lollapalooza music festival

Sipping a cold beer with friends in the summer heat while watching an awesome live band with the Chicago skyline as the backdrop. That right there is my happy place. Thus, Lollapalooza has been the way I spent a hot weekend in August for the past four summers. Chicago now hosts the 3-day festival each year, but did you know it was originally a touring festival and even included a freak show? Oh Perry Farrell, how your vision has evolved…

The first Lollapalooza premiered in 1991 and was centered around the farewell tour of Perry Farrell’s alternative rock band Jane’s Addiction. It included rock band Nine Inch Nails as well as non-musical acts such as the Jim Rose Circus Side Show and exhibits by political and social organizations. In 1992 a second stage was added and Pearl Jam, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, and Soundgarden joined the growing success of the festival. Over the next three years the Lolla stage featured the Beastie Boys, Rage Against the Machine, Green Day, A Tribe Called Quest, and Alice in Chains. In 1994 the festival, as well as the music world, suffered a large setback when main headliner Nirvana had to pull out from the festival due to lead singer Kurt Cobain’s sudden death. The festival toured around North America through 1997, featuring mostly non-mainstream artists in the genres of alternative rock, punk rock, grunge, and the occasional rap artist.

But the momentum didn’t last. Ticket sales declined thanks to unruly fans and Farrell’s announcement that he would be leaving to focus on other interests. In 1998 Lolla took a hiatus. Luckily for us music lovers, Farrell brought back the concert in 2005. After two years of unsuccessful planning, he teamed up with C3 Presents, an Austin-based company, and decided to make the festival a weekend destination concert series in Grant Park in Chicago. The 2005 2-day festival was headlined by Weezer, Cake, Primus, and Widespread Panic. After the success of 2005, Farrell signed a contract with Chicago for five years of a three-day festival in Grant Park. And aren’t we Chicagoans so glad he did.

For those of you wondering where the unforgettable name came from, Farrell reportedly came up with it when he heard the word “lollapalooza” used in a Three Stooges Film. It also inspired the lollipop in the original logo of the festival.

So as four year Lolla veterans, here are our tips to making the most of the 3-days without passing out from heat exhaustion or that water bottle of red wine you bought…

    -Make a plan and consult with friends before the festival day starts. Charting out your day will help you see all the bands you want to see. Check out the Lolla website for a cool schedule planner that you can print and bring with you.

    -If you and your friends don’t agree on a band, don’t be afraid to go it on your own. You’re likely to see someone you know or you have the luxury of being by yourself and sneaking as close up to the front as you can manage!

    -It takes about 10 minutes to walk from one side of the festival grounds to the other, so if you can coordinate to stay on one side for a couple shows, do it.

    -Check out the Lolla website for a list of what you can and can’t bring into the festival. When the festival guards take away your nunchucks, you’ll only have yourself to blame.

    -If it is hot, hydrate. Just have a water at least every couple beers. If it is really hot, they usually hand out free waters and the Fire Department will bring in one of those giant mister things. Find them and love it.

    -Don’t forget sunscreen!!! Being burnt to a crisp the first day will make day two & three very difficult.

    -BYOTP, which obviously means, bring your own toilet paper. You are going to be using port-o-potties for three days, and lets face it, they are going to run out of toilet paper after the first afternoon of the first day. And on that note, so will the hand-sanitizer. So bring your own of that too.

    -Re-entry is only allowed for three-day ticket holders, so if you’re only there for one day be sure you have everything you need.

    -Be careful when buying tickets from people you don’t know. Lolla emails you your tickets, so they can print out their passes multiple times to be sold, but only the first person to enter the park will be able to get in.

    -Utilize public transportation this weekend. It really is the best way to get to and from the park during Lolla, as thousands of people descend upon the Loop. Remember: you can’t bring bikes into the festival.

For more Lolla info check out in Natalie’s 2010 Lollapalooza preview and tips on how to buy tickets here.

Tessa McLean

About Tessa McLean

There is just something about that feeling when you have been away — maybe for a weekend, a month, 6 months — and you’re driving into Chicago and that first glimpse of the city skyline appears. It just always makes me smile.

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