Words by Jemah Finn.
I hate music festivals.
I hate the sweat, I hate mosh-pit injuries and I hate that for some reason, it’s always a mud pit or 40 degrees. But despite my utter hatred for music festivals, I keep going.
If I was to say to you, “hey dude, there’s this event happening on Saturday where it will be 42 degrees, flies everywhere, sniffer dogs on patrol and you will be surrounded by acid junkies who should probably be in a mental institute”, would you be keen? To me, I think it sounds like shit. But regardless of my opinion, for some reason I am the first to buy my ticket for the next festival time and time again.
Each time I attend one of these sweat-fests, I think to myself “are these blisters on my feet worth it?”. It doesn’t matter what festival it is (and trust me, I’ve been to my fair share of festivals) there is always one point in the day where I am like “shit, I am completely out of money – I probably shouldn’t have rocked up today” – but one month later, you can guarantee that you will see that I have clicked ‘attending’ on Facebook to the next local gig or festival. In fact, once upon a time I drove like 50 hours just to attend a festival even though I knew what I was getting myself into… so, why?
Although these days never fail to be full of drama – I still love music festivals. In fact, these days have become the wallpaper in the section of my mind home to my favourite memories. That’s right, rocking up with fellow punters to see my favourite band and to soak up the atmosphere has literally earned a place in my memory bank of favourite things in this world.
Amidst the shit-covered toilet seats at Splendour in the Grass, the torrential downpour at Groovin the Moo and that time I got knocked out by a flying can of cider at Big Day Out, there is something magical about being at a place surrounded by like-minded people. The atmosphere is electric.
Immediately your concerns about aching feet or lack of money fly out the window as you relax with friends sinking tins (not throwing) of local cider or as you risk your limbs head banging to your favourite band.
Whether it is that moment when your attention is anchored by a commanding vocal or those bands that can transform the mosh-pit to a bunch of bobble heads, you can’t deny that all the ‘shit’ things combine to leave you with some bloody fine memories.
The highlights of festivals aren’t always the ‘good’ parts either. Some of my favourite times at festivals have been the stuff that sucked. Camping in a giant mud-pit at Woodford Folk Festival was horrific at the time, but upon reflection it is hilarious! Or that time I lost my shoes at Laneway, that wasn’t ideal there and then, but now it is one of the funniest memories I have.
I think that’s why we neglect to focus on the bad parts of festivals, and we still go. Because to be honest, the bad parts are the memories you reflect on for a good laugh. I wouldn’t have been able to break-dance so well to Hermitude at GTM without the aid of slippery mud, now would I?
Music festivals are flawed but this makes them perfect. They can be so good in fact, that you can literally experience post-festival depression and some serious withdrawals (well, that happens to me anyway). I think this is why we continue to throw away our savings on tickets, because it is guaranteed to be a fun time, no matter what.
If I was to say to you, “hey, there’s this event on Saturday filled with live music, friends, food and alcohol”, you would probably say “hell yeah, I will be there” – and so would I. These aspects of festivals completely overshadow everything else and really do make the ‘blisters’ worth it.
In reality, I don’t hate music festivals at all – I just think it is amazing that through all of the things that seem to go wrong at festivals (and please tell me I am not the only one who has stuff go horribly wrong!) , they still are the best times of our lives. The impact a musician or a ‘vibe’ can have on you is amazing and I think that is why we do, and will continue to, love music festivals (with a slight hatred deep, deep, deep down).