Val's blog 8.24.14 




They entrusted me with their lives. All 30 of them. Okay, that's a bit of a stretch, but I took my role that seriously. Mine was a made up job description, an idea I came up with on my own and decided to try this year. 

I wanted to take 30 adults to Chicago's Lollapalooza music fest. I called it Concert Concierge and here was the offer:  follow me around the fest. My way. We'll be in the fields with the kids. Your kids. No VIP. No air-conditioned tents, or neck massages, or clean porta potties. No golf cart service, no bottle service, no cell service. Creature comforts? Nope.

I put out the call and 200 people signed up - for 30 spots. These are adults who travel the world, have seen it all, have tried everything, are fearless adventurers, intelligent, successful people. But they haven't tried this. Said they never would. Not ever. Not this jungle. Not this scene. Not at this age...

I begged to differ.  They bagged their doubts.  And we did Lolla '14.  Together.

Meet the gang.  They were cool, open-minded, fun-loving, brave adults.



Our group included an opera aficianado, a yoga instructor, pediatric ICU nurse, an artist, jewelry maker, realtor, financial consultant, small business owner, ad agency CEO, landscape architect, engineer, medical consultant, cooking journalist, chef/caterer, graphic artist, spa technician, fine arts curator, journalist, editor -- moms, dads, grandparents. 

#1: Claustrophobia.  Mosh pits, drunken kids, mob scene, bad scene, chaos, drugs. 

An organized fest, with calm music-loving people. The park was navigable, people were polite, kids were behaving, a cool vibe, humans united by music. Great people watching, retro fest-wear, fans braving the rain, the heat, the crowds - to hear good music. 

My concierge services began months before the fest. I sent out big picture emails explaining how/why music fests got started; that there are 8 stages and 130 bands at Lolla; that the fest goes on rain or shine, and eventhough the young kids spend all their time at the electronic dance music stage (EDM), we'll be hitting tons of side stages early in the day to see the baby bands - the best new emerging artists.  I sent out what to expect emails - like you walk 500 miles a day back and forth from end to end of the fest, and that we won't spend a lot of time at every stage ~ we'll get a taste of an artist then move to another stage; and we'll eat drink and be merry whenever we want and we'll meet up with each other at the next stage if we get separated, and it gets more crowded as the day wears on, as it gets closer to the end of day headliners. I sent out what to wear  tips so you won't look like your daughter or your mother; and if you wear cute shoes over comfortable ones you're screwed; and flip flops will never cut it in the rain, they're slippery and worthless in mud. I sent what to bring lists with tips like ear plugs aren't lame and cell phone baggies for rain are a must (3 years ago in a downpour kids offered me $20 for my baggie). A poncho just in case and a trash bag to sit on made plastic your new best friend. I sent YouTube videos of bands we were going to see; I did the homework so the group would experience the best new artists we'll be talking about at the water cooler on Monday. 

Some in the group already go to lots of live music - just not this. Some haven't been to live music in a long time and wanted to get back to it - with some hand-holding. My way offered stage left/right/center views, stand-back views or close to stage (if you dare) which we call going in deep. We share tips on what to do if you run into your kids, where to find secret spots with great shade, sweet oases like the wine bar and the hammock area, which porta potties are best, and how not to eat lunch and dinner at lunch and dinnertime - lines are long. 

In summary, a nod, a beer, a baggie, a trash bag, a buddy and a plan are all you need to do this. So much better than a vodka shot, a wet phone, fashion shoes, a lost friend, a mosh pit, and no clue what bands play when. That's when aimless wandering happens. #HowTheKidsDoIt.

"Well I left my happy home to see what I could find out
I left my folk and friends with the aim to clear my mind out
Well I hit the rowdy road and many kinds I met there
Many stories told me of the way to get there

So on and on I go, the seconds tick the time out
There's so much left to know, and I'm on the road to find out ...   
                                                                                                              -Cat Stevens

Every picture tells a story so let these tell ours.  Testimonials are below ...
   schedule booklet - people get ready                      Brad's Raw Chips - hot stuff
  Trombone Shorty - dear mr. fantasy                        decisions - helplessly hoping

    Valslist tattoos                                                    smart marketing on a rainy day

   free birds                           bandanna rulers - i'm just waitin' on a friend

   wet sunday - ruined our day as you can see

   merch purch - one thing leads to another       if you want to get to heaven you gotta raise a little hell


   Benjamin Booker - guitar man

    you can make it if you try
   craft beer and brats                                                               laura does lolla
  what's the buzz tell me what's a happening                               sweet emotion
  they were in the haiti earthquake --                            hit me with your best shot - fire away
she texted me on the way to Lolla: "I'm scared"


    sunset people - Prudential bldg rocks

   into the great wide open 


                                                          peaceful easy feeling

                                                                          ready to roll

    Hozier - Valslist top pick                                                

      here comes the sun             stage front - Foster the People                                                



"I never planned on ever going to Lolla but there I was .... and right away I was reminded how much I enjoy live music in a stand up venue (so you can move and groove)...  I LOVE trying things that feel like they are outside of my comfort zone. Makes life so interesting... opens my mind up a little more and God knows we need that at this stage of life!!"

"My favorite moment: running into my 24 year old nephew (at the Samsung stage no less!!) and seeing the expression on his face seeing me rockin' out in the rain..."

"One week out and I'm still basking in the Lolla glow"

"It was really cool the next day to have a long chat with my musician son about all the bands... I introduced HIM to Johnnyswim"

"It was so fun to jump on this Lolla adventure with you Friday and meet so many great people.  I have wanted to go for years but few I knew shared that same desire. Thank you recognizing the need to get many of us "over the hump" of feeling fearful of being out of place.  I surprisingly did not feel claustrophobic..."

The concierge idea is just what we need to get us off our butts at home.  While we take many trips exploring the rest of the world there is so much to experience is our own backyard..."

"What an amazing experience this weekend was for me. I'm glad that you encouraged me to commit to all 3 days. Just pure fun. My voice is gone, I'm bloated, deaf and sunburned, but I had THE best time. I'm not even sure which day was my favorite - they were all so unique and positive in their own way..."


"Val...what can we say, but that YOU'RE THE BOMB! Thanks for a great, great Lolla adventure. My favorite band of the day was once again in my favorite venue, BMI, JOHNNYSWIM.... Can't believe you are doing this 2 more days, I was completely pooped last night and I was the first to leave at 6:30p!"


"A wonderful that will not be forgotten.  Thank you so much for the hand-holding during the event.....I am sure I looked like a deer in headlights a couple of times.  A great venue with great friends...doesn't get much better than that!"  


"posted on facebook:  Our Lolla experience was curated by an educated music lover Val Haller, owner of There are many things to say about Val, and many that I admire...  but most of all, she is doing what she loves, and has followed her passion. She sauntered amongst Lollapalooza's zoo crowds with grace... She belonged where our age dictates we shouldn't. She has found her place, because she is authentic and truthful to her beloved music."

"Saturday and Sunday gangs are in for such a fun time!  Val took great care of us yesterday, Mark at her side, and we were able to get around easily, find close proximity to bands (Johnnyswim my #1 too!), food/drink, shade - and we became fast friends with each other.  V
al you are a true pro which I expected, but what amazes me is your dedication to making the LOLLA experience the best it can be for us- now that's work! Thanks a ton for such a memorable time!

"Val and Mark, many thanks for the tireless waving of the pink bandana, and for being such excellent hosts...  we had such a great time, and discovered some fun new bands (hello, Space Capone!) that we will definitely download. Hoping for more cooperative weather next year!"

"We lost the group after lunch but did just fine on our own! We discovered a new singer that we liked -- Meg Meyer !! 
We had a blast !!  
Thanks Val for everything ;-)
  • "It was a low key crowd. Folks were polite. Very white. All ages, even wee ones. In general the girls were more attractive than the guys in their cohort.
  • It's amazing how, walking back and forth from one end to the other, one notices the same people multiple times. It was great to see how folks socialized.
  • The clouds of smoked pot wafting by stunk. I don't remember it being such a grungy smell. (Does this go with the reportedly higher concentration of THC in today's product?)
  • We saw few people wasted (during the day). People were generally having a grand time."
"I had a great time and would never have done Lolla if you had not suggested it. I stayed till 9:30 pm, happy I toughed it out and stayed to hear Cut Copy. I wanted to hear Outkast too but just couldn't do the walk back and forth again!!"

"Val, you do all 3 days of the fest, I have no idea.  What a day we had! Thanks for the tips and coaching. Here's a brief summary of my virgin Lolla experience:
One of my favorite bands of the day was Kodaline.  Sitting on the grass, basking in the sun, listening to a great new Irish band (I'm a big U2 fan and I'm Irish)  was wonderful. Then to find a spot for Bombay Bicycle club under the trees due to dark clouds in the West... a little rain and small hail just added to the experience. We then went to get food and spotted the Wine Tent...a wonderful adult respite. Enjoyed the people watching. Lolla was quite an experience."

Dear friends, 

If you think you're ready to get to a music festival, please consider joining Valslist at the fabulous (boutique) fest in Burlington VT on Sept 13 & 14. It's Grace Potter & the Nocturnals' home town fest and the setting is on the beautiful waterfront of Lake Champlain. This fest is a Valslist favorite, and this year the lineup includes many bands who played much larger fests this summer. Click below for details and consider this fabulous fall getaway!  





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