Hanging at Lollapa-Roo-Ella: Guide to Summer Music Festivals
It is no secret that people of all ages (though particularly college students) flock to various summer music festivals, reaching deep into their pockets for tickets and travel expenses, each summer. Hang Out, Bonnaroo, Coachella, Lollapalooza, Firefly, Outside Lands, and many more of these huge musical gathering provide a laid-back vibe to enjoy dancing, drinking, and hanging with friends. Why not pay up front too see legends, current stars, and upcoming musicians along while camping out (in some cases), drinking cheap beer, and three or four days of nonstop partying? Boasting great lineups year in and year out, festivals are essentially a summer camp version of the nonacademic side of college.
We could give our own advice, but instead we decided to interview college students and get their take and advice on how to prepare for summer music festivals!
Mental Preparation is Important
Stevo O. (Washington, DC) – “Prepare mentally for a multiple day trip to a place where the only things you are allowed to do is listen to music and have a good time. It’s going to be a crazy time.”
Mental preparation is key. The long weekend can be a grind, especially at a festival like Bonnaroo in Manchester, TN where you live on a rural farm in a tent for 96 hours. The first day, it will be exciting just because you’re there. Day 2 is when the better known musicians begin to play. By day 3, excitement is still there but you begin to be worn out. The final day brings exhaustion, missing the real world, and a deep longing for a nice shower and real bed.
Avoid Getting Grimy
Andrea L. (Tennessee) – “Buy a lot of Charmin wipes.”
Charmin wipes (or wet wipes of any sort) are a key and cheap way to shower at overnight festivals. It’s summer: no matter where you are, it is going to be hot. Showers aren’t cheap and taking one each day adds up. You’ll sweat a lot. Some people claim that they want to get the true experience by going the entire length of the festival without showering; for those looking to stay relatively clean, wipes are your godsend.
Come Prepared to Beat the Heat
Hanah E. (South Carolina) – “Be ready to have fun and be prepared with lots of sunscreen and water.”
Water and sunscreen will be your best friends. You’ll be out in the sun for hours during the hottest season of the year. The thick layer of sweat and dirt that will form on your body is not enough to protect you from the sun. Without sunscreen, you risk having a miserable string of days while you look like a tomato. Also, you don’t want to risk dehydration or even passing out. Being in the middle of a large crowd with the sun beating down, and possibly jumping up and down depending on the act playing, is not exactly the safest place to be on a hot day. Drink up.
Have a Game Plan
Chase B. (Massachusetts) – “My biggest piece of advice would be for people to make sure they preplan and come to the festival with the right supplies, a game plan, and above all, a love of music.”
The lineup of your respective festival comes out. Countless musical acts are coming that you are excited to see and you plan on being at every single show. Then come festival time, you don’t know exactly which stage each act is at or what time they go on. You miss shows you’re interested in because you take an ill-timed nap or don’t realize it overlaps with another show. So map out a plan! Divide the acts you want to see into three groups: “must see”, “will see if not overlapping with a must see”, and “I don’t have to see.” Plan out a schedule and eliminate stress once you arrive.
(Regarding multiple day music festivals that are not all night, like CMA Fest in Nashville, TN.)
Will N. (Tennessee) – “If you’re a college kid get there early for a tailgate. There were probably something like 1000 college kids tailgating out in different parts of the parking lot before the show.”
It’s always fun to catch up with friends and be around people your own age. Why not get the party started early? Unlike festivals where you camp out, day festivals require one to plan out even more carefully when you party and when you see music. Taking CMA Fest as an example, the show takes place over several evenings in one location, LP Field in Nashville. Since you won’t be leaving your seat, it makes sense to get there early and enjoy socializing.
We recommend going to at least one music festival at some point during your college career. Get a group together for a brief getaway!