DJ Z's 2011 Lollapalooza Diary

Ever wonder what its like to step into the shoes of DJBooth.net's DJ Z? Find out.

DJBooth.net readers and fans often ask me what my day-to-day routine is like working in "the industry." In response I tell them that the routine is made up of e-mail, phone calls, listening sessions, more e-mail, conference calls, meetings, editing, and lastly... more e-mail.

On Friday, however, I took a break from "the routine" and stepped foot inside Chicago's Grant Park for the 20th annual


music festival -- the largest of its kind in North America. Below is a diary, outlining my experience. This is for you, the readers.



- Meet up with

Kyle Lucas

(of Vonnegutt) and his manager Nick Shuley at the Renaissance Blackstone to scoop up guest passes for the three-day festival.


- Sit down for lunch at a nearby Potbelly's restaurant with my guest, my girlfriend Justine. While in line waiting for our sandwiches to be made we find out that our red wrist-bands entitle us to free food and drink inside the Artist Lounge. Doh!


- Enter the festival grounds and head straight to the aforementioned Artist Lounge. What do we see first? Unreleased video game preview stations, massage tables, and a completely open bar. I am not kidding; this is as close to big kid paradise as it gets.


- Trek over to Perry's stage to see

Collie Buddz

perform. Thousands of screaming fans love his reggae swag. The scene has to be seen to be believed. I had no idea Buddz was still so popular despite the fact he hasn't released an album in the United States since his 2007 debut.


- A quick stop at the centerpiece of Chicago's Grant Park, the world-renown Buckingham Fountain. A few quick flicks and we move along.


- Fresh Chicago-based hip-hop band

Kids These Days

takes the BMI Stage. I had never seen them perform live - and we have never covered their work before at the Booth - but the band was wildly impressive and are now bound for homepage glory in the months to come.


- Backstage I bump into

John Monopoly

, a talent scout and manager who famously served as Kanye West' manager when Ye first broke into the industry. John pitches a few artists for Booth consideration and extends an invite to my girlfriend and I to attend his birthday bash on Sunday at the Hard Rock hotel. (And yes, we will be attending.)


- On our way back to the Artist Lounge to grab dinner we bump into label owner and music producer

Dallas Austin



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. We exchange pleasantries and discuss the acts we plan to see the rest of the weekend.


- Time to eat! Halibut with lemon butter sauce, creamy garlic mashed potatoes, grilled asparagus, a full salad bar, vegetable soup, and apple squares. Can I ask: When served buffet style, whose appetite isn't bigger than what their stomach can handle!? I filled a entire plate, but didn't make it through half the food. Leftovers, anyone?


- In an attempt to digest our food before the evening acts took to the stage we stop in the Media Tent to grab some freebies (buttons, stickers, pocket-sized snacks) and end up enjoying reclining lawn chairs (probably not best for digestive purposes), free Wi-Fi, and cooling fans. I am not kidding; this is as close to media member paradise as it gets.


- What is all the rage over UK sensation (and previous Booth feature artist)

Tinie Tempah

? To find out we hiked over to the Google+ stage. When I say "hiked," I really mean we were given a ride in a private golf cart. Yes, the red wrist-bands entitle select guests to free golf cart rides from one section of the festival ground to another. I am not making this stuff up.


- The sun is setting and Tinie still has his sun glasses on. Surely, he will take them off soon.


- The sun continues to set as Tinie's 45-minute set comes to an end. And in case you were wondering - yes, he still is rocking with his sunglasses on. I don't think I'll ever understand, but I am not an artist so why bother trying?!?


- To walk off all the food and drink from throughout the afternoon we head back to Perry's stage at the other end of the festival grounds. Next up on stage is Netherlands

DJ AfroJack

. To say (write) the man is able to put his audience in a trance is an understatement. If AJ had asked the crowd to eat the beach balls being batted around they would have happily complied so long as he continued to dazzle on the 1s and 2s. Incredible.


- The AfroJack-inspired, rave-like atmosphere at Perry's stage has the police on edge. A concertgoer in the front row heaves an empty Bud Light can towards a nearby garbage container and almost immediately all the guests and media members are escorted away. We are told it was for our safety, but I didn't buy it. I am not intoxicated, nor am I on any drugs. Maybe these would help?


- I am now faced with a decision. Do I stay at Perry's stage and see


with my girlfriend or do I find a golf cart and get a ride to the north end of the festival grounds to see


play their first North American show in months at the Bud Light stage? I picked the Cold Bud. And it went down amazing...


- While waiting in line for some Spotify-sponsored ice cream I bump into Chicago Blackhawks All-Star

Jonathan Toews

. I introduce myself and shake his hand. My hand still hurts as I sit here typing a day later.


- After a quick golf cart ride back to the Artist Lounge I rendezvous with my girlfriend and we head toward to exit of the festival grounds... along with the mass exodus of 90,000 others.



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