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Published on April 11, 2011 | by nauman     Photography by


Summer Music Festivals 101


Marie Mackenzie will never forget the best outdoor music festival she ever attended: the Lollopolloza Music Festival in Chicago. A mere $215 provided the Sheridan College student with three days filled with music and memories. She jammed to her favourite bands and was introduced to musicians she had never heard prior to that weekend.

With summer sneaking up on us, it’s time to start thinking about our summer plans. Summer music festivals are an incredible way to experience a wealth of amazing bands at a cheap price. But they can also be mentally and physically exhausting.

Being sandwiched in between strangers can be uncomfortable and scattering back and forth to the multiple stages, physically exhausting. Plus, the sun takes no pity on festivalgoers as it beats down and neither does the rain.

Veteran concertgoers have learned to overcome the challenges faced at music festivals. For those taking the musical plunge this summer, following the example of the veteran festival junkies will make your experience much more enjoyable.

Getting your tickets early can save you money. Most of the music festivals sell their tickets in tiers. The earlier you purchase your ticket, the less you will pay.

Many also offer incentives for those looking to carpool to the festival. A road trip is not only a rite of passage for college students across the world, but it is also a cheap alternative to flying. Coachella, rewards a few lucky carpoolers with VIP access to the festival for life. Others provide a message board for those looking to carpool with like-minded individuals.

Once you arrive at the festival, staying hydrated is crucial. “It’s a long hot day so drink a lot of water to avoid dehydration,” says Maria Ferrero, founder of Adrenaline PR. Although a 2007 study released by the Univerity of Granada in Spain found that beer is a better form of hydration than water, it should not be the drink of choice for festivalgoers.

Unlike concerts, music festivals take place over a day or sometimes even a few days. The effects of all-day alcohol consumption will result in drowsiness, vomiting, and headaches. The following day is usually no better.

Dressing for the conditions is important. A music festival is no place for Jimmy Choos or Coach handbags. “You can always tell if someone is a newbie by the way they dress. They come in all clean and dolled up with perfectly straightened hair, and within a few hours they look like a mess,” says Mackenzie.

The conditions at outdoor festivals are anything but glamourous. The dance floor is a dirt ground and the restrooms are poorly equipped Porta Potties. “Bring wipes” says Mackenzie. “By noon there is no toilet paper.”

Veteran festivalgoers consider music festivals as a culture that is unified by peace, love and a passion for music. In order to maintain this unifying model, there is some basic etiquette that must be respected.

“Leave the metal head mentality behind. Unless you’re going to a metal concert,” says Mackenzie. “Crowd surfing is not encouraged.”

Josh Grossman, Artistic Director of the TD Toronto Jazz Festival says, “Outdoor concerts are typically BYOC – Bring Your Own Chair. If you prefer to stand, try your best to not block anyone’s view. And, if you prefer to dance, please do!”

Grossman also suggests viewers turn off their cell phones, especially in more intimate settings. “A ringing phone in the middle of a great performance is distracting and frustrating, and has caused some artists to stop their show entirely.”

There is no lack of options for music festivals this summer. Each offers its patrons a different experience and culture. Festival-goers are encouraged to do some research before they attend. Each has a set of different rules and restrictions to avoid disappointment and frustration, plan ahead.

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