Have you ever won a contest? Have you ever won a once in a lifetime chance at fame? I was able to help my daughter and her boyfriend experience that magic last week.
It started several months ago when I purchased tickets to the Lollapalooza music festival in Chicago, Illinois. My husband and I would be two of 100,000 fans attending it daily for four days in the humid August heat. The “alternative” music festival headliners would be Radiohead, Red Hot Chili Peppers, LCD Soundsystem, Lana Del Rey, Disclosure, and J. Cole. A few weeks after buying tickets, I got an email stating that the festival would be holding a contest this year to select an emerging artist to play on the all-electronic Perry’s stage. Perry’s is one of the three main stages at the festival, and it’s the only one with an elevated stage completely surrounded by LED lights. On Perry’s there are two large satellite screens for video images and “audience” speakers placed about 100 yards from the stage out into the crowd of jumping fist-pumping fans. The DJ gets the crowd dancing from his “balcony” on the elevated stage.
So, I forwarded the contest email to Ben, my daughter’s boyfriend, and encouraged him to apply. He moonlights in Los Angeles as DJ Curt Reynolds on nights and weekends. My daughter sings on some of his songs, like Gone Away. He applied and was the first submittal from California. Lollapalooza and sponsor, Gigwax, received over 500 applications, in which they reviewed videos, songs, fan submittals, and social media. When Ben got word that he was in the “top 15,” he was ecstatic. Several days later, he found out that he was one of two winners selected to play at the festival! My daughter would also receive an “artist” backstage pass to accompany him.
Ben began composing new material for the festival. Local clubs clamored to book him. His friends saved up for plane and festival tickets. The countdown was on. I ordered fan t-shirts and hats for friends and family members as a surprise.
On the day of the festival, we all made sure to allow for plenty of time to clear the front gates (search, pat down, wristband scan) and get to the Perry’s stage for a close-up spot on the dirt field. At noon in Chicago, I found myself sandwiched between a dude pouring water on his head and shaking like a dog, boys sucking on hard liquor in their camel backs instead of water, several high school girls in lace bras which were masquerading as shirts, jean shorts with butt checks showing, and face paint/decals, and a cloud of marijuana smoke that made me question whether or not dry ice was being pumped out from the stage. Clearly, the Perry’s crowd was ready to get the ball rolling!
Ben took the stage as Curt Reynolds and the crowd began to dance. What followed was a combination of funky, deep house, and disco vibes. Here’s how it looked and sounded:
You can hear the whole set here: Curt Reynolds LIVE at Lollapalooza
For Ben, it was a dream come true and a memory he will treasure. He’s been contacted by some folks who heard his music that day, so now the future is wide open..
Some photographic moments from the festival: