SUMMER IS CHRISTMAS TO THE FESTIVAL-GOER. Bonnaroo and Sasquatch have come and gone, and Pitchfork rocked Chicago this past weekend. Lollapalooza, the grandfather of US summer festivals is coming up in August, and the Vans Warped Tour could very well likely bring mediocre pedestrian pseudo-punk and skate shoes to an empty field near you.
But what to make of these summer music fests? The US hasn’t been able to meet the quality of UK festivals like Glastonbury, Reading, and T in the Park. Headshots wondered why that was. Is it the warm plastic cups of $20 Budweiser? The $500 Ticketmaster surcharges? The fact that Maroon 5 exists? Too many dudes with their shirts off singing along to Radiohead who should neither be taking their shirts off nor singing Radiohead?
So, if you’re going to a festival this summer, Headshots thought we’d provide you with a few pointers, some festival tricks of the trade if you will, culled from our collective 175 years of concert going experience. Don’t do the brown acid, man. Amirite?!?
1. Sneak in the Booze
Listen, no sane being should be taking out a second mortgage on their home just so that they can afford to get a little tipsy pre-Florence and the Machine in a field somewhere normally overrun by llamas. And even if you can afford the warm swill, most of it ends up spilled all over yourself in the throes of the moshpit, wrecking it up to the Indigo Girls. So what do you do? Flask-up, people! Hide it on your person, and hide it well, for security at these shows is like boarding an American Airlines flight from Islamabad to JFK. We recommend duct taping a strong liquor (no berry vodkas, no schnapps) to your inner thigh. Though some landscaping of the region should be done previous, or you could lose a fair amount of body hair retrieving the booze.
2. Always Bring a Girl
The ladies can ignore this one, because they’re bringing themselves.
So, why bring a chica to Lolla? Well, first off, there is no shortage of illicit items that can be hidden in a bra. Joints, pills, powders, condoms, a tall boy, the aforementioned flask. Security is afraid to get too close to tit. We recommend a well-endowed woman, for obvious reasons. Also, women are simply for more rationale than men. A solid concert-date will tell you when you’ve had too much from the flask, why it’s a bad idea to take off your shirt and throw it to Jack White, and why you have no business trying to match Bon Iver’s falsetto, especially when Rise Against is on stage.
3. Don’t Bring Too Much Cash
Quite simply, if you bring money you’ll spend it. Don’t fill your wallet with three weeks worth of tips you made on the night shift on the bar at Applebee’s so you can buy a Frank Ocean concert tee that’s two sizes too small. Hell, don’t bring your wallet. It would be easier to just throw your wallet into a lake, as you’re going to lose it at some point during the show. The best part about bringing small amounts of cash, tucked into your gitch, is that when you run out of money there are thousands of drunk folks to buy you a drink and other overpriced concert goodies. People are hammered at summer outdoor festivals. They want to buy you three 20 pints of Bud Lights at 20 bucks a pop, four 15-dollar tortilla chips slathered in synthetic cheese at a temperature that would make Pompeians blush, or a bottle of Evian that’s priced on par with a MacBook Pro.
4. Get Yourself Good and Laid
This may be made a little complicated if you’ve taken advice number 2 and brought a concert-date, but other than a San Francisco nightclub men’s room or an undergraduate poetry class, there’s nowhere in the world easier to get some than at an outdoor summer show. It owes something to the legacy of Woodstock and well-constructed lyrics, or something. Either way, don’t question it. Make solid eye contact. Get your groove on (not too much, white males 18-25. You’re not at a Barenaked Ladies show. We hope). Put yourself out there. Chances are you’re never going to see any of these other concertgoers ever again, so why not get a little strange in a 85 cubic foot port-a-potty? (Now you’re happy you stuffed six Trojans in your concert date’s oversized sports bra, aren’t you?)
5. Never Stay to the End
Everyone wants an epic ending to a festival. Everyone believes that there will be an infinite amount of encores, but you know what? Never happens. Contemporary rock shows are hampered by local noise bylaws, and indifferent performers. One encore of three lame songs is all you’re getting, trust us. You’ll not want to be among the 20,000 drunk and tired Red Hot Chili Peppers fans, pulling themselves towards their far too distant beds, which may or may not be a borrowed leaky tent that hasn’t been used since 1984.
And besides, if you skipped number 2 you’ve probably got an STI that needs checking from that quick ride with some girl from Fresno who better have been on the pill. And, you’ll be wanting to shower the scent of a thousand strangers (and a girl from Fresno who better have been on the pill) off as soon as possible. A Purel shower. Maybe burn those clothes too.
Enjoy the rock, and keep a eye out for the Headshots interns getting frisked for my booze at the Way Out West Festival. They’ll be needing some bail monies.
Mike Spry is the author of JACK (Snare Books, 2008), which was shortlisted for the 2009 QWF’s A.M. Klein Prize for Poetry, and he was longlisted for the 2010 Journey Prize. His most recent work is Distillery Songs (Insomniac Press, 2011).
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