Heading into Lollapalooza, a four day long summer music festival hosted in Grant Park in Chicago, I had the highest expectations. With a lineup studded with my favorite artists, four Insta-worthy outfits planned out, and a pound of body glitter ready to go, it was hard to believe that the four days would be anything less than the best weekend of my life. However, what I wasn’t expecting was the less glamorous side of festivals that everyone seems to exclude from their feed.
All four days of the festival, it was brutally hot. On Saturday morning, the third day of the festival, Lollapalooza actually sent a warning to attendees warning them that the heat index would reach 97 degrees fahrenheit and asking them to keep hydrated throughout the day. Each day, I witnessed people collapsing and fainting, being pulled out in stretchers, due to the heat. And by day four, I thought I might be one of those people. Almost every set I attended on day four I left early or went late to so I could avoid the heat and get more water or food.
The heat took more of a toll on my body than I had ever expected it to. Not only did I feel like I was going to collapse on multiple occasions, but I also left the festival with heat rash on both of my legs. For those not familiar, heat rash is a skin condition that causes a red, bumpy rash to appear on the skin.
Another aspect of the festival I didn’t account for was the amount of people that would be there. I knew that the grounds would be crowded, but I didn’t think how that would impact my time there.
With the insane amount of people present, it was too easy to get lost and seperated. The large crowds, paired with awful cell reception, made it difficult to get reunited with your group. There were times when one of us would have to get on someone’s shoulders just to flag down a friend.
Another issue that stemmed from the large crowds was entering/exiting the festival grounds. Most of the days, I entered before one to avoid the lines getting in. One day, my group opted to get lunch outside of the festival, and we arrived back at the grounds around three, and we had to wait online for an hour and a half to get through security and back into the festival. Leaving the grounds at night was also a process, since everyone was headed in the same direction. This lead to more separation and confusion. By day two, we learned to allot at least twenty minutes for leaving the festival.
Additionally, this year Lollapalooza stepped up security measures massively. Getting into the festival each day, there were three checkpoints. First, you had to pass through barricades and show your wristband, then go through a TSA style security check, and then finally scan your wristband and enter. This year, Lollapalooza banned any outside food or beverages from entering the grounds, however, many threw out/dumped out their food and water before entering the first checkpoint, causing them to be dehydrated while waiting to get past the second and third checkpoints. To try and alleviate this problem, Lollapalooza reminded all attendees to bring water to drink while waiting to get past the second checkpoint to prevent dehydration and collapsing.
Since the festival was outdoors in a park, the viewing areas around the stages were mostly dirt. While this may seem unproblematic, it caused many dust storms to arise, coating attendees in dirt and causing many to inhale dirt. For days after the festival, I was coughing and had difficulty breathing due to the massive amounts of dust and dirt I inhaled. Not to mention how dirty all of my clothes and shoes got. On the first day, I wore a white tank top and I saw when I got home that the straps had turned brown.
Finally, it was nearly impossible to see all the acts you wanted to. The way the scheduling was set up usually had multiple popular artists playing at the same time, which meant that you couldn’t hear either of their full sets if you wanted to. For example, on Saturday night, The Weeknd, Vampire Weekend, and Zedd all had set times from 8:30-10:00 PM. If you wanted to see all three, you would end up spending a majority of the night running across Grant Park from stage to stage.
Overall, I’m glad I went to Lollapalooza. I got to see a lot of amazing bands and singers and I had a great time with my friends. However, I wish I had more of a heads up on the physical toll going to all four days of the festival would take on me. If I were to go back next year, I would not do all four days again.