Let’s face it, guys: music festivals suck. I mean, they are the WORST.
You are hot.
You are dirty.
Your personal space gets invaded by gropey security folk.
You are forced to carry heavy camping gear over long distances.
You wait in lines.
You wait in more lines.
Sometimes you wait until you feel as though you will never reach a point where you are not waiting and did I die and go to festival purgatory?
Artists can – and do – cancel on festivals at the last minute due to various health/visa/apocalyptic reasons. There are no refunds for this, even if that artist was your favorite on the whole lineup.
Sometimes the schedule comes out and everyone you want to see is on at the exact same time at stages 15 minutes away from each other and OH, THE HUMANITY.
What’s a shower? Or a vegetable?
Wristbands sometimes arrive in the mail about 4 seconds before you need to leave which is definitely not stressful at all.
Everything seems to cost at least 2.7 times more than it should. Unless you live outside of NYC, in which case that number is 7.7 times more than it should.
Crowds. Teenagers’ elbows seem to pierce all your vital organs with each of their flailing dance moves. Is personal space not trendy these days?
Do you realize that if you added up the money you spent on festival season you could probably take a fabulous European vacation?
Trying to contact people can be like that annoying Verizon commercial. “Do you hear me now?” “Do you hear me now?” Cell phones become very expensive bricks just taking up space in your pocket.
And that’s not even the really catastrophic things. Like Hudson Project, which I know I’ve mentioned before, where the rain was so bad that cars got stuck in the mud and it took some people nearly 24 hours to get out. Or the people who spent tons of money on flights and hotels for Electric Zoo 2013 only to have the entire third day of the festival canceled. Or the time it took my friend and I 10 hours to get to Firefly 2 years ago due to horrible traffic (the drive home took us just under 3).
But despite all these crappy things, there are some really beautiful moments, too.
There are really special, unique things, like dancing to really good music with your feet in a wave pool, or riding a ferris wheel and singing Disclosure with your besties, or sitting at a craft table in the middle of a forest making necklaces with tiny jars of colored sand.
Sometimes the great parts of festivals aren’t even in the grandiose moments. It’s turning to the random person next to you and giving her your bracelet that says, “Touch the Sky” because that’s the song your favorite band is playing right at that moment, and then running into her the next day and having her tell you how happy it made her.
Or taking enjoyment in the fact that there are people who spend their time not dancing to the music, but running around picking glowsticks up off the ground just so they can throw them in the air the next time there’s a bass drop.
It’s meeting new friends and immediately calling them “family.”
It’s the feeling you get when you discover new music that you love, or are listening to some old favorites and at that time, nothing else seems to matter.
It’s the freedom to be whoever or whatever you want to be without fear of judgment, even if you can’t be that person in real life. Especially if you can’t be that person in real life. You can dress up as a Power Ranger or a unicorn or wear a purple wig and as long as its comfortable and accurately expresses what you’re feeling at that moment, it’s the right thing.
It’s the sense of community and sharing. The “we’re all in this together” feeling that makes people give water to strangers who look like they need it.
It’s sitting under your canopy enjoying the breeze and some boxed red wine, relaxing before the crazy part of the day truly begins.
It’s not checking your email or Facebook for a few days, and being content with surrounding yourself with art and music instead of obsessing over the wedding photos of someone you haven’t spoken to since middle school.
It’s being at peace with just existing in the present moment.
This is why we go to festivals. Even though they suck.