Lollapalooza, Ravinia, or bust: 5 tips for surviving the Chicago outdoor music festivals!

Lollapalooza, Ravinia, or bust: 5 tips for surviving the Chicago outdoor music festivals!

"There are many very famous open-air America...some [people] just lie on the grass, others bring elaborate picnics, and some young women even nurse their babies. And all of these people are able to hear a first-class concert under the stars." - Christa Ludwig, Opera Singer

Outdoor music is a quintessential part of the American summer. There's nothing better than rolling up your pant legs, breaking out the portable candelabra, and hitting the road to hear your favorite musicians blow your mind.

But with great enjoyment comes great problems as well. You often don't appreciate hearing music in a closed in building until you're in the middle of a crowd of a thousand people and it starts to storm harder than Oprah after Gayle eats the last Sprinkles cupcake. I was at Ravinia last week, as some of you may have read, and got caught in the biggest storm of the season. Thankfully, I was able to follow my own advice and persevere through the perspiration.

This weekend we've hit that interesting juncture where The Ravinia and Lollapalooza Festivals coincide, and what a time it is. I've been going to Ravinia since I was ten, and have been observing the goings-on at Lollapalooza for just as long. Each hold the unique trappings and benefits of hearing music in the out of door and, being the learned sage I am, I decided to share with you my...


1. Always be prepared for any eventuality

Rain, sleet, snow, famine, drought, bubonic plague, spontaneous combustion - these are all things, and more, that are more than likely to happen at an out of doors music concert! As you prepare for your excursion, I would suggest bringing the following items: a change of clothes and sunglasses (in case of rain or cool weather), suntan lotion and bug spray (to stave off the ultraviolet rays and ultra-violent mosquitoes), a book (in case there is some major delay in either your travel or the concert itself), cash (as many places often shy away from the omnipresent card culture), and anything else you deem worthy for everyday life, including medication. The crowds may cause anxiety, but being prepared will help to ease that worry.

2. Bring a piece of memorabilia for the artist(s) you're seeing

This may seen to be a cryptic and possibly lugubrious hint, but you have to trust me on this one. I have met so many artists, either in impromptu happenstance circumstances or in planned signings, and it's so much fun to have them sign something quirky that you've collected than the concert  program or ticket that the commoners will have them sign. The chances may be astronomical that you meet them, but it's so easy to be prepared for this interesting chance event.

3. Pace yourself

I have been guilty numerous of going for broke early in the day before the concert starts at these events. It's often hard to rein in your excitement and, if you do too much too early, the concert may be lessened by the physical exhaustion. You need to rest periodically, drink plenty of WATER, eat in regular intervals, and gently lead up to the main event. Be excited, but be stingy with your energy levels.

4. Do your research

Outdoor music festivals can be murder on those who are ill-prepared. Whether you get lost or lose out on fascinating opportunities, it's better to be prepared and know what to expect. The specific websites for these events are treasure troves of tips, written by people who know the events better than anyone. There are whole blogs devoted to sharing tips for these sorts of things as well, so get thyself to Google and put those researching skills you learned in high school science class to work.

5. Roll with the punches and have fun, dammit!

We've all had that one friend we've gone to a concert with that's been the definition of a stick in the mud. DON'T BE THAT FRIEND. If you are going to this event with your friends, it's more than likely that you want to be there. No one likes a crab, or to get crabs which is especially possible at Lolla where the shorts are shorter than Danny Devito  in a fun-house mirror, so don't be the wet blanket on everyone's good time. If you were dragged by friends to something you don't particularly enjoy, find something else to focus on. (Did I mention to bring a book earlier?) We all love food, which is another wonderful way to drown your lethargic malaise towards the music you'll be hearing. Life is too short to be a polly prissypants, so make the best out of every experience you're given!


I hope these tips have enlightened, entertained, and encouraged you to attend these fantastic events. We're blessed to live in an area that boasts some of the best outdoor music experiences the country has to offer, so take advantage of it!

And may the spirit of Danny Devito be with you (and with your spirit)



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