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10 Things to Know Before Going to a Music Festival

Whether you're a music festival rookie on the road to liberation or one of those seasoned veterans who looks like he's always on the way to a festival, there are a few things you need to know before heading to the madness. Essentially a mishmash of camping, concert-going and frightful encounters of misplaced trust with evil hipster clowns, festival season is a time for losing yourself in the music music festival, friends at music festivaland then losing your wallet, backpack, cell phone, friends and eventually, your mind. Don't let your first festival experience be one to regret, but instead enjoy yourself knowing you came prepared (as much as possible). And if you missed the first weekend of Coachella but are ready to rock weekend #2, here are some useful bits of information to keep in mind.

Your Money's No Good Here

Well, that's not entirely true, but in a world of loud music and extended shoulder-to-shoulder living, no sober or parched camper can survive on regular currency. With that said, money may get you some places, but hot commodities like water and drugs are more likely to be the items used in the lawless bartering of dire situations. Like modern day pirates, either have these essential items or be prepared to trade anything on your person for them. People may beg you to share, but it's survival of the fittest, and he who did not bring water shall drink from the dirty lake not far from the porta-potties. Clean water is worth its weight in gold; remember that before you leave.

Even Helicopters Have Traffic

If you think you've got the traffic figured out, fairly certain you'll beat it or fall perfectly into one of its better time slots, think again. With festival season, it's like a supermarket full of looters on the last day of the world. There will be some psychotic breakdowns and lots of screaming and honking at one another. Expect hours of bumper-to-bumper gridlock if you don't scoot out of work early or just quit your job altogether. When 85,000 people are all trying to get to the same place at the same time, don't be surprised if you're rolling through slower than if you had walked there.

One possible alternative to all of this, if emptying your piggy bank is an option, is taking a helicopter. These rides are obviously limited in availability and require a lot of planning among your festival-goer friends, so it's up to you whether or not it's worth it.

Watch What You're Smokin'

It doesn't matter how much you enjoy the fine relaxation of light recreational (err, medicinal) use while you're at home, because few things are normal, relaxing or light when it comes to festivals. The marijuana is suddenly laced with angel dust, and the angel dust is suddenly laced with black tar heroin. You'll think you are smoking a clove like the rest of the hip kids, and end up addicted to some not-so-casual narcotic. Be very careful what you take, and who you take it from out there.

Get Up (to Wait in Line) to Pee

For those of you with small bladders who regularly roll out of bed in the middle of the night and crawl to the bathroom for a mid-slumber urinary tract release, plan on not waiting until the last minute while you're at a fwaiting to pee, porta pottiesestival. Get in line early or you'll bring torture upon yourself trying not to pee your pants. Ladies especially, a long line to use the bathroom is a permanent fixture of any overnight festival grounds. Unless you feel like dropping trou in the woods and risking mosquito bites on your hoo ha, we suggest you plan ahead.

Nothing Good Happens in the Woods

How many horror films do you have to see to truly get the point? Sure, promiscuous unprotected orgies that lead to axe murders are not likely in reality, but there are still too many potentially bad results of wandering into the woods alone. If you're going to leave the festival grounds for any reason, use the buddy system. That way, your friend can also get axe murdered along with you! All kidding aside, build a bonfire and dance and frolic the night away -- just do it where you are supposed to.

Sleep is a Myth, But Rain Isn't

If you brought your daily planner and alarm clock with you, you're wasting your time. Sleep is for the dehydrated people who raved all day and passed out in the dirt outside the beer tent area. If you were hoping for a solid seven hours with a quiet morning routine, you'd be better off finding some nearby lodging, as the only thing you'll be waking up to on festival grounds is body odor, morning breath and possibly morning sex between two strung out strangers outside your tent.

As for rain, it happens...often. If you were one of the lucky folks at last year's Lollapalooza, you probably got to grab your gear and exit with the rest of the city when the wind picked up. Plan on bringing something for the storm showers, but don't bring so much that you can't haul ass when they have to evacuate the grounds.

Everybody Has the Same Favorite Band

When some hundred thousand people all go to the same festival with limited number of stages, there's a good chance that a lot of the people are there to see the same bands. Even if they have never heard of the band, there will be people sweating, swaying and vomiting all around anyways. If you plan on getting a front-row seat, try not to get down when it all falls apart. Get there early and prepare for the possibility of listening to the band from a shitty vantage point, almost as if you were home in your room, peacefully listening to them free of charge.

O.T.S.S. (Only the Strong Survive)

We should probably remind you that moshing and mosh pits are still a thing. For every four calm, casual listeners who are transporting their minds to another beautiful, angelic place, there is one trashed asshole who likes to throw his enormous body weight around, elbows and all, at the young girlmusic festival crowd, big concerts and brittle gentlemen attending even the lightest of rock shows. There isn't much you can do to prevent this, since it's basic rock 'n roll practice, but you can distance yourself, bring a tazor and maybe wear some protective gear. You never know when someone will knock your teeth out before introducing themselves first.

Scabies Are Contagious

When your favorite band goes on stage and you realize you're about a half mile away and can't see, think twice before hopping on the shoulders of some infected monster just so you can fanatically flaunt off your cans, or hairy chest, to your favorite guitarist. You may come home with itchy skin, reddish rashes and possible zombie-like symptoms. This also goes back out our "Nothing Good Happens in the Woods" topic to keep in mind.

Bears and Strange Men Will Rob Your Cooler

Finally, it's important to keep in mind that, even though you're there to have a good time and see some great music, not everyone there is a trustworthy do-gooder like yourself. Lots of people like to take advantage of the uninhibited, alcohol-addled party people. So when you think it's safe to leave your backpack filled with money, water and toilet paper with the nice fellow whose eyes are redder than the sun, think again. Be cool, but keep your guard up, or else you'll spend the rest of your festival experience eating your own fingernails and drinking the lake water near the porta-potties.

More: The Average Music Fan's Festival Experience


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