[pullquote quote=”It took us twenty years to get to Lollapalooza. Thank you for making…four men’s dreams come true.” credit=”Chris Martin, Coldplay”]It was 20 years ago today when Perry Farrell’s brainchild, Lollapalooza, ushered in a new and exciting way to experience the best of modern rock. Now, Lollapalooza has become the best three days of the year for music fans alike. XRT was proud to welcome Lollapalooza back again this summer to Chicago’s backyard, Grant Park. This year, there were 8 stages and over 120 bands at the festival including [lastfm]Coldplay[/lastfm], [lastfm]Foo Fighters[/lastfm], [lastfm]My Morning Jacket[/lastfm], [lastfm]Muse[/lastfm], [lastfm]Bright Eyes[/lastfm], [lastfm]Arctic Monkeys[/lastfm], [lastfm]Big Audio Dynamite[/lastfm], and many more.

Go big or go home. That was the mantra this past weekend as over a quarter of a million people packed into beautiful Grant Park to take in the 2011 rendition of Lolla. The enormous festival was back in full force at Grant Park this weekend, and Chicago’s Finest Rock station was there for it all: the sweltering heat, the persistent weekend rainstorms, the mud-stained clothing, but most importantly, the vast amount of great music enjoyed by hundreds of thousands of festival-goers. Whether you were out by the stages, relaxing in the XRT Lounge, or streaming online from the XRT live broadcast, we don’t have to tell you what a thrilling weekend it was for Chicago music lovers.

154 Lollapalooza Revisited

Cage The Elephant Live at Lolla (photo: Will Byington/ WXRT)

[photogallerylink id=94955 align=left]Marty Lennartz and the XRT crew sure stayed busy all weekend at the XRT Backstage Broadcast Bungalow, with each day bringing a steady stream of artists on their way to the stage to chat with XRT. The Bungalow kicked off its interviews on Friday with the always entertaining Perry Farrell, Lollapalooza’s founder.

Perry Farrell Backstage Interview

Perry discussed a wide range of topics, from his experience throwing the first pitch at a White Sox game to the evolution of Lollapalooza. There were plenty of great interviews throughout the weekend, including Patrick Hallahan (My Morning Jacket), Mick Jones and Don Letts (Big Audio Dynamite), Fitz & the Tantrums, OK Go, Ryan Bingham, and many more.

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Imelda May Backstage Interview

Friday’s acts opened the festival on a high note that resonated throughout the weekend. Highlights of the day included the sharply-dressed Chicago natives OK Go and Foster the People, the hit band of the summer.

Foster The People – “Don’t Stop”

A heartfelt Mountain Goats set was another afternoon delight, with John Darnielle and company opening with a short blast of death metal before breaking into their acoustic literate rock, which included a Windy City-pleasing “Cubs in Five”. Bright Eyes‘ country-infused rock brought in the late afternoon crowd, who started entering in droves as the weekend began for the 9-5ers. As twilight crept up upon the City on the Lake, a prodigious prog-rock spectacle from Muse closed out the south stage, while headliners Coldplay brought in a huge crowd as well.

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[photogallerylink id=93284 align=left]The crowd-pleasing British group rocked with old hits as well as electrifying new material, ending with a barrage of fireworks to close out Day One. The set included a tribute to the late Amy Winehouse, as Chris Martin and company played a portion of “Rehab” before breaking into “Fix You”. Friday also boasted the best weather by far of the weekend along with some of the best performances.

Saturday was met with sun, warmth, and more joyous performances by a ton of great bands. XRT listeners flocked in masses early in the afternoon to see Fitz & The Tantrums, a fun-loving, neo-soul pop band who got the audience involved every chance they could.

Fitz & The Tantrums – “MoneyGrabber”

[photogallerylink id=93593 align=left]No matter how hot it was, Fitz said he wouldn’t take off his bright pink suit jacket. “I’ll pass out before I take this jacket off,” he said to a barrage of cheers. Between playing track after track from their debut album Pickin’ Up The Pieces, they threw in a few reinvented covers such as “Steady As She Goes” by the Raconteurs and the Eurythmics’ hit “Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This)”. Of course, fans went crazy when their mega-hit “MoneyGrabber” closed out their set with a bang. Marty Lennartz also got a lively interview out of the guys in the band. Moving on through the day into the evening, the heat stayed around while the headliners got ready to go on. Lykke Li was a natural on stage, crooning and dancing for a large early evening crowd while touting and occasionally using a drumstick throughout her set.

[photogallerylink id=93888 align=left]My Morning Jacket was the talk of the festival; though they had played in 2007 and were already highly discussed among music lovers, their success had not yet reached the height that it has achieved today. Their spectacle of a light show and live performance has gone down in the annals of concert history as being a must-see, and they did not disappoint as Saturday headliners at Lollapalooza. Closer “One Big Holiday” is always a treat for fans of the band, and one would be hard-pressed to think of a better way to end the day.

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[photogallerylink id=94538 align=left]Festival-goers waded through ankle-deep mud and water on Sunday to catch a glimpse of their favorite artists, determined to stay in rain, or shine, or mudslide. The audiences weren’t afraid to get down and dirty to their favorite music, and some of the less hygienic reveled in the experience by slinging a little muck of their own. Good luck to all of the crews cleaning up Grant Swamp!

[photogallerylink id=94607 align=left]As for the artists, The Cars were lucky enough to have Mother Nature’s good graces for their afternoon set. Ric Ocasek led the new wave pioneers through classics like “Just What I Needed” and “You Might Think”, along with new cuts like “Sad Song”. XRT was lucky enough to talk to Sunday performers like Ryan Bingham, the Joy Formidable, and City and Colour. The rain came just in time for Cage The Elepahant‘s set, drenching those rocking out to “Ain’t No Rest for the Wicked”.

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[photogallerylink id=94425 align=left]Many left, but those who remained in Grant Park for the night were in for a treat: Foo Fighters gave an electrifying performance, as rain and thunder crashed from the heavens as these gods of rock brought the ruckus with hits old and new.

Every year XRT is your summer headquarters for all things Lolla, the place to be for one-of-a-kind video performances and backstage interviews with Lollapalooza artists. Click below to watch more festival highlights with backstage videos, concert photos and blogs straight from our muddy laptops. Read first-hand festival reports from our station writers & share your opinions with us on Facebook.

Everything Lollapalooza

20-Song Lollapalooza Music Sampler For Lollapalooza’s 20th Anniversary

Free Mixtape Download: Experience Lollapalooza In 45-Minutes

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