As I sit here recovering from last weekend’s festivities at Lightning in a Bottle (LIB), memories from the festival are still coming to mind. The event drew approximately 20,000 people to Lake San Antonio for more than three days. After meeting so many different people from different parts of the world, I began to wonder what exactly has made the festival experience so huge for our generation.
Festivals are not a new thing by any standard. The religious “carnival” tradition dates back to the 15th century, and contemporary events like the Glastonbury Festival in the United Kingdom have been around for more than 40 years. And sure, Woodstock famously drew in over 400,000 people in 1969, but today it seems like there isn’t a Memorial Day Weekend, a New Year’s Eve or any other holiday without a festival with thousands of people in attendance. With events constantly attracting dozens of unique headliners, you find yourself buying tickets and planning for music-filled weekends with friends. After experiencing a number of festivals, I’ve learned a few lessons that could help you get the most from your festival experience.
1. Bring water.
Some events like Hard Summer got a lot of flak this last year for not allowing Camelbacks, which can hold several liters of water. When going to any festival, water is key. You’re going to be on your feet all day, and having a Camelback or large water bottle can help keep you at stages for longer and keep you from running to get water constantly.
2. Timestamp your text messages.
Cellphone towers are not designed to support the hordes of people who gather at venues, so it is important to include the current time when sending a text message. So when your friend gets your text hours after you sent it, you don’t send them looking for you at a stage that you aren’t at anymore.
3. Take screenshots of festival schedules.
At most large festivals, you will be given paper schedules of the lineup and maps of the festival, but those are easy to lose and can be hard to read. Taking a screenshot on your phone of the festival’s lineup and schedule will allow you to know where you are and at what time artists are on that you want to see.
4. Get lost
This one is kind of the flip-side of knowing the schedule. At least once during the event, just get lost! It’s a great way to meet new people, see new areas of the festival, and, most importantly, see new artists you’ve never heard of and would have never seen otherwise.
5. Help others.
Being there for someone who looks overwhelmed in the crowd can go a long way. Make sure to offer water and aid to those who look like they’re in need. Sometimes a few encouraging and reassuring words can really help someone, especially in a large crowd and loud environment.
6. You can always take more, but you can never take less.
With the nature of festivals, it is important to know your limit. Even for minors, alcohol is attainable in large crowds. You don’t want to put yourself or your friends in danger. Safety first!
If you go to Coachella, Stagecoach, Hard Summer, EDC, Outside Lands, FYF, the new TBD Festival or any other large festivals in the near future, keep these tips in mind. As the music industry changes to accommodate popular streaming sites like Spotify, I believe festivals will become more important to help support musical artists. For example, the electronic music industry was recently valued at about $7 billion by the Ibiza Music Summit Business Report. More than half of that $7 billion came from festivals and clubs.
I recently got a chance to interview Dream Rockwell, one of the founders of the Do LaB. When I asked her what she thought about events like Burning Man and Coachella becoming more mainstream, she said, “It shows the need for us to come together, the need for celebration and connection. Together, we are rising.”
I believe the festival culture has been huge for our generation because of our innate need for connection. In today’s hyper-connected world, we still actively seek out the communal feelings that festivals and large shows produce. I know I felt like part of a larger community during LiB, and it was completely worth the effort it took to get there. Of course, all of this comes with a cost. Because when your music is free, memories come at a price.