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Our Official Lollapalooza 2012 Survival Guide: or How To Fest It Up Like A Pro

By Tankboy in Arts & Entertainment on Aug 2, 2012 3:00PM

Photo by Jim Kopeny

Whether you’re a resident or a visitor from a galaxy far, far away, Lollapalooza can be a daunting endeavor. It’s huge. The crowd’s massive. And Perry Farrell sighting are like a game of Whack-A-Mole; he’s everywhere and nowhere all at once. So we’ve put together a survival guide of sorts for you to use over the weekend. The festival’s website actually does a really good job of prepping you for the official Lollapalooza experience, but here’s how to handle things like a seasoned pro. If you follow our advice you will become a leader among men, or at least look like you know what you’re doing and impress your friends.

If your ticket is at Will Call, get it TODAY, Thursday August 2. The box office is open from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. and I guarantee you will save mucho time just picking them up beforehand.

Wear sensible shoes. We’re not suggesting you need to invest in a pair of steel-toed Doc Martens but if you wear flip-flops don’t come crying to us when someone steps on your foot and squashes your toe for the millionth time. If you wear a solid set of footwear, you can weather almost anything the fest throws your way.

Bring a poncho, or at least a folded up plastic garbage bag. Speaking of weather, it will probably rain this weekend. Unlike Lollapalooza downpours past, this one is actually in the weather forecast already! There is nothing more miserable than walking around in soggy clothes for the rest of the day. Believe us, we learned the hard way last year.

Bring hand sanitizer. You can’t always count on the washing stations by the bathroom areas. And even when they’re full the contents, be they water or that foamy stuff festivals seem to favor lately as a sanitizer, can be dodgy in their efficacy. And don’t you want super clean hands before you eat? If you want to enjoy the rest of the weekend the answer to that question is yes.

Sunscreen. No-brainer.

Check out multiple stages (and get out of the sun for a bit). We know you want to be in the front row when [INSERT YOUR FAVORITE HEADLINER HERE] plays, but standing in an open field for eight hours is simply not a good idea. Check out the Google Plus stage, with it’s tree-lined perimeter, or the relatively shaded confines of the BMI stage.

This is our suggested concert attire. Ad we're sure he's been hydrating throughout the day. Photo by Jim Kopeny
Bring a water container, refill liberally. Like, constantly. It’s going to be hot and experiencing Lollapalooza can leave you feeling that one guy that collapsed just before he hit the finish line. So stay hydrated. We know you’re probably going to drink a truckload of beer, if you’re of age because no one who isn’t would ever do so, so don’t be that guy passed out from dehydration on the baseball diamond or that girl puking in the bushes because of dehydration.

Work out a communication plan with your fellow attendees. Your cellphone will be useless so figure out well ahead of time what you’re doing with friends and where you’re meeting throughout the day. Also decide on an emergency spot to meet at should you become unexpectedly separated. And then brace yourself to receive texts in blocks of 30 every half hour or so when that cell signal finally finds you.

Download the Lollapalooza app AND grab a paper schedule on your way in. The app is terrific, it really is, and we’ve planned most of our weekend through it while sampling Lolla artists on the built-in streaming radio station, but the paper schedule is great for just checking on the fly as you’re walking. Paper doesn’t need to boot up or scroll through menus.

Get out of Dodge Lolla. Look, one of the advantages Lollapalooza has over almost any other destination festival in the country is the fact that it is surrounded by a city with a vibrant downtown. Since your wristband allows you to re-enter at will, go grab a bite to eat in the Loop. Need supplies? Head to a Walgreen’s and save yourself the 75 percent mark-up. Feeling particularly ambitious? Pop in the Art Institute and imitate Cameron from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off to your little heart’s content. We won’t judge. In fact we’ll applaud you.

Perry’s Stage. Do it. There is nothing more consistently electrifying at the festival than Perry’s stage. Growing from a small tarp under the trees a few years ago into an indoor / outdoor club that is literally the size of an airplane hangar, this is the beating heart of Lollapalooza now. Bands come and go around the festival grounds but the pulse only continues to pick up throughout the day on Perry’s Stage. If you’re over the age of 25 you’ll feel ancient but it’s still awesome to behold so suck it up and plunge in, at least for a little bit.

Party all night long. Gaper’s Block and Do312 both have done a nice job of rounding up the various post-Lollapalooza parties going on this weekend, so if that’s your wont then indulge away. But may we recommend that if you want to keep rocking (or dancing) throughout the night you jump on an L train and check out some neighborhood fun? There are a zillion places you can go, but if you’re from out of town, and consider yourself indie / hipster / a person that wants to dance, might we suggest taking the Blue Line and getting off anywhere from Damen to Logan Square? And if you’re a bro-dawg (and again, we’re not judging, everyone is welcome under the Lollapalooza banner) take the Red line to Addison and submerge yourself in Wrigleyville. These are only two suggestions—there are so many places worth checking out—but if you’re just looking for something easy to get to those are our calls.

And finally, whether you're a local or a visitor, have a good time and let us know how your experience is this year!