Though I’d popped in and out of past versions of Lollapalooza thanks to press credentials, last summer’s edition was my first immersion in all three days of this singular sensation. Thanks, I’m sure, in no small part to the best weather the festival’s ever enjoyed and my convenient proximity to Grant Park from my Printers Row home, I had far more fun than my post-post-rock bones had any right to. As befitting a festival with far more musical variety and conflicting options than any one brain can process, we’ve asked a half dozen music writers to share their strategy for the weekend so that you either align yourself with the one who seems to speak your language, or pick and choose, which is what I’ll be doing. Here’s a few more things I expect to do, based on last year. Go early: sure you’re not dying to see the openers, but the best time of the day at Lolla is shortly after the gates open. Crowds are light, attitudes are chill (and mostly sober) and, if you sprawl out over a nice patch of grass, you’ll enjoy a beautiful afternoon in the park. Not to mention a chance to shop the vendors of Green Street (of which Newcity is a partner; see our guide after this section) or check out the progressive charities on site. Challenge yourself: This is not the place to hunt dinosaurs (we have Riot Fest for that), but to discover and enjoy the essence of newness, the once-driving spirit of rock music itself. Think old-school: Lolla started in 1991 and mobile phones and texting seem to work as well as they did back then: not at all. Be flexible: there are two main ends of the festival (north and south), and it can be a hike to get to and from shows at both ends. Unless you really really want to see someone at the other end, you might have more fun just parking at one end for the day. Don’t sweat the headliners, unless you really really must see them. The shows at night demand an early “campout” strategy if you want any chance to see the stage. If a closing act’s your passion, shape your day that way and pitch a tent. But if it’s not, you’ll enjoy a day of freedom and discovery and… summer. (Brian Hieggelke)
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