I was 17 the first time I went to a music festival. I was wildly obsessed with making the most out of final year before adulthood and had a mission to be young, wild, and free before the anxiety of college applications and the impending shadow of the real world took hold of me with a vice grip.
My really good friend Alex was my go to concert buddy and Sweetlife 2012 had been her idea. I remember looking at the lineup and thinking it was an odd collection. I thought to myself:
“The Shins? Aren’t they old? Fun? They’ll be cool. Who are Explosions in the Sky and Fitz and the Tantrums? Are they more famous than A$AP Rocky? I thought he was an underground rapper… Avicii and Kid Cudi though??? I can get with that.”
I wasn’t sure what to think of this but it was 50 bucks for general admission to a whole outdoor venue, and I loved Avicii and still love Kid Cudi so I bought my ticket and went. Thank God I did.
The naive teenager walked onto the grounds bright eyed and ready to see what all the music festival hype was about, and left changed. I’ve been to one festival every summer since.
And that was a relatively small festival at the time; compared to the two-day giant it’s turned into. I can’t even imagine what it would be like to experience that or the Electric Daisy Carnival, or Glastonbury, or one of the other festivals on my long list.
The unique thing about festivals is that there’s so much more than music. Even if you’re not that into the acts on stage (even though resisting the excitement of the people around you is painfully hard) there will still be things for you to do. There is so much happening that it causes a total sensory overload in the best way possible.
Festivals gather the most diverse crowd you could ever dream to be a part of. There will be sorority girls, frat guys, high school lax bros, middle schoolers that got a bit of freedom for the day, stoners, die-hard fans, small children (bizarre, I know but it adds to the dynamic), the unexplained middle aged and senior citizens. You never know who’s going to be raging next to you during a set and you’re definitely going to meet at least one new cool person.
Every festival is unique based on their side attractions. Sweetlife has some of the coolest gourmet food trucks and vendors in the DC/Baltimore area. The Electric Daisy Carnival not only has some of the best DJs in the world on the main stage but also carnival rides with their own light shows, huge interactive art installations, and circus performers that look straight out of a raver’s perfect fantasy. Firefly in Delaware has an old school arcade; a brewery, an open bazaar, and a stand where you can custom design a pair of Toms on site!
A festival is an experience that is worth every penny. They’re way more than Instagram likes and a reason to make your flower crown un-ironic. Those are going to be memories that you’ll hold on to (even if they’re a bit fuzzy for some reason) for the rest of your life. Whether good or bad, you’ll have a ton of wild stories. Feel the sun on your skin, breathe in the fresh air, and listen to the music and all the crazy things happening around you. Oddly, the less pictures you have is a sign of how much fun you’re having.
Whether it’s this summer or five years from now, go to a music festival. Any festival, all the festivals, it’ll be fab either way. Do whatever it takes. Go. Just go. You’ll thank me later.