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Lollapalooza Post No. 504: The Hierarchy of the Wristband

By Sarah Dahnke in Arts & Entertainment on Aug 5, 2007 5:00PM

The next two posts written by writer Sarah Dahnke will be written in first-person singular, in order to recount her personal experiences at Lollapalooza. For those of you who have never quite grown accustomed to our signature "we" style, we hope this is a breath of fresh air, but don't get too used to it.

2007_8_4_guestwristband.jpgAs I will report in further detail in the near future, this Chicagoist writer was fortunate to be a guest performer at Lollapalooza on Friday, so I was given a Guest wristband to use for the day. Not knowing what boundaries are placed on holders of the Guest wristband, I figured I'd just see where security would let me go. However, like any large event with a volunteer staff, each security person was schooled slightly differently on who to restrict from certain areas, and the Guest wristband was definitely the most confusing of the lot.

Before I continue further with the story, let me clarify a few things as far as the wristband system goes. Aside from the regular, three-day pass wristband for general concert goers, there are at least nine different levels of VIP-type passes, all with barcodes and able to be scanned on a whim in a very Brave New World way. I've tried my best to arrange them in order of most access to least.

Dive head-first into a Lollapalooza wristband tutorial after the jump.

1. VIP: A special over-the-neck pass only available to those who are partially responsible for bank rolling the festival or have taken Perry's children for ransom.

2. All Access: A navy blue wristband allowing the holder to access basically anywhere in the festival, including backstage areas.

3. Lolla Lounge: A yellow wristband given to a) those who dropped $1,000 for tickets to hang out under umbrellas and get bottle service or b) publication editors, PR firm owners and other higher-ups in the media world who want to make sure they can at least snag free beer while attending the fest.

4. Artist: A red wristband intended for performers that allows the holder access to backstage areas, the artists' lounge and the media area.

5. Crew: A green wristband for sound people, Jumbotron camera operators, roadies and anyone else involved in the behind-the-scenes production. Allows you backstage access but that's about it. If you have this pass, you're lucky if you have time to snag a free beer anyway.

6. Guest: A one-day pass for "guests" of a band performing at the festival. These are definitely in the minority.

7. Photo: A one-day pass for professional photographers with media credentials. Allows you access to the front-of-the stage photo pit and the media area.

8. Media: A one-day pass for journalists. Allows you access to the media area and ensures most artists will run from you if you don't have a scheduled interview.

9. Staff: A one-day pass for volunteer staff members and people working vendor booths. Allows you free entry to the festival but no special access.

During my first venture backstage, a few of my fellow performers and I mistakenly attempted to get into the Lolla Lounge on the north side of the festival. As we were turned away, I noticed that this is one of the most restricted areas of the festival. Without one of those fancy yellow wristbands, you're not getting in, no matter if you're ?uestlove or Iggy Pop or Matt or Kim.

The main artists' lounge was located on the south end of the festival, and although getting into this area was no problem with a Guest wristband, there were various security points within this backstage area. Grabbing food and sitting at a picnic table under a tree was not a problem. But when a security guard let a friend and me walk toward the bar, he then called us back, explaining that he was confused and thought our black wristbands were the oh-so-similarly colored navy blue All Access passes. I kept hoping this mistake would continue to happen throughout the day, but as it got later, the security people actually became even more restrictive, sometimes banning me from going backstage all together.

After Friday was over, I returned on Saturday with a Media pass, bumping me further down the rankings. Although I heard that some security people would allow Media to enter at alternative points, I was only allowed to enter through the main gate, along with my colleague and photographer, who was hassled about her multiple camera lenses, even though she was wearing a Photo pass.

Yes, I realize many of you are viewing this post as the ramblings of someone who was privileged enough to go to a pricey festival for free, but that is not the intention of this writing. It's more to provide a behind-the-scenes look at one aspect of the festival and to answer those "How did you get that pass? Who do you know? What do you do?" questions that many passersby often ask. You'll read a million blurbs about the energy in the crowd Daft Punk or how Karen O wore a crazy-ass glittery cape. Do we really need to regurgitate the same old bullshit?

(Don't answer that.)