This morning I ran out of my apartment with a piece of toast in my hand, force-feeding it to myself as I made my way to the MLB. Today I went to my exam unprepared and I went to my other classes looking disheveled. But why? No, I wasn’t at Skeeps all night. Instead, I woke up early with one mission in my mind: to get Lollapalooza passes.

Illustration by Megan Mulholland

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I sat in my bedroom constantly refreshing the eight tabs I had opened, only to see the same screen reading “Tickets on sale March 25.” Frustrated, exhausted and confused. This carried on for about an hour before I finally made it to the standby page. Success? Not so fast.

“Due to extreme demand, Lollapalooza 2013 Early Bird passes are SOLD OUT! Regular 3-Day passes are now available for purchase. In the meantime, please review the information below so you are prepared when you leave this standby page.”

Spoiler alert: I never left. But luckily, my sister did — although I heard her boss wasn’t as thrilled.

Why would a person put themselves through this? While I may be one step closer to carpal tunnel, Lolla is worth the effort. After the first time I went, I was hooked. Lolla is like nothing else — organized pandemonium.

I have gone to my fair share of concerts — Coldplay, Justin Timberlake, Taylor Swift when she was cool, Lana Del Rey, etc — yet none of those experiences even come close to when I went to Lolla last August. For those who may not be familiar with Lollapalooza, it is a three-day music festival that takes place in Chicago’s Grant Park. While the festival has grown and expanded to include performances in other countries as well, Chicago remains the main and most talked about venue.

One’s journey to Lollapalooza begins long before the actual concert. In fact, if you are anything like my friends and me — outrageously dedicated — then you spent a significant amount of time planning.

The nitty-gritty aspects of planning were the most annoying part. “Which hotel should we stay at?” “Most hotels require you to be 21 to check-in.” “What about staying in a hostel, it’s cheaper?” “Are there hostels in Chicago?” It seemed like the constant bargaining would never end.

The car situation is another debacle altogether. But the car ride was more than enough to make up for it. Stopping at every Panera you could find, trying to get semi-trucks to honk at you, sleeping selfies and an occasional instance of mooning or two — the drive takes no time at all.

As we made our way into the Windy City, the excitement began to sink in. Our hotel was right across from Grant Park, and the Lollapalooza sign was illuminated across the way.

A three-day music festival is basically a herd of drugged-up minors getting hammered without parental supervision — Party X but with better music and expensive food. And yes, this is what most people do at Lolla, but for the more “tamed” individuals who prefer to remember the entirety of their experiences, Lolla is a thrill. Walking in and being frisked for alcohol, jumping from stage to stage charging on through the mosh pit to see the bands you love and realizing your love for new artists that you had never heard of before … The festival is essentially a three-day retreat from reality.

There were seven of us packed into a four-person hotel room, and in the most sweltering of summer days our room had no air conditioning. Not to mention that window opening that gave entrance to an excessive amount of unidentified insects. But amid all of that, at the end of each day, the room was simply a place to recuperate from the day’s events, even if only for a few hours.

I have never considered myself a “free spirit,” but I took in everything that Lolla had to offer. I allowed myself to be immersed in the culture, the vibrant energy, the new faces, the talent. For three days I could be whoever I wanted to be, do whatever I wanted to do, see whomever I wanted to see, and it was invigorating.

There was never a dull moment — the Vampire Weekend mooner, the girls having a good old time sucking on baby binkies filled with Molly during Lana Del Rey, the guy in the wheelchair being crowd-surfed all the way to the front during Two Door Cinema Club and 2 Chainz.

The energy of the festival was never lackluster. For me, the pinnacle of Lolla 2013 was Mumford and Sons — one of the headliners — who we waited for in front of the stage for about three hours. I was impatient, but standing for hours on end, staring at an empty stage waiting for an act to come on, never seemed to disappoint. There were always people to talk to, friends to run into, or free boxed water getting thrown out to the masses. After stampeding through most of the crowd to get to semi-decent position center stage — yes, I was one of those people — the lights came on, Marcus Mumford’s husky angelic voice raged on for an hour and 45 minutes, and it was something I had on a loop in my mind for weeks after.

Hundreds of thousands of people flood Grant Park every year and yet it never once felt like the body hazard it so clearly was. Amid the roaring mosh pits, I always felt like it was just me dancing effortlessly along to the rhythmic melodies of my favorite band. There was no thought about the schedule or the next act. Life was in the moment. Life was eternal, life was free. The memories I created at Lollapalooza were of epic proportions, the kinds that trickle out of a truly intimate affair.

Fast forward a year. It’s not summer anymore, the polar vortex has taken its toll on Ann Arbor. I probably failed my Italian exam and I know people gave me a second look for how unkempt I looked rushing to class. But it is all apart of the Lolla anticipation. This year we do it all over again — the set list includes headliners like Arctic Monkeys and Eminem. The planning has already begun.

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