7 Tips for Surviving Summer Music Festivals

The temperature is rising. School is out. Can you feel it coming? It’s music festival season. The line-up for ACL was released this week, and it’s time for you to get super jazzed and start planning your three-day sweat-fest. And while you’re seeing 30 bands that people will wish they saw in three years, we want you to have some fun in the sun. There exist a few shortcuts to music festival life, and you can’t afford to forget them. Don’t leave home without these seven tips for surviving summer music festivals.

  1. Hydrate

    You knew it was coming, so we’re giving it to you first. Drink some water. Drink some more water. And drink more water after that. Music festivals are often held in the nation’s hot spots — and we’re not just talking about their cool factor. Add alcohol, adrenaline, and sunshine to the mix, and you’re truly hosed. Pro tip: Bring your own water bottle. Buying plastics is cumbersome and expensive, and fortune favors the prepared.

  2. Ca$h is King

    If you’re at ACL, ATMs will go down. It happens so often that it’s become a fact of music festival life. Bring a credit or debit card if you think you need to, but realize that everything you really want to buy will be best bought with cash.

  3. Don’t Take The Brown Acid

    Speaking of cash, if you’re at a music festival and you’re even half cool, you can bet that someone will try to sell you drugs. There’s plenty of alcohol and sober fun to be had at a music festival, but if you’re looking to score, make sure you know what you’re buying. It’s all well and good to have fun, but your smarts should go farther than the streets. Don’t be “that guy”: avoid danger, know your limits, and always party responsibly.

  4. Make Friends

    If you’re a fan of music, you can make 80,000 friends in three days. For the most part, those that attend music festivals are exceedingly kind. If you’re having trouble setting up camp, or just want someone to hold your spot while you pee, ask the people next to you to help out. It’s always best to roll with a crew, but if you’re flying solo, you can make friends, too. Start with a smile and reciprocate kindness; karma points are always good to rack up (and cash in).

  5. Don’t Make a Checklist

    There are two strategies to music festival zen: either have your days planned out by time bracket, or wander around aimlessly and hope to stumble onto something cool. Both are legitimate experiential methods, but it’s wise to have a vague idea of who you most want to see, and where and when they play. You’re bound to encounter scheduling conflicts, but be cool — there are often late-night encore shows at neighboring venues. Keep your ear to the ground and your wits about you. You won’t be disappointed.

  6. Download the App

    Almost every music festival has a free app to help you navigate your sun- and tunes-filled days. Download the app and let it be your guide, and don’t be afraid to use social media to find out about insider festivities. Don’t be annoying and marry yourself to your phone, but do allow technology to remove some of the guesswork for you.

  7. Put Your Wristband On Loosely

    And make a stink about it if you have to. When you enter the fest, docents will often try to fasten your wristband tightly, but that’s no way to sneak in your friends. If you’ve never passed a broke friend a wristband through a chain-link fence and met them at the Cat Power stage so you can see The Flaming Lips together, you’ve never experienced a music festival the way it was meant to be done.

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