How to Survive a Summer Music Festival When You Feel Like You're Too Old for This Ish

There was a time when the phrase “summer music festival” used to bring joy to my heart. My favorite bands, tens of thousands of people, and lightning bugs filling a sprawling urban park? Such romance, such sweet freedom of my early twenties. But alas, as I get older, the appeal of a music festival has waned. Whether it’s Made in America, Firefly, Outside Lands, Lollapalooza, or any of the hundreds of music festivals popping up across our great nation this summer, as I look at the line-ups and ticket prices I now think to myself, “I am too old for this shit.”

Yet, despite my loathing of cropped and frilled leather vests, that guy who is always dressed in a spandex bodysuit, the criminal beer prices, and lack of humane plumbing... I still find myself going to festivals. This year's Made in America line-up for Philadelphia was just announced and when I saw The National, Spoon, and De La Soul I thought to myself, "Damn! Okay, I guess I'm doing this." Such foul, wicked temptresses festivals be!

Be it peer pressure or the desire to prove to myself that maybe I’m NOT too old for this shit, year after year, I fork over roughly $150 to see a few bands that I actually love while being pushed and shoved by belligerent bungholes wearing Deadmau5 masks.

So if you’re like me, dear reader, and find yourself at a music festival even though you feel your years are far beyond tolerating this sort of wasteful tomfoolery, here’s how you can survive all of the twirling, long lines, mud, and general deluge of music festivals:

Bring a Fellow Grump

Misery loves company. And there’s nothing worse than being the wet blanket in a group of friends. Make sure there’s someone with you who loves and loathes the experience as much as you.

Stick to Your Guns

I have attended many a festival in which I went with the intention of seeing a few artists in particular, and then was dragged by someone else to a dance tent or laser show and missed out on the musicians I actually paid to see. If you really want to catch a set, make sure that happens so you won’t leave feeling grumpier than you arrived. That being said…

Try to stay together

With big groups of friends, it’s cool to split off and go your own way. But man, oh man, trying to re-connect with people in a festival is like trying to find a full-time job after college (AMIRIIIIIIIGHT?). If you go with a smaller group or just a friend or two, try to stick together as much as possible because LOL cellphone reception.

Pick the stuff that’s age-appropriate

If you don’t want to be surrounded by a bunch of YOLO’s dub stepping or whatever it is the kids are doing these days, pick the right sets. Usually, there are at least one or two classic artists at a festival, and there you will find your people.

Be willing to pay more for a pleasant experience

The craft beer garden or wine lounge is going to (generally) be filled with better humans than the Budweiser Keg-a-palooza. Go to those places.

Dress smartly

Screw you, festival fashion. If it’s raining, I’m wearing a poncho and wellies. If it’s going to get chilly at night, I would rather carry a jacket around all day than be shivering for the last set. I have no time for floral headbands and denim thongs. SPF 50 and big hats ALL DAY.

Do some squats to prepare

You’re going to end up peeing in a bush while your friend tries to shield you from onlookers. Get those quads ready, ladies.

Don’t be like those other jerks

I’ve seen a lot of awful behavior at festivals, like men peeing in the middle of the crowd in between sets, for example. I also tend to leave festivals with bruised arms because it’s just SO important for a bunch of jerks to elbow and smash their way through in order to get to the stage. If you need to move through a space, ask people politely and do so without pushing. The majority of your experiences will be surprisingly nice. People really do respond to “please” and “thank you.”

Bring a chair

Yeah, I said it. Bring a G-D chair. You might think you look like a total square, but when you're comfortably lounging while everyone around you has aching backs from standing all day... or worse sitting on the squidgy soaked ground with unfathomable fluids... you will be grateful and envied by those young fools. FOOLS I SAY!

Judge openly and freely

Screw it. These young kids are garbage and have no respect. None I tells ya! Take it all in, judge, laugh, and let your inner-cynic soar. There is a dude in neon fuzzy boots tripping out in front of a vegan taco truck, for crying out loud! This is your time to shine.