My first festival experience was way back in 2008 at the now defunct Big Day Out in Sydney. I was fresh out of school. I think for a lot of people growing up in Australia, the Big Day Out was a rite of passage.
I remember seeing Arcade Fire for the first time and was blown away. It was cool also seeing for the first time a bunch of Australian bands I’d grown up listening to, like Silverchair and Regurgitator. I grew up loving grunge and rock, so the act I was most pumped about was Rage Against the Machine (RATM), who had reformed that year.
It was hectic!
I remember waiting around in the D barricade throughout the day not wanting to lose a spot close to the stage for RATM. As time went on, friends of mine gradually dropped off, and just before RATM were supposed to start I looked around and realized I was totally by myself in an endless sea of people.
Before I had a chance to make a decision about staying where I was or getting out of the mosh pit, RATM started and it went ballistic. People were jumping around manically and the crowd turned into a heaving sea of people for the next two hours.
At one point, I even dislocated my shoulder. It was AWESOME.
Over the years, my taste for festivals has changed. Back then I was all about Big Day Out, Park Life, and the other big music festivals, because everyone I knew went and I loved getting loose in a huge crowd of people.
Now I much prefer the more boutique festivals, like Secret Garden and Laneway, as there’s a really cool, laid-back vibe, the bands suit my taste, and it isn’t too hectic. I try and get to Splendour in the Grass every couple of years as it’s always a life-changing experience.
With that said, I’ve learned a lot of things over the years attending these crazy events. And with the summer festival season fast approaching, I’ve already got my preparation game pat down.
Firstly, it’s important I get a good night’s sleep beforehand, as it’s often a loooong day.
Following that, a pre-match gathering the morning of a festival is essential. Whoever I know that’s heading to a festival will get together beforehand. This part of the day is often one of the highlights as there is a lot of buzz and excitement.
Also, PACE YOURSELF. Don’t go too hard, too early and not make it the whole day.
Weather plays a huge part in the vibe of a festival and 9 times out of 10 it’s a stunning summer’s day. International acts I speak to are always commenting on how good the weather is and the amount of skin you see at Australian festivals. So, it’s crucial you pack some 30+ sunscreen and lather up. BIG TIME.
According to the Cancer Institute of NSW, this country has one of the highest skin cancer rates in the world. Approximately two in three Aussies will be diagnosed with skin cancer by the time they are 70.
The key to properly applying sunscreen is to repeat – yep, re-apply throughout the day. Keep some spare 30+ sunscreen in your pack of essentials, and you’re safe from the sun all day.
So put on some sunscreen, slap on a hat and sunnies, hydrate, do some stretches, and limber up.
From there it’s all organised chaos!
Oh, and a pro-tip that a brother of mine told me: if it looks like it’s going to rain, pick up a bag of garbage bags on the way to the festival. These can be sold throughout the day to other punters as improvised rain ponchos at an inflated price.