Embracing Mobile at Lollapalooza

Embracing Mobile at Lollapaloozaby Mariam DaudiLollapalooza is one of the coolest music festivals around. The event got its start in 1991, when Jane’s Addiction singer Perry Farrell created it as a farewell tour for his band. The premise of the event is to bring together dozens of musicians from different genres to create a three-day music experience across several different stages. Some of the musicians are well-known; some are not. The event used to take place at a different city each year, but since 2004, it has been held at Chicago’s Grant Park.

Lollapalooza 2011

Saturday-Eminem-concert2011 marked Lollapalooza’s 20th anniversary. The sold-out Lollapalooza 2011 took place August 3rd, 4th, and 5th. There were three exciting days of music on seven main stages, with 69 artists and 250,000+ festival goers. There was an eclectic mix of artists covering rap, alternative, electronic, folk, and everything in between. Artists included Coldplay, Eminem, Deadmau5, Muse, Bright Eyes, The Mountain Goats, Ellie Goulding and many, many more. I attended all three days and had a blast.

The Experience

The event was highly organized. I couldn’t believe the orderly fashion with which tens of thousands of festival goers moved about, went from concert to concert, got food, used the restroom (hundreds of portable restrooms had been brought in), refilled their water bottles, and enjoyed the shows.

ColdPlayColdplay was headlining on Friday, so I positioned myself front and center for an amazing, energetic show. The crowd was so packed and so huge that moving about or finding your friends was a real ordeal. I was really impressed by the group consciousness and the general friendly mood of the event. For instance, after the Coldplay show, tens of thousands of concertgoers poured onto the streets of Chicago as they continued to sing the tune, “Viva la Vida”

It was also good to see great food selection at such a large event. You had the normal carnival options (hot dogs, hamburgers, pizza), but there was also healthy, wholesome food. At the farmers’ market, you could even find some organic selections, such as organic wheat grass juice, for the occasional pick-me-up.

Sustainability was evidenced in the Toyota tent where they used a snow cone machine powered by bicycles, and also by Green Street where they provided goods sold by green, sustainable vendors. One great vendor was Mayan Connection (mayanconnection.com), which imports fair trade clothes and accessories from Guatemala.

The camaraderie was high as concertgoers talked about their favorite experiences while waiting in a long line to retrieve their free Lollapalooza bandanas.

The Lollapalooza App

(Free, app2.me/4255)

Lollapalooza used an iPhone app to help concertgoers navigate the festival. I was very impressed with the app; it had a lot of great features. The app was easy to use and intuitive. At the bottom were the five main menu options: Lineup, My Schedule, Map, Group Text, and Experience. The Lineup showed all of the bands playing on a particular day (Friday, Saturday or Sunday), the time of their show, and the stage they were performing on."Ironically, the biggest problem with the app was that there were too many people using it."

Useful Features

Lollapaloza - lineupWe downloaded the app to our phones and iPad, and during our five-hour ride to Chicago, we looked over the 69 bands and moved those that we wanted to see over to My Schedule. The My Schedule feature was one of my favorites. Because the app synced across platforms, we were able to easily view the updates on our phones. Like the Lineup function, the My Schedule function showed the name of the artist you wanted to see, the time they were playing, and the stage they were playing on. By the time we arrived, we had a pretty good idea of the bands we were going to see.

Lollapaloza - MapThe Map function showed your location at the event (as a pinpoint), so you could gauge how far you were from a particular stage or a particular vendor. The Map also showed where the stages, vendors, water stations, and restrooms were located. You could even check out menus for certain food vendors directly from the app.

The Group Text function allowed you to send group texts to other festival goers, and the Experience button offered a list of Lollapalooza-related links, such as Lolla Radio, Lolla Store, social media and Lolla news.

Room for improvement

Although I really liked the My Schedule function and the very useful Map function, there is still room for improvement. In My Schedule, it would have been nice to be able to prioritize. For instance, I would have liked to have been able to mark the “must see” shows red and the “maybe” shows orange. In the Map, it would have been nice to see the location of other people from my party. I didn’t use the Group Text function because reception was really bad at the event. They should have brought in a mobile cell tower. You also had to update the app every day in case there were changes to the schedule, so good reception was a must (I had to make sure to update before arriving at the event each day). I ended up, at some points, reverting back to the physical schedule. Ironically, the biggest problem with the app was that there were too many people using it. This led to bad reception, which made it hard to use the app. Despite this, I still think the app was good, easy to use, well designed, and helpful.

I’m looking forward to seeing improvements for next year’s app. Lollapalooza is giving developers the option to improve their app through hacklolla http://hacklolla.com/. One great app that was born out of hacklolla is the Who’s Now Who’s Next app (lollapalooza2011.com/lolla-app/). It will be interesting to see what other apps people develop through hacklolla.com.

The Future of Large Events

This type of app is the future of all large events. They help events stay organized and let people make the most of the shows. In the next few years, instead of this type of app being a convenience or a novelty, it’ll be a necessity, and concertgoers will expect it. People will expect other types of large venues to also have an app. Disneyland already has a helpful app and so does the Mall of America. Soon, this will simply be the standard.

Lollapalooza 2012

For more information on Lollapalooza 2012 (August 3rd through the 5th, 2012) go to Lollapalooza.com.You can purchase tickets for one, two or all three days. Tickets go on sale Spring of 2012.

Lollapalooza's new event app is a sign of things to come.
January-February 2012
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