Darrel Belen of Waukegan was one of thousands of music lovers who attended Chicago’s Lollapalooza festival over the weekend.

But the 16-year-old wasn’t there as a fan watching the musical acts from the Grant Park fields.

Instead, Belen was drumming his heart out as a member of the School of Rock’s All Star group, which partnered with the music-centric cancer charity Love Hope Strength for a July 29 through Aug. 3 tour. The group’s musical finale was Friday at Lollapalooza.

Belen’s group took the Kidzapalooza stage for two sets that lasted a little more than hour.

Although he’s been playing drums for the past three years with a band called October Road, Belen called his time on a Lollapalooza stage “nothing like I’ve ever experienced before.”

“I’ve been gigging for years,” Belen said. “That helped me not get nervous that night.”

Still, the Lollapalooza gig proved a new thrill as he had to get on stage with musicians he had just met weeks before during auditions for the All Star group.

“We were strangers and then we were playing together,” Belen said.

Not likely to forget any details of that night, he said his favorite moment was when the group played “The Boys Are Back In Town.”

“It felt like we meshed together and it reminded me of the original recording by Thin Lizzy,” Belen said.

Adam Mackintosh, the regional manager at the Chicago School of Rock, where Belen has been taking guitar lessons for the past year, said the music school has been successful getting teens opportunities to rock out at venues they wouldn’t normally be able to play.

“It provides a unique opportunity for students to learn in a performance-based environment,” Mackintosh said. “They learn one day and apply it the same week.”

This article can be found at: http://newssun.suntimes.com/2014/08/05/waukegan-teen-rocked-out-on-lollapalooza-stage-darrel-belen/