Your 2013 Lollapalooza Survival Guide
By Tankboy in Arts & Entertainment on Aug 2, 2013 6:00PM
This stylish fellow is doing it right. Photo by Jim Kopeny / Tankboy
Obviously, first and foremost make sure you have read, bookmarked or printed out the following:
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. Whether the weatherman predicts it or not, it will rain. At some point. And it is no fun walking around in soggy clothes.
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.
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 stages along the perimeter of the fest that are actually in the shade. Often it's the lesser known acts on those stages that provide the coolest discoveries of the weekend..
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.
Live like a wino. They sell wine by the bottle in huge plastic to-go containers. Drink this instead of beer. It's a better bargain and you'll look classy as hell.
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. But for god's sake if you're a parent do NOT go there WITH your kid. There are some things you just can't unsee.
Don't have tickets? You can still enjoy Lollapalooza. The festival sold out in record time and no one we've talked to who bought them seems very interested in the music. That's because Lollapaooza has grown to be bigger than just a music festival. It's grown to become Chicago's own version of Mardis Gras, for better or for worse. But the better part is that the festival's influence spreads all over town so even if you don't have a pass for the fest itself you can join in at afterparties and aftershows at night, and during the day just come downtown to shop, have a few drinks and watch the freak show. For three days of the year Chicago is transformed into the biggest party in the Midwest so everyone can join in.
If you see a Chicagoist writer, say hi! If you see Chuck Sudo, Michelle Meywes, Jessica Mlinaric or me, we're friendly people and would love to chat and hear about how your own Lollapalooza experience is going.