I’ve been lucky to have attended many music festivals before the pandemic shutdown. I have incredibly amazing, unforgettable memories of these experiences.
But to be totally honest, there’s a lot of downfalls regarding music festivals that no one talks about. And if music festivals open up again anytime soon, I’m not totally sure if I’ll be attending them…
Here are some “ugly realities” of music festivals that I have personally experienced…
Let’s start with the ugliest aspect of all…
It makes sense that music festivals and concerts were the first to be shutdown after the COVID-19 breakout. They are extremely unhygienic!
- Viruses — Music festivals are a hotspot for nasty virus breakouts. Not just COVID, but any type of virus. Everyone is on top of each other, most people are too drunk to practice good hygiene, bathrooms are usually dirty outhouses, people are traveling from all over, etc.
- In 2016, Big Dub Festival experienced a Norovirus outbreak — a very nasty stomach bug. You can google what the side effects are — it’s not pretty. A lot of people were forced to go home early because they got so sick. In 2017, they debated cancelling the festival because of it, but decided to carry on. From this point forward, they had to be extremely contentious about this highly contagious bug, handing out pamphlets and hanging up many signs about it. As soon as you entered the gate, someone was there to warn you about Norovirus symptoms. The following years, many attendees continued getting sick from it, despite new precautions being taken. Luckily I never got infected myself, but looking back, I can’t believe I put myself at risk like that! As we all know with sickness, it doesn’t always matter how careful you are, but how careful your neighbors are.
- Body odor — This is super gross, but a lot of concert-goers either don’t wear deodorant, or don’t wear strong enough deodorant. You’ll be enjoying yourself at a stage when suddenly it smells SO BAD! Sometimes it’s just one person, other times it’s an entire crowd you can’t even get away from. Definitely disrupts the fun you’re having.
- Bathroom situation — Most likely you won’t have access to a real bathroom, but a porta-potty. This isn’t so bad on a normal camping trip, but on a music festival camping trip — when you’re sweating A LOT — not so great. Shower access is very limited so you’re not able to cleanse yourself as much as you should.
Music festivals are typically full of very open-minded people. You’ll meet many kind-hearted individuals who value unique expression. A lot of random people will run up to you and give you compliments or words or encouragement. People love gift-giving, especially kandi-bracelet trades! There’s a general “no judgment” rule that gives you the freedom to act crazy and be applauded for it! So don’t get me wrong, music festivals are a great way to meet awesome new friends.
But on the other hand, you will also be dealing with a lot of rude people who are just the opposite.
- No personal space — when you’re at a stage, people have no sense of personal space. Everyone is on top of each other. If people are trying to get to the front of a stage, especially large groups, they will shove you and elbow you even when there is literally no room for them to get past you. Someone could start dancing on you and if you move somewhere else they might follow you and keep trying to dance on top of you when you clearly don’t want to.
- Rude comments & judgment — there are actually some very judgmental people at music festivals. I’ve experienced getting dirty looks, hearing people say snarky things as I walked by, or people saying rude things about me to my face. I’ve had people laugh at me or whisper things about me to their friends. I’ve also heard stories about people getting bullied at music festivals. People will judge you for what you’re wearing or how you’re acting. In some ways it can be a very negative environment.
- Having said this, I have received/witnessed much more positive comments than negative, and it’s possible that these “judgments” were just in my head, that people weren’t actually talking about me and maybe I was just too self-conscious. But still, bullying and rudeness does exist at music festivals.
- Angry people — sometimes you’ll see people getting very angry at music festivals, especially during the final day of week-long festivals. People get exhausted and cranky. I’ll never forget one time, this dude was having a total mental breakdown, yelling about how he hated his friends and how he didn’t want to be here. This one poor girl tried to help him and he just screamed at her! It was so awful!
- Drama — drama happens. People come with their friend groups and get into fights. There once was a girl who punched her boyfriend and then stole things from her friends’ tents. It’s not all “good vibes.”
- No boundaries — sometimes you just want to focus on the music, and a random person will walk up to you and want to talk or hang out. This all depends on personal preference. If you’re super outgoing and looking to make new friends, there’s nothing wrong with that! But if you are more introverted and would rather zone out and just take it all in, others should respect that too. You might come off as rude when in reality you just have different desires/needs about your music festival experience. If someone is not a big talker, then there’s plenty of other people you can talk to — no need to make them feel bad about it.
- Drunk people — a lot of people get way too drunk, saying/doing things they should NOT! Drunk people lose their awareness and can be very dangerous to be around. This is probably why a lot of people end up acting really rude and hurtful.
- Tickets alone are super expensive — on top of that you have to deal with parking, traveling, a hotel or camping gear, merch, ridiculously overpriced food and drinks, and more.
- First of all hygiene problems — which I already talked about.
- Staying hydrated — most people are not staying hydrated enough. Especially if you’re drinking alcohol. Plus, it’s usually a hot, sunny, summer day.
- Some people will take illegal/unknown substances and overdose.
- It’s nearly impossible to meet your nutritional needs at a music festival. This is why I highly recommend bringing/taking vitamins.
- All the stress of planning and preparing for a music festival, let alone the festival itself, can take a tole on your overall health.
- Much of music festivals consists of waiting in long lines: waiting to enter the festival, waiting to use the bathroom, waiting to take a shower, waiting to refill your water, waiting to buy food, and so on.
And so on…
And there you have it — the many ugly realities of music festivals. While it can be a great time, it also comes with many risks and negative consequences that simply aren’t worth it. I’m not saying all music festivals are bad or good — I’m saying they’re both!
You can still enjoy the benefits of music festivals (without the ugly realities) by…
- Listening to music — whether it’s EDM or anything else, you can purchase music or listen for free — through headphones or fancy speakers — it doesn’t take a huge concert to enjoy music!
- Livestream — especially with quarantine, a lot of DJs are live-streaming. This provides the “live” experience and you can connect with other viewers/listeners online.
- Dance like no one’s watching — if you want 0% judgment, then you can literally wear whatever you want and do whatever you want without any worries in the privacy of your own home!
- Have small gatherings — (DEPENDING ON CURRENT COVID RESTRICTIONS!) play music with your friends, or even just one friend, or your partner, and have your own little concert. It could be in your own home, at a park, or a weekend camping trip.
- Lights — you can buy special multi-color-changing lights online for some spectacular visuals!
- Alcohol alternatives — natural supplements/herbs or pre-meditation can put your mind in a trance-like state more effectively than alcohol can. A great example is Limitless products
Be safe & enjoy music!!!