6-Weeks 6-Festys: Music Festival Lessons Learned
Earlier this summer, Team Festy GoNuts (i.e. Kelly and Jason) embarked on a epic journey, attempting to achieve the impossible dream; the unattainable summit; the legendary quest for the holy grail:
6 Music Festivals in 6 Weeks!
Ok, maybe not quite that impossible, or even that impressive, but to these two not-quite-all-in-their-thirties-anymore traveling music-seeking nomads, it was still a pretty big deal!
We started in West Virginia at Sleepy Creek on the Potomac, then headed south to Aiken Bluegrass Festival. We followed that up with Susquehanna Breakdown before finally making it to our first Delfest! After that we adventured to Bean Blossom, Indiana, for perhaps the highlight of the journey, John Hartford Memorial Festival. We closed the trip out in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, for the epic second-annual Blue Ox Music Festival (where we were lucky enough to score an interview with Leftover Salmon!)
Whew! What a ride!
We didn’t just do this for fun, you know?! We were conducting very serious research. Aside from all of the wonderfully articulate and witty reviews we posted (click on the links in the paragraph above!), we were also busy learning some very valuable lessons.
So, here they are:
Music Festival Lessons:
What we learned in 6 weeks at 6 festivals.
Whatever you do, take care of your shoes.
Yup. It’s really important to have appropriate footwear! I guess some 19 year olds are ok spending 4 days in a muddy monsoon wearing nothing but half a Chuck and some duct tape, but for most of us, our feet are the vessel that guide us. When spending that much time relying on them, we better keep them comfy.
We made the last minute decision to pick up some rubber rain boots, and, man, were they a lifesaver! Aside from that, a pair of comfy and reliable hiking shoes/sneakers, flip flops and a sturdier sandal/water shoe were all we needed to get the job done. Of course, a few pair of funky shoes and the favorite slip on Vans were key too!
Know the Rules.
Every festy is different, and they all have a different rule book we need to follow. It is super important to know what that means before heading to the festy. For example, we couldn’t bring any outside alcohol into Susquehanna Breakdown, but were able to keep a cooler in the car to go out and pound a few here and there. On the flip side, Sleepy Creek Spring Dig was entirely BYOB! It sucks if you missed that memo! (although I’m sure folks were willing to share!)
Check the weather.
Seriously. Of course, we try to be prepared for anything mother nature can throw at us, but it’s good to know just how hard she may be planning to hit! Last year at Blue Ox, we knew that record-setting rain was in the forecast, and we all planned accordingly. This year we got ready for it as well, and when word went around of a crazy powerful storm coming our way, everyone was prepared to batten down the hatches and take cover!
It’s not just the rain, as most know. If forecast is calling for a heat wave, pack accordingly! Baby pools and misting fans can be life savers!
It’s all about that bass.
Our 6-week adventure was mostly centered around bluegrass (with a healthy helping of funk thrown in to keep us honest.) When that many strings get together, nothing is more important than a good bass, and we saw some of the best! Alan Bartram, Jenny Keel, Greg Garrison and Victor Wooten are just a few of the bad-ass bassists that kept us feeling the groove even when the banjos tried to take over! And they will try, believe you me.
There is no FOMO.
We all know the feeling, trying to choose between conflicting artists on different stages. We want to see it all, hear it all, do it all. Unfortunately, that is not yet possible (although we’re expecting a Clone and Hologram festival to pop up any day now!). What we learned is that the fear of missing out is not a valid fear, because you never really miss out – you just have a different experience!
Which bring us to the next lesson…
It’s OK to miss music.
In fact, it’s downright necessary. Eating, resting, showering, pooping, (not necessarily in that order) are all essential to enjoying a music festival, and with round-the-clock music at some of them, you are bound to miss out on some performances. It’s ok! Like we said above, it is all part of the experience. For example, we chose not to attend one of the late-night shows at DelFest, and instead found a ruckus in the swamp that created better memories than any show was likely to. Music is the most important part of the music festival, but it is not the only part!
Miss some music. Play in the woods. Make some friends. It’s ok!
And, most importantly…
Don’t judge others’ experience.
You have no idea what someone else is experiencing. Don’t pretend to. Sure, that group that decided the front row was a terrific place to loudly discuss how wasted they got last night might be annoying, but that’s life. Everyone has a right to experience the festy in their own way. Maybe if you dance a little harder they’ll shut up and join the groove.
So what is the best overall lesson we learned by going to 6 Festys in 6 Weeks?
People are beautiful and awesome, and nothing in this world can bring them together quite like music can.
There is an unbelievable amount of extremely talented musicians touring right now, and we are incredibly blessed to exist in a time and place where live music is so readily accessible!