In just a few weeks, I will be headed to Lollapalooza in Chicago for the fourth weekend in a row. My inaugural year was right after I graduated high school (2013) and I went for the entire weekend. In 2014, I went with about 10 other people and we managed to cram ourselves into my tiny, two-bedroom Lincoln Park apartment. It was an adventure, to say the least.
I purchased a three-day pass in 2015 before the lineup was announced, but was disappointed with the overall lineup on Saturday and decided to sell my three-day pass after scoring a one-day to Friday and a one-day to Sunday.
This year, after finding out that the festival was returning with a four-day event in honor of the festival’s 25th Anniversary, I knew that I had to go all four days. After speculating over countless lineup rumors (check out my predictions post here: I was pretty accurate!), I knew that I would definitely be excited about all four days and have been planning the weekend for months now.
This year I’ll be going with two of my closest friends from high school all four days and I know it’s going to be the highlight of my summer.
With all of the being said, I sort of consider myself to be a Lolla veteran at this point. I’ve done the festival with just one friend, with a ginormous group of friends, with different people on different days, and have managed to survive a storm evacuation, massive downpours, and muddy fields.
Here are some of my own tricks that will help you survive the long, hot, and most importantly fun weekend.
Dress for the weather. This is usually a no-brainer to people, but it’s amazing to me how many people I’ve seen walking around Grant Park in weird ensembles like a sweatshirt and sweatpants (saw it in 2014 in the crowd waiting for Kodaline). So many people are just out of their mind on drugs and/or alcohol that they aren’t taking care of themselves. Sure, it’s great to look cute and everyone wants to have some Instagrammable ensembles, but it’s important to take care of yourself in the heat and humidity that is Chicago in July. For the love of God, leave your high heeled booties at home and try not to wear heavy jewelry. It will bite you in the butt!
Bring extra items in case of emergency. It may be annoying to have to carry around a backpack or bag full of stuff, and many people will tell you to travel lightly. However, I have learned that it’s never a bad idea to have some extra items in case of Lolla emergencies. I.E. hand sanitizer (because those porta potties get gross pretty fast), and a pack of tissues (because the toilet paper goes even faster), and even a couple garbage bags in case you don’t have any ponchos. I’m even considering bringing an extra pair of clothing this year. If you’re really annoyed about having to carry a bag, buy a cute backpack like this or this! If you really do want to travel light, I used a fanny pack last year and it worked out great. Don’t forget to bring a reusable water bottle!
Don’t push yourself too far. While I personally try to see as many acts as I can each day, it’s important to know your limits. It’s probably not the best idea to stand in extremely populated crowds for every single act during the day because it will definitely burn you out very fast. I did this my first year and it was a lot to handle. I’ve now learned that it’s just as fun to sit on the hill to watch a performance or stand on the outskirts of the crowd, which allows you breathing room and most importantly, room to dance! It’s a good idea to also find a gap in your schedule to get food, use the bathroom, refill water bottles, etc. If you are planning on drinking, it’s important that you aren’t drinking throughout the entire day or drinking too fast. The heat and alcohol combo will definitely dehydrate you and you may end up missing out on an act you’re super excited for!
Don’t miss out on acts you want to see to wait for a good spot in the crowd. I am guilty of doing this at my first Lolla, and I’ve regretted it ever since. I waited in a big crowd to get a good spot for Ellie Goulding and missed out on Local Natives and The National, which were two bands that I really wanted to see. I definitely think that it’s better to see as many acts as possible instead of standing in an extremely hot, crowded group of people for a good spot in the audience. Despite what you may think, there’s really no bad view at Lollapalooza.
Eat a big breakfast. Even if you’re not a big breakfast eater, you will regret going to the festival on an empty stomach. I try to just get one meal per day while I’m at Lolla because it can get pricey. Eating a large breakfast will fuel you until around 3 or 4pm (in my experience) and drinking coffee (or alcohol, for that matter) won’t do you any good. Something like eggs, fruit, toast, yogurt, and even a protein bar will give you a lot of energy that will last you into the late afternoon.
Venture out on your own! Don’t be freaked out about seeing a band on your own if you’re friends don’t want to or have other plans. You won’t have many issues talking to other people while waiting for the artist and nobody pays attention or thinks it’s weird if you’re alone. I’ve seen a few artists on my own and this year I’m probably seeing a headliner alone (The Last Shadow Puppets) which will be interesting, but totally worth it. If you really want to see an artist, go see them! ALSO, find a meeting spot to regroup with your friends because cell service is spotty.
Check out the small events happening throughout the day. Last year, there was a Toyota tent with select artists performing small acoustic sets. I saw Of Monsters & Men perform this way last year (I only caught one song – but it was Little Talks, so I was cool with it). They also had Catfish & The Bottlemen, BØRNS, and a lot more great artists perform at this tent. I’m not sure if Toyota will be sponsoring this event again: the schedule only came out about 2 days before the weekend last year. This is a great way to catch an artist that you’re wanting to see but can’t due to scheduling conflicts.
Toyota was also giving away free Lolla bandanas if you signed up to win a car. Not a bad deal.
Have fun and stay safe!