Mar 292012
Authors: Emily Luft

It’s spring, which means an abundance of live music. I’ve gotten emails from Coachella, Lollapalooza and Pitchfork demanding my money ASAP. Even local events like FoCoMX are on my radar (FoCoMX is a lot of fun — I highly suggest you all go). It’s stressful because they send you newsletters that insist, “Buy your ticket RIGHT NOW before the festival sells out!” but they don’t announce the line-up until later, and it requires travel and a tremendous amount of forethought.

On top of that, Madonna announced her tour so obviously I had to drop a load of cash on that. I was thinking how awesome it would be to be close to the stage at a Madonna concert (finally see those crazy arms up close), but tickets were upward of $1,000, so… the very back row it is! It’s not until October, but I couldn’t risk it selling out. All the tossing of money for concerts reminds me of the year I went to Lollapalooza….

I don’t regret much — or I should say, I don’t get hung up on the things I regret. But that summer, I almost touched Lady Gaga’s butt. A moment of weakness led this to being an “almost” moment instead of an, “I DID touch Lady Gaga” moment. I was spending my summer in downtown Chicago, a dream of mine, and like many Chicagoans, I attended Lollapalooza. Ninety-nine percent of the reason I bought my ticket was to see Lady Gaga. The remaining percent was because it was simply a cool Chicago thing to do.

The first day was miserably hot: in the high nineties, with the kind of humidity you need gills for. I’m from Colorado, so naturally humidity doesn’t make sense to me. I swam my way between sets, enjoying the music in the foreground and the skyline in the background. I lied to myself saying that I really enjoyed all the little indie bands I was watching, but I really didn’t care: I was waiting for the big show. I bounced from gospel, to techno, to indie rock to indie pop.

Around mid-day I decided to see a band called Semi Precious Weapons. I knew nothing about them except that Lady Gaga loved them. They were located at the small stage near a pocket of trees. Tree equals shade. Bingo. I showed up a bit early and made a B-line to the front. I was leaning on the stage when I felt full beads of sweat drip down both sides of my face at the same time. Too hot to stand in the sun for a band I’d never heard before. I left my premium spot and meandered to the back where the trees existed. Comfortable at last! I was so smart for coming to see this concert near the nature and the shade! Go me.

Pretty soon, the area was packed. Go ahead! After you! The stage is yours! All the sad, miserable, hot people filled up the space in front of me. The band finally appeared, flamboyant and full of life. The lead singer bantered with the audience between songs, and then played tunes that had the spirit of classic rock stars. A few songs in, people started screaming in the front. I assumed a medical emergency. I had already seen two seizures that day. But no, no. They were screams of joy.

Lady Gaga appeared on the tiny stage, as pantless and shirtless as ever. People pushed to the front. The woman next to me started crying and collapsed to the ground. It was a mosh pit of desperation. I was 100 percent a part of it. I’ve never moved as fast as I did to grab my camera. She walked to the front of the stage like she owned the place and then, with no warning, jumped into the crowd. Her security people flipped out, grabbing at her to pull her back. “Doesn’t she know how famous she is?!” I could hear them yelling at each other, “She’s only five-feet tall — someone could grab her and take her away!”

Yeah, and that someone would’ve been me. There was no way to the front. I was stuck in the back with the other comfort-seeking idiots. We all lost. She was pulled back to the stage and disappeared.
Her actual concert was fantastic. But in the end, I failed. I sacrificed a moment of glory for comfort — what a shame. There were photos of the moment in Rolling Stone. I could’ve been in those. Yet from the way I brag about it, you’d think it actually happened. This year, I’m taking a more aggressive approach to concert going, and I suggest you do the same.

Emily Luft is a junior journalism major. She can be reached at

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