Eight Concert Festival Tips
By Lisa Cronomiz
For the past three years, I have had the pleasure of attending the Outside Lands music festival with some of my close friends. As we are heading towards year four we have learned a thing or two. Some of this information is Outside Lands specific, but I imagine much of it can be generally applied to music festivals in general. Here are some of the things I have learned over the years:
1) Dress appropriately for the weather.
The first year I went to Outside Lands, I was not prepared. I could not reconcile the images of sun-soaked Coachella with the damp, foggy atmosphere of San Francisco that I had come to know. The first day I froze in my t-shirt and leather jacket, miserable. I sweat through the second day in a black long sleeved shirt with frayed cuffs. I had forgotten that the weather could change and the projected high might only exist for a half hour. I have since taken to packing thin layers that will roll up snugly into my backpack. Scarves and a beanie are a must for Outside Lands. They are compact and do wonders for keeping in body heat.
2) Do not bring a large or heavy backpack.
For obvious reasons, a heavy backpack will just become a burden as the day goes on. For less obvious reasons, everyone will hate you because inevitably when you’re weaving through crowds you will hit them with it.
3) If you and your friends are splitting up, come up with a set of meeting times and places.
With thousands of people trying to Instagram every moment, your cell phone may not work. Setting a time and place to meet back up with your friends ensures that you can go see the bands you would like without the stress of trying to find your friends via a text that won’t send. I suggest multiple times and places so you have another chance if you miss the first one.
4) When setting a meeting place, pick somewhere distinct but unimportant.
My friends and I have into the habit of meeting at an ATM towards the entrance of the festival. This habit developed after realizing that meeting at the giant windmills was not going to work. The problem with large, identifiable structures is that everyone is going to try and use them as a meeting space and it will still take you forever to find your friends.
5) Research bands before the festival.
For every big name headliner there are five smaller bands playing earlier in the day. I highly recommend checking out everyone on the lineup before you go. Some of the best sets I’ve seen at Outside Lands have been bands I had looked up the day before, and would now gladly see again. One of my friends likes to put everyone on a Spotify playlist a couple months before so she can hear what acts she does and does not like.
6) If you’re trying to meet up with someone in a crowd, stand next to a group with a flag.This has all the benefits of being able to say “I’m right next to the Stiegl flag” without the responsibility of carrying the flag around all day. They’re easy to spot above the crowd.
7) Do not watch the concert through the screen of your camera. I know it’s incredibly tempting to film the whole set of your favorite band.
How cool would it be to watch it all later, right? Unfortunately a recording will never match being there in sound quality and size. It’s a lot of effort for little reward and it’s incredibly distracting to the people around you. Do not worry, there are probably a hundred other people recording it. If you’re dying to listen to the witty stage banter in between songs again you don’t have to worry. Someone has probably already put it up on YouTube.
8) If you have spare time, check out the non-music aspects of the festival.
Outside Lands offers a lot more than just bands. There’s great food, an entire tent dedicated to comedy shows, art displays, and plenty of places to hang out. Find out what events are going on between sets. Many bands will play smaller impromptu shows away from the larger crowds. As usual stay hydrated, wear sunscreen and comfortable shoes, and be kind to your fellow festival goers. I always remember the people who treat those around them with respect. Whether it’s making sure I can see around them or saving my spot for me while I get more mac and cheese. And my final rule for festivals? Don’t be this guy:
Lisa Cronomiz has been to more concerts than any human ever. Not really. She just did not provide a by-line.