By ROB CARROLL – rcarroll@shawmedia.com

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LOLLAPALOOZA 2012
WHEN: Aug. 3-5
WHERE: Grant Park, Chicago
INFO: Featuring performances by Red Hot Chili Peppers, The Black Keys, Black Sabbath, Jack White, Florence + The Machine and more. Event is sold out. Information: www.lollapalooza.com. Several concerts will be live-streamed at youtube.com/lollapalooza

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Lollapalooza takes over Chicago for three days this weekend as multiple national headlining acts are set to take the stage. If you're attending any part of the festival, follow our tips to make your experience as smooth as possible.

Bring your own water. You’re allowed to bring two, 1-liter bottles into Lollapalooza. Take it a step further and freeze the bottles the night before so you’re guaranteed a cold beverage for at least the early portion of the day. There’s also plenty of locations throughout the festival grounds to refill your bottles, keeping you hydrated throughout the weekend. With temperatures expected to be in the 90s, you’re going to need it.

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MORE COVERAGE: Bands playing at the same time? Here are some solutions.

LISTEN ON SPOTIFY: Check out our special Lollapalooza playlist (requires premium Spotify account to listen on mobile)

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Be prepared to walk. Leave your cute pink flip-flops at home. They’ll likely not make it through day one. Instead, choose more comfortable footwear. Most people there won’t care about what’s on your feet. You might as well feel comfortable.

Find a creative place to meet up with friends. Everybody is going to be meeting up with their groups near Buckingham Fountain. There also will be plenty of people there taking the inevitable tourist photo of the fountain. Avoid the crowd and choose a different landmark in the park as a general meeting spot.

Know your food choices (and prices). Lollapalooza, with the help of Chicago chef Graham Elliot, always brings in a wide array of restaurants to sell food at the festival. Past fare has included everything from lobster corndogs to ribs and chicken sandwiches. Be sure to check out which vendors are at Chow Town North and Chow Town South as each has a different lineup. Festival food not in your budget? If you have a three-day pass, you can exit the festival grounds and find a restaurant elsewhere and reenter after your meal without hassle. Single-day ticket holders are not allowed to reenter.

Save the alcohol-soaked bash for another weekend. Sorry to sound like a parent. But since you probably spent more than $200 for a three-day pass, you at least want to remember the weekend, right? Not to mention the combination of alcohol and the sun beating down on the festival grounds does not prove to be a good mix and sometimes leads to losing things. So ...

Know how to retrieve your lost items. There are multiple lost and found booths where you can retrieve your items. If your items never show up at any of the booths, you still have a chance to be reunited with your belongings. A form is available at Lollapalooza.com to help you claim your lost item after the festival has ended. But don’t waste too much time. After 30 days, all unclaimed items are donated to charity.

Give yourself plenty of time to get between stages. You’re not the only one with a perfect plan to catch your two favorite bands who are playing on the opposite ends of Grant Park within five minutes of each other. Be patient and prepared to deal with large crowds that can bottleneck in some areas.

If you see a shirt or hat you like, buy it early in the weekend. While there are a couple stands selling Lollapalooza-related merchandise, their stock does run out pretty quickly. So if you see a souvenir shirt you must have, it’s best to buy it Friday or early Saturday at the latest.

Check out Kidzapalooza. Sure it’s geared toward kids, but you never know who is going to show up and play a set for the youngsters. Past guests have included Jim James from My Morning Jacket, Slash and LeAnn Rimes. Plus, the small stage is set in an area of the park where there’s plenty of shade.

See a band you’ve never heard of. There surely will be times during the weekend when there will be nobody playing that you’ve heard of or care to see. Seek out a band you’re unfamiliar with and check out their set. You might just find your new favorite band. You also can get more familiar with all of the festival’s acts at Lollapalooza.com. There, you can read up on the bands and listen to a few of their songs.

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