August 08, 2008

Lollapalooza: 3 Days of Awesome

Question: Where do you go if you want to experience great food, awesome music and the most amazing weekend of your year?

Answer: Chicago and Lollapalooza!

This past weekend I road tripped down to the windy cindy to enjoy Lollapalooza, the three day music festival that features 8 stages and over 100 bands set in beautiful Grant Park in downtown Chicago. Headliners this year were Radiohead, Rage Against the Machine and Nine Inch Nails and all three put on memorable shows. The three day festival was sold out with 225000 people attending which resulted in massive crowds and some crazy energy.

And although the weekend was not about food, I still managed to fit lots of that in. The first night there we had dinner at Fogo de Chao, a Brazilian Steakhouse. Prior to this weekend I had never even heard of Brazilian Steakhouses but Chicago is full of them. I suspect most of them operate in the same sort of manner with a self serve salad bar, sides replenished at your table, (cheesy mashed potatoes, deep fried banana and parmesan polenta sticks) and the pièce de résistance, servers carving your choice of 17 juicy chunks of meat tableside.

At Fogo de Chao you get a token at the beginning of your meal that you use to signal servers. If you flip your token to the green side be prepared for server after server to arrive at your side with a skewer of meat to carve and load up your plate. When you’ve got enough, flip your token to red and the onslaught will stop temporarily. Meat choices include pork, beef and chicken and a variety of cuts of each from ribs to tenderloin. The server will also inquire as to how well done you want you meat and will carve off a slice accordingly.

Fogo de Chao was certainly a novel and delicious experience although I believe I slipped into a meat coma shortly following dinner that took a few hours to recover from, just in time for a visit to the Ghirardelli store. I believe I have a separate sweets compartment in my stomach that is never full and always accepting donations. This meant I was able to enjoy a scoop of blueberry cheesecake ice cream on a sugar cone and also accept a complimentary peanut butter chocolate while waiting in line. Sweet.

What’s a visit to Chicago without an authentic Chicago deep dish pizza? Pizzeria Uno is a great place to satisfy such a need. When the server recommended only a medium pizza for 3 of us, I was skeptical, thinking it wouldn’t be big enough but I needn’t have worried. Our deep dish pizza was filled with cheese, sausage, pepperoni, onions, peppers, mushrooms and tomato sauce and it was beyond filling. I actually saved one of my slices to enjoy after the Rage Against the Machine concert, (when I was in desperate need of refueling) and still had some leftover for breakfast the next morning.

Ah yes, the Rage Against the Machine show. I was close enough to the front to get a full work out, but not so close as to be crushed into the barricades, which was a reality for a lot of people. With Bloc Party finishing their set an hour before the Rage show began, there was lots of time for anticipation to build. Despite no music being played during this hour people were still crowd surfing and generally gearing up for the show. When 8pm finally rolled around a siren started blaring from the stage and went on for a full minute and a half before Rage took the stage and began full throttle with Testify. Check out my video below of the beginning of that song. The crowd went absolutely nuts! From Testify the band carried into Bulls on Parade and the energy reached a frenetic state. It was so intense that the band actually had to stop the show and ask people to take ten steps back and look out for one another. This happened two more times during the show, with the band stopping music completely but promising to play all the songs from their set so long as everyone was safe. It was an unreal performance.

Nine Inch Nails were closing out the festival at the end of day three and I was determined to have a prime spot from which to enjoy the show. This was no easy feat. I had to give up seeing Gnarls Barkley and Kanye West play as they were at the opposite main stage, (almost a full mile across the park) in order to hold my spot for Nine Inch Nails. This also meant enduring a horrendously loud and awful set put on by Love and Rockets, (Worst. Band. Ever.). Many of the people around me had in earplugs for their performance and I desperately wished that I was one of them.

It was worth it though when NIN came on and blew me away with a show that was both visually and musically outstanding and I was front and centre for all of it. The band played a lot of new material, starting off the show with 1 000 000, Letting You and Discipline off the new album, The Slip before transitioning seamlessly to some older material, (including March of the Pigs and Closer) and then instrumental tracks from Ghosts, among other greats. The set ended with huge energy for Only and The Hand that Feeds with a dynamic crowd that showed no signs of exhaustion after three days in the heat at Lolla. The show could have ended there, but Trent came back with a three song encore of Echoplex, Hurt and In This Twilight. Standing under the stars with thousands of people singing along to the very emotional song Hurt completed my whole Lollapalooza experience. The NIN show was a perfect cap to a fabulous weekend in a great city that I definitely want to return to.

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25 comments:

Mary said...

Wow that sounds like a fun fun weekend! Pizzeria Uno is my favorite place for pizza in Chicago. When I lived there I went to an Argentinian steak house and I have a favorite tapas place, but I've never heard of a Brazilian steak house. It sounds like fun!

LyB said...

OMG! That sounds like an unforgettable experience. You describe everything so perfectly I (almost) feel like I was there. Very cool indeed. Thanks for sharing this with us.

Kristen said...

That is a SERIOUS road trip. You know how to do it right, Brilynn! Fun!

Manggy said...

Leftover pizza!!! Funny how that excites me a lot, haha. Well, how can I resist? It looks so good. Also, getting a free treat while waiting in line?! Life is just too sweet!

Hah, the Brazilian grill here also has that unlimited meat signal system :)

Emiline said...

AHHH! I'm so jealous of you!! Not cool.

Did you see Radiohead?

AND you got pizza! Last time I went to Chicago, the only pizza I got was from the airport.

I went to that Ghirardelli store too. Did you go to the Hershey's store?

Kate / Kajal said...

What a wonderful experience. Thanks so much for sharing. Not a nine inch fan, but i enjoyed this post :)

Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) said...

That looks like great fun! Thanks for the heads-up about the Brazilian restaurant, too -- I'll file that info for my next trip to Chicago.

Peabody said...

What fun for you. I haven't been to a Lollapalooza in years. I'm old now. :)

Ann said...

I was just at the All Points West festival on Saturday. Radiohead RAWKED! Sounds like you had a terrific weekend!

Allyson said...

Isn't Lolla the greatest? This year was the third time I've been, and can't wait for next year. Although, if you were the Canadian in front of me singing the national anthem while Trent was talking, I may have said some rude things to you. ;)

Pam said...

What a fun weekend! Great food and good music - can't get much better.

Deborah said...

What an experience!!

Nick said...

Man that sounds so friggin awesome. I love NIN, Trent Reznor is so darn talented it's unreal. Those crazy Chicago-ins, that pizza looks more like a casserole than a pizza.

eliza said...

you like alt-rock music then, eh? i'd love to see those bands playing live too! looks like your trip was wonderful, lots of good food (brazilian steakhouse & pizza!), droolsss...

Cookie baker Lynn said...

Sounds like an awesome weekend! I'm glad you could get in some serious fun time.

EAT! said...

You are making me homesick. I am a transplanted Chicagoan living in NJ. How I miss a great deep dish pizza. I think I'll have to make one for dinner tonight!!

Elle said...

I'm insanely jealous of your insanely cool road trip! :)

Aran said...

wow, what a fun weekend!

StickyGooeyCreamyChewy said...

Sounds like a great trip! I'm jealous. I haven't been to Chicago in many years, but it's becoming quite a hotspot of great food.

Claire said...

This sounds like fun. Unfortunately (or fortunately for the waistline) I'm not a huge fan of Chicago style pizza. I really enjoyed the NY style we got at Grimaldi's in Brooklyn. My brother, on the other hand, loved the deep dish!

Cheryl said...

I know its been a long time since I've commented. But I was in Chicago at the same time, but visiting my family.

We knew Lollapalooza and NIN were there, but already had a full itinerary.

So jealous. You know my love of Trent, how did he look?

Katie said...

Fogo De Chao is fantastic but you need to go really hungry. Next time you have to get Garrett's popcorn. Its the best popcorn ever the line is worth the wait.

Gigi said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Gigi said...

i am so glad you had a great time in my hometown! i can't to go home for labor day weekend! the next time go back try lou malnati's deep dish pizza ...pure heaven!

Lyra said...

There is a Fogo de Chao in DC that I have been to twice...its quite expensive, and you definitely need to bring your appetite, but the meat is worth it!!

What a fun sounding weekend, btw:)Its sad that summer is over now...