to musicians; I'm just here to do my job and make people happy." 
Kidd, tattoo artist with Chicago's Jade Dragon Tattoo

 “The energy's really cool. I like how there are different DJs in different rooms. It creates a bunch of distinct atmospheres.”
Marcus Riley, web development manager for

“I'm here providing services with Red 7 Salon. This is our second time working the lounge, and we're having a great time. It gives [the hairdressers] a different atmosphere to work in, and we get to meet people from all over the country, as well as bands and members of the media. [Acting as a sponsor] is a unique opportunity for exposure." 
Jason Hall, co-owner of Chicago's Red 7 Salon

“Being part of the gifting suite is a great way to reach out to a bunch of artists at once. While they're here, they can demo the product and give us feedback. It's great to be able to meet up with artists and interact with them." 
Quang Le, music and fashion marketing director of Skullcandy

“One thing I find confusing is the Rock the Vote banners [at Rock the Vote nights]. I see the words up there, but I'm not sure of the signficance, since there are no polictical goings-on in the lounge." 
Barrett Salpeter, between jobs

“I love the music, the open bar, and the people here are really cool. But I feel like this is over-sponsored. There's brand exposure everywhere, and, in a way, that makes this feel sort of corporate, and more like a networking event than a real party.”
David Gorson, Miami-based real estate developer

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