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Music festivals: debunked

Who went to Splendour in the Grass this year?
Based on the massive crowds I heard on the radio, I’m guessing a lot of you did!

I was thinking this morning about an article I read online to do with drug shortages at Splendour. I also heard on the radio that many pills and whatnot were seized at the festival this year.

It got me to thinking: are festivals really that great?

This might sound rather odd, particularly coming from a music writer, but I am not a fan of music festivals. In fact, I’d almost go as far to say I don’t like them. One bit.

In all fairness, it could be because every festival I’ve ever been to — oh wait, I did love going to Homebake in 2012! That was my ONE and ONLY pleasant festival-going experience — has been littered with bad experiences.

The Great Escape festival in Sydney, 2007: it rained the entire time, my tent got flooded, and I had a migraine. I missed some huge acts like Wolfmother and Hilltop Hoods because I was busy clutching my head, trying to sleep on my drenched blanket.

Good Vibrations festival, Gold Coast, 2010: food poisoning. Admittedly, not at the festival. But it still did nothing to enhance my experience. I was so ill, I sat on the ground at every opportunity. I had not one drop of alcohol, and my fingers were in my ears the whole time because the music was too damn loud. And I swear I was about to have an epileptic seizure from the excessive strobe lighting. Oh, and don’t even get me started on the FOUR HOUR wait for a taxi home.

That begs the question: what if I were on drugs? What if I was just completely wasted the whole time? Then would I have had an amazing experience?

(side note: I do not do illegal drugs in any way, shape or form. In fact, I hate them. But I do not judge anyone that chooses to do so, as long as it doesn’t hurt someone else. I do enjoy my beer though! OK, just wanted to clear that up in line with the rest of the story! Moving on)

I mean, realllllly think about it, guys: what is the appeal?

– Getting rammed into by total strangers?

– Being groped by sweaty hands attached to B.O.-ridden armpits in the mosh pit?

– Paying $10 for a drink, then waiting in line for 20 minutes to use a disease-ridden bathroom for the overpriced bladder cleanser to pass through you?

– Having to stand so far from the stage, all the while clutching your personal items / valuables, that you may as well have just stayed home?

I get it, though: there’s apparently some “atmosphere” that comes from being there in person. And I myself have seen some incredible live acts at the spattering of festivals I’ve attended (highlights off the top of my head: Little Birdy, The Killers, Basement Jaxx, Julia Stone, Birds of Tokyo). BUT. On an overall scale, does the good really outweigh the bad?! I mean, be really honest with yourself: unless you’re completely off your head in one way or another, what’s the draw?!

If anything, the build-up is the most exciting part: you flood your Facebook and Instagram feeds with endless selfies, hashtags and photos of buying your tickets, photos of your road trip, photos of your pre drinks, and photos of waiting in line to get in!

This is all very exciting stuff, and the thrill of how you’re going to sneak in your drugs & alcohol makes us all very giddy! (I remember once, a friend who shall remain unnamed, filled a goon sack with rum and strapped it to his inner thigh 😉 I thought that was pretty inspired!)

But then, once you’re in there… what’s the appeal? Unless there are specific bands you adore and have been waiting years to see, I just don’t get how the whole festival experience is in any way gratifying for true music lovers.

I’m not being facetious, either, so I apologise in advance if it comes across that way. I’m not being rhetorical: I really want to hear your perspectives!

What makes a festival — apart from popping pills and terrorising other festival goers — so amazing?

 

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