Music festivals are a world of fun but require a little planning if you want the experience to run as smoothly as possible. We’ve compiled a list of useful tips drawn from our own exposure with these events — in hopes that you can learn from the mistakes we’ve seen and made ourselves. Festivals are unpredictable and inevitably something will go wrong, but we think these tips will help reduce potential setbacks. Let us know in the comments section what you think about our advice and leave your own as well.
Pro-tip #1: Rage safely. The festival experience is what you make of it, and it can be easy to get carried away. We are not your parents, but as your spiritual guides in the world of EDM, we care about you too! As important as it is to respect others at these kinds of events it’s equally — if not more important — to respect yourself. Know your limits and be safe. We’ve all heard the horror stories about people making poor decisions, so have fun, but do it with caution.
Pro-tip #2: Get there early and check out artists you’ve never heard of. You’re probably less inclined to spend your hard-earned money on a single artist you’re unsure about but the all-inclusive nature of festivals is ideal for this kind of musical experimentation. Experience at least one tech-house set — and for comic relief visit the dubstep tent to watch the dancing.
Pro-tip #3: Fuzzy boots are out. Loose, light, and comfortable clothing is in. EDM festivals often take place during the warmest seasons so it’s simply nonsensical to cover yourself in unnecessary layers. While we’re all for self-expression it doesn’t make much sense to do so at the expense of your health, safety, and general leisure. Wear loose and comfortable clothes but bring a light sweater (preferably one that can be tied around the waist or easily stuffed in a backpack) if it gets cold at night.
Pro-tip #4: Wear earplugs. Although they might seem entirely counterintuitive to the point of a music festival, our ears simply aren’t built for the kind of abuse massive sound systems inflict. We’re not the only ones in the pro-earplug camp either, Plan B and Chris Martin of Coldplay have joined forces for The Action on Hearing Loss campaign. Remember when you were in middle school and your parents made you wear your retainers? No matter how embarrassing or painful it was at the time you’re probably appreciative of your straight teeth now — and in five or ten years you’ll be grateful for your hearing too. We recommend the Etymotic ER20-CCC-C Hi-Fi Musician’s Ear Plugs. Note: Insomniac also sells earplugs at their merchandise booth for only $5.
Pro-tip #5: Be considerate of space — and people. It’s a given that the festival grounds will be packed, but that doesn’t mean you have to be the asshole inconsiderately flailing about and bothering everyone around you. If you’ve ever been to a concert you know exactly what we’re talking about. Use your manners, say “excuse me,” and if you do happen to accidentally punch someone in the face, apologize (!!!!!!).
Pro-tip #6: It’s possible to be in the moshpit — and have personal space. With a little searching and perseverance you’re bound to find a spot with both a great view and space to breathe. We’ve learned that people often get too lazy to keep pushing once they get to the super-crowded middle bubble so if you have some patience you can often find an ideal spot. It’s important to note, however, that if you want to switch stages or just grab some more water doing so can be especially difficult to maneuver. (But if you’re up against a barricade in the middle of a moshpit and want out, security will usually help you over and escort you.)
Pro-tip #7: Put your phone down and enjoy the experience. We understand why you’d want to share the memories of your festival experience but having twelve pictures of the same DJ is useless, takes up space, and kills your battery (see Pro-tip #12). Spending time on your phone in any capacity detracts from the experience; appreciate it while you’re there instead of recording the entire show to watch later — you’ll wind up regretting it. Besides, the best moments will probably end up on YouTube anyway.
Pro-tip #8: Bring as little as possible. This one’s pretty simple. Getting through security is already a painful process so reduce the hassle by bringing less items. Peruse the contraband list beforehand to help lighten your load. However, we do encourage you to bring a small bottle of hand sanitizer.
Pro-tip #9: Plan your day before arriving onsite. Going to a big event with a group of friends is fun but it also has its downsides – the biggest one usually being conflicting set preferences. Of course everyone’s going to have to compromise but this way you’ll have a better chance of catching that must see – but controversial – performer.
Pro-tip #10: Eat before you go. Staying hydrated is important but so is eating before you get to the event. Feeling hungry while you’re trying to party is zero fun. Yes, there will likely be food at the venue, but it’s expensive and the lines are long. Just avoid the whole mess by handling it beforehand.
Pro-tip #11: Wear sunblock, especially if you’re prone to burning. Getting sunburnt on the first day almost guarantees that you’ll spend the rest of the festival feeling uncomfortable. Be proactive and protect yourself.
Pro-tip #12: Bring an extra phone battery pack. One of the most frustrating things that can happen to you at a big festival is a dead phone battery, but it’s easily avoidable if you prepare ahead of time. The Mophie Juice Pack Air is a staple among the DA staff, essentially acting as a battery case for your iPhone. There are similar items for other phones, but you might want to look into picking up something if you anticipate your battery dying early. Just make sure you charge the case first otherwise it’s useless, which we unfortunately know from experience. (But remember, tip #6 still stands!)
Pro-tip #13 Arrange for pick up. Exiting any festival is a major head ache and trying to find a cab is nearly impossible. Luckily you have options, all of which come down to doing a little independent research. Many festivals take place in major cities so when possible take advantage of public transportation — detailed travel information will likely be posted on the festival’s website. You can also arrange for a ride beforehand and meet a few blocks from the site. This what we did during Ultra and it worked out well, just be sure to get the cab driver’s number.
Pro-tip #14: Stay hydrated, drink water. DUH!
Pro-tip #15: Have fun. During your two or three day excursion you’re likely to run into some setbacks but don’t let the little things bother you. You can spend the whole time being upset about something that ultimately doesn’t matter or you can brush it off and continue to make memories. The choice is yours.