AV Club writer Scott Tobias’ piece about his thoroughly unpleasant experience at Lollapalooza–which inspired him to say “fuck it” and throw in the towel right before one of the bands he really wanted to see was to take the stage–struck a chord with me, perhaps because it pretty much encapsulated the fears I had about every outdoor summer show I’ve attended and thought about attending this year. Overcrowding? Check. Sound bleeding from area to area, thanks to there being way too many stages? Yep. Porta-Potties that were placed on such an unstable patch of land, they actually trembled while people were trying to do their business? Oh. My. God.
It was the last one that made me shudder. So far this summer I’ve been to five shows that were mostly outside; of those, four used the tried-and-true Porta-Potty setup, which not only allowed me to get a little too close to fellow concertgoers who I’d never meet, it resulted in the prospect of me eating onsite after, say, ten hours of concert time to be taken completely out of the picture, thanks to the “sinks” in front of the toilet banks running out of water. (Let’s not even get into the nightmare that is the Porta-Potty tampon change.) And when one of the shows I went to with this setup–Rock the Bells, at New York’s Randalls Island–had ticket prices that reached the hundred-dollar mark, I was actually kind of offended (especially when, right after the show ended, I had to open at least six doors before I found a toilet that was still paper-equipped).
I know that holding a show outside is always a nightmare, logistics-wise–and I appreciate free/cheap shows like the Pool Parties at Brooklyn’s McCarren Pool and the Pitchfork Music Festival needing to keep costs down–but really, you’d think that a megacompany like Live Nation, or a sponsored-to-the-hilt festival like Lollapalooza, could have at least plowed some of its cash resserves back into the more expensive, but ultimately more sanitary/pleasant-smelling trailer bathrooms like the ones that the press bubble at Live Earth was equipped with; they had flushing toilets and sinks that worked for pretty much the entire day. At the very least, it’d help stave off any food poisoning lawsuits that might result from Porta-Potty-resultant “contamination,” right?