This weekend I attended my first music festival, the Made in America festival in Philadelphia. I did not love it.
I’ve mentioned before that I’m not really a music person. I wasn’t going for the music. I was going because, well, FOMO. All our friends were going and I’d hate to miss out on a good time.
That said, I’m glad I went. I’ve experienced a music festival, I know what all the fuss is about. I probably won’t attend one again.
Here are a couple of things that surprised me (in good and bad ways) about my first music festival experience:
1. The crowds are no joke.
Prior to heading to Made in America, if someone had asked me “are you claustrophobic?” I would have said no. Now I’m not so sure.
When a popular artist starts on a new stage, lots of people walk toward the stage. Even if you are standing where there was previously lots of space, you might wind up in the midst of a huge cluster of people. I’m talking shoulder to shoulder, a person touching you on all sides.
I tried so hard to be cool about it, to go with the flow and let people push as they may, but eventually knew I was about to have a panic attack. I freaked a bit and then I was the pushy one, shouting “excuse me, excuse me, I’m sorry” and pushing my way further from the stage until I found air and space. It was very easy to suddenly find yourself in crowds like this so I preferred to hang way back.
2. If you aren’t pushy, you don’t see the artists.
I saw Kanye West but I didn’t actually see him. If you aren’t willing to push your way to the front, you might never see the artist. I saw Kanye on the jumbo tron from about 1/4 mile back. I could not see over people to ever actually see him on the stage. Sure, I still kind of got the experience and the energy of the crowd was cool to be a part of, but in a traditional venue I probably would have been able to actually see him. At a music festival, I was not.
3. There were less drugs than I thought there would be.
I kind of anticipated seeing a lot more drugs and people on drugs. While there was a fair amount of that stuff that’s legal in California and Colorado, that was all I saw (or really, smelled). Maybe it’s just the stereotype of music festivals but I anticipated seeing people who were obviously on something. That wasn’t the case.
4. But the secondhand smoke will kill you.
I mean, you knew that, right? Too much secondhand smoke usually gives me brutal headaches. There were so many smokers that it was hard to avoid and yeah, my head paid for it.
5. As expensive as you think everything might be, it was more expensive than that.
$11 for a 16 oz. Budweiser? $12 for french fries? You’ve got to be kidding me. We already paid over $100 to get in!
6. We were kind of old.
One of the first things we noticed was how many teenagers there were. At 26, we were definitely on the older side of attendees.
7. For the number of people attending, the lines for the bathrooms weren’t that bad.
There were 40,000+ people and more porta-potties than I could count. They were pretty disgusting (I mean, when are porta-potties clean and enjoyable to use?) but when I did have to use them, the line was only 10-15 minutes. Not too bad when you think about how many people there were.
8. Kanye West is exactly as big of a douche lord as you think he would be.
Confession: I’d held out secret hope that Kayne West was not a total jerk wad. That hope is gone.
He completely stopped the concert to chastise the lighting/video people. Later he went on a 5 minute long, awkward rant where he complained about being famous, the fact that his “the music that we do is not a joke” and his “interracial relationship is not a joke,” and that the tabloids made him out to be a jerk. US Magazine even covered it, it was that ridiculous.
NEWS FLASH: Stopping a concert to complain about your privileged life in front of a crowd of 40,000 people makes you the jerk. The tabloids don’t have to even try to make you look that way. You do it to yourself.
9. The theme of the festival was, without a doubt, butt cheeks.
You know the high-waisted shorts trend? Yeah, it was out in full force. It’s like every girl who was attending spent too much time on pinterest and decided that high-waisted jean shorts and crop tops were the unofficial uniform of music festivals. So many butt cheeks. I know that I can’t pull off that look. There were a lot of women who decided that, regardless of whether it was flattering or not, they were going to rock out with their butt cheeks out. It was interesting.
So that was my music festival experience. If we’re being honest here, I thought about leaving a couple hours in to it. I really wasn’t enjoying myself at all. I’m glad I stayed (so I’m not forever known as the party pooper) but like I said, it was probably my first and last music festival. Please tell me there is someone else out there who also didn’t have a great music festival experience. Is what I experienced the norm for all festivals?