Festival Fever

It seems that every day I read about an upcoming summer music festival or concert series. From the impending Sasquatch Festival (George, Washington) to Treasure Island (San Francisco), Siren (NYC), Rock City (Detroit), Rogers Picnic (Toronto), Suoni (Montreal) SummerStage (again, NYC), Fuji (Niigata, Japan) Melt! (Ferropolis, Germany), and Soundcity! (Liverpool), and that's only half of them. One could ostensibly spend their entire summer—from Memorial Day to Labor Day—following their favorite bands around the world, working on their tan, eating Elephant Ears, finding curious new places to get tattoos and piercings, and waiting in line for thirty minutes to use a Port-A-Potty.

Ahhh, outdoor music festivals. Love them or fear them? It is tempting to sing their praises when one sees the list of bands. The National and M.I.A?! Death Cab + MGMT + YACHT+ Spoon + The Roots + a band from the '80s reuniting for the third time?! It's like your favorite iPod playlist come to life.

My first summer music fest was in 1991 when I went to a new festival called Lollapalooza. That was followed the next year by the inaugural EndFest (hosted by 107.7 FM, Seattle's alt-rock station). For the latter, I slept in my car at the Kitsap County Fairground with some friends the night before the concert. By 2 pm the next day I was riding the crowd for the first and last time in my life. And I'm trying to block this next part out but I'm pretty sure I was wearing a purple and black Cat in the Hat hat (somehow popular in the NW back then, I swear).

In deciding to see a festival these days, aside from the line-up, a big part of the draw is the festival setting. Castle, pirate ship, barn, or mountaintop equals yes. Expo Center, mini-mall, or dusty-field-with-faint-smell-of-manure is probably a no. The setting cannot be underestimated. After all, you are basically trapped in one location for 10 to 12 hours.

Though ostensibly there for the music, I am often distracted by a hacky sack or beach ball, a liquidy pile that is either lentils or vomit, or something unseemly going on under a blanket. Additionally, I worry about all the barefoot people and how dirty their feet have become. If they don't put shoes on before entering the bathroom I will have to go home. In other words, the music becomes background noise to a circus of grossness.

Therefore, what I find hardest about music festivals is trying to preserve that sense of awe over and over again, to be awake and aware enough to find that one special moment in each set, or at least in most of them, to cull enjoyment from the broader experience, to feel that I am part of the experience, that it's not about proximity to the stage or how good the band is but about the fact that I'm among thousands, collectively listening, collectively being. At least that's how I want to feel. Unfortunately, to really love outdoor music festivals you have to love both: the music and the menagerie.

So, do you?



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Never been to one and never will be. I'm too old for that now anyway. I prefer traditional 2 band shows. A few hours and it's done. I have no desire to spend an entire day (or more) in a crowd of people, in the heat. I find I'm incapable at having fun doing anything that takes much longer than 3 hours.

Sent by Gary Drechsel | 12:11 PM | 5-22-2008

No I don't.

Although, I did enjoy Music Fest Northwest last September. I know it was technically indoors at various venues around Portland, but for me it doubled as an outdoor festival. I spent each day walking around the city and falling in love with it. If I have the money this year I will return.

Sent by Nick L. | 12:17 PM | 5-22-2008

I've always liked the outdoor festivals, but have grown weary of traveling for them. The last one I drove many hours for was the inaugural Siren Fest. Now I live in a state that has no outdoor festival (Misery).

Sent by comoprozac | 12:33 PM | 5-22-2008

i used to love them, but that was before ACL 3 or 4 years ago, when it was 108 degrees. call me a wuss, but its too many people, too hot, and too expensive. id rather wait for SXSW and see the bands in a club and get a chance at better sound.

Sent by Daniel Childress | 12:33 PM | 5-22-2008

I am going to Sasquatch; as excited as I am for R.E.M, M.I.A, The Breeders and the Hives, the primary reason I am going is because the Jicks didn't play any all ages venues in Canada, and I am determined to see them on this tour. At this point in my short life, my parents have realized that their daughter will spend much of her life traveling to see various bands in strange but glorious destinations[despite the fact that I hail from British Columbia, it seems very few people have heard of the Gorge].

I've spent two summers at Vancouver's Folk Festival; although there is no camping involved there, the menagerie is definitely worth going. It's volunteer run, with real plates from the food court. The festival takes place in a beach front park, and the mainstage is right by the beach. Not to mention, the festival has a policy of promoting up and comers, which means that Feist played there three years before her Ipod commercial.

I can also say that thanks to Folk Fest '07, I experienced my first major sunburn. In Vancouver.

[I didn't pack a purple Cat in the Hat hat, but I do have this hat I found at work that makes me look like a backup dancer for the musical Chicago.]

Sent by Kirie | 12:34 PM | 5-22-2008

I don't go to any really, aside from one, FloydFest. As in the place (Floyd, VA) not Pink. Small enough crowd, beautiful setting and great variety of music. I would enjoy the bands at other festivals, but I think the crowds would make me want to do bad things, so I don't put myself in that situation.

Sent by Jerry | 12:34 PM | 5-22-2008

There was a time, there was definitely a time. I went to that first EndFest as well, and the second one, and I remember having a blast. But, I'm 39 now, and the thought of standing/sitting/trying to find shade in the sun all day, even for a lineup as stellar as Sasquatch's is this year, just makes me curl up in the fetal position in the corner.

I get more misanthropic as I get older, and the concept of a big knot of people in one place like that really doesn't thrill me.

I'm also not thrilled I've become "that person" - I love discovering new music, I love going to smaller shows, but festivals? Ugh.

Sent by pdb | 12:38 PM | 5-22-2008

There was a time when I could hang with a scene like Bumpershoot. Battling serious crowds to see a band that I liked, not noticing the dodgy bathroom situations and sketchy conversations going on around me. Now I find myself shooshing the drunk people around me during the quiet songs. The amazing line-ups inspire a lot of fantasizing as I sit here at work all day, but the menagerie affects me way to much. It was sweet to see Parliament, Patti Smith and Heatmiser in one day though. I'll continue to fantasize.......sigh

Sent by Jose Jones | 12:43 PM | 5-22-2008

I'll be going to Lollapalooza for the third time this year (in it's second incarnation as a Chicago-only institution) and I've had surprisingly few complaints about the handling and setting of Lolla. Lollapalooza is very well run and I could say the same for the other festivals in Chicago (Pitchfork and the largely extinct Intonation). Putting these events in parks in Chicago certainly takes away from the feeling of being trapped, since you really aren't. A lot of grossness and ugly price gouging and etc badness comes from having festivals in the middle of some field where people camp out for an entire weekend. I'm not sure I'd be up for that. I feel lucky that I've seen so many great performances at these Chicago events: Sonic Youth playing through Daydream Nation, Daft Punk and their giant digital pyramid, Pearl Jam, the list goes on. They have drawbacks like heat, crowds and My Morning Jacket cutting into your last non-Portland set, but I've had generally very good experiences with outdoor summer festivals.

Sent by Lance | 12:57 PM | 5-22-2008

Give me an historic theater any day.

Sent by Dynamic Meter | 1:01 PM | 5-22-2008

I've only been to sxsw and i don't count that as a "festival" since most of the shows are indoors. this summer, i'm going to be living in brooklyn, so i get to go to siren fest!

i guess the reasons i have chosen not to go to festivals in the past were: location, price, lineup, restrooms, and potential for heat stroke.

Sent by Lauren | 1:05 PM | 5-22-2008

I attended lollapoloza back in the late 90's, the smashing pumpkins headlined (beastie boys..breeders..tribe called quest also) the lineup was great but the attendees for the most part were really drunk and smelly and walking around barefoot (who knows I may have been smelly also it was sweltering that day, but not drunk or barefoot) and i vowed to never go again. (plus..they booed Nick Cave ferociously) i'm 40 now..so i feel way too old to attend anyway. i'll take a show at a small club anyday over a stadium or festival show..i'd rather stay home and play the "record" because you lose all the intamacy by being at large shows

Sent by Richard | 1:38 PM | 5-22-2008

yes I do: everytime I see a festival line up that makes me high I just cant resist. I think about it for days keep saying to myself: you know howit is, you gonna be sick of all that crappy things in a couple f hours. And then I just go, alone or with friends doesnt matter. everytime I tell myself it's the last one. but I always forget my decision. just because when I'm actually there, in the crowd, squeezed and sweaty and thinking "oh my godness you did it again" something happens on the stage that make all of us feel pretty much the same thing at the same time.
In that moment, I know it's weird , but I feel so damned alive. and I know I'll do it again and again.

Sent by donasonica | 1:40 PM | 5-22-2008

I enjoy festivals, although I've only gone to a few. That being said, it has always kind of sucked having to deal with the menagerie that is a huge music fest. For me it's worth it if the lineup includes bands I probably won't get to see otherwise, but I'd rather just go to a solo concert for the artists I'm into.

Maybe it's me? I mean, the festival business is just huge nowadays.

Sent by stephanie | 1:44 PM | 5-22-2008

I went to the first lollapalooza in LA, a pilgrimage to see Jane's Addiction's "final" show. (i think they played one more show in hawaii, sans clothing). I was 17, just out of high school and in rare form. It was my first time in LA and i "slept" on the beach in Venice.

THe only festival that i would attend these days is the New Orleans Jazz (& Heritage) Fest.

Sent by tim! | 1:48 PM | 5-22-2008

I really dislike them. Too hot, too pricey and too many sweaty folks.
It's just not how I want to see music.

HOWEVER,I took one for the team because I just had to see the Silver Jews and I did attend pitchfork in 2006 and they did it RIGHT. affordable, amazing line up, local vendors, craft fair & so on. so awesome. I would go again if I could.

Also the fun fun fun fest here in Austin impressed methe last couple of years. It happens in the fall, it's cheap and it's not too big.

not all festivals are created equal I guess but I try to avoid them anyway.

Sent by esme | 1:48 PM | 5-22-2008

I'll second the Chicago festival comment. I've been to Pitchfork twice now, and the smaller size and nice park make for a really enjoyable weekend. I've never been to a huge festival with camping, mostly because it never appealed to me. They seem too huge and too overwhelming. I prefer to be able to see most of the bands without sprinting across a giant field and fighting enormous crowds.

Sent by Brian | 1:55 PM | 5-22-2008

I once liked the outdoor festival and I have been to many over the years. My first was in 1990 maybe and I have indeed seen some great live moments. However, now I have absolutely no interest at all in going to one. I think it is a combination of several things including the heat, the humidity, the number of people all of whom seem to be younger and more excited than me, $4.00 bottles of water, the bathroom situation, the inevitable afternoon thunderstorm, mud, and the list goes on....

I do think that when my five year old son gets older i will be interested in taking him to some-he has already been to a few. Seeing him discovering and experiencing new things is pretty cool.

Sent by ryan | 1:57 PM | 5-22-2008

The last few times I've been to an outdoor festival, the background noise has drowned out the quieter moments in set lists. Annoying, chatty "just here to be here" types are abundant. At 37, I'm too young to feel like an old man. And that's exactly what I usually feel like when I go to an outdoor music festival. The reasons:

*Crowd drowns out the music
*Sets too short for bands I want to see
*Accoustics usually are awful
*$6 bottles of water

What a sad curmudgeon I've become.

Sent by Chad - Hungary for Turkey | 2:27 PM | 5-22-2008

"[L]entils or vomit": are you suggesting that there's a difference?

Sent by nsf | 3:45 PM | 5-22-2008

No. I dislike the company of most people. They have annoying habits. Crowds = exponentially more annoyance.

I categorically deny this has anything to do with age.I remember thinking "What the hell is wrong with these people" at my first show when I was 14.

On the plus side, given the choice between the outdoors and some stinkin' nightclub, I pick nature as a venue. Nature isn't annoying.

Sent by margo | 3:48 PM | 5-22-2008

We go to Wakarusa in Kansas every year--it's manageable as far as size and specatcle, but brings bigger names. I couldn't do something huge like Lolla or Bonnaroo--I'd have a panic attack. I can't stand really, really, really large crowds of drunk/irrational people.

Plus, as I get older, seeing bands I like on smaller stages or in a venue where I can comfortably be close to the front is more and more important and enjoyable. I don't want to have to have binoculars to see anything.

Sent by KBO | 3:52 PM | 5-22-2008

I don't even look at the line-up for Sasquatch anymore. I know I'm going to be enticed to go (as in, looking at the schedule=going, I've never been able to look and say no) and then the long drive there, the crowds, the human everything, the drive back. All for a few moments where I calculate: where these three moments worth the $ and time spent? I do the math, literally. Calculate how much money and time spent for each positive moment. And time spent staring into the gorge doesn't count. It's never worth it. Besides, a three-day weekend? I can get so much done at home.

Sent by E | 3:52 PM | 5-22-2008

Carrie, the first and only time I had the pleasure of seeing you play live was at a very small festival caled the May Day Music Festival in Clinton, NY. Sleater-Kinney headlined along with 5 or 6 other acts including Ted Leo flying solo. I've been to Lollapalooza, moe.down, and various other festivals of a much larger scale and I have to say that the May Day show was by far one of the best for all of the reasons you listed. It was small, low-key and best of all - it didn't smell like an alley in NYC. Thanks for the great memories!

Sent by Jess Reaves | 4:06 PM | 5-22-2008

"In other words, the music becomes background noise to a circus of grossness."

this pretty much sums up how i feel about outdoor festivals. similarly, i'm a little hesitant about going to any show that has more than 3 bands on the setlist, because my feet start hurting, i get guiltily irritated by the openers, and the set-up time between acts always feels like it's moving in slow motion. tedious, aggravating slow motion. and it seems most outdoor festivals just amplify these annoying qualities of a regular show.

on a side note, there's an outdoor concert coming up here in philly with the weirdest lineup i've seen in a while: vampire weekend, mates of state, gogol bordello, dan deacon, and 4 other bands i haven't heard of. luckily, it takes place across the street from where i work, so i might just check it out from the staff lounge overlooking the field. that way i can sit down, and use an indoor toilet. so luxurious!

Sent by nikki | 4:33 PM | 5-22-2008

i can't do it. i have low arches and standing for more than a few hours will have me in horrible pain. dr. scholl's inserts don't really help much. i don't like large crowds either. and yeah, it's gross.

Sent by megan m. | 5:06 PM | 5-22-2008

I've only been to a few. One a while ago where Neil Young & Horse were the headliners. THey were pretty good, but Morphine who played on this little side stage blew everyone away that day. They were really good. I'm in my late 30's too, and have the urge to go to more of these, but live in a smaller town where these things don't happen. Think it could be fun being around people and hearing good music for a day.

Sent by dk | 5:26 PM | 5-22-2008

the filth is the key hindrance to attending an outdoor festival. i have asthma and allergies, drink lots of water so i pee often...it all adds up to inconvenience. in new york we have the Siren festival, which tends to have a decent lineup, but its primary purpose seems to be to provide hipsters the opportunity to complain about how bad the sound is. not sure you remember from when S-K played in 02, but the sound is really, really bad. what band wants to compete against the Cyclone rollercoaster going by every minute? half the time you can barely tell if the bands are actually playing.

but of course, i go to Siren every year anyway.

Sent by jane birkin | 5:33 PM | 5-22-2008

Carrie... What about Bonnaroooo??

Sent by amy | 5:51 PM | 5-22-2008

I haven't been to one, and I would normally never consider it. But a few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of seeing Girl Talk here in New Haven, and I would LOVE to see him in a big outdoor setting. But only him.

Sent by Michael | 7:08 PM | 5-22-2008

my first outdoor festival was lollapalooza 1994. i spent most of it in the parking lot suffering from heat stroke as it was naturally a record hot day in chicago. i've tried other festivals since, but gave up a long time ago mostly because of the water situation, the cost, and my height. at 5'2" i would end up just being able to see some dude's sweaty back. no thanks. i'd much rather be inside a small place where the music is contained and the bathrooms and bar aren't far away.

Sent by allison | 7:10 PM | 5-22-2008

so carrie, how did you like playing festivals? good? bad? just a job? stateside fests v. euro fest? curious if you have a second to answer.

i went to the first two Lollas and enjoyed 'em. Once in college I gravitated to the hardcore scene which had a steady DIY festival schedule and was immense fun. (Having a lot of them in our Columbus backyard added to the good times.)

Then my roadtrip days came to an end and I stuck mostly to shows in clubs.

I then found myself at the first Pitchfork due to the dynamite line-up and even more dynamite ticket price for the two days. But it was LITERALLY 200 degrees that weekend, the great bands were alloted the festival 30 minutes and the crowds were just too much for the then 31 year old me...and they wouldn't let us leave the park. And any situation that makes me wear shorts in public just doesn't sit well with me.

Never say never but I'm sure the festival days for me are over regardless how tempting SXSW looks each year.

Sent by Jason M. | 7:29 PM | 5-22-2008

Perhaps http://images.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://img.alibaba.com/photo/11557690/19_Black_Jaz_Ver_one_Staggered_Rims.jpg&imgrefurl=http://www.alibaba.com/catalog/11557690/19_Black_Jaz_Ver_one_Staggered_Rims.html&h=567&w=600&sz=58&hl=en&start=18&um=1&tbnid=uATC9Q5dHBlptM:&tbnh=128&tbnw=135&prev=/images%3Fq%3Drims%26um%3D1%26hl%3Den%26sa%3DN the concert-goer felt the world being bent, as if by Beckham. (Bad lentil trip, perhaps?)

I imagine there were some reality-bending pharms that begat reading temperature gauges at "LITERALLY 200 degrees"--was this F or C?

And I appreciate his ability to model the kind of overheard speech, during raison-d'etre songs, esp., that makes these events intolerable. QED, brah!

Sent by 'stfu cow' shorts the public | 8:46 PM | 5-22-2008

I have never been a big fan of outdoor festivals, for all of the reasons described above. Lentils or vomit? That was a funny and good (if somewhat gross) example. However, in 1999 my wife and I went to the Falcon Ridge Folk Festival up near Hillsdale, NY. We went to see Moxy Fruvous (any fans out there?) and ending up seeing a whole bunch of artists we ended liking a lot and still follow to this day. Examples: Eddie From Ohio, Ellis Paul, and one of my personal faves Australian blues/disturbed folk man Jeff Lang. His live version of Dylan's "Ballad of Hollis Brown" (on a borrowed guitar, no less)at the side stage still has me shaking my head in wonder. But I digress.

FRFF is a four-day event with a wide range of attendance options and an excellent range of musical talent, heavily weighted to folk, acoustic and other less mainstream types. They have a main stage, a smaller side stage and a huge dance tent. There is also plenty for the kids to do (my daughter had a ball the last two years), crafts for sale (decent stuff, not a lot of crap), decent food. They are well organized and it is never huge. the hatural setting is wonderful, on a farm near the Massachusetts border.

The vibe is laid back, no riots like they had at Woodstock II or whatever it was. If you don't like big festivals, FRFF is a good one.

Sent by Kevin S. | 9:54 PM | 5-22-2008

For those who love the live music experience enough to pay for an expensive ticket and travel long hours, the level of hygiene at festivals can't seriously be of higher importance than the festival experience itself, can it? This is like having a someone refuse to go to the stadium during a World Cup soccer game because of all the annoying people in the stands (and arguably their own poor hygiene). Or not celebrating Christmas with family because you never like the food. Perhaps it is the poor hygiene of these music festivals that separates the truly dedicated fans from the half-hearted posers.

Sent by Natalie in PDX | 10:18 PM | 5-22-2008

The first time I saw S-K was a festival: This Ain't No Picnic in 1999. That actually had clean bathrooms and really good cheeseburgers. I also went to Lolla in 1993 but in general avoid festivals because I hate Port-A-Potties. When I go to Street Scene, it's mind over matter: I force myself not to need a bathroom. If you don't drink any booze, it's not so hard. Also, the crowds are sometimes too much for me.

I like live music, but I like indoor plumbing more.

Sent by Laura E. | 11:39 PM | 5-22-2008

i guess the first thing you have to ask is if you like sunburn or if you like armpit?

the large festivals are such a mess nowadays, inbetween food prices and the massive sunspots we call billboards, you get often pretty weird line ups which much often really aren't interesting enough to bother with the cost

last year's virgin fest in baltimore was to me an aberation it seems, nice selection of bands like css, spoon, wu-tang clan, bad brains among others that just worked, and this year it's little too big, the headliners aren't interesting enough to warrant going just to see shudder to think or cat power

even the chicago fests aren't that enticing, not enough to make a trip from dc to do it, the motto i find to work, the smaller the better

my favorite outdoor fest was arthurfest back in 05, nice first time out on the west coast, in hollywood no less, and so intimate {although small has it's problems too, such as overcrowding and long lines in that small hall that played host to magik markers, merzbow, and sunn O))} but such a great two days

but maybe i am a little jaded and spoiled, i am in love with the indoor festival, ATP has gotten me over to england twice for a weekend of mind blowing music that can't be rivaled, and the best part, they give you chalets to stay in, just so much goodness in a british candy wrapper, you just want to let your teeth rot in the aural sugars

Sent by Patrick | 12:25 AM | 5-23-2008

I was at the first Lollapalooza (NJ) and I remember having a really kick ass time. By the time Jane's Addiction played, we were spent but ridiculously happy.

Locally, I've been to PDX POP Now!, which although not technically an outdoor festival -- had half the bands playing outside in 2007 (and under the Hawthorne bridge to boot!)

This year I will be headed to ATP in the Catskills, the size of the festival and the location makes it pretty doable and hopefully I won't be waiting for 30 minutes in line to use the loo!

Sent by setya | 1:26 AM | 5-23-2008

Not a fan of the music festivals, all those people and so few are adults and many who are don't act it.

They don't seem like showcases for music, just overpriced food and drink and all kinds of sponsorships. Not to mention all the amateur drinkers/users you have to contend with.

Sent by Brian A. | 8:30 AM | 5-23-2008

I went to Austin City Limits last year. What a lineup! Bjork, Arcade Fire, LCD Soundsystem, The National, M.I.A. and many more stellar acts. It's tiring being outside for 3 days but it's so worth it. You gotta be passionate about the music to enjoy it. It's not for everyone.

Carrie, I was so sad when Sleater-Kinney pulled out of ACL a few years ago. :(

Sent by Jaime | 9:05 AM | 5-23-2008

i've been to a slew of outdoor festivals, but i think my appreciation and excitement is waning. i definitely agree about the location being important. i attended lollapalooza in 2005 and, besides the unbearable heat, i was impressed with the organization and space. last year, however, i flew from new york to attend pitchfork and was pretty disappointed. the park was far too small for the number of people who were sold tickets, which resulted in a ridiculous amount of crowd clotting (even for a festival) and bathroom lines 50-people deep. not fun.

i'm more inclined to attend music festivals in locations where there are other things going on, like siren fest. not only can you cruise around coney island listening to some sweet summer tunes, but hey, you're also on coney island, which is just a fun, quirky place to be. if i get sick of the music crowds, or there's not a particular band i want to see at a particular moment, i can just walk down the beach and eat a hot dog. perfect.

Sent by anne | 10:10 AM | 5-23-2008

But Montreal's Suoni per il popolo is an indoor festival!
Osheaga on the other hand, is a whole other monster, whose organisers have decided to hold this year's event on a sunday and monday. Good luck to them with that.

Sent by vcm | 10:57 AM | 5-23-2008

It really all depends for me
on the bands FANS
they can totally ruin or make a festival setting...

last year when I went to Lolla to catch Pearl Jam (for the 8th time) I was in the greatest group of people ive ever attended a concert with... there was a good 40 of us who buddied up and made a human wall... so no one could come crashing into us and ruin such a good atmosphere.

course the weather can also ruin a good day. I GOT SOAKED when I saw CS&N at Summerfest (Milwaukee, which is also called the worlds biggest music festival i might add :P)

Sent by Kramer | 11:06 AM | 5-23-2008

The mention of outdoor festivals reminds me of the thrill of unity i felt at the first one i went to. They rarely deliver for me now: i feel less like a revolutionary and more like someone being marketed to. As an alternative, we've been setting up our own series' in our own town with more local and less national appeal. It's satisfying and manageable. I think festivals work best when mandated by a movement, bursting with undaunted hope and energy.

Sent by jon felton | 11:10 AM | 5-23-2008

I went to a really great one in high school - the ubiquitous KROQ Weinie Roast - where The Cure headlined, with Echo and the Bunnymen, Radiohead, among many others. But later, I went to an Inland Invasion in college and was so miserable, I left before the headliner: The Sex Pistols reunited, pre Jonesy on the radio. It was unbelievably hot and water was $3 in a plastic cup. AND they made me take the safety pins out of my jeans.

That was the last one.

Sent by Simone | 1:59 PM | 5-23-2008

You and I have a couple things in common, Carrie. The first thing is that I too owned a "Cat in the Hat" style hat and my first outdoor festival was Lollapalooza 1991 at the World Music Theatre in Chicago. It was a turning point for me, because I was starting to dig deeper than the radio and MTV for inspirational sounds. After this show, my eyes and ears were opened up to a whole new world of music.

I was most excited to see Nine Inch Nails, Ice-T and his hardcore band Body Count, but I was just beginning to listen to Jane's Addiction and had a subtle interest in Living Colour. It was amazing to me that so many different types of music and people could be represented in one festival.

Since going to the first Lollapalooza in 1991, I have been to the next 3 Lollapalooza's, Tibetan Freedom Festival, two or three Bumbershoot's and Seattle's Block party last year with Spoon and Aesop Rock. I also try to go to Portland's Music Fest NW every year.

Sure, it is difficult to justify sitting on the hard ground in sweltering heat with a bunch of people that don't know the meaning of the word "shower". But the payoff for me is and always has been the music.


Sent by Kevin | 5:55 PM | 5-23-2008

No not really. I'll do it for certain bands tho like the gossip

Sent by Marissa Dailey | 7:11 PM | 5-23-2008

I agree on most of the points about the hassle and general unpleasantness in standing around outside in a huge crowd all day. I generally don't even consider forking over the inordinate amount of cash festival tickets cost.
However, I went to the Treasure Island festival last year in SF and it was amazing. I spent 9 hours right in the front of the stage, making it a point to leave that spot as few times as possible. (Is it really worth fighting the crowd out and back in? Is it really worth the port-o-potty?) It was hot, things were overpriced, and there were definitely a lot of idiots about. But it was an overall wonderful show, and the great moments definitely outweighed the annoying ones. Watching Built To Spill at sunset in the middle of the bay was worth it all.
I think I'll be back this year.

Sent by Kim | 8:22 PM | 5-23-2008

I've always been curious...from a musician's perspective, is it any different playing at a festival than at a normal venue? Is it as much of "herded cattle" feeling as it is out in the audience?

Sent by Tony | 5:05 AM | 5-24-2008

Ha. I ought to make sure that, if I link something (lord knows how much worse a gaffe it might've been!), it's consistent w/ the minor point I'm trying to make. Rather than a link to some sweet rims, kindly sub (mentally) the Anderson Cooper / David Beckham 'LITTERALLY' use moment(s) (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0N6G8XlyCMM intended to highlight the ironic (as in 'wrong', not just 'unfortunate') use of 'LITTERALLY' in Jason M.'s (see: 7:29 pm / May 22) claim of 200-degree heat.

It's not even that hot in Iraq. 140 F: yes, 200 F: no.

Sent by 'stfu cow' shorts the public | 12:24 PM | 5-24-2008

I swear, I'm not obsessed w/ David Beckham http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0N6G8XlyCMM or Sacha B. Cohen http://youtube.com/watch?v=irK9ekBPen0&feature=related tho' I'd consider their coincidence to constitute a festival.

Sent by vache silencieux | 5:18 AM | 5-25-2008

I will let you know, going to Bonnaroo for the first time ever in a few weeks. I can't resist seeing Pearl Jam, Levon Helm, Phil Lesh, Death Cab, Willie Nelson and coughKanyecough all in one place. I must say I am extremely excited and hope it will be the kind of ideal collective being you describe. I am hoping for the best.

Sent by Matt Buckley | 12:47 AM | 5-26-2008

I don't mind festivals. They're not my favourite, but I do enjoy the smaller festivals. I went to the Touch & Go 25th Anniversary festival in September '06 and it wasn't too big. I never felt like overwhelmed by the crowd. Festivals that run from afternoon to about 11-12 I can handle. I'm not a big fan of camping out with a bunch of smelly, barefoot, granola kids.

Sent by Janice Second | 1:38 PM | 5-28-2008

I like the indoors. I like settings small enough to engender the sense of a completely Only This Moment vibe involving the performers, the space, and the audience. Give me a divey little club any day. Even Berkeley's Greek Theater feels like an impersonal uberplex to me. So no more outdoor megashows for me, ever. Unless maybe if S-K reunites and that's my only option.

Sent by Brook | 3:55 PM | 5-30-2008

I've only been to a few outdoor shows at sheds, and it really wasn't worth it. I did a lot of work for the stage union and an independent production company where we put up countless shows indoors and outdoors (Warped Tour, Ozzfest, Usher, etc. etc., as well as fun stuff like Seasame Street on Ice, Promise Keeper events and WWE Raw). Because I was working, I got to see good chunks of the show and have never been able to figure out why people would pay that much to see something so over-produced, half a mile away from where they are seated. I suppose it makes sense if you're a huge Rod Stewart fan, he isn't going to play the Knitting Factory, or anywhere close to that scope, but to drop hundreds of dollars to not really be able to tell if it's him or not, walking around up there, it just seems like a waste. The outdoor venues have the screens out in the field to help people feel a little closer, but it seemed like the audio and video were never synced correctly. Plus, depending on the show, you're next to hundreds of people who might have just come because lawn seats were discounted enough for them to make the show an option that night, even though they don't really care who the band is.
I remember being at Lollapalooza and getting stuff thrown at me because I was standing up to get a better look at Beck (he was playing a couple songs off One Foot...). Finally, I sat down, just in time for him to play "Loser," at which point everyone stood up and the same people started yelling, "don't be a jerk, you can stand up now."
The better I recall, all from working the events:
-KISS put on a pretty amazing show, but that's what they're supposed to do
-Dave Matthews' people are super nice, even though I care not for the music
-Sting is very appreciative of your hard work
-Prince (though it was indoors, and in the round) put on one of the best shows, making sure to play to the crowd every minute he was up there.

Also, Rob Halford's motorcycle has no gas in it. The revving is just a sound effect.

Sent by chris williams | 5:53 AM | 5-31-2008

I couldn't agree more....hence the number one festival I want to attend this year is Monolith. I mean Red Rocks, are you serious.

Sent by Brendon | 1:45 PM | 6-3-2008

it's sad, but going to festivals is only worthwhile if you are in the industry and can snag a backstage/onstage pass. i love music and outside, but heat and idiots are a bummer. plus festivals are expensive. so..i guess everyone should get a job in the biz.

Sent by tiger trap | 2:18 PM | 6-3-2008

I LOVE festival season! And I'm happy to see a couple of my favorites - Floydfest (VA) and Falcon Ridge (NY) already mentioned. They're both smaller but have some incredible talent, and the scene is very friendly. I like feeling a part of something "bigger" than just a concert.

I'd love to check out Bonnaroo sometime, but I'm afraid it's too big for me to feel comfortable. Maybe one day I'll get out to some of the West Coast fests.

Sent by TIna | 9:39 PM | 6-3-2008


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