While I was waiting on a malfunctioning camera to get fixed the window where people might actually care about a straightforward review disappeared. However, I still wish to impart why I love music festivals. Bonnaroo, Lollapalooza, Pitchfork, Wakarusa, and a slew of others happen every year with consistently impressive lineups. If you’re not going to some of these, then I can only ask: Why not?
The main reason people don’t attend these is due to the costs. The costs can be anywhere from 200-400 dollars. Especially for a college student on a budget, these prices can seem untenable for one event. However, I’d like to list just some of the artists I saw at Bonnaroo this year (not to mention ones I could have seen): Stevie Wonder, Dave Matthews Band, Kings of Leon, Jay-Z, Conan O’Brien, Les Claypool, The National, Phoenix, Dropkick Murphys, Against Me, Dead Mau5, GWAR, Baroness, The xx, Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeroes, and The Flaming Lips performing Dark Side of The Moon. Even if I had just seen those bands I’d be paying less than 20 dollars a piece for each of them.
There’s also a lot more you get aside from the concerts. It gives you an opportunity to travel and, for most festivals, a few days of camping with friends. Days of sipping beer, barbecuing, making friends, and kicking back while you cool down from seeing some of your favorite bands.
There are dozens of vendors that offer wares from delicious food (anything from giant jalapeno corn dogs to curry chicken with a side of sweet potato fries), hip and hippy clothing, shoes, and varieties of quality and cheap “glassware.” The sponsors of concerts also bring in lots of different attractions. Bonnaroo featured a 24-hour silent rave (a dance featuring personal headphones that played music from the live DJs), free showers and hair styling from Garnier, and hammocks next to fans spraying mist sponsored by, um, someone cool I’m sure.
If travel is the expense you’re most worked about then worry no more. Most festival sites have rideshare forums that can give you plenty of opportunities to carpool. I randomly ran into two different groups of people at concerts who came from Kalamazoo.
Festivals also allow you to enjoy concerts in whatever way works best for you. I enjoy concerts in a number of different ways depending on my mood and they all work at big festivals. Some people hate moving through crowds and prefer to wait for hours in order to get a good seat. I ended up waiting for 2 hours (making good use of my liquor smuggling tactic mentioned in my previous article) in order to get 5th row to see Jay-Z. This delay was made considerably more bearable by the fact that I had pretty good seating for Stevie Wonder while I waited.
Others are opportunists who look for gaps in the crowd and slowly shift towards the center and forward. This tactic worked perfectly for the Flaming Lips where I started in the middle of the crowd and was able to slowly duck, swerve, and side step my way to front and center. There’s also the rough-and-tumblers who prefer to push, shove, mosh, and fight their way through a show. While not as decidedly chill as most people prefer at Bonnaroo, I participated in this act in several shows, such as Baroness, Gwar, Dropkick Muprhys, and Against Me.
This leads me to the type of concertgoers that almost only exist at festivals. Some people like to sit down on a blanket with some of their best friends under the stars, kick back, and watch a great show. While this happened at a lot of the shows, one sticks out in my head. It was the last day and we all decided that we weren’t very interested in seeing Dave Mathews Band. I’ve never been a huge fan and I was tired from back-to-back punk shows, but I decided to go anyway. The night had killed the Tennessee heat, someone ponied up and bought a round of beers, and I finally understood why people like DMB.
Festivals are a life changing experience, especially if you haven’t been to a lot of concerts. While I prefer to go with friends, there are also plenty of great people to meet there. Do yourself a favor and go to at least one. Look at any line up if you need further convincing: