Northbrook teen set for Lollapalooza gig
Glenbrook North senior Andrew Christopoulos, 17, of Northbrook plays songs on his home piano. Christopolous is preparing to perform at Lollapalooza this summer. | Alyssa Schueneman~Sun-Times Media
Updated: September 3, 2012 6:08AM
Andrew Christopoulos, a Northbrook teenager, is getting ready to rock at Lollapalooza.
The music festival, which will take place Friday through Sunday in Chicago’s Grant Park, features popular alternative rock, heavy metal, punk rock and hip-hop bands.
And this year, 300,000 fun-loving music fans are expected to attend the three-day extravaganza.
Christopoulos will headline the Kidz Stage at 4 p.m. Friday, and play again at 2:30 p.m. Saturday.
Christopoulos, the 17-year-old son of Cindy and George Christopoulos, will be a senior at Glenbrook North High School this fall.
But right now Andrew isn’t thinking about school. He is preparing to play before his largest audience yet, although he has been honing his skills for years.
“I started taking classical piano lessons when I was eight in second grade, playing percussion in school in fourth grade, then taught myself how to play drums year or two later,” Andrew said.
He and some friends formed the Axidents, a band in which Andrew played drums and co-wrote songs.
The Axidents played six years throughout the Chicagoland area, and recently appeared at Buddy Guys Legends.
Andrew’s musical career seemed to be taking off when in seventh grade, he was diagnosed with Langerhans cell histiocytosis, a rare blood disease, said his mother.
Andrew underwent more than a year of chemotherapy during which he spent most of his time in bed and completely stopped playing piano, she added.
Andrew began playing again during his sophomore year, but also started writing his own music.
“I only played classically before, reading the sheet music, then playing the songs. I hated it. My parents made me practice all the time. It wasn’t very much fun,” Andrew said.
“But now I’m extremely thankful they did, because it gave me the tools that I needed to do what I want to do right now - what I’m writing.”
Andrew acknowledged that the music he is playing now is not as technically advanced as what he played before, but he likes it a lot more - and it’s a lot more creative.
He has been playing at many fund-raisers, including some to build a girls’ high school in Africa, and for Children’s Oncology Services, Inc., through Children’s Hospital in Chicago where he was a patient.
Most recently, Andrew played at a July 7 fundraiser at Viper Alley in Lincolnshire, during which $5,500 was raised for One Step at a Time Camp through Children’s Hospital.
He also will be playing at “Toque; an Evening with Chicago Culinary Masters” Sept. 21, COSI’s biggest fund raiser of the year.
But right now, he is focusing only on Lollapalooza and presenting a good show.
“It’s hard to put a genre on your own music, but I would call it ‘folk rock.’ It’s mostly written for a piano and an acoustic guitar,” Christopoulos said.
“But I hired a full band, Jackpot Donnie — they’re all older than I am — to back me for ‘Lalla.’ There will be two guitarists, a bassist, a drummer, an organist, a cellist, and me on piano, and singing.”
Jackpot Donnie, a Chicago band, is known throughout the area for blending reggae, hard rock, funk and blues.
Christopoulos noted that he wanted to pursue music studies in college, but he wouldn’t rule out taking off “a gap year” or two from school to pursue his dream.
“It all depends what happens this next year with my music. If I had an opportunity to further my career, like a tour, I would take it,” Andrew said.
“You’re only 18 once, and touring is a young man’s game. I’m 17 and playing well, which is a good first step.”
Andrew added that he knows it is very hard to be successful in the music world.
“But I’m going to go for it,” he added.