Music festivals are the stomping grounds for the off-key lyric screamers, DJ wannabes, mosh pit enthusiasts, shoulder sitters, territorial blanket placers, aggressive dancers and glitter fanatics.
Music festivals are home to the good, the bad and the astonishingly weird. Whether you like it or not, it’s festival season, and there’s absolutely no way around its sweaty, sparkly, fist-pumping presence.
This is the environment where waking up at a random campsite with no shoes or phone, not knowing how you got there, is not only acceptable, but common. This is the time of year where your social media feed is littered with instaflexes of blurry hands in the air, girls clad in floppy sunhats while sipping neon vodka and bros in tanks that cover literally none of their sweaty torsos.
While music festivals may be one of the most extra settings, there are many music festival enthusiasts.
“EDM festivals are my favorite as it is my favorite type of music, but I also love most other festivals,” Gonzaga junior Cam Sannes said. “The people and atmosphere of each event makes each one of them unique and amazing.” Sannes has attended roughly five music festivals including Watershed, Paradiso Festival and the Electric Daisy Carnival (EDC).
Watershed appears to be a popular music festival option for many Gonzaga students.
“I loved Watershed. You can’t really beat country music in the middle of summer at the Gorge,” GU junior Colleen Watters said. “It’s hard to not be happy when you’re surrounded by friends, some of your favorite country artists are playing and the sun’s setting over a beautiful scenery.”
Watters has been to Watershed twice, a festival which she feels is pretty different from EDM festivals or Coachella.
The overall vibes of music festivals tend to be energetic, happy and bustling.
“I like country music festivals because everyone is so happy and carefree,” GU sophomore Cameron Orth said.
Orth has been to Watershed three times and Bumbershoot twice.
“Standout memories would be the walk home after Watershed because everyone is still in such a good mood and people will just talk to the [everyone] walking near them,” Orth said.
While the majority of music festival attendees are pleasant folks, there are several types of people who flood the music festival scene who are simply the worst.
“From my experience, there’s no way to make it through a music festival without having some strange encounters at the camp sites and GA section at the concert,” Watters said.
Out of the variety of people who crowd the dirty music festival grounds, here are the people who I believe to be the worst.
We’ll start with the aggressive space claimer. This is the person who sets up 50-square-feet of blankets and blocks the area off with lawn chairs and cusses out anyone who dares to tread on, or even remotely near their sacred space.
There are also those who are only there for the pics and have yet to glance at the lineup. They suddenly become hippies for the weekend, pirouetting in flower crowns, round shades and leather fringe. They pour glitter in their hair and plaster on Flash Tattoos from head to toe that make then resemble something remotely like scaly fish. Their vlogging cameras are glued to their spray-tanned hands. Similar to this, a few D-list celebrities from Instagram can be spotted here and there, documenting everything for their “fans” dressed like a Kardashian.
There’s the aggressive shirtless sweaty bro who’s only dance move is a rigid fist pump paired with forceful head nodding. Chances are he’s drunk on pre-workout with Adderall. He and the rest of his squad are adorned in neon-patterned polos with popped collars and pastille short-shorts from Chubbies. He is essentially the type of person who would buy VIP tickets to the FYRE festival.
Couples who act like the entire festival is their own private concert are always prevalent. News flash, you’re not on the Bachelor. In addition, a very select group of people feel that grinding is the appropriate dance move for any genre of music in any setting. For example, when I saw Jack Johnson perform, there were some people getting down and dirty to his soft, guitar strumming, beachy tunes. I was disturbed to say the least.
Last but not least, we have the Snapchat machine. They film the whole thing at a nauseating slanted angle and do not stop for a millisecond, even if their arms begin to quiver. At the same time, they are somehow grasping at the artist with desperate hands. The Snapchat machine is delusional and thinks that a three-hour recap of them screaming along to a concert is what all of their friends yearn to tap through.
With those characters being said, of course there’s some outliers. They range from someone dressed as a whale high-fiving everyone in sight, to someone who travels everywhere via walking handstand.
These people consistently make you wonder why you even go to festivals.
“I have definitely encountered some strange people. There’s people on drugs who can’t seem to function at all and there’s people who are too drunk to stand,” Sannes said. “Most of these people mind their own business and it provides some good people watching but on a few occasions some have been aggressive or belligerent, but it’s easy to talk them down and keep on walking.”
Because of these people and situations, it’s sometimes difficult to focus on what you’re really there for.
By now, I’m sure you’ve gathered that music festivals have irritating people, but above that, they are wholesome and unforgettable events for which people eagerly await.
One of Watters’ best music festival encounters was befriending one of the security guards by the stage when she was in the general admission section.
“He started sneaking my friends and I water and sunflower seeds which was much needed as there were hundreds of hot and sweaty people surrounding us,” Watters said. “At the end of the concert on the night of my birthday he told me to stay and wait for a second. I stayed back with a friend and he came back with a guitar pick from Old Dominion’s guitar player which was pretty sweet.”
Music festivals are a unique and unifying experience where you have the opportunity to share a meaningful moment with thousands of strangers.
“My favorite memory from my time at music festivals was after seeing Chance the Rapper, because during his performance he would have the audience echo some noise, and then for the rest of the festival people would shout out the noise and anyone who had seen him perform would echo it, which was really special and wouldn’t happen anywhere else,” GU freshman Eden Steinhilber said.
Whether you like them or hate them, music festivals are here to stay. Real soon, they will be plastered onto your Snapchat stories and Instagram feeds. Coachella or no-chella, either way you will still be blessed by the presence of Jaden Smith’s sweet, sweet rapping very soon.
Juliette Carey is a staff writer. Follow her on Twitter: