So if you’re reading the Endless Entertainment blog, you obviously like to have a good time. And who doesn’t? What better way is there to have the time of life, celebrate your youth (or your maturity), and enjoy your favorite genre than attending a music festival?
I attended my first festival this year, and I picked a good one – at least I think so. I attended the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival in Manchester, Tennessee in June, and my mind was significantly blown. It was truly a departure from reality – and that’s not a bad thing.
But after my first dip into festival-going, here’s my list of the top 5 things you should make sure you do when you attend a music festival, presented David Letterman style.
5. Prepare, prepare, prepare.
Sure, you’re disappearing from the real world for a little bit. But there’s no shame in putting up an out-of-office message, buying an extra case of water, or spending a little too much to print out maps of your campground or venue. For most festivals, once you’re in the zone, leaving becomes a significant hassle. So focus on doing as much in reality before you board the next flight to a weekend (or more) of fun.
4. Enter with an open mind.
The best thing about Bonnaroo is that it was a judgment-free zone. I’ve seen a lot of things I thought I never would, and I’m in a fraternity. And that doesn’t mean my fraternity is boring, it means that some things at some summer festivals can be way far out. Realize that your fellow festival-goers are there to have a good time, and it’s not your place to tell them they can’t (unless someone else is being hurt). Let the festival staff do their jobs.
But the open-mindedness is not just about people, but artists. Some of my favorite Bonnaroo acts were bands and artists I’d never seen before. Dawes, K-Flay, and the tUnE-yArDs were among that list, and they weren’t bands I even planned to see before I attended with some friends.
3. Stick together.
This is a hard lesson to learn, but it’s worth it, because I broke it a few too many times. Festivals are fantastic because there’s a large slate of artists, and most are very talented. The problem is your group – and I recommend going in a large one – might not share your musical tastes for a specific artist – be it Foster the People, Ben Folds, or Calvin Harris. It’s more important to take one for the team and keep that artist on your must-see list. If you can poach a group member to go with you, do it, but otherwise, in an environment where communication can be spotty, you might end up losing your friends and your campsite, and that can be catastrophic with a nonworking cellphone, and in the middle of a farm in Tennessee. Take that one from experience. And as I mentioned above, a new artist might just enter your favorites list in the span of a 30-minute set.
2. Seize the day.
No, I’m not going Robin Williams in Dead Poets Society, or Drake in 2012 on you here, but realize you are at a music festival. I mean, not now, but soon hopefully. And if that means anything, that means a lot of the traditional rules of society and daily life are suspended for just a bit of time. I’m not going to advocate hurting yourself, but do some things you wouldn’t feel comfortable doing regularly. It’s an exception. Eat that bacon-wrapped hot dog, the garlic grilled cheese, or that other thing that might be at your campsite. Go to the comedy tent and miss an act. Do something different. It’s festival life.
1. Make your investment worth it.
Festivals are expensive. Bonnaroo, after expenses, was nearly $600 and I barely had it. If you’re carpooling, bring gas money. If you’re driving, get gas money. Preparation can help with this, but at the festival, live like you’re at a festival. Do what you can to have the most fun (semi-responsibly) and enjoy the wall-to-wall music, movies, comedy, food, vendors, and absolute departure from reality. Because as expensive as my summer festival was this year, the first thought I had when returning to my desk job that Tuesday was: “I wish I was back at Bonnaroo.”
Sean Quinn is a junior at the University of Florida in Gainesville, FL majoring in political science and public relations. Go Gators! He writes regularly at HackCollege.com, and he enjoys watching all sports, especially baseball and football, listening to every type of music (and yes, that includes country and opera), is a relentless Apple fanboy, and is originally from north New Jersey. You can contact Sean on Facebook or Twitter or through email at [email protected]