This past weekend, Chicago once again hosted one of the best music festivals: Lollapalooza. Lollapalooza occurs annually and recruits 130+ artists each year to perform during a three-day span, with more than 10 stages. Genres range from reggae and indie to hip-hop and electronic.
Although there aren’t many things you could do wrong at music festivals, as seen by barely-clad teeny-boppers running rampant through the streets (really, there should be an age restriction), there are certain things that can heighten your festival experience.
- be afraid of going alone
Many times, there’s a stigma against going to places alone, especially music festivals and concerts. I’ve done both. Don’t let the fact that you’re alone get to you—it’s the perfect chance to come out of your shell (yes, sometimes by necessity), and meet random strangers! Have you ever wanted to go to a concert and no one else was really digging it? Do it. I guarantee you’ll have just as much fun.
- stay in the sun
If you can, stay out of it. Being in the sun for too long does weird things to people and can make you feel sick to your stomach. Capitalize on the experience and don’t risk anything that might force you to go home early.
- take drugs from strangers
People at music festivals are very kind with their drugs and alcohol—it’s a great community of loving and sharing. Hell, I’ve been offered pizza from a random festival-goer that I struck up conversation with at the train station. However, although it may smell like something you identify, try not to take it. It may be stronger than you think or laced with some other chemicals that you’re definitely not used to. This will also detract from your enjoyment and you’ll end up being that person that couldn’t handle their stuff.
- keep yourself hydrated
You’ll be in the sun for at least 10 hours and if you don’t drink at least a bottle of water every two hours, you’ll be in big trouble, especially if you’re drinking alcohol. Many times, people queue up for good standing seats for their favorite artists hours before they’re on stage and, due to dehydration, they find themselves unable to withstand it. The sheer volume and proximity of people at these festivals, the humidity, and your dehydration can turn your experience in the other direction. You want to remember seeing your favorite sets, not how nauseous you felt because you forgot to take care of yourself.
- do whatever you want; don’t feel self-conscious
At these music festivals, people are crazy. They dress in things you desperately hope never to see again and they act like the obnoxious 14-year olds you remember from junior high—sometimes they are 14 years old-hence my stand on an age restriction. Because everyone does and says whatever they want, it’s the perfect atmosphere to follow suit.
- talk to people!
This correlates to the previous bullet point. Because everyone does and says whatever they want, they are far more open than people usually are and are more receptive to making temporary concert friends throughout the day—let’s face it, you’ll be grinding and rubbing sweaty bodies all over each other, the least you could do is introduce yourself. And, talking to people definitely heightens your experience. It’s actually one of the best things about music festivals, getting to talk to interesting people who come from various places.
- prioritize your favorite artists
Definitely do this if there are a few artists that you absolutely love. If you’re one of those passionate fans, you’ll have to queue up at least two hours before the performance starts to get even 20 feet close. The ones at the front rail have usually been waiting for the entire day, standing through all the earlier sets to see the one.
- know your limits
Along with prioritizing, know which ones you’ll be happy to hear standing and which ones you’ll be happy to hear sitting down. We’re not young anymore, we can’t last an entire day, repeated three times, standing for every concert in a mass of sweaty people.
- be a kid
However, don’t presume you’re too old to do things such as dancing like a crazy person, mud fights, or participating in some illegal activities. Do whatever strikes your fancy, do what makes you happy—as long as you’re willing to live with the consequences.