The Lollapalooza music festival held in Chicago, Illinois is known for its massive lineups that boast big-name acts such as Bruno Mars, Chance The Rapper, Zedd, and The Red Hot Chili Peppers. The four-day event is a staple among music fans and tickets usually sell out only hours after their release. This past weekend was no different, as thousands of fans (including myself) flocked to Grant Park to enjoy a weekend full of good vibes.
Being my third year at Lollapalooza, I felt confident in what to expect. At each festival you take the good with the bad, and in previous years the positive was always enough to outweigh the negative. You tend to look past the shitty parts because the overall experience is still worthwhile. But not this year. This year my money, time, and effort was thwarted by the many things that made it impossible to enjoy my experience. I guess for me, it’s “three strikes you’re out.”
Not that I didn’t enjoy parts of Lollapalooza – I could have fun inside of a paper bag. But the fun couldn’t outshine my frustration, which is why I will not be returning next year. There are many different factors that contribute to my overall dissatisfaction, but these are what turned me off the most.
1. It’s Overcrowded.
I always know to expect large crowds, but 2018 was insane. I have never seen it so bad before! It could take you up to thirty minutes to switch stages if you can’t maneuver your way through a crowd. The number of people was so bad that you couldn’t even enjoy your favorite artists. Massive crowds awaited headliners, making it impossible to find a spot where you wouldn’t get trampled or shoved constantly.
Bruno Mars, for example, was the craziest thing I’ve ever experienced at a music festival. I couldn’t stay for more than five songs because I was so miserably packed in like a sardine; and I wasn’t even close to the stage! I never once saw Bruno’s body, just glimpses of him from the screens.
You can have the biggest names in the world playing, but if you can’t enjoy the music, then what’s the point?
2. It’s filled with disrespectful teenagers.
Surprise! If you didn’t know before, Lollapalooza is an all ages event. So you can imagine the type of crowd that brought in. In the past I had noticed the rowdy teenagers, but I was still able to make new friends in my age bracket. But I swear this year the teenagers came out in swarms. The entire event was littered with entitled kids from the suburbs who were starting fights, rudely shoving their way through crowds, and were way too messed up to function. Just because every can attend, doesn’t mean everyone should.
3. The atmosphere was ruined.
Because of the massive crowd of teenagers, the entire atmosphere of a music festival was ruined. Arguably the best part of a music festival (besides the music) is the friendly, accepting, and respectful atmosphere of the festival goers. It’s easy to make new friends when people respect each other and bond over the music. But these kids had no respect for anything, anyone, or the festival grounds. I was surrounded by teens who had zero idea who they were listening to, let alone how they should behave at a music festival.
4. Shady ticket sellers and prices of tickets.
For years Lollapalooza has been known for selling out their $400 tickets the moment they go on sale. They have a system in place that allows each buyer to purchase 4 tickets each, and that’s it. This is supposed to ensure that there’s enough tickets to go around and that everyone has a chance to go to the event. Unfortunately, a lot of shady ass people abuse this system every year, and this year was no different.
People buy as many tickets as they can, then attempt to sell the tickets later (once they’re sold out) for much more than they are worth. The internet is filled with tons of fake accounts and Craigslist ads of people promising tickets once they’ve received money or gift cards first. Most of these people are scammers, and hundreds of people each year get sold fake tickets. This entire process is so stressful and shady. Many people will sell wristbands that have been deactivated, and some won’t even send you a wristband at all. You end up paying $100+ more for a wristband that you don’t even know will work.
Basically: If you don’t buy a wristband the moment they go on sale, you’re sucked into this stressful system of paying more for something that may not be real.
I know this isn’t Lollapalooza’s fault, but it’s a major part of the Lollapalooza experience. This isn’t as huge of a problem at other music festivals, but it gets worse and worse at Lolla each year.
5. Misleading practices.
Another minor thing that gets under my skin is the way Lollapalooza does business.
I wasn’t too pleased with the fact that no one responded to any of my outreach on social media. I messaged Lolla on a few different accounts to see if a certain item would be allowed into the event, and I received no response. Call me nitpicking, but most other festivals respond on social media. I find it disheartening when you see Lollapalooza posting new content to their page, but no one is responding to festival goer’s questions. Kind of just says, “We don’t really care about the guest experience.”
Also, this year they gave away free merchandise. They had this massive tower with a count down clock, and when the time ran out they blasted free shirts, merchandise, etc., into the air for people to grab. I thought that was awesome. Until I got home and looked at my shirt and realized it had the lineup on it from a previous year. I guess I shouldn’t be bitching about free merch, but it’s pretty tacky to pass off merch you couldn’t sell the year before at this year’s festival.
My last bone to pick is about the point of sale machines they used this year. Every year when buying outrageously priced drinks, you swipe your card on a tablet, are prompted to add a 20% tip, sign your life away, and skip your way back to the stage. The only thing different this year was the tipping interface.
When you were prompted to add the dollar amount of your choice (you were given a few dollar amount options), your tip amount was added very discreetly. You couldn’t really see that you had entered a tip at all, causing me to press ‘add tip’ multiple times before I saw I had actually added the tip many times already. I’m glad I caught this the SECOND time around, because I would have been drowning myself in tip money all day.
And of course the people swiping your card didn’t say anything. I met a guy in the crowd who mentioned that he accidentally added a $50 tip because the interface was so misleading. I wonder how much money they made because of our mistakes?
Although I enjoyed a lot of the music, I can honestly say at least half of the sets were ruined for me because of the shitty crowd of people I was surrounded by. As hard as I tried to put the blinders on and enjoy myself, I found it difficult. I can thank Lollapalooza for the fun I’ve had in the past, but until they raise the age limit to 21 and up and start focusing more on the guest experience, I will not be back.