Feature photo by David Silverman

You don’t just attend a 3 day festival of music, dancing, drinking and crowdsurfing in summertime Chicago; you survive it.

With an expected attendance of 270,000 people this year, its likely more than a few of you will be heading out to the sold-out Lollapalooza festival this weekend. As a veteran Lolla-attendee, I put together a list of dos and don’ts to make sure your Lolla experience is an enjoyable one.

DO: Set up a spot to reconvene.

If you’re going with a group of people, sticking together is a pain in the ass. Not everyone wants to see the same acts, or has to use the port-a-potty at the same time. Before you leave your group to go dance to DeadMau5 alone, or your friend runs off in search of the wine garden, make sure you know where to meet up if you can’t find each other later. Perhaps you’ve noticed: Grant Park is huge. Wandering around aimlessly searching for a friend wearing Chucks and an ironic t-shirt in a sea of people wearing Chucks and ironic t-shirts is like, well, exactly that. Screaming “I’m in front of the big light thingy on the side of the stage,” into your cell over A Perfect Circle’s set isn’t going to help anybody either, especially the people around you trying to enjoy the show. There is a free mobile app that’s supposed to let you drop a pin on a map of Grant Park to let your friends know your location, but I’ve yet to try it. If your phone is an unreliable turd like mine, you also run the risk of dead battery issues, so I say stick with the analog method, at least for backup.

DON’T: Burn out early.

Your first instinct might be to run through the gates Friday morning and go buck wild. If you want to try to set the record for highest number of Sofies slammed in a hour, cheers. If you want to bring back slam dancing, go mosh your little heart out. After all, you spent quite a bit of your hard-earned money to let loose on the lakefront. But keep in mind there are eight hours of music to be enjoyed. Eight hours, as in a full day of work. Not to mention all of the awesome, more intimate, after-parties all over the city. Multiply that by all three days if you’ve made a weekend of it, and its evident you’re going to need stamina. After a particularly rowdy set, go grab a bite to eat and chill for a bit. There are tons of delicious food options in Chow Town, like selections from Kuma’s Corner and Grahamwich. Pace yourself and you should be able to make it out Monday morning feeling almost as good as you did Friday morning.

DO: Drink lots of water.

No, I’m not your mother. Yes, I know how refreshing a cold beer on a hot day is. I plan on drinking plenty of them. But just because your thirst might be quenched doesn’t mean your body won’t need some hydration. Not only will it help you avoid a hangover the next day, but you’ll also be less likely to have any muscle cramping in your legs from standing/dancing/walking/pogo-ing all day. If you have a Camelbak or other reusable water bottle, you can bring them in empty and fill them up at water stations around the park, or buy a water for about two bucks. You can also bring in factory sealed water bottles up to one liter in size. So no excuses, make sure you drink up. It’s the only way you’ll be able to keep up your stamina, like we just talked about. Passed out with dehydration and/or heat exhaustion isn’t a good look for anyone.

DON’T: Hold it when you get the urge.

Urination, people. It’s something we all do, and with 270,000 people in the same place at once, its something you’re going to have to wait to do. So if you’re getting down to some Chicago House over at Perry’s stage and your jukeing turns into a pee-pee dance, start making your way over to the port-o-pottys ASAP. Depending on which stage you’re at, it is usually a hike to get to the nearest one. While they’ve added more and more over the last two years, there has never been a point where there wasn’t some sort of line to use the washroom. So get in line early and often, because I hate to break it to you, but Billy Madison was wrong. Peeing your pants is not cool.

DO: Let your freak flag fly.

Ladies and gents, break out your hot pants. Now, The Indumentarian may not agree, but if there ever was a place where fashion faux-pas did not exist, it would be on these hallowed grounds. Leather, lace or body paint; anything goes. So wear what makes you feel comfortable, or peacock like nobody’s business. Aside from the music, one of the best parts of Lollapalooza is people watching. You’ll see some of the most creative, funniest and sometimes even disgusting ensembles as people walk by. Throw on those crocheted shorts you’ve been dying to wear and enjoy the fashion feast you’re about to lay eyes on.

DON’T: Be a douchebag.

Last year, I was kicked multiple times by a muddy, drunken, teenage frat-boy-in-training attempting to crowdsurf. This was during the Lady Gaga set, mind you. One minute I’m watching Gaga dance in a fountain of blood, the next I’ve got a filthy shoe across my temple. My point is, its alright to have a good time, but don’t do it at the expense of others. I generally don’t mind crowdsurfers, but when you’re so drunk you can’t stand up and you’re expecting equally drunk 15 year old girls to lift you above their heads, it’s not a good time for anyone around you. Love thy neighbor, and maybe they’ll share a beer with you, or you know, something else, if that’s more your style.

DO: Experience new bands.

Even the hippest of hipsters aren’t familiar with every single band playing over all three days. Wander around between sets. Go listen to that band that your friend’s been raving about, but you never took the time to check out. You’d be surprised how many artists you’ll go home and download after stumbling upon them at Lolla.

Now go forth, have fun, and rock on.

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