The fresh cut, green grass was soiled by the tipsy teeny-boppers covered in last night's glitter with temporary gold medallion tattoos claiming to be the number one fan. The hedges were stocked with empty Bud Light cans, tilted and leaning. And the land was teeming with affluent kids tossing around Daddy's hard-earned money with the Lollapalooza wristband they'd wear for months to come.
Most had arrived by train from the suburbs, but they would claim Chicagoan status. Each prepared for the day ahead with bottles insisting to be water but reeking of cheap vodka, fanny packs crammed with hidden unmentionables, and sunglasses to hide their adolescent age. The girls wore garments and headdresses tipping the line of cultural appropriation. There were feathers and flowers and braids, oh my. The boys wore their too tight tanks and ill-fitting snapbacks in an effort to look even more like they didn't give a shit.
And there was something for everyone, or at least that's what they claimed. Each stage played to its established genre; electronic, hip-hop, alternative, children's, and that one stage where the Harley Davidson club seemed to meet. Each genre with its own distinguishable fans. The electronic kids high on stripped paper shoving their glow-tipped fingers in your face in broad day light. The rap crowd packing so tight into the stage venue four hours before A$AP Rocky that any possible space intruder was given a sentence to death by dirty looks. The alternative listeners spread over the land with slight head nods intermittently admitting that they were in fact not asleep. And the kid's stage hidden deep in the trees, children of the forest, perhaps.
A mile-long stretch of road connected the festivalgoers for a common feature of any entertainment venue: ridiculously overpriced snacks. There were Chef Grahm's Lobster Corn Dogs, Da Brat's Big A$$ Bratwurst, and Chubby Wiener's Famous Chubby Wiener (it's real I swear). But navigating to these restaurant huts proved difficult in a park held by 160,000. And don't even get the stroller moms fired up about the lack of space.
As the day progressed, the heat would melt each attendee to a sweating shell of a man. The Camel-Bak station swept by blowing sand seemed to be a mirage in the desert land of the Perry Stage. The line that continued to grow allowed for patrons to disappear in the distance. It was nothing short of dehydrated kids crawling on the ground shouting "Water!" Yet the day grew to night and darkness hid the desperation. The fans waited in anticipation for the reason they had come in the first place. Every now and then a devoted, yet, frustrated fan near the front would let out a disgruntled cry of, "I'VE HAD IT WITH YOU PEOPLE. GET ME OUT OF HERE" with their arms raised, a security guard hoisted them over the metal barrier like a child being picked up. And then the main acts took the stage with nothing less than flames, pulsating lights, and the occasional bass drop that rocked their hollow bodies concurrently.
Before they knew it, the day was over. The streets of Chicago were ransacked by thousands of kids walking in endless circles trying to find the train station. Some would run to catch the 11:30 train, some would hop into a bicycle-driven cart, and some would accept that they were too fucked up to even comprehend directions. But everyone had fun; young and old, but mostly young. For this was the spectacle of their angsty teen summer.
About Iowa Writes
Since 2006, Iowa Writes has featured the work of Iowa-identified writers (whether they have Iowa roots or live here now) and work published by Iowa journals and publishers on The Daily Palette. Iowa Writes features poetry, fiction, or nonfiction twice a week on the Palette.
In November of 2008, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) designated Iowa City, Iowa, the world's third City of Literature, making the community part of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network.
Iowa City has joined Edinburgh, Scotland and Melbourne, Australia as UNESCO Cities of Literature.
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Erin Maurer is an undergraduate student at the University of Iowa studying entrepreneurship and writing.
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on November 16, 2017