Check out our photos and video recap of the festival after its third and final day.
The weekend-long, Chicago-based version of Lollapalooza that launched in 2005 has now lasted two years longer than the festival's original 90s incarnation as a touring show, but its identity remains rooted in alt-rock's heyday. For all but one of the years that Lollapalooza has occupied Grant Park, at least one of its six main-stage headliners has been a veteran of the old traveling Lolla; for 2013 it's Nine Inch Nails, whose self-immolating sets helped define the festival when it debuted in 1991. The Cure and New Order, who also reached the pinnacles of their careers in the 90s, have prime spots as well.
Further down the bill, the diversity of the bookings increases dramatically—millennial indie rock, counterculture-leaning hip-hop, freak folk, trad rock, a dash of metal, even smatterings of straight-up country and the kind of pop that you can actually hear on the radio. (Not to mention an entire stage devoted to kids' music.) As usual, dance music gets its own stage, named after festival founder and de facto mascot, Perry Farrell, rather than a multinational product or corporation like half the others—which should give you some idea where his priorities lie. The Perry's bookings alone constitute an entire ecosystem of sounds, including Steve Agnello's arena house, Major Lazer's post-dancehall EDM, Baauer's trap hybrids, and at least a dozen distinct takes on dubstep. To cover everyone playing the festival this year, the Reader would need a much larger B Side—the roster totals almost 150 acts. So instead we've assembled an itinerary that covers pretty much the whole weekend, recommending 29 artists whose sets ought to keep you entertained from just after gates open on Friday till lights-out on Sunday.
The sprawling festival grounds also contain plenty of nonmusical diversions. As in past years, the Green Street corridors give attendees a place to shop for eco-friendly art and goods, browse the booths of lefty nonprofits and charities, and contribute to the festival's greening efforts. Two large Chow Town areas host a broad range of food vendors selected by Graham Elliot, and the Farmers Market has several more. Tents sponsored by Lollapalooza's corporate partners offer respite from the sun, heat, and crowds to folks willing to immerse themselves in their intensively branded environments.
Lollapalooza's website has plenty of useful practical information—re-entry policy, locker rental, prohibited items, directions, et cetera—so there's no need to rehash it all here. Every type of single-day and multiday pass is sold out, with the exception of the Platinum Pass, which requires you to e-mail a request just to find out how much it costs. The answer is certainly "a lot," since it ensures its bearer not only catered meals, an open bar, a swag bag, rides on the festival's network of golf carts, and access to viewing areas off limits even to regular VIPs, but also a place at the front of the line to buy a Platinum Pass for next year. —Miles Raymer