Surviving Music Festivals
Music festivals have been around for decades and are increasing in popularity today. There are people, like me, who grew up going to concerts and even these festivals. Most people who have never been to a concert are going to these music festivals like Governors Ball, Coachella, and Made in America without the proper knowledge and preparation for these events.
This past October, I went to the extravagant rap festival, Rolling Loud at Citi Field in New York. Some people may think that this a joke, but there is serious planning that goes just to make sure you make it there and survive each day, in one piece.
Luckily, Nutley is close enough to New York City that taking public transportation is simple. Having a large group of friends to travel with is also essential in this day and age. To plan out travel time, you should probably leave two hours before the time you have to be at an event to make sure you will be on time. It sounds crazy, but having extra time while you are already there is also helpful in case you get lost or take the wrong train or miss the bus. Trust me, it happens. You also have to take into account the time it takes for bus or train to stop at each station.
What to Wear
Now, I’ve been to plenty of concerts so I know what it’s like to stand for hours on end waiting in lines and at performances. Knowing the right clothes to wear, especially shoes, is very important. For something like Rolling Loud, wearing nice, new, expensive shoes is probably not the best idea. Mosh pits are very intense and worrying about whether or not your shoes are going to get ruined is not what should be on your mind as you’re being thrown around in a sea of people. Old shoes, that are still in style, are the way to go. I chose to wear my old Nike Air Force Ones that I got in eighth grade. I was planning on getting a new pair anyway. Of course, I left each set with my shoes dirtier than before I got there, but that is exactly why I wore older shoes that were comfortable and didn’t make my feet hurt.
Looking nice for pictures is also very important to people. There are people that only go to these concerts and festivals to say they went when they don’t even know the artist, but that’s a story for another time. Being able to also be comfortable enough to be in an outfit all day is essential. Weather is the first thing that should be taken into consideration so that you don’t freeze or pass out in the middle of a set. It can be annoying to have to hold a sweatshirt or you may not be able to bring in a large enough bag to hold it, so be creative! Wearing something like a flannel if it is cold and being able to tie around your waist if you get top hot is easier than lugging a jacket around. For both days of Rolling Loud, I wore long pants and sleeveless shirts and brought a sweatshirt that fit in my bag in case I got cold on my way home.
Purses and Bags
Let’s talk about bags. It is very annoying to only be allowed to have bags of a certain size for concerts, but it's all for your safety. When packing for a concert, bring only what is necessary because it is very easy to get carried away. Packing lightly is very important so you do not have unnecessary items in your bag that could get lost. Money or credit card, a phone charger, chapstick, hand sanitizer (in case there are porta potties), bandages for blisters or cuts, and maybe hand lotion for your dry hands after that awful hand sanitizer. When I said money, notice how I didn’t say a wallet. Wallets are clunky and heavy. Bringing cash in something like a change purse is easier and safer because if someone steals your whole wallet, it’s game over. Cash, card, and ID are the only things you need, as long as they are hidden in some type of pocket in your bag. Fanny packs are coming back in style so go out, buy yourself a nice plain black or white one that can match with anything to ensure that you won’t be tempted to pack too much. At Rolling Loud, clear bags of a certain size were allowed and I was able to hold all of my stuff plus a sweatshirt in the drawstring bag I bought.
Living in the moment is very important at a concert or festival. I find it obnoxious when people have their phones up in the air as they take pictures and videos the whole time. Having pictures and videos of a performance is nice to have so you can look back on these memories. Many venues and events do not allow professional cameras without a license, and lugging around a camera at a festival is very dangerous. You don’t want your expensive camera to break in the middle of a performance, or at all. Carrying extra batteries or finding a place to charge them is also not something you want to be doing either. Just having your phone is probably the safest option. If you’re lucky, GoPros may be allowed. For an event like Rolling Loud, you’re constantly being thrown around like a rag doll in mosh pits so having a GoPro like I did was the best option since they are durable. I brought mine with my wrist attachment to make sure it was secure and I would not lose it. It is also easy to charge because it is so small, and I had a portable charging battery that lasts all day so I was able to charge my phone and GoPro when I needed to. If my SD card ended up filling up, I was able to use the GoPro app to put the pictures and videos I took on my phone using bluetooth and clear the SD card to continue to use it throughout the day.
Food and Water
Food and water are very expensive at events like these. From my many years of finessing my way through concerts with full water bottles and snacks, I’ve learned a few things. Reading rules and regulations for events is something you should do before going anywhere. With water bottles, venues may allow unopened bottles, but obviously not opened ones. Specifically at Rolling Loud, they allowed you to bring empty water bottles and had water filling stations to fill them for free which was very convenient.
I find that it is very important to always plan for things like this. Having friends with you is always the best, especially because of what the world has become today. Having enough time to get to the venue is important incase you need extra time if you get lost as well. Being early is better than not making it at all. Be aware of your surroundings, keep in touch with the people you are with, and stay alert.