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Surviving Summer Music Festivals - 5 Tips

Avoid wackos, and more!

 

by Anne Erickson

 

Whether you’re sweating through the boiling temps at Lollapalooza, fist-pumping at Mayhem Festival or rocking out at any of a bazillion festivals around the world this summer, festival preparation is crucial to having a good time.

Here are 5 Tips for Summer Music Festival Survival that are appropriate for festival newbies and vets alike.

 

The basics: Sunblock, portable cell-phone charger, earplugs.

These are the bare essentials for surviving the day (or days). If you’re one of those people who claims to “tan instead of burn,” that’s not going to fly at an all-day summer show. Put sunblock on repeatedly throughout the day to avoid turning into a walking tomato. A portable cell-phone charger will keep you connected all day. Earplugs, no matter how un-hip, will save your ears in the long run. Just do it.

 

Don’t pass out.

Water, water everywhere. Avoid being one of those guys or gals that gets dragged out of the festival by security for passing out in the middle of the mosh pit. Drink lots of water, all day, even if you have to splurge on the pricey onsite bottled variety. Also, remember that drinking alcohol all day will only dehydrate you more.

 

Bring toilet paper…and hand sanitizer.

It’s not the most glamorous essential, but it’s important. Whether there is toilet paper at the festival porta-potty station or not is always a gamble. Remain on the safe side with a pack of toilet tissue or flushable wipes. The same goes for hand sanitizer; keep those mittens clean all day with a small bottle tucked away.

 

Avoid wackos.

Music festivals can bring out the best, and worst, in people. For the latter, it usually involves those who are drinking way too much alcohol in a massive crowd of people, many of them acting like morons. Go with friends and look out for each other. Having to babysit compromised friends isn’t a great way to spend the day, but it might be necessary. Likewise, if you sense any out-of-control types in your vicinity, move to safe territory. Ladies, always beware of the creepy guys who want to get too friendly with you, too.

 

Plan, plan and plan.

Think about logistics. Get there early, or else you run the risk of being stuck in standstill traffic for hours while latecomers trickle into the venue. When you’re faced with multiple stages and different bands performing at the same set times, do some planning to get to the right stage at the right time. Once you have your “A-list” of bands to see, don’t be ashamed to bring it on an old-fashioned piece of paper, in case cell-phone reception is spotty.

Oh, yeah—and don’t forget to have fun! After all, that’s the whole point. -HC-

 

Photo Courtesy: Rad Season

 

Anne Erickson holds years of bylines in Gannett Media publications, as well as music magazines Premier Guitar, Guitar Edge and more. She also hosts radio shows with iHeartRadio and has been syndicated in Seattle, Dayton, Central Coast California and beyond. Anne is a loyal Spartan and holds a Master’s degree from MSU. She resides in Lansing, Michigan.A

 

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Mikeo  |  May 17, 2019 at 10:43 am
I usually go to several area festivals here in New England every year.
One thing about New England is you can never count on the weather to cooperate. A lovely sunny morning and afternoon, I have seen turn into a downpour before the sunset, just in time for the headliners you had planned to see later in the day or evening.
 
For my festival travel needs and inside the venue, I grab a small backpack to get me through the day. Sunscreen, toiletries and a small flashlight. Why the flashlight you might ask when there’s a nice light on your smartphone?  Those porta-potties are poorly light at best, and I heard about someone that dropped their smartphone into one. I love those baby wipes and a bunch of paper towels. I have also found handy a couple of Microfiber Towelettes, which you can get in the auto cleaning section of most department stores. A “Cool IT” Chamois are really handy too. They come in a plastic tube, so wet it up before you enter and put it back in the tube. They take quite a bit of water to get going and some festivals will easy access to free water, and some do not. You don’t want to have to rely on a $2.00 bottle of drinking water to an activate one. A chamois is not only great for cooling down the back of your sun-beaten neck, but you can clean up a bit throughout the day with one.
If you have worn shorts to the show, and an extra pair of pants may and comfort when the sun goes down and the temperature drops 20-30 degrees. I also like those polar fleece zips ups, as they are lightweight and will also keep up warm after sunset. They will easily stuff into your backpack.
Since you will want to stay hydrated throughout the day, take a couple of bottle of water and stick in the freezer the night before. The ice water will slowly melt over the day and you have a cool drink when you need it.  If you need to purchase water at the venue, you might not be buying cold water, as it goes fast. Refillable beverage containers are handy and a bit more environmentally friendly than bottled water too. Stick anything the will seat and condense inside a plastic zippy bag. Extra zippy bags will come in handy for a CD when you hit the merch tables.
I remember the tickets I bought in March for an August Festival. Whoever thought a nice day August would turn from possible showers to a torrential downpour? In my car I keep a raincoat handy, I have also had to wear a pair of Muckers to keep my feet dry. Those lovely grassy fields can turn into a mud pit in a few hours time. Also, in my car, I have an umbrella and a camping travel chair. 
Camping chairs come with a travel bag that makes carrying it around a breeze. You might want to sit down for a bit during the day.  The newer camping chairs are super light and have 2 cup holders. You’ll appreciate those cupholders sometime during the day.
Since the late 70’s I have kept a pair of earplugs in my pocket. I have been up front near the stage, and you can quickly find yourself standing in front of some massive speaker columns, and not always by choice.  
Leave your wallet lockets in your car, and plan the amount of cash you want to take into the event. I keep my driver's license in my front pocket that proves I was once 21 years of age. Keep that license with your credit card/ATM/debit card, just in case.

Make sure you have a hat. I have a few different festivals hats, that will keep the sun off your nogging or the rain off your head,

Some venues will let you leave and re-enter after going back to your car, but you need to double check.
I always plan out who I’m going to see and make sure I hit some of the smaller stages. These folks are the hitmakers of tomorrow. This year I have two local festivals I will attend in my hometown.
 
That's just my two cents to make yourself comfy during a festival.
 
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