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Lollapalooza opening day draws early crowds

Morning festival goers made their way straight to the stages with the intention of “camping out” all day for evening headliner sets.

Fans arrived early Thursday morning at the entrance to Lollapalooza.
Fans arrived early Thursday morning at the entrance to Lollapalooza.
Emma Oxnevad

Hoards of people made their way to Grant Park on Thursday for opening day of Lollapalooza.

The gates didn’t officially open until 11 a.m., but that didn’t stop eager festival goers from patrolling around the entrance gate as early as 10 a.m., trying to be the first ones into the grounds.

One the dates opened, a flood of attendees piled into the park, running across the massive outdoor space. Some made their way straight to the stages with the intention of camping out for later sets.

Lollapalooza fans arrived early Thursday for opening day of the festival, making their way to stages that were still being set up for performances later in the day.
Lollapalooza fans arrived early Thursday for opening day of the festival, making their way to stages that were still being set up for performances later in the day.
Emma Oxnevad

Denise Ibarra, a 20-year-old Chicago native was sitting in the shade next to the T-Mobile Stage, planning on waiting more than eight hours for The Strokes’ set at 8:45 p.m.

“I’ve never been able to see The Strokes [because of] age restrictions and stuff like that, and I never know when they’re gonna play again,” Ibarra said, adding that waiting long hours for a single act was worth the high ticket prices.

Stephanie Hughes, a 25-year-old Milwaukee native, was sitting in front of the Bud Light Stage awaiting the start of an afternoon set by YBN Cordae. She revealed she was also planning on camping out Saturday all day for her “all-time favorite” 6LACK’s 5 p.m. set.

“I won’t move on that day,” she said with a laugh.

Throughout the grounds, attendees could be spotted taking pictures in front of various signs, props and Buckingham Fountain, all of it serving as a testament to the festival’s power as a social media phenomenon.

“As social media grows, we kind of tend to gravitate toward that and try to become mainstream,” said Jessica Riccelli, 19.

“It’s a fun way to share our experiences, too,” her friend, Kimberly Kapela, also 19, added. “To take pictures and document it.”

Jessica Ricceli (left) and Kimberly Kapela arrived early Thursday for a full day of music at Lollapalooza.
Jessica Ricceli (left) and Kimberly Kapela arrived early Thursday for a full day of music at Lollapalooza.
Emma Oxnevad

Fashion was typical of the unofficial festival dress code. Many young men were spotted in basketball jerseys and bucket hats, with some opting for floral-patterned, button-up shirts. Among the women, one “accessory” stood out: glitter, and lots of it.

While college-aged young adults accounted for much of the crowd, the fest attracts music fans of all ages.

Lorna Frahm, 59, of St. Charles, Missouri, said she was hoping to see Tame Impala, 21 Pilots and Flume. She joked that she “brought up the average age a bit.”

The festival is not only an exciting experience for the attendants, but the artists playing, as well.

Alexander 23 of north suburban Deerfield made his Lollapalooza debut Thursday afternoon.
Alexander 23 of north suburban Deerfield made his Lollapalooza debut Thursday afternoon.
Santiago Covarrubias/For the Sun-Times

Deerfield native Alexander23 played Lollapalooza for the first time Thursday afternoon. It was only a few years ago that he was an attendee.

The bedroom-pop singer described playing the festival as an ultimate dream come true.

“The last time I was [at Lollapalooza], I saw Chance the Rapper on the stage I just played [on],” he said. “It was surreal looking out and seeing people from my hometown and everyone. It was nuts.”