Winter’s practically here and the festival season is all but over. Festivals are a communal activity where people meet to share art and music. The host of participants get the experience of living with each other in something resembling a make-believe town. Then they get to go home and live the responsibility of cleaning up behind. It’s one of the reasons festivals are an ever-growing market.
Music festivals are also a wonderful change to sell products, advertise, network and influence. This is the other, more important reason, why the number of festivals organized throughout the world is growing.
1. Sense of community without any of the responsibility
You know when people build communities (villages, towns, religious cults) and feel great about it. Until they have to figure out rules. Then they enforce the rules. The communities start falling apart and someone has to take responsibility?
Music festivals are just like this if you only include the first part. If you’ve chosen the right festival, you’ll get to be part of an accepting tribe. An assortment of folks you’ve never met, but feel you’ve known your whole life. Then you get home, likely never see them again and, secretly perhaps, feel happier for it.
2. Opening up to new music
There are music festivals for practically every genre. Of course, it makes sense to attend one where one of your favorite bands will be playing. The experience of seeing one of your favorite artists up close and personal is one the greatest ways in which to interact with music.
But, like it or not, you will hear a lot of other music. From bands you’ve never heard of. From bands you didn’t realize you like. From bands you never realized how bad they were. All in all, if you’re lucky you’ll end up with a brand new playlist of music to keep you satisfied for months to come.
3. New travel destinations
With the competitive market of music festivals, organizers have figured out that the location means a whole lot. Music festivals are a great excuse to plan a trip. Many of these are also organized in a way that will give you a taste of the local culture. Who knows, maybe you’ll like it so much you’ll end coming back and visiting the entire country?
4. Build your social media profile
The secret reasons why most of the people next you are there at the festival is that: a.Nothing to do that weekend; b. It makes for some good pictures they’re going to share on every social media outlet they have available.
Take it for what it is. It’s a photo-op. But one that builds a someone’s profile and reputation on social media. It’s the proof that all those songs and artists you list on your account are enough to make you buy a festival ticket to see them. A festival goer is someone taking an interest, right? And everybody loves that kind of enthusiasm.
5. Overpriced products, that seem like a great idea at the time
Festivals sell overpriced everything. Everyone knows it, so there’s no reason to hide this. If you want to stay drunk the whole time, make sure you check your finances first. Bad food, terrible merchandise, weird memorabilia. You don’ t want any of it now. Why would you? But chances are you’ll want or need it while there. So, enjoy your stay and get ready to pay.
6. Marks a moment in time
The summer hit. The song played at the first dance. The party mix-tape you try to impress your friends with. Whatever the motivation, people need to use music to mark a moment. And great music is made and played live at all stages of history. Forget your cynicism. You would’ve loved to see Pulp, Jeff Buckley or Radiohead live in front of a festival audience, at their best. Attending a festival is a way to bookend a moment in your life.
7. Forget about personal hygiene or sleeping habits
Wash up? Well, sure you can. But really nobody expects you to. And if it’s summer, you’ll probably end up sleeping in the field or in a smelly tent. Particularly if you’ve had a few drinks prior. It’s the perfect occasion to get back to our roots. Savages with poor hygiene. Just remember to bring some money while indulging in this.
8. Makes it Ok to compare bands as if they were sports teams
We’ve all seen the opening act blow the headliner away. Or we thought we did. Art is not created to be judged as better or worse than other art (I know the site reviews music, which practically makes me a hypocrite). But festivals allow you to judge acts as if they football teams fighting it out for the top spot. It’s not exactly classy. More like creating a fantasy football draft just for the competitive edge. But it almost works in this setting.
9. Pretend you’re taking the time to socialize
Meet old friends and create others. Festivals will often feature posters with people hanging out, having beers together and enjoying each other’s company. Sure. There’ll be a bit of that. You’ll run into that old friend. The one you can’t remember the name of. Exchange information. Then likely not see them again for another five years.
10. Divorced from reality? No problem
Festivals were practically created to offer an alternative to reality. Dress however weird you want. Be as spaced out as you like. There’s no reason to feel embarrassed later either. Festivals are one of the few grounds where it is socially acceptable to behave like a town drunkard dressed like monkey clown from outer space. Seriously, try it. Nobody will care.
Bonus. Makes it Ok to chant the song everyone knows at the end of a set
All bands save their one most famous song as their setlist closer. It’s probably going to be the encore. Half the audience there will only know that song and wait through the setlist for that song alone. It’s the moment where everybody gets to sing the words. Or, at least, what they think are the words. Doesn’t matter really. You can too. Feeding your music knowledge with experimental music, deep cuts and developing an appreciation of originality is good enough. But don’t worry. There’s no room for snubs at a music festival. Might as well go with it since you’re already here.
Winter’s here and we’ll just have to get through it without the big summer festivals. We’ll manage, I suppose. But deep inside there’ll be something missing. Like bad food, in a strange part of town in the early hours of the morning. It’s those kinds of memories that linger, you know.