The cold is reaching the pinnacle of its painful grasp. As our spirits waver and we curse Mother Nature for her bitter influence, we can find solace in at least one truth: festival season is nearly upon us. The biggest names are releasing their lineups and already selling out. The pressure is on to secure passes before they're all gone. Anyone who has been to one of these magical musical gatherings knows that it's not quite as simple as throwing some clothes in a backpack and heading over to the grounds. These are behemoth events with complex schedules and a plethora of intricacies that can make or break your experience. To aid in the sometimes-overwhelming planning process, we've created a festival survival guide that covers the essentials which, if heeded, guarantee a good time.
1. What sort of vibes you prefer. For example, Firefly has a throwback 'hippie, love the earth, good vibrations' thing going on, while Ultra is non-stop.
2. How broad your comfort zone is. Things will get weird. If that turns you off, maybe choose an option closer to home in case you want to eject.
3. How far you're willing to go for the sake of the music. Certain festivals require more "roughing it", but for me, these are often the most rewarding. While camping out at Bonnaroo '14, I slept a total of five hours in four days, hit hygienic rock bottom, and did unspeakable things to get up front at Kanye. dirt, sleep deprivation aside, it was the greatest time of my life.
Now that you've made your choice, it's time to prep. Packing smart is crucial to your mental health leading up to, and during, your experience.
1. Make lists. If you're going with a crew, create a google document that you can all edit with the items that you each intend to bring including but not limited to: tents, tables, food, beer, music, games, shade pop-ups, coolers etc. Festival Life Hack: DRY ICE; it's cheap, and will keep your provisions cooler longer.
2. Start early. You should be jotting things down months before the event as they pop into your head. If the festival is primarily outdoors, remember the holy trinity: sunglasses, hat, and sunscreen.
3. Bring lots of underwear. Because you just never know.
When you finally arrive at musical Mecca, you'll want to have a game plan. It's all about catching the performances that are important to you, while keeping stress levels to a minimum.
1. Download the festival app. or frequent the website in the months prior. They're great resources, that often have lineup playlists for you listen to, and features that allow you to develop an itinerary that won't let you accidentally schedule conflicting acts.
2. Prioritize. If you want to be up front for a bigger artist, you're going to have to sacrifice and get to the stage hours (6-8 depending on the crowd) ahead of time. You would've had to keep this in mind to get anywhere near the Skrillex Superjam at Bonnaroo '14.
Planning aside, the experience is what you make of it. If you want to take full advantage of the communal nature of a festival and make new friends, not being an a-hole is crucial. Tips on attracting friends:
1. Bring a fold up party table, especially if you're camping. Get to the grounds the night before the music starts, set up your table, ready your 30-racks of budget brew, and start partying with your crew. Play some lineup tunes, invite your neighbors and passerby's, and before you know it you'll have a completely legal Project-X on your hands.
2. Pace yourself. You can't see your favorite musician if you're being carried out on a stretcher. Getting too fucked up ruins the fun for everyone.
3. Don't weasel up to the front of a stage. If it means that much to you, get there early and do it legitimately. Festivals become magical when everyone operates with mutual respect and consciousness, so act accordingly.
Recap: make an educated festival selection, plan excessively, pack meticulously, open your mind, and act right. Take these suggestions into consideration and, barring natural disaster or cataclysm, you will have a life-alteringly positive festival experience.
Happy festival season everyone! We'll leave you with one of our Festival Fever Sessions: Of Monsters and Men in session at Coachella 2013'...