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A few days ago, I left my 20s and became a man in his early 30s. I’m excited because I can now say things like, “When I was a 20-something…” which, between you and me, I’d already been saying for years. I’m also terrified because 30 means I’m fully submerged in adulthood. While this community has experts on lots of different topics, from beer to fashion to the Sunday Scaries, there’s only one thing I consider myself good at: being an adult.
Whether it’s traveling home for the holidays or attending a professional sporting event, there’s JR’s way and there’s the wrong way. Given that music festival season is upon us, I wanted to relay my own personal rulebook for attending music festivals like an adult.
Quick disclaimer: I like going to music festivals. I’ve been to dozens. I’m fully aware some people don’t like going to them for a number of understandable reasons. Let me save the top commenter below the time and energy.
“Rule Number #10: Don’t Go To Music Festivals. I’d rather be sitting on my couch drinking a cold one with my dog on my lap watching Netflix/incest porn and playing NHL2K18!”
Hilarious and original.
Limber up: Most fests are two to three days long and include a few different stages that are hundreds if not thousands of feet apart from each other. You need to prepare your body for a lot of additional walking and standing in the weeks before the festival. Go on walks in the evening after work to build up your leg muscles and maybe mix in some yoga classes. I’m not saying to adopt a whole West Coast lifestyle here but your feet and back will thank you later.
After a deep edible induced sleep I woke up, ate organic oatmeal, went to a TRX class and picked up an açaí bowl before walking back to my Marina apartment
But before I got home I disintegrated into the ground and BECAME California
— JR Hickey (@JRwilldoit) January 27, 2018
Location is key: I’ve been to festivals all over the country. Time of year and temperature are important to consider before pulling the trigger on expensive tickets. While most festivals happen during the summer, there is such a thing as too early and too late into the summertime. For example, Outsidelands in San Francisco happens in August, which you think would be a nice time of year in the Bay Area. Unfortunately, due to microclimates and the general lack of water in California, precipitation is pushed from the heated mainland out to hover over the Bay in August and it’s cold, wet and not ideal for an outdoor concert event. Who wants to stand in the cold wearing multiple layers and a wool hat to barely hear Mumford And Sons from half a mile away? The opposite goes for Lollapalooza in Chicago. August in Chicago is like standing inside a deep dish pizza oven with a wool scarf around your face. Either that or it rains. Hard pass. Unless it’s The Foo Fighters in 2011.
Headliners only: Festival lineups usually run for 12+ hours throughout the day. Don’t be the idiot who shows up at 1 p.m. to see a band you like one song from because they popped up on your Spotify Discover playlist, thus ensuring you’ll be done for by dinnertime. Wait until the sun begins to set then make your way to the festival grounds. Sure, you won’t get a good spot for the big acts but who cares, you have ears don’t you? Don’t you? Oh, I’m sorry I didn’t notice you were missing ears. My apologies.
Proper footwear: Old pair of running shoes. New insoles. Breathable socks. I don’t care how flashy or fun you think a pair of sandals is, your toes will be stepped on and you’ll end up complaining to your friends about your feet hurting and wind up eventually carrying them in your hands.
Other people: Listen you’re not going to enjoy a festival if you can’t stand people. There’s a general expectation going into these things that you’ll get bumped into, pushed past and surrounded by people more drunk and/or on drugs than you. That being said, the majority of people are there to have a laid back time like you are. A general rule of thumb, especially if you’re in a crowd waiting for an act to perform is to always let people push past you AWAY from the stage. Maybe there’s an emergency. Maybe they’re feeling overwhelmed or overstimulated and simply need to leave. Or maybe they just don’t want to deal with the crowds either. Either way, always allow it to happen because, at some point in the evening, it could be you.
But if people push forwards past you towards the stage, fuck them up.
Your companions: If you’re like me and can only tolerate people for short amounts of time, it’s important that you attend these things with the right people. Make sure you and your group agree on a game plan beforehand. Do NOT under any circumstances plan to “meet up with other people once we get there.” That never works out and you end up being the idiot walking around yelling into a cellphone, “We’re in between the two big speakers!” This is where personalities come into play. If somebody has a strong personality and can’t give up control, don’t go with them. If somebody wants to meet up with a thousand other people, see one act with them and then see them never. Only attend with people who are open minded, down to see the same acts as you and generally don’t care too much about the whole thing and are there for a good time.
Drug use: This is rules for attending festivals like an adult, not like a teenager. Drugs are consumed openly at festivals and you should feel free to use them if you choose. A couple pieces of advice. If you’re getting high: smoke a joint. Make sure it’s a sativa too so you don’t feel like you’ve lost control of your motor functions. Do not take an edible, especially if it’s one somebody gives you. When was the last time you heard, “And then I took an edible and the night REALLY took off!” Edibles are meant to be consumed on your couch in front of a gigantic screen within feet of your bed in case things get out of hand.
As for the other drugs, just make sure you pack some proper symptomatic helpers like a pack of gum, eye drops and nasal spray. If you’re planning on using party drugs, hydrate like crazy, have some Gatorade ready at home and (I’ve heard) taking vitamin B and C before and after helps replenish your system. Allegedly.
Drinking tricks: Stick to beer at a festival because it’s cheaper, more filling and you can last longer on it. Then again, if you’re like me and become Tiny Tanks once the beer starts flowing you might want to mix in a cocktail or two. Quick hangover prevention tip: before heading to the festival take a Vitamin B pill and a milk thistle pill. The vitamin is for the obvious and the milk thistle helps detoxify your liver. Take them again once you get home.
Most importantly, be safe and have fun. If you’re not feeling a music fest, don’t try to press on for the sake of pressing on. Remember that the only reason it’s happening is because of Instagram, and your health and sanity aren’t worth the hassle. .