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lollapalooza

chicago cheap ass (2)
Reviews, Technology,

Save or Splurge? Panasonic Solar Charger Review

We’re neck-deep in Chicago’s music festival season with plenty more to look forward to until the summer is officially over. Earlier this summer, I wrote about what you need to survive a Chicago summer festival in style. Among what I’d consider one of the most important things to consider was a portable battery charger for phones and other devices. You don’t want to be separated from friends or lost while trying to navigate if you’re unfamiliar with the city when the festival is over.

I recently had the opportunity to review the Panasonic Solar Charger, and put it to the test during my three day stint at Lollapalooza.

Let’s start with the good.

What I really like about the Panasonic Solar Charger is that it has a lot of very useful features that compliment each other. Obviously, one of the main features is that you can use the sun to charge your device when traditional outlets are unavailable or in short supply. Most music festivals have charging stations of some sort, but I’m hesitant to leave my phone out and vulnerable on a charger in a heavily-trafficked area, or even just having to force myself to stay in one spot when there’s so much else going on. And if there’s a line… all bets are off. Empower yourself to not have to deal with that.

The Panasonic Solar charger also has a USB outlet for charging. This is a great option for making sure that you go into a festival with juice… even if it starts raining. There’s also a flashlight function which produces a very bright LED light. Perfect for if you’re at a festival at night and are trying to navigate in the dark, or find something you dropped.

A recommended use scenario would include setting up a space where you can sit for awhile and lay out the charger in front of you in full view of the sun. Another idea would be to secure it to a backpack or purse on the outside with some zip ties.

Let’s talk about the not-so-good.

Although the battery life on the charger seems good (it basically has a never ending energy supply), it charges my battery slower than free portable battery chargers I’ve gotten at various events. The free chargers I’m referring to, you could get on Amazon for less than $10.

It also takes up more space than the portable battery chargers I’ve just referenced, and many others I’ve seen friends carry. It’s skinny but long and wide.

My recommendation is that you should get this charger if you’re going to a camping festival, like Bonnaroo… You stand to benefit from the fact that there will be no outlets. The flashlight setting wouldn’t hurt, either. For all other situations… get yourself a cheap portable battery charger.

The Panasonic Solar Charger was provided to me by Verizon to use for free during a review period of one month.

chicago cheap ass
Events,

Free Lollapalooza Tickets

Free Lollapalooza Tickets

Photo from Lollapalooza’s 2014 Volunteer page (that’s me in the middle!)

The title is a little click-baity but it isn’t untrue.

The secret to free Lollapalooza tickets is to VOLUNTEER at the music festival.

Ok, you’ll have to pay a $10 application fee, and commit some time, but it’s a small price to pay for being a Lollapalooza insider (and not paying a hefty three day ticket price).

Still interested? Read on and I’ll show you how to get into Lollapalooza for free*.

Volunteering: Getting free Lollapalooza Tickets

Every year around May, Lollapalooza starts advertising volunteer opportunities on their website. For the best chance of getting the team and times you want (more on that soon), you should sign up for Lollapalooza’s general email newsletter to have first dibs. If you have volunteered in prior years, you will get a head start (of about a week) on new applicants (nice).

The volunteer application costs $10 to help Lollapalooza fight spam signups and to make sure potential volunteers are willing to commit. Keep in mind – you must have a Chicago address to be eligible to volunteer.

In terms of actually scoring a volunteer gig, you need to fill out a profile. You’ll be asked about:

  • Past Volunteer/Work Experience
  • Past Lollapalooza Experiences
  • Availability

The more effort you put into this, the better your chance of scoring a gig. Basically, the Lollapalooza staff just wants to know you’re jazzed about their amazing music festival and want to see if you have the skill set necessary to deal with the tasks involved in your role.

Availability is extremely important in actually getting selected. You will need to be available the full weekend (all three days, including one non-weekend day) to have the best chance. Shifts are about 4 hours and are roughly one of the following:

  • 10am-2pm
  • 2pm-6pm
  • 6pm-10pm

If you have already volunteered, you can get whatever time shifts you want. If you’re new, you’ll need to be a little more flexible. Seniority rules, but you can still see the bands you want if you’re willing to work a less than ideal shift at least once. Pick an early shift on the day you’re most interested in, and opt for the midday/night shifts on days that are less important to you.

Free Lollapalooza Tickets

Teams range from environmental initiatives, volunteer headquarter operations, map handouts, general festival guides, and more. I personally like working on the environmental initiative teams. They tend to have the most spots available. I have volunteered for both Green Team and Aqua Team in my three years of volunteering, but I prefer Aqua. Green Team is a little intense – you have to stand in the sun half of the time (see the above picture) and try to reason with people who are under the influence about what goes in trash, recycling and compost. It can be so much better than this, people. Aqua team is awesome – shade, a plentiful supply of water, and lots of thankful patrons.

Perks, in a nutshell:

  • Free day pass for each shift worked, up to 3
  • Free food coupon valued around $5
  • Snacks and drinks at volunteer headquarters
  • …not to mention a much less-used bathroom
  • Not paying over $200 for a ticket

There are so many other non-obvious perks that I’ll let you discover on your own. You’ll meet some awesome people who are volunteering by your side and interacting with you as a festival-goer. So don’t miss this opportunity to experience a different side of Lollapalooza!

Have you volunteered at a music festival before? Which teams have you participated in? Share your free Lollapalooza (and other festivals!) experiences and more in the comments.