Festival season has already come in the warmer states, and is quickly approaching on the East Coast. For some of you, you might be festival pros and know exactly what to expect heading into the summer months. And for others, you might be festival rookies, excited to experience your first in 2015. But for both groups, let’s try to make this festival season a little bit different. All too often, we’re set in our ways, and try to plan everything down to the last minute of your favorite set. Coming from someone who’s made a schedule for every festival I’ve ever been to, I know how tempting it is to be organized, structured, and unwavering in your ways. But for 2015, I urge you to really take these five suggestions to heart, and consider trying one, or maybe all five of them, to see how your experience may improve.
1. Don’t Be Set on Sticking to your Schedule
First, a festival releases their lineup. A few weeks later, they release their daily lineups. And finally, typically a couple of days before the event, they release their set times. And this is when the organized ones among us sit down with their friends and plan exactly who they’re going to see. With bigger festivals, there are often overlaps, so sometimes, this takes a meeting of the minds and compromise within a rave squad. I think it’s almost unavoidable to make a schedule – and I wouldn’t advise against it at all. Festivals often have their own app, which makes scheduling that much easier. But what I do suggest is that you don’t pay attention to your schedule more than your surroundings. If you find yourself walking from stage to stage, and pass a smaller stage in between with a beat you really like, stop over and see what’s going on. If you become too obsessed with your schedule, you might miss out on some organic experiences that could change your whole day around. Sure, it’s extremely helpful to have a general schedule set up, but don’t become obsessed with sticking to it 100%.
2. See Someone You’ve Never Heard of
This one goes hand-in-hand with number 1. If you pay attention to the above advice and stray out of your comfort zone, you might discover new DJs you had never even heard of. A lot of times, festival goers want to stick to what they know, and what’s popular. But there’s an endless amount of up-and-coming DJs who will rise to universal fame over the next few months, and it’s cool to be able to say you knew of him/her/them before they blew up. And, oftentimes, it’s these DJs who stray from a predictable set filled with songs you hear on the radio. You’ll get to hear a ton of new music, and have a whole new playlist to listen to once the festival is over. Win-win.
3. Limit your cell phone use
This one will probably be the most difficult on the list for most people, especially with the prevalence of social media in today’s society. But, in reality, it’s often quite difficult to get any cellphone service at all while at a festival. If you leave your phone at home, you will have no distractions from the music, the people, and your surroundings. I know this is a point of contention because you always want to take pictures and videos, so it’s understandable if this isn’t doable for most. But, even if you do bring your phone along, keep it on airplane mode for the duration of the festival. That way, you won’t drain your battery and can take pictures/and videos throughout the day. If you do decide to leave your phone at home, good for you! Just make sure you set meeting places with your friends in case you get separated.
4. Skip Shows Coming Up Leading to your Festival
If you’re planning on going to any of the biggest festivals this summer, you’ll definitely see most of the artists on your bucket list. Even after paying for your ticket, flight, and hotel, there are still lots of expenses that you’ll run into over the weekend. After buying food, drinks, exclusive festival merchandise, shuttle passes/taxis/parking, outfits, and more, your wallets will definitely feel much lighter come Monday morning. One way to help save up for festival season is to skip going to shows in the month leading up to your festival. I know it might be tough to resist, but saving the money you would spend going out on a Saturday night to a club will help you immensely in the long run. All of those nights out add up, and the last thing you’ll want to do is not be able to enjoy your festival because you have no money left to spend.
5. Stay Relatively Sober During the Festival (Or at least pace yourself)
Remember, a festival is a marathon, not a sprint. If you read any articles regarding suggestions for festival rookies, the biggest piece of advice is to not go too hard on day 1. Festivals run for about 8-12 hours a day, and if you’re main goal is to be drunk when you walk in, you’re probably not going to make it to the closing act of the evening. Pace yourself, and mix in waters with your drinks so you stay hydrated and have energy to dance and walk around all night. You’ll also make much better memories if you actually remember your favorite DJs playing your favorite song.
Now I know all of these may not be easy, but trying even one of them can turn an average experience into a unique one. Happy Festival Season, everyone!
Photos: Daniel Zetterstrom