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How to Play a Music Festival

on August 17, 2012, 4:06pm
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howtoplayafestivalset e1345212004258 How to Play a Music Festival

There’s that awful moment where you look in your gym bag and realize you forgot your portable music player on the coffee table, and so as opposed to playing your “NEW GYM PLAYLIST 2″ you just made, you’re forced to listen to LAZER 103 FM through the gym’s speakers with Disturbed or Sevendust or Taproot or Drowning Pool songs echoing off the glistening lats and delts of all the body-builders. I’m miffed because I don’t like forgetting things, but I really don’t mind schlock metal on the rare occasion I’m actually at the gym. Acquiescing to the mindset of gym-music is liberating. Expectations are different (I don’t expect to hear Bon Iver), desires are different (I don’t want to hear Bon Iver), the collateral effect of music is different (Bon Iver is not going to make me push it to the limit) and the environment is different (The body-builders could care less about “lapping lakes like leery loons”). In gym — in that paradigm — I really want to hear is Chevelle’s “Send the Pain Below”.

At a music festival, I really want to hear a band do a cover of a song I know. I want to see a band be bigger than who they actually are, and fall into the spirit of the festival. I want to see more crowd-hyping than I normally would care for, and I want to see every band hop down and sing to the front row and then crowd surf because that’s something no one ever gets sick of. There’s hundreds of thousands of people gathered in an outdoor arena, wearing chartreuse tank tops and banana suits, smoking weed under a tree, angling to get a giant bite of a pork sandwich while not spilling a beer. This isn’t you with your headphones on your couch, or at a party, or at a rock club. Young bands might want to start thinking about what kind of hedonistic, primal place a festival really is and fall into that paradigm — to take advantage of the different environment and show how versatile of a band you can actually be.

After years of attending some giant fests, here are some of our favorite tips for success at a music festival. The best things happen when a band forgets their iPod at home and just rolls with it.

-Jeremy D. Larson
Managing Editor

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November 24, 2012 at 4:36 pm

Love that you mention Dale Earnhardt Jr Jr in the covers section. They did “God Only Knows” at Bonnaroo this past year and it was amazing.

August 18, 2012 at 4:38 am

loved this whole piece… ! cheers.

Frank Mojica
August 17, 2012 at 6:47 pm

Good banter is underrated. Whether it’s verbally ripping an overzealous fan a new one or paying poignant tribute to local political protests and police brutality, Jarvis Cocker always has interesting things to say at shows. My all-time favorite banter moment was Emmy the Great chatting about my Animal Collective shirt.

Winston Robbins
August 17, 2012 at 5:14 pm

Guests for sure! Tenacious D with Beck doing “Mutherfucker” and “E-Pro” at Sasquatch! was insane.


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