I was sitting on a curb near the port-a-potty kingdom at Lollapalooza this year when I overheard a very sunburnt, very tired looking mom say to her daughter, “Well, honey, at least we can say we did it.” I watched as the daughter nodded in agreement while taking a sip out of her special edition Lolla Camelback water bottle. The two were clearly headed for the entrance even though the festivities for the day had only just begun. The sun was kissing the top of the Sears Tower (don’t even try and correct me) and in all honesty, I had spent much of my time on the curb gazing at the Chicago skyline, silently and secretly wishing I was anywhere but where I was.
Don’t get me wrong, Lollapalooza was an interesting experience. I pushed through Kid Cudi’s performance to make it front and center for Sam Smith’s headlining show. I sent my mom pictures of myself covered in an Original Rainbow Cone. I sprinted back through the gates after the storm evacuation on Sunday to catch a solo George Ezra enchant my life with his guitar. I truly did make the most of the festival. However, looking back on my receipts, between the 3-day pass, the train tickets, the warm beer, the pack of flash tattoos, and the credit card swipes for Lolla’s mini Taste of Chicago, I really had dropped some hard earned cash.
So would I do it again?
Nope. As much as I love to people watch, I basically get paid to do it as a lifeguard. Between ninety degree heat, 45 minute lines to refill water bottles, hoards of sweaty, pot smoking frat boys pretending to know music, Perry Stage drowning out every other band, and coming home covered in a layer of dust, dirt, and sweat, I could never again justify paying that much money to essentially torture myself. But this isn’t even my point.
That young teenage girl with her mother probably still posted a picture to Instagram of herself smiling at Lolla. She probably tweeted her love for the bands she saw. But she left at 3 pm with her face burnt, her skin dirty, and her spirits low. And the thing is, you would never see that on her social media accounts. I too am guilty of this. I posted not one, but two pictures of myself #loving Lolla. One of the pictures was actually of me giving my worn feet a break and laying in the shade. But the picture shows me smiling, wearing a flower crown, and sporting typical wannabe free spirited flash tattoos.
It’s hard not to get caught up in the festival myth. You will never see a picture posted of someone not enjoying Lolla. You will never see a Snapchat story like that either. The 24 hour story will show a raging crowd to a song you don’t even know. The Instagram post will be of you, but it won’t really be of you. Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Snapchat make it really difficult to admit that you aren’t having a spectacular time. But sometimes you aren’t and that’s okay.
So this is for the girl who left Lolla at 3 in the afternoon: I guarantee you aren’t the only one who felt that way. I can also guarantee that you were one of the few to act on that feeling.