The festival season has arrived, including LakeShake — Chicago’s three-day country music festival that kicks off this off Friday (June 23).
The LakeShake schedule is packed with all big stars you want to see: Thomas Rhett, Miranda Lambert, Little Big Town, Rascal Flatts, Randy Houser, Brothers Osborne, Big & Rich and a long list of newcomers worthy of checking out.
And one newcomer, Bailey Bryan, is so thrilled to be part of this Chicago live lakefront experience that she shared some of her most useful fest-loving advice with me. They work for this weekend in Chicago, but they also come in handy for any and all fairs and festivals across the country this summer.
“Music festivals can be the experience of a lifetime, but you’ve gotta do it right. As an experienced festival-goer, and performer, this is my list of festival essentials,” Bryan (no relation to Luke) told me.
1. Stay hydrated: The weekend forecast calls for sun and heat, so Bryan recommends making sure you’re drinking plenty of water to prevent dehydration. “It sounds simple, but without it, you will die. I have died before from not drinking enough water at festivals and it’s not worth it,” she joked. “Just trust me.”
2. The right shoes: Something you can potentially stand in for seven or so hours. “This is vital. For me, it doesn’t matter if I’m playing onstage or watching shows as a fan. Festivals tend to be dusty and involve a lot of walking, and nothing ruins listening to your favorite bands like a blister. Or realizing that your favorite pair of expensive white shoes are covered in dirt and scuffs,” she said. “I am team Converse in any situation, but especially this one.” Cowboy boots work well, too, but just don’t wear brand new ones that haven’t been broken in.
3. An open mind: “A huge necessity for any social and musical experience,” Bryan insisted. “Chances are, you’re going to show up knowing what artists you want to see and what favorite festival foods you want to eat. But don’t be afraid to stop at a side stage and listen to a band you’ve never heard of or say yes to the fried pizza tacos.” Festivals are the perfect place to experiment with new experiences.
4. Fanny packs: This is no joke. They may be an outfit killer, but they are the only way to go at a festival, especially if you’re in a sundress or romper with no pockets. “Sooooo many people lose their phones and wallets at festivals. Your best bet is to wear something with pockets that zips, or bring a super secure purse, or go full ’90s dad at a barbecue mode and rock a fanny pack to hold your belongings. You won’t regret it,” she said.
5. Bring friends: The buddy system is one benefit of having a friend or two by your side. But fests are just more fun with the country lovers in your squad. “You can go ahead and lose your phone, wear uncomfortable shoes and even be dehydrated. But if you remember one thing from this list, remember to show up to this festival with all your favorite people. Life is about experiences, so pack your car with people that are going to encourage you to live in the moment, then blast Maren Morris’ ’Company You Keep,’ and go to LakeShake,” Bryan said.
“Because you, my friend, are finally ready.”
Bryan’s LakeShake set is scheduled for Sunday night.