A Festival Revival
By: Josie Smith
Confession: I am a self-proclaimed hipster. I wear a flannel and my combat boots as soon as the temperature dips below 80 degrees. I hang out in coffee shops, and tell everyone how I take my dark roast black. But most of all, I pride myself on my taste in music. Any given day, I can be counted on to name drop some obscure indie band, or mention that they are so much better live (I know, I know – you hate me already). All that being said, you can probably tell the current domination of music festival lifestyle speaks straight to my heart.
It begins months before the festival. Wristbands are bought, hotels or campsites are booked, and outfits are planned. Playlists begin to reflect the line up; instead of one song, suddenly an entire album has been included to learn every word. A schedule is made, and re-created, and re-made again in order to fully maximize music enjoyment. More clothes are bought. One day you cave and look up set lists online so that you are completely prepared. The excitement builds until the weekend finally arrives.
But here’s the issue - the festival experience didn’t really live up to my hype. I missed opening sets because I was taking picture after picture, trying to find one that really captured how hip and artsy I was. I was brainstorming witty captions instead of listening to the bands I only kind-of knew. I found myself so caught up in maintaining this image of “effortless cool” that I didn’t actually experience the weekend. And unfortunately, I wasn’t the only one.
Somehow we lost sight of the true vision of these festivals. Maybe I’m going a little too Woodstock for the millennial generation, but I think we need to unplug for three days- a kind of festival revival. To leave the iPhones and cameras at home instead of strategizing Instagram posts. To watch a band’s entire performance instead of waiting on a Snapchat story to upload. To have stories that prove we were there, rather than an album on Facebook. To simply enjoy the music.
Ultimately, we go to music festivals with purely selfish motivations. We go because we love the music, we love the people, and we love to have three days of escape from reality. When we are only physically present, we aren’t able to experience any of that. Maybe, consciously or not, we are trying to impress our followers. But when we begin to transform our interests into a platform for social impressions, we start to lose part of what defines us.
I want to have a weekend of adventures that I can look back on. I want to meet a hundred new people who have nothing in common but a love for The Strokes. I want to run into the band behind the stage, and have nothing to show for it. I want to watch a performance, not record it for later. And if I somehow end up having a blurry photograph with my friends, and if my kids happen to stumble upon it fifteen years later, then I want to have a real story to tell them. I want to say that I was at Austin City Limits- or Coachella, or Lollapalooza- and that I had the time of my life.