I try not to be such a hipster about things, but when it comes to festivals, I’m a total snob.
I’ve done Coachella (2), GovBall (2), Roots Picnic (5), AfroPunk (7), Pitchfork (1), and Camp Flog Gnaw (1) so I think my snobbery is allowed, I openly look down on people that just started going to fests because they saw pics online or any flower crown in sight and I’m not ashamed to say that. But, this doesn’t mean I don’t encourage folks to go. Summer is made for music festivals and although they all kinda suck now, thanks to commercialization, we can all try our darndest to make the best of it, right? Continuing reading for the ultimate guide to surviving a music festival.
Cost Per Artist
A huge part of iSo14Below’s brand is maximizing on fun and minimizing the cost. This is an integral part of the festivals I choose to go to and I rely on my Cost Per Artist equation to do this. It’s pretty simple.
Festival Cost / number of artists you wanna see = Cost Per Artist
Let’s use Bonnaroo 2017 as an example, shall we? *Please note, legends get counted twice on this scale. Legends are anyone with an album that came out 25+ years ago. My total for artists I want to see comes to 14 (Red Hot Chili Peppers and Angelique Kidjo are counted twice), which based on my previous festival totals, is dismal AF. I’m usually in the 20s. HOWEVER, the CPA is about $25. That’s a STEAL considering I paid like $80 to see Angelique Kidjo at Carnegie Hall by herself in 2015.
If your CPA is more than $30 per act, don’t waste your time and money on the festival just to say you were there. That’s corny. If you’re only going to see the headliners, just wait until they come to your city.
Cop Tickets Early
I really…really can’t stress this enough. Buying tickets the day the drop is so essential to stress levels. Festivals are the same time every year, so give yourself a full year to get your coins in order. Early bird tickets are that knock because besides it being a shoe in, it’ll also be the best rate. Most festivals have a payment plan, so also make sure you hop on it if you’re living la vida broke-ah!
Plan! Plan! Plan!
To alleviate the stress of going to a festival, have a strategy. Going in blind is a sure way to screw yourself over. If the fest is out of your area, make sure you list out everything you’ll need to cover all bases. Be sure to do your homework in regards to flights, rental cars, and lodging. Cities will try to hoe you when a festival is in town, so don’t fall for any traps. Set a budget and stick to it.
Anything that can go wrong, will at a festival, so pack everything. Umbrella. First Aid Kit. Breathalizer. Change of undies. Ya’ll get my point.
VERY important note, before you start your day at the festival, confirm your schedule and write it down. No, don’t put it on your phone. WRITE. IT. DOWN. That jawn will die if you’re checking it super often and you’ll be forced to sit at a charging station while a dope performer is on.
BITE THE BULLET
The hardest thing about festivals is figuring out how to see all of the artists you love. Since festival organizers are the spawns of Satan, they usually schedule faves at the same damn time. It’s in these moments when we must make hard decisions. Always lean towards the artists that rarely go on tour and the old people/have dead from long term drug use. This may be your last time seeing them before they go up yonder and you wanna be able to say you were there. Gil Scott Heron died a year after we saw him at Coachella. You never know.
There are two ways to see everyone you want though. First – do a 30 minute split between each act. Secondly – If the stages are close, stand in the center and just turn to face whoever you wanna see at that time. At Pitchfork 2013, Toro y Moi and R. Kelly were at the same stage, but MIA played at another stage in between their sets. I wasn’t giving up my prime standing at the stage R-ruh was coming on, so I stood at the edge of the crowd piling in for him, so I could see MIA. A small 180 spin an hour later and R. Kelly’s sweat was flying over my head.
Go All In
My main beef with the hype around festivals is the fact that newbies don’t follow festival culture. If the fest you’re going to has camping, camp out. If the fest you’re going to starts at noon, don’t be a lame and show up for performances at 8pm. The oldies allowed you to gentrify the only thing they live another year for, so the least you can do is get with the mothaf*ccn program.
What Would White People Do?
Whatever that is, do it and do it thef*ck hard! Festivals are a time to literally let go of your inhibitions and acting on every single impulse you have. No one is gonna judge you because the thousands of folks around you have no clue who you are. Put your balls to the wall and enjoy yourself freely.
Want a full listing of upcoming festival lineups? Peep LifeWithJrdn’s official roundup!