Festival Survival 101…
Your Guide to Surviving Festivals – Part 1
Summer is on the way and with it comes another season: the music festival season. Out come the lineups, then comes the mad rush for tickets and ultimately the tough choice of bands to see.
And in Summer 2011/12 you’re spoilt for choice! Between Falls Festival, Big Day Out, Pyramid Rock Festival, Soundwave, Harvest and Parklife alone, hundreds of quality international and Australian acts will be playing all over the country!
So in order to get the most out of the musical season here is some advice as to what to expect if it’s your first festival, or if you’re a veteran and need a refresher on preparation for the big events.
Do Your Research
Make sure you’re all over the event and aware of everything you might need to know. The most obvious point is to know the lineup. Look at all the bands and get familiar with some of their back catalogue.
You can be reasonably savvy about what songs the bands will play. You can count on their top-forty hit, some new tracks promoting their current release, and then some tracks from their first couple of releases to make the die-hard fans happy.
Learn the layout of the area where the event is held. Whether it’s at Flemington Racecourse or i
n remote bushland, there will always be past maps for you to look at and become familiar with how things are arranged.
As well as getting to know the venue, work out how you plan to get to and from the event. Nine times out of ten there will be some kind of public transport or shuttle bus from your area to the festival. Whatever you do, don’t drive to the venue. YOU WILL NEVER FIND A PARK EVER AND IT WILL BE AWFUL AND YOU WILL MISS THE FIRST BAND WHO YOU REALLY WANT TO SEE SO THAT YOU LOOK REALLY INDIE AND CAN BRAG TO ALL YOUR FRIENDS THAT YOU KNEW THEM BEFORE THEY WERE COOL AND THAT IS WHY YOU SAW THEM. But mainly the parking thing.
Make sure you know when tickets are released. Friends of mine missed out on some of the festivals we were planning on attending because they forgot that tickets went on sale at midnight, or that they needed a credit card to purchase them. Know the price, know who is selling them, know if there is a ballot, know everything!
Plan Your Day
This is somewhat similar to the previous point, but this more goes into making sure you don’t waste time. No doubt once the full lineup is released you will realise that there are more bands that you want to see than you can physically fit into the day. On average you can fit in about eight different acts, assuming that you want to watch the whole of each show.
You can chop and change during sets, but your view of each act will suffer. When the set times come out, make a note of which acts you want to see and which ones you might only catch the beginning and end of.
Festivals are, however, a great place to be introduced to new acts. Sometimes you’ll ignore a band at a festival because you don’t know them, and a month later they become your favourite. This. Sucks. It happened to me at Groovin’ The Moo with a band called The Drums, who are now in my “listen to all the time” playlist. If you have a down period and don’t need to rest or eat, head along to something you haven’t heard. You could be surprised how much you enjoy it!
The most important part of your schedule should be your breaks. As hardcore as you may be, you’re not invincible. Your Big Day Out could end before a secret show from Radiohead because of a hunger induced headache. It happens. Plan at least two fifteen-minute breaks where you grab a low-G.I. snack and some water. Try and find somewhere to sit if possible – your feet will thank you for it.
Organise a meet-up spot
Make sure that within your group you have a backup plan. If you plan to go to the same shows, or take the same breaks, make a designated meet-up spot. This can be a good idea if you don’t want to be the creepy person at the festival on their own. That being said, without the pressures of friends you can potentially enjoy the day more and not feel like you have to go and see Art vs Science. Because, remember, you have better taste than that.
Cameras and phones
Bringing cameras and phones to the festivals is an iffy thing. It comes down to personal taste. For me, I’d rather not be focused on whether or not some shifty random is trying to take things from my pocket. The other thing is that if you drop something in a moshpit, it’s gone. Forever. It never comes back.
While Little Red belt out “Rock It”, you don’t want to be focusing on keeping a hold on your camera or phone. The memories you form at their concert are just as good as the video you want to take.
Another important note is that even if you decide to bring a phone with you, the chances of it getting reception are nil. There will, normally, be too many people all wanting reception, reducing the levels for everyone and making it an ultimately pointless object.
If after all my ranting you still want to bring these things with you, particularly phones, make sure it’s your cheap, old one with a dodgy sim that you bought just for the day.