The weather is getting hot, the flowers are in full bloom and if you are really lucky, you are listening to a sweet riff on an electric guitar. Summer is upon us, which means (in B’s and my world) the season of summer music festivals has begun. The reasons for attending music festivals are many: all your favorite artists in one place, you get to mix the outdoors with groovy tunes, you get an excellent bang for your buck for a ticket when compared to seeing all of the artists individually. All in all, music festivals are a lot of fun.
Variety is the Spice…
They seem to be available in most genres. In our neck of the woods, we have the Boise Music Festival (pop), Mountain Home Music Festival (country), Gene Harris Festival (jazz), Huckleberry Jam (indie) and the Weiser Fiddler Festival (bluegrass), just to name a few. You might have to travel to get to a festival with your style of music, but I think if you look for it, you’ll find one that suits your tastes. Okay, now that I’ve convinced you to go to a summer music festival, we need to discuss what to bring. B and I are veterans of this type of event, and the list below includes our recommendations for important things to have that we have learned through lots of experience.
Most festivals are located in wide open spaces, like parks or fields, so you rarely have assigned seats and instead need to bring one. You can go with a few different options here; all have pros and cons.
Tall lawn chair
- Most comfortable, especially if you have a fancy one that reclines.
- Height advantage, these are taller so you can see the performance over the lower seat options.
- Heavy and cumbersome, if you have to walk far from the car to your spot this is going to be a real drag.
- Seating restrictions. Some places have levels, so if you are sitting on a blanket you get to sit in front of the chairs…can we just take a moment to state that even if the venue doesn’t restrict this you still shouldn’t set up shop in front of people if you have taller chairs? That’s just rude.
Lower lawn chair
- Medium comfort level, because you will have back support.
- Easy to carry since they are compact in size.
- Not as comfortable as a taller chair.
- If jerks sit in front of you, you won’t be able to see.
- Defined space, a blanket on the ground is a line in the sand. If you don’t want people crowding you, most times the blanket will keep them away….unless they are feeling really friendly.
- Spread out anywhere.
- Can be used to keep warm if necessary.
- You might get tired of sitting upright without back support.
- You really won’t be able to see if people sit/stand in front of you.
Recommendation: if you know you are going to sit most of the time, bring the comfy tall chair. If you will be up in front of the stage for most of the show, opt for a low chair. And just always bring a blanket, you never know when/how you will need to use it.
Attending summer music festivals can be dangerous for your health. Well, not really, but you are going to be a lot more comfortable and your body will thank you the next day if you bring the following items.
Bring sunblock and apply it frequently. It is always a good idea to lather up when you do anything outdoors in the summer, so sitting in the sun for 12 hours while you listen to music definitely requires sunblock applications. Day 2 would be a real bummer if you fry on Day 1. Very un-rock and roll. Also important is to bring a chapstick or lipstick that has sunscreen in it. Your concert boyfriend/girlfriend will thank you. One final mention on the sunblock front: there’s a product out there that allows you to dab sunscreen into your hair part without getting your hair all greasy. B saw some girls using it one year and made sure to add it to her repertoire for the next season.
B and I go to a lot of concerts and one thing they all have in common is they are really loud. Did you know that listening to loud music for long periods of time can cause permanent hearing loss? I love live music, but the thought of ringing in my ears for the next 60 years is very unsettling. Ear plugs are the answer for enjoying music and not saying, ‘eh?’ whenever someone talks to you. Sure, they might not look terribly cool, but you can purchase flesh colored ones and wear your hair down to disguise your practicality. If you are concerned about sound quality, you can purchase earplugs that are made to allow some sound in while blocking the rest. Basically, these are cheap versions of what the musicians wear. I purchased a set of DownBeats on Amazon and tried them out last week at the Highway 30 Music Festival and was pleasantly surprised by how good the music sounded.
Most festivals come with food vendors selling delicious, albeit very unhealthy food. For one day, that is fine. The second day you might waver a little, but definitely by the third day you’ll probably end up craving anything not fried. If you bring some healthy food options you can replace a meal or two and you won’t feel so gross. Easy go to’s are nuts and protein bars.
We’ve stated many times that B and I are not fashionistas. It would be silly for us to tell you what to wear, except to say that you should choose materials carefully. Summer festivals can be h-o-t. Wearing wicking fabric and a flowy skirt that allows a breeze in your nether regions will help keep you cooler.
This could go in the sun prevention category because it will help you not get burned, but my favorite thing about a hat is that it hides all sorts of hair sins. At the Braun Brother’s Reunion Festival we go to, we are camping in a tent. My hair is hard to tame and a hat on Day 3 really makes things easier. Bonus: lots of bands have merch booths and you can support your new favorite band and look cute all at the same time.
The sun is bright, so make sure to remember your shades. Bonus: you can blatantly stare at all the weirdos hippy dancing if your lenses are dark enough and they’ll never know.
You will probably be dying of heat during the day, but when the sun goes down it can get chilly in some parts (read: Idaho). Throw a hoodie in the bottom of your bag and it will make sure you stay warm enough to last until the last band’s last song.
Other Miscellaneous Items
I’m pretty sure most festivals we go to are funded by the outrageous amount of beer they sell at exorbitant prices. Whether you are drinking beer or water, it’s important to make sure you stay hydrated. Here are some things that will help with this:
A koozie is a neoprene sleeve that fits around your beverage and helps keep it cool longer. You can most likely purchase these at merch booths, but try to remember to bring one with you, otherwise you’ll end up with quite the collection.
We drink a lot of water at festivals (it’s good for you and keeps you cool, afterall) and the plastic water bottles really can add up. If you are environmentally conscious, bring a water bottle and refill when you can. Good karma will come your way.
This is a new thing we just saw at the Highway 30 Festival. They were selling insulated cups, which if you purchased it, you were entitled to a discount on your beer. Pretty genius. I have no doubt I’ll see this at many more festivals in the future.
The weather in the Idaho mountains can be pretty extreme. In the dead of summer, we’ve experienced hail, wind, downpour rain, and lightning while at festivals. It pays to be prepared for inclement weather. One year at BBR it looked like rain, so we brought the tarp in and set up our blanket on top of it. When the skies opened up we just pulled our tarp over our heads and while everyone else was getting soaked we were snug as a bug in a rug.
A few years ago, B printed up the band schedule for a festival. This was a handy piece of paper to have around, we could slide it into the holders of our phones and easily see when our favorite band was coming up next or when we could make a trip to the food booth and miss an act that wasn’t very good. Another option is to snag a screenshot of the schedule on your phone and pull up the photo to keep on track.
One of the best things about summer is listening to great music underneath a star-filled sky. If you have been to music festivals, you know what I’m talking about. If you haven’t, look one up and try it out. The tips above will help make sure you have a good time.