August 23, 2007

A Fantastic Festival Voyage

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Lollapalooza is hard to explain. The scope of the festival is so giant that only the anecdotes of those attending can really cut through the nonsense. This was my maiden Lollapalooza voyage, and I’ve got some lessons to impart to all you eager lads and lasses hoping to explore the wonderland next year.

Adult Version of Disney (Not Porn, You Sickos!)

After visiting a friend working as an Imagineer at Disney World this summer, I saw a lot of similarities between the two three-day binges of fun (you know, after a summer-long purge of fun called an “internship”). As I saw it, the festival is basically a perverted adult Disney World experience. It’s the same magic of seeing all your favorite characters, except substitute Eddie Vedder for Tinkerbell, and they’re all in the same place: a scorching park where the humidity barely allows you to breathe. Also, substitute childhood wonderment for booze.

Enter the Magic

Just like passing through the gates of the Magic Kingdom, when you walk into the entrance at the center of Grant Park, you pass through a gateway constructed of Moon Bounce material that has soothing professional voices reminding you that you’re not allowed to bring weapons, narcotics, or large umbrellas into the park. Lollapalooza really can’t handle the liability of large umbrellas after the rain protection-related skirmish of 1996.

Don’t Make an Ass of Yourself

Bands at Lolla are also kind of like Disney princesses. There are so many of them there just walking around looking the same, all band-like with their tight jeans and long hair and jewelry — you might have to glance twice to see that 99 percent of them are actually men — that you really can’t tell which is which, no matter if you think you’ve seen their distinct faces on MTV (which we know is completely impossible since Rihanna doesn’t play festivals) or in Rolling Stone (getting warmer) or on the cover of their CD (but you downloaded all their songs on DC++). So, basically you haven’t got any idea what they look like, but you’re wasted and its right after their set, and so the sweaty dude in the girly outfit must be the lead singer! It’s the type of logic that I have learned with two years under my belt as a Cornell University student.
Yes, I only came to the realization that I confused Cinderella for Sleeping Beauty — in Lolla terms, Illinois for the The Fratellis — when I asked the Pennsylvania-based band why they didn’t really have a Scottish accent. Let’s just hope I was drunk enough to pass for “charmingly mistaken” instead of “retard.” The fact that I got their autographs on The Fratellis page of the Lolla guide could have been me just flipping to any page anyway, Okay!
Tip: Don’t approach the attractions. They’re meant to be looked at and not talked to. Stick to the bar and passing out in front of one of the nine stages and, like the sub-headline says, don’t make an ass of yourself.

Don’t Break Things

Also, don’t touch the bands. I found this out the hard way. (I guess I found a lot of things out the hard way, eh?). After flirting my way backstage during Daft Punk’s headlining performance Friday night, I found myself five feet away from the human-robot hybrids. Nobody really knows what they are. Well, not anymore. Out of my Lollapalooza-magic-induced glee, I threw my arms, in the air and chirped with joy. My arms that were full of potent potables, which flew up into the air and straight into the French duo’s tripod space-machine UFO. Things started smoking … it was bad. Let’s just say they aren’t Human After All like their third album claimed. (Or they weren’t, to be more exact. Oops!). True story. I met their replacements, and if you were wondering what Jeff Lehman is doing with his time these days, wonder no more.

Don’t Forget Sun Protection

I have a hearty side-splitting laugh whenever I see anyone walking around with a sun-induced second degree burn. Seriously, it’s like the most obvious form of karma. Only assholes get sunburned because any idiot should know to bring sunscreen when you’re out in 90 degree heat for three consecutive days. Well those in pale houses shouldn’t throw stones because on day three, Apollo was on his game and while I was watching The Cribs rock out at noon, he swooped down in his fiery chariot and scorched my back in literally the first ten minutes of the show, before I reached into my bag and pulled out my SPF 500 (not a typo) sun-barricade. So this really hearkens back to lessons one and two: Don’t get karma to put you on its Shit List. But also lather on the sunscreen 15 minutes before you get to the show, and bring shades. You should always be wearing shades anyway: How else will everyone know that you’re cool?

Don’t Drink Liquids

This sounds counterintuitive. It’s a hot day, right? Absolutely wrong. Port-a-Potties are way worse for you than dehydration. It’s not something they teach you in Boy Scouts or Girl Scouts or whatever Transgendered scouting you did as a child, but it’s the truth. What you need to do is chemically create solid alcohol and eat it. It’s the only way. And also get a three-day pass so you can leave the park and use the bathroom at the Hilton across the street. In that case, drink about a gallon of beer and a gallon of water right before you plan to go. You might want to practice this hydration tactic for a few weeks leading up to the festival visit.
Anyway, Lollapalooza continues to be the quintessential current American rock festival by consistently having legendary performers and figuring out exactly who will be the next big thing in rock ’n roll. With nine stages, and 36 hours of sets, I only had to go to this one show the entire summer to see everyone I wanted to see, from Spoon to Daft Punk to Kings of Leon to Muse. I highly suggest building up your stamina and human needs-deprivation endurance abilities, as well as fork over the couple hundred bucks for a three day pass, because it’s the only way to recreate the feeling of childhood wonder and glee that came from your trip to Orlando as a six year old, and you can feel like you’re sweet for having gone. I know I do (no matter how much of a fool I made of myself during the trip).
By the way, apparently the name of the festival comes from a Three Stooges line. Go Figure.