Written by Joey Mills.
With festival season in full swing, if you haven’t rocked out knee deep in a muddy field this summer, chances are you want to. Either that or you are still in a medical facility recovering from whatever Kanye West was trying to do at Glastonbury. But if the “world’s greatest living rockstar” hasn’t sworn you off human contact for the next sixty years, then I have five tips earnt through battle-hardened experience to get you through your weekend. Sitting back and watching some bands while drinking enough alcohol to make Keith Richards nervous might seem as easy as a GCSE (they were harder in our day, weren’t they?), but believe me there is more to it than meets the bleary eye.
Preparation is everything.
Like those knot-tying do-gooders always told you in the scouts, always be prepared. Obviously everyone will remember the drink, and if somebody forgets their tent then maybe they aren’t the right sort of person to take to a festival. Or to let out unsupervised. But some items often get forgotten.
Food seems like a no-brainer as there will be multiple outlets selling all manner of culinary creations. Perhaps the oddest I’ve ever encountered was the “wedge breakfast”. Because the often overlooked side dish, the potato wedge, was clearly just screaming out to be the centrepiece of the most important meal of the day. The potato wedge is essentially the dining equivalent of Ringo Starr’s solo career. Everyone knows what it is, but nobody ever wants to focus on it for longer than they have to. The main issue with the food trucks is not so much variety but price, and unless you fancy taking out a bank loan to eat out every day you’d best bring a couple of Melton Mowbray’s at the very least.
You should also think about possible situations you will face at the festival. If you’ve got hay fever, don’t forget your HayMax allergen barrier balm and whatever else works for you. Ear plugs are always a winner for when you are trying to sleep, as is hand sanitiser because a lot of people tend to take the toilet soap dispensers home as a souvenir. You may laugh now but just wait until a “Julie woz at Glasto 06!” soap pump goes for thousands on the Antiques Roadshow.
The key is to think beyond the fun bits and take stuff that will benefit you in between the bands and the booze.
Obey the rules.
“Quit harshing my mellow man, I just wanna zone out and enjoy myself!” said a man, presumably from the 60s. But it is natural to want to rebel, and you will get plenty of people showing off by disregarding every festival rule. However that is nothing but a really quick way to enjoy your favourite bands set on the radio the next day, when they let you out of the holding cell.
Make sure you read the rules carefully, as some may surprise you. For example despite large-scale consumption of drink being almost encouraged, most festivals forbid glass bottles to be brought onsite. So make sure you pour that “lemon and lime cordial” into a plastic bottle before going in, or you might be politely asked to share it with the dustbin.
Another biggie is pets. It really does not matter how often your Labrador listens to Metallica, he simply isn’t allowed in. However you are perfectly welcome to bring your spouse in on a leash, as evidenced by some of those watching Marilyn Manson’s set at Download this year. Just make sure you ask before you pet them, it’s only polite.
Dress up as stuff.
Festivals are a brilliant time to dust off all those costumes you have left over from regrettable nights out and bad Halloweens. The bar is set pretty high at these places, and people definitely make more effort than they do at nightclubs where the variation seems to stretch as far as pre-fixing “sexy” onto the front of terms as inspiring as “nurse”, “vampire” or “typist”.
From Osama Bin Laden impersonators offering free hugs at “Funtanamo Bay”, to a group of four men in facepaint, holding onions and wearing striped jumpers calling themselves “French Kiss”, there is no limit to the creativity you will encounter and it is a lot of fun to be involved with. So dust off that banana outfit you haven’t worn since Stacy’s 18th and join the party.
This one can be tricky because obviously etiquette differs between different events. While you would be expected to mosh like your life depended on it at a metal festival, the revellers at Dolly Parton’s set might not be expecting you to headbutt them from a fifty-yard run-up. But in general this tip is about using your common sense to interact with people on a human level. Which sadly disqualifies Kanye West.
Staying out of people’s tents unless invited, keeping the noise down in the early hours and being generally chilled-out and non-threatening doesn’t take much effort, but can be the difference between some people enjoying their festival or never wanting to go again. Sort of like Kanye West.
Enjoy your festival!
You would be surprised at the amount of people who save money all year to afford their ticket before proceeding to sit in their tent for the whole weekend. Get out there and see a band you’ve never seen before. Share a drink with your neighbours. Go and ask what that shady-looking man in the raincoat is selling. Actually, don’t ever do that last one.
The important thing is to realise that, for the musically inclined, this is your summer holiday. While your friends are posting endless selfies of their feet on sun loungers and tweeting about #NOCARBSTILMARBS, you get the honour of partying to a load of bands you would normally have to traipse all over the world to see individually. Save that domestic with the other half until when you get home, don’t punch your mate because he forgot the beer, just laugh and make the most of your festival. Because it is yours, and there won’t be another one. At least not until next year!