Aside from the hazards of a regular concert experience—bad sight lines, weird dudes—outdoor festivals like Lollapalooza come with their own unique challenges. There are “mud people” to dodge, shade-starved fields to cross, slow moving crowds to step through, overpriced food to sustain you, and everyone’s favorite: that girl who sits on her boyfriend’s shoulders screaming “Wooooo!” and blocking everyone behind her.
Despite these little annoyances, suck it up: You’ve made it to THE premier outdoor music festival in the U.S. and are about to enjoy the best of what popular music has to offer, along with thousands upon thousands of like-minded strangers. Here are some tips on making Lolla ‘12 an awesome weekend:
5. Don’t Die from Heat Exhaustion
Ever since Lollapalooza became a “destination” festival in 2005 instead of a traveling one, the early August concert date has consistently been one of the hottest weekends of the year. As Chicago is currently experiencing one of their hottest Summers on record, more of the same should be expected.
If you’re boozing, do yourself a favor and drink at least 24 oz. of water before the day begins and be sure to drink six oz. of water per-alcoholic beverage you have. Not only will you avoid a hospital stay, but you’ll probably feel a bit better throughout the weekend. FYI: Lollapalooza allows you to bring in empty CamelBaks as well as two factory-sealed water bottles. Be a smart cookie and bring in a one-liter bottle, take a swig every once in awhile, and refill as necessary.
4. Pack Right
Rock ‘n’ roll fans aren’t known for being the tannest bunch, so bring sunscreen and use it or you’ll wind up being a really grumpy indie rock lobster by Sunday morning. In addition to the bottled water mentioned above, you should also pack a sheet to sit on and a disposable plastic tarp that you can put under your sheet to avoid a muddy butt—or over your head in case of rain. Hand-held umbrellas are allowed and can work triple duty as a parasol, and a means of signalling for your pals in a crowd. Oh, and bring some TP. Maybe you won’t need to use it, but it’s much better than the alternative.
3. Dress Like You’re Going to Be Outdoors for Three Days
Depressing that this even has to be mentioned, but ladies and fellas: leave the jewels at home. There’s no good reason to introduce bling into the sweaty, seething mass of Lollapalooza. If you must, you can always swag it up when you attend one of the innumerable after parties that go on after the festival closes at 10 PM.
For the daytime, it’s all about being comfortable. “Comfortable” should NOT be confused with “dumpy,” though. C’mon, people . . . you’re trying to look stylish still, right? If you’re comfortable in what you’re wearing, the only other rule is make sure you’re okay with getting dirty, because it’s gonna happen. Oh, and wear anything you want on your feet so long as you acknowledge you will inevitably get stomped on, and you will be placing your feet in some nasty ass porta-johns. If you want to wear open-toed anything, that’s your prerogative.
2. Set up a Base Camp
You’re not going to want to lug around everything you brought to the festival all day, so it’s best to pick a spot somewhere on the grounds to set up camp. With a home base, you will have a place to meet back up with pals if you go to see different shows, crash in the shade mid-day, or stretch out away from the throngs of the festival-goers. Your best plan is to choose which side has bands more to your liking that day—North (Bud Light / Playstation Stages) or South (Red Bull / Sony Stage) and make camp for the day.
1. Have a Plan, and Then Throw it Out the Window
If you’re a “Type A” that absolutely needs to have everything organized, it’s time to unclench that smartphone and listen up. Breathe out slowly, and then accept the fact that your perfect Lolla plan—in which every 45-min block has been scheduled to optimize your weekend—is NOT GOING TO WORK.
With so much going on, there are just way too many things that you can’t plan for, so anticipate this: You will stumble upon a great band this weekend, but the only way you will is by throwing that agenda out the window. Be open to detours. If you hear a band that sounds interesting. Stop and listen. If the set of your favorite band is just so-so, start walking and find something else.
If you remember just one of the tips for making Lollapalooza an awesome weekend, make it number five. The spirit of Lollapalooza is one of joy, irreverence, and spontaneity—don’t fight that current, and you just might wind up enjoying where it takes you.
Brian Battle will be reporting back with daily updates of Lollapalooza this weekend. Stay tuned for even more Lolla coverage!
Check out our full Lollapalooza archive:
- Q&A: Heath Fogg of Alabama Shakes on Success, Explosive Live Shows and That “Retro Soul” Label
- Q&A: Little Dragon’s Erik Bodin Talks Ping Pong With Damon Albarn and PLUR
- Q&A: Gary Clark Jr. Feels Like He’s Just Getting Started
- Lollapalooza Live Webcast Info
- Five Most Outrageous Moments in Lollapalooza History
—Brian Howe Battle