For many of us, the metal festival season is the peak of the concert-going year. If you’re anything like me, you save your pennies year round so that you can afford the plane flights, expensive drinks and shitty meals that are so integral to the festival experience. Looking at my calendar for the year I was a little disturbed to see that I’m going to be attending something like fifteen festivals this summer, it might literally actually kill me. I’ve been running around the festival circuit for a while now, doing everything from major Euro festivals like Hellfest to the US metal Mecca, MDF, as well as smaller, day long ones (And not just in the metal world either!) I’ve gotten to learn a thing or two – and I want to share my wisdom with some of you. Some of this stuff is specific to outdoor or indoor fests, but all of it has been learned the hard way.
I’ve been running around the festival circuit for a while now, doing everything from major Euro festivals like Hellfest to the US metal Mecca, MDF, as well as smaller, day long ones (And not just in the metal world either!) I’ve gotten to learn a thing or two – and I want to share my wisdom with some of you. Some of this stuff is specific to outdoor or indoor fests, but all of it has been learned the hard way.
7. Bowel Movements Are Your Enemy
This is the number one struggle that all long-time festival goers will bring up. Poop is the worst. It’s going to happen. You’re drinking heavily, eating awful food, your digestive system is a thing. Going into it, you’re going to need to be aware that the festival shits are your worst nightmare. Now, there are multiple ways to combat this. Of course, having a hotel room can help, but what if you have to shit during the day? Or even worse, at a giant outdoor festival? If you’re in a city, I would strongly recommend finding a convenience store that’s just a little out of the way. You’d be surprised how many nice clean bathrooms you can find if you’re willing to walk an extra five minutes. Yeah, it might cost a few bucks because you have to buy a snack, but it’s better than facing a destroyed festival toilet. If you’re at an outdoor shindig, I hate to be that guy, but your beloved writer here has definitely shit in the woods a couple times rather than face the nightmare of a porta potty that has been used by hundreds of people over the course of three days.
Dreadnought – Renaissance (live)
6. Duct Tape Is Your Salvation
For the record, this is not tied to the poop thing, though I could envision some creative poop/duct tape solutions. This is just as a general piece of advice, even for festivals that take place in cities. I never travel without a roll of duct tape on me. It can take care of just about everything from bags bursting to holes in your tent. I’ve actually even used it as a marker in order to help me find my tent whilst drunk out of my mind. The point I’m trying to make is duct tape can fix all of your problems and if you don’t have any, then I can guarantee that you are going to need it. Get to know your duct tape, love your duct tape and embrace your duct tape, because when it comes right down to it, there are few things that I trust more in this world.
5. Don’t Shower
This mostly applies to outdoor festivals. I learned this at the tender age of 18 from a stranger at Hellfest. We were sitting in the campground discussing the shower situation, which, at Hellfest, is less than ideal, and a buddy mentioned he would be interested in going for it. This guy turned to him and said, “You might take a shower, but everyone around you has not.” This basically went on to sum up my attitude about festival showers. Sure, if you have a hotel room then you might as well take one. But don’t try and do it if you’re at an outdoor festival. You’re going to be sweating in the sun all day anyway, so why bother? It’s not like any one is going to be sober enough to tell the difference. And you might end up like me and discover you get dreadlocks after four days of not showering!
SUBROSA – Live At Hellfest 2014
4. Never Mosh
I clearly remember walking back to my tent one night at some outdoor festival with a limp after seeing MOD and thinking ‘I’m never doing that again.’ Sure, it’s fun to get roughed up in the pit, but if you’re going to be sleeping in a bed that isn’t your own (or worse – on the ground) for a few days and getting barely any sleep, it would take insane levels of stamina to be able to survive moshing in those conditions. You get worn out faster than you’d expect at festivals, largely because you’re going to so many sets in a day it’s more than just the normal exhaustion that comes from a regular show. This is a unique sort of fatigue that hits your bones and forces you to confront the fact that, even if you are young and beautiful, few things are more valuable than a good sit down.
3. Share Hotels With A Bunch Of Strangers
This is one that took me a while to get used to but is actually awesome. When I went to Housecore 2015 last year, I got really comfortable with this notion when I shared a hotel room with two dudes I knew and two others I had never previously met. But guess what, we’re all a heavy metal family. We all can kind of figure each other out – and at the end of the day, festivals provide a level of bonding you don’t normally get in the metal world. Me and the dudes I shared a room with emerged as best friends because metal teaches you shit that you might never have a chance to learn otherwise. Also, you save money, and saving money is both grim AND krieg.
EXODUS – Extreme wall of Death @ Wacken Metal Festival 2010 !!
2. Get Used To Smuggling Alcohol Into Venues
Fortunately, this is not the case for every festival, but for the vast majority (including pretty much all indoor ones) you can’t bring your own alcohol in – and when places are trying to charge you $9 for a shot I think you are justified in protesting. Everyone has their own preferred way of sneaking booze into festivals, so figure out yours and master it. My preferred way is to get a lady friend to shove a bottle into the bottom of their purse. Alternatively – discreet flasks are always a good call (I’m personally a fan of the hair brush flask) The point being – festivals will make you suffer on booze – and oftentimes it’s hard to survive when sober at a fest. Before going to a festival you’re going to need to figure this one out.
1. Find A Place To Sit
I know that this sounds objectively lame – but your legs will thank me. No one wants to stand for twelve hours straight. Sure, you might think you have the endurance, and hell, maybe you do. But man… if you’re anything like me you’re going to find sitting to be just about the best thing ever. Some festivals offer a lot of places to sit, these tend to be the best for the heavy fest goers. Sure your view might not be as great, but when it comes down to perpetual pain in your legs versus not seeing every single one of Mike Scheidts antics… well, I’m a huge Yob fan, but I gotta say – sitting would definitely be a very tempting option.
Written By Robert Pasbani
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