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Virtual Lollapalooza starts today with mix of local, national acts and past favorites

Look, I know.

Today we should be slathering on sunscreen, debating our schedule picks and psyching ourselves up for the start of what is arguably Chicago’s biggest music festival of the year.

But Lollapalooza as we remember it from years past isn’t here this summer.

Instead, what we get is a four-night event bringing together the best of Lollas past, performances from international Lollapalooza events and special late-night sets fresh for 2020.

And what’s even better is you can enjoy it without slogging through the mud pits, baking in the afternoon heat and waiting in the long, sweaty lines for the bathroom (presumably).

Plus, it’s free.

Tom Morello // Courtesy of Neal Zeleznak

What brought us all together at Lollapalooza in The Before Days was undoubtedly the music. And this summer’s virtual Lolla2020 is packing that into its streams, which will be broadcast exclusively on YouTube starting at 5 p.m. Thursday, July 30, and running through Sunday, Aug. 2. Bringing more than 150 performances and guest appearances directly into your home, Lolla2020 aims to channel that live experience with new sets from Chicago’s Vic Mensa, Winnetka-based DJ duo Louis the Child, electronic artist SAYMYNAME, singer-songwriter Yungblud, Colombian-American singer Kali Uchis, rock band The Neighbourhood and more.

Kali Uchis // Associated Press

Every year, when Lollapalooza is done, one of my favorite parts is going back and reliving some of those moments. Lolla2020 makes that easy, replaying some epic headlining performances from past festivals, including Paul McCartney, Chance the Rapper, OutKast and Arcade Fire.

Remember when the Yeah Yeah Yeahs stepped in when the Beastie Boys had to suddenly drop off the lineup in 2009? And then frontwoman Karen O pretty much stole the show that night? I was there. And I was taken by that electrifying performance. And now I can watch it again, along with some of Lolla’s most engaging sets from Ellie Goulding, Lorde, Alabama Shakes, Metallica, Run the Jewels, Tove Lo and, of course, LCD Soundsystem.

Karen O and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs weren’t on the lineup initially, but their addition made for a fan-favorite performance in 2009. // Associated Press file photo, 2009

While the mainstage shows are always a huge draw to the physical festival, they’re not the only entertainment in the park. Lolla2020 is recreating that facet of the experience, too, as Lollapalooza founder Perry Farrell hosts a lineup of special interviews throughout the weekend, as well as a Porno for Pyros reunion, a tribute to David Bowie and more.

Relive a favorite Chance the Rapper set Saturday night when the Chicago-area artist joins Lollapalooza’s online music festival this weekend. // The Washington Post

Rapper and actor LL Cool J will host four sessions throughout the weekend — “The Art of Breaking,” “The Art of MCing,” “The Art of Graffiti & Photography,” and “The Art of DJing” — aimed at educating and inspiring young artists and the communities that support them.

And bringing it back home, the City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events puts a spotlight on its Year of Chicago Music (now extending into 2021 because of public health concerns). With four performances recorded at local music venues, Lollapalooza is helping put the diverse Chicago-area talent on a global stage.

Louis the Child // Associated Press

A lot of what made Lollapalooza such an uplifting community-oriented event is still going to be there, only virtually. Presentations from When We All Vote, the Equal Justice Initiative and the Arts for Illinois Relief Fund will be peppered throughout the weekend. And Lolla2020 sponsor PayPal is supporting local businesses with its PayPal Loves Chicago hub, a portal where viewers can order food from or make donations to iconic Chicago restaurants and Chow Town vendors.

And viewers can browse the limited edition Lolla2020 merchandise and snag some T-shirts, masks and a specially designed bandana to commemorate the weekend.

Vic Mensa // Associated Press

Sure, we’re going to miss the energy of the weekend, the buzz of the crowds, the smells and the tastes and everything that makes Lollapalooza great.

But you can still get bits of all that this weekend … without the blisters.

For the full lineup, visit lollapalooza.com.