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.
In part one of this article we covered pre-concert research and planning, and now it’s time to look at festival safety and what to think about when the big day finally arrives.
When it comes to safety and comfort and the most enjoyable experience possible, pace is crucial. Absolutely crucial. If the morning of the festival is full of acts you aren’t vaguely interested in, then don’t arrive until the first band you’re interested is scheduled to begin. This can conflict with your urge to discover new acts, but no one wants to miss Gotye’s midnight set because of fatigue.
Last year Big Day Out Melbourne hit 42 degrees. For those who don’t understand what that means: it was flippin’ hot. A large number of people needed to be treated for dehydration, which ended a lot of big days very early. Bring water with you – a small, pocket-sized bottle if you can manage it. There are always taps to fill up your water bottles with, so bring them along!
It isn’t a bad idea, if it is allowed, to bring some painkillers in with you. The worst that can happen is that they be taken off you, and if the security doesn’t mind then they could be a life-saver in the middle of a hot day. I stress, though that you take the advice of the company putting on the show. If they say no painkillers on the premises, then don’t do it.
Roll-on sunscreen is also handy to have around. The worst thing in the world is to have your glorious Soundwave Festival memories replaced with peeling skin. Again, pocket-sized is always better.
Read the crowd
Festivals are going to have drugs. It’s a fact. The important thing is to make sure that you don’t let them affect you. Never, I repeat, NEVER take a drink from someone you don’t know, even if it’s water. You don’t know what it has in it and it could end your day.
Other people will be affected by drugs, so avoid them if it’s at all possible.
This leads me to my next point: learn to read the crowds and, in some cases, the weather. There have already been tragedies at festivals in 2011, but that shouldn’t discourage you!
Be smart. If, in a crowd, it seems like things are getting out of hand, move back. Most of the time when you do, you’ll have more room to breathe and have more fun jumping and dancing with people who don’t want to fight, but instead want to enjoy the multitude of bands on offer.
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.
The Week Prior
Things are getting exciting. But this is no time to give in to that alarm in your head which says “just relax”. This is the most important time you have to organise your big day. Keep an eye out for public transport announcements and changes to the regular scheduling. Go over your timetable and refine it, adding in any new artists you’ve discovered, and work out what your ideal diet will be.
Check the weather
Arguably, the most important thing to research is the weather. I’ve been to festivals where it’s been unbearably hot, and I’ve sat in the rain anxiously awaiting Jack Johnson. Either way, if I hadn’t kept an eye on the weather the days would have been less than pleasant.
In the rain, disposable ponchos are your friend. Your best friend. They aren’t heavy and they protect you just well enough to let you have fun and dance.
Should you stay or should you go (home)?
The nights tend to finish up pretty late, so if you aren’t getting a lift home on a bus that evening, find somewhere to stay. You won’t be in the right frame of mind to drive yourself home and, seeing as most attendees to the festivals will have travelled some way, you’ll be thankful for an easy night’s sleep.
If the festival is a couple of days long, hopefully you’ve already sorted out tents and sleeping bags. If not, then the week before is too late. Even so, you can still find hire places reasonably easily and not worry too much about these things. If it stops the rain, it’s good e
The Big Day and the All Important Check-List
It’s the morning of. So it’s time to get busy. Dress appropriately. Have the biggest breakfast of your life – you’ll need it. Double-check all the information you have and make sure you leave for the festival early. Make sure you have all the pre-requisites required specified by the promoters, too, like ID. Be prepared for a variety of different people to be at the venue. Most festivals try and appease all walks of life so expect to see the mettallers and the teeny boppers mingling at the gate.
Anyway, here’s the essential list!
- Your Ticket
- Public Transport Pass
- I.D Card
- Painkillers (if the venue allows them)
- Small Amount of Money
- Camping Equipment (if applicable)
- Phone/Camera (IF YOU REALLY INSIST ON TAKING IT)
If it’s worth going, it’s worth making plans
Festival Season can create some of the best memories of your year, meeting new people and hearing some of the best bands in the world for a reasonable price. It’s all the better if you can keep yourself safe and make the most of your hard earned cash.