Long before I identified myself as a medical writer, researcher, or digital nomad I was a teenager who was obsessed with loud alternative rock. In grade 7, I remember trying to establish what genre of music I should listen to, and no matter what I sampled, I simply could not connect with anything.
All that changed when I first heard a classmate’s cassette of Nirvana’s In Utero while sitting on a school bus.
That sound simply blew me away.
It was a completely transformative moment that paved the way not only for my taste in music, but also for my want to express myself through playing and writing music. Although I still get the guitar out now and then, during high-school, music was my life. After learning how to tune my guitar and learning a few songs, I started a band with a couple of friends. We practiced twice a week, driving our parents crazy in the process. Eventually we started performing beyond the confines of a basement: at our high school, and a couple of local clubs. We even got paid to perform now and then (just enough to cover the gas to get to the venue)! When we weren’t playing music we were going to see other local bands play live. And when there were no shows to see, we would hang around someone’s basement, huddled around a CD player blasting Nirvana, Soundgarden, Foo Fighters, Weezer, Tool, Bush, Smashing Pumpkins, Stone Temple Pilots, Alice in Chains, Silverchair, Pearl Jam, Our Lady Peace, Rusty, I Mother Earth, Tea Party, Hole, Veruca Salt, or any other band from that era.
Although I had attended a few larger concerts and local music festivals during this period, I always knew the biggest venue for seeing live alternative rock was Lollapalooza – an outdoor music festival in the US that always drew the best alternative bands of the time. Unfortunately, at that time, I hardly had the financial means to support a trip to the US for a multi-day music festival. Since then, I have always said that I would eventually attend Lollapalooza and experience it firsthand. When I found out earlier this year that two of my favourite bands, Foo Fighters (a band fronted by the former drummer of Nirvana) and Muse, were making an appearance at this year’s festival, I knew Marina and I had to go.
So one day in the early spring of this year, I purchased the 3-day tickets for a hefty $215 each and later informed a surprised, but supportive Marina.
The concert was held in Chicago’s Grant park during August 5-8 and consisted of 8 stages, and 130 different acts.
There was A LOT of music. I had an iPhone app that helped us schedule our weekend.
The whole weekend was an absolute blast.
While some artists were a tad disappointing (e.g. Cee Lo Green of Gnarls Barkley), our two main draws each gave a spectacular performance.
1. Muse, a more recent addition to my music collection (since 2004ish), randomly breaking into Nirvana’s “Negative Creep” – a song included on their original debut album from the late 1980’s. This moment brought my whole music journey to a complete circle – simply amazing.
2. Dancing and singing along with Foo Fighter’s performing “Everlong” while completely soaked from a downpour in a field full of mud, rain, and what smelled very much like fresh feces (we both lost a pair of shoes during this trip).
That’s rock n’ roll!
3. The crowd going crazy as Muse launches into “Plug-in Baby” and giant ‘eyeball’ balloons are dropped on the crowd. Check the video to fully appreciate:
4. Dave Grohl, Foo Fighters frontman, describing the personal significance of Lollapalooza and its creator, Perry Farrell, in the development of alternative rock. See below video. If the rock nostalgia bores you, fast forward to about 3:20 to hear “Everlong.”
What a weekend!
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