Music Festival Season is Approaching and I Promise You’re Not Ready

Read this and call me in the morning

By John David White

In 2014, Outkast made more money playing 40 music festival shows than they did on their entire 2001 Stankonia tour, which followed their multiplatinum album release and the success of their Number One single, “Ms. Jackson.” And they didn’t just make more—they made a lot more.

According to The Rolling Stone, their Stankonia tour grossed nearly $4.8 million. Their 2014 reunion tour, in comparison, grossed nearly $60 million. This enormous difference in total gross is entirely due to the emergence of the music festival, a relatively new phenomenon (excluding Woodstock) that has changed the music industry by delivering hundreds of thousands attendees to shows.

Las Vegas’ Electric Daisy Carnival draws more than 400,000 attendees in a weekend. This guarantees artists gobs of money, but it also makes for a very interesting fan experience. But before you can fully immerse yourself in the super underground sub-culture of Music Festival Life, significant research must be done.

Float Fest, photo by Madelynne Scales

Float Fest, photo by Madelynne Scales

There are no casual encounters with the ritual of organized music—it’s all in or all out, baby. But contrary to popular belief, Music Festival Life isn’t one big montage of snap-backs, doobies and dub-step. This is going to hit you right where it hurts, but these things cost major dollar signs, so I hope you saved up a couple hundo from your shit job at Dave & Busters.

You will also find out that getting to and from a highly condensed area filled with thousands of people can be a hassle, so make sure to secure a ride with Lyft, Uber or your mom’s minivan. Pro-tip: most moms hook it up with PB&Js. I’ll assume you’re competent enough to have successfully overcome this minor snafu and are reading this magazine in the midst of a pumped-up crowd of young ambitious motherfuckers. Congratulations. If you didn’t: it is now time to turn off your portable Internet viewing satellite Wi-Fi device and go to bed.

Now all that’s left is to sit back and enjoy the music, am I right? Wrong. Couldn’t be more wrong. The music is the last thing you should be worrying about, man, get it together.

Worry about the drugs, because they are everywhere. Just look around—every living being within a mile radius of you is stoned. That mom next to you jamming to some Dave Matthews and drinking a Virgin Margarita smoked a J in her Prius 35 minutes ago, and she’s still feeling spacey. That dude in scrubs who may or may not be on call just snorted a gram of molly. That baby fast asleep in the distance? Baked as a potato. And while Study Breaks would never endorse the use of drugs or alcohol (Note to self: Ask editor if Study Breaks endorses the use of drugs or alcohol), it is a reality you’ll have to deal with, so be prepared. Try to avoid winding up in the hospital though, because a trip to the ER is worth like THREE tickets to ACL.

One way of positively interacting with this highly sedated sea of zombified lunatics is to chat with the crowd about the music. It’s like your 3rd grade meth-head art teacher always said, “Go with the flow, little tree children.” In the heat of the moment, any form of noise will sound great thanks to the mob effect, so you’re going to inevitably make statements like: “This is the most thrilling sound that has ever graced my ear drums; I love music and I simply love being!” You will hear this phrase being uttered by all ages in different prose, like hearing the ocean from a multitude of seashells. It’s a simple concept to grasp, but things get complicated in the aftermath.

But always, always remember to say the opposite of this when your friends ask if you had a good time, because you’re too cool to have fun at stuff where other people have fun….Whatever. If I’m confusing you, just remember this phrase: “Most of the bands were alright, but their performances were way better before they made it big.” This phrase will be your Hail Mary.

And for Chrissakes, don’t buy a tee-shirt. Get one off eBay from years and years before you were there. Because that’s C-O-O-L. “It’s not easy being cool,” said Uncle Jesse to DJ Tanner, patronizingly, with a wink and a hair swish.

Here at Study Breaks we cover the hard-hitting facts, like acknowledging that Donald Trump is a man that exists and is on a lot of the screens. Here’s another one: you’re the worst dancer in the world. And if you’re white and reading this, God save your soul. But don’t worry, everyone else sucks too! So if you find your body reacting in strange ways to the healing powers of funk, don’t sweat it.


At the end of the day, if you dance hard enough you may find yourself in a white V-neck grooving on top of a white Volkswagen Buggy, changing Reverend’s opinions about rock ‘n’ roll, getting the girl [boy] of your dreams, but also becoming Kevin Bacon. That’s what Music Festivals are all about, baby. Footloose is going to be available on Netflix in 2016 and is a better guide to Music Festival Life than this article. The 1984 version, not the shitty remake with Dennis Quaid.