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By Hunter Johnson


I was 15 years old when my dad came home sporting two tickets to something called Lollapalooza. When I asked what that was, he wouldn’t give me a straight answer, just a sly grin that said “wait and see”. Of course I forgot about it until early August rolled around. My dad told me to pack a bag because we were going to Chicago for the weekend, when I asked why, he told me it was so I could have a life changing experience; you know, the ones they make Lifetime specials about. I believe in Lollapalooza.
That was my first festival, and my dad was serious – that weekend changed my life. I saw thousands of people gathered in one cramped area to enjoy the magic of music, that same magic that you feel when you’re a little kid and your uncle pulls a quarter from your ear. I remember looking out at the huge crowd at Grant Park, and thinking to myself how amazing the scenery below was; like a mosaic on a palace wall. It’s not very often you can gather huge amounts of people to support a common cause, The following years I attended Coachella and 10,000 lakes music festival, which took the whole outdoor music festival thing to an incredible new level. They’re basically a huge open area where tens of thousands of people can get together to enjoy music. It’s as if they, they being the universe, created a separate reality for everyone to enjoy for one weekend in the summer. And in that reality, you can be anyone you want to be.

Throughout all of this there was one underlying theme that I picked up on. And it’s that for one weekend out of your entire life, you don’t have to worry about real life, not when your next paycheck will come or the homework you forgot to do. I love that feeling of how connected you feel with everyone around you. Nowhere else do you have the opportunity to meet a guy who grew up in Nepal, or a girl who is wearing a neon blue tuxedo and is a pilot for a living.
And any place that the lead singer of Wilco comes and hangs out with you is bound to be a good time.