It is that time of year again - music festival season. It is when the lineups are announced and festivals compete for our attendance. So, if you've never been before, here is my music festival guide for all you Bonnarookies, Jam virgins, and first time Coachellans.
There are a lot of music festivals out there, so how do you choose? First, look at how far you have to travel. Also think about whether or not you like to camp and are okay with battling the elements. Remember, it rains at Mountain Jam and it's hot in Tennessee.
This will guarantee you a great time. If you hit the festival solo, you're in a lottery with your fellow campers. Camping with friends allows you to not only enjoy an awesome time together, but avoid what could potentially be awkwardness if you don't have great vibes with your fellow campers. Also, if you're not into the full on festival camping experience, you can always look at options "off campus". Look at local camp grounds, hotels (they can get pricey) or rentals. Also, RV's can be the way to go.
This is key. Remember, most stores close to the festival will be sold out or will jack up prices. If you're going with friends, divide and conquer. Maybe one of you has an awesome stove and someone else has a nice outdoor camping shower. Divide up your shopping list, making sure you know what you can and can't have in the campsite. Bring food, beverages, and water. This will cost you a lot once you're in the festival. Save the money for souvenirs or a nice hotel post festival. Don't forget to plan for the weather.
Seriously - don't. Most music festivals go 24 hours a day. Again, this involves planning. All music festivals will have a lineup via app so you can choose wisely who you need to see. Some of the best moments happen in the wee hours of the morning when you aren't expecting it. But, for safety, you should try and get some sleep, especially if you have a long drive home, or you get incredibly annoying if you're sleep deprived.
Yes, I said that and I cannot stress it enough!! It is a long weekend usually in the hot sun. You don't want to be the one wimping out on Saturday or ending up at the medical clinic. Drink water at your campsite and during the festival. Most festivals allow you to bring in unopened bottles of water. Do yourself and your friends a favor - hydrate.
I've stopped going to as many shows because I don't want to deal with watching you tape a show. It's cool to snap a picture or take a five second clip, but after that you annoy me. There are people paid to film the show. Most of the time you can see your favorite moments captured on the live stream, Instagram, or from awesome concert photographers like Dana Distortion. I get it, you want to share that moment, but realize you're limiting other's enjoyment.
Flaming Lips or Daryl Hall, Alabama Shakes or Mumford and Sons. It just ain't fair. Those responsible for the lineups are playing God and they know it. Sometimes you have to chose. It's important to have these decisions worked out with your friends as well. You don't want that argument to happen and you miss a super jam between Jimmy Page, Flea, Eugene Hutz, and Nicole Atkins (wouldn't that be amazeballs). Also, make sure to check out bands you've never heard of. It could be your next favorite band of all time.
You never see it coming. That music moment that is forever seared in your soul. It's a mix of things that make it "that moment." It could be the song that never stops in the middle of a monsoon, the amalgam of the atmosphere, the moment, and the crowd, or it's the song itself that just drives home to ever single cell in your body.
I've had several of these moments and it definitely alters something inside of you. Thousands of people connecting with the international language of music to one moment in time is something you have to experience.
Here is one of my favorite moments. It was from Bonnaroo 2oo8. It was Pearl Jam's first festival since a tragedy in Europe that had killed several festival goers. It was hot that night and they were well over an hour into the set. I was walking with a drummer friend at the back of the crowd and when this song began, everyone had their lighters and cell phones lit and I commented it looked like a constellation. Everyone was singing along and it was if the world only existed on the farm in Tennessee at that moment. It was a moment I will forever cherish.
So go forth and conquer your first festival and make some new memories with new and old friends.