This April I finally joined the club of glitter-covered music festival goers for the first time ever. I know, how could I, at 18 years old, living in California, have never been to a music festival until now? Well, to be honest, I just never had much interest. Coachella always seemed like more of a fashion show, I was never in town for Outside Lands or Beach Goth, and I don’t particularly like the country music played at Stagecoach. Then at a local venue, When We Were Young (WWWY) was announced. The tickets wouldn’t break my bank, and the headliner was Morrissey, I mean how could I turn that down? It was a small festival, good for a first time, but still, going into it I wished I had someone to give me some advice since all of my expectations were based off of incredibly posed pictures all over Instagram.
So from one first time concert goer to another - here are my top ten tips:
1. Fanny packs are your best friend
Pricing for lockers at festivals are ridiculous, plus they’re often hard to get to, so you want to be able to keep your wallet, ID, and phone on you at all times without worrying about them falling out or being grabbed (even on accident). If you’re going with friends, pool all of your important items into one fanny pack (luckily they’re back in style now too!) and you can trade who wears it during the day.
2. Research the food options beforehand
Personally, I’m vegetarian and a very picky eater, so food outside of a festival can be hard to find. I was lucky that at WWWY there were no meat products served because of Morrissey’s dedication to animal rights. There weren’t a lot of gluten free options and nothing was safe for people with severe nut allergies, so researching what the options are beforehand is important if you have any dietary restrictions. Also, this way you can know the price ahead of time, concert food is always expensive, but when you’re there for morning to night you can’t just avoid eating it and budgeting is key.
This should go without saying.
4. There’s no such thing as too much glitter
Probably the best part of festival season? The opportunity to embrace your inner 5 year old and throw sparkles all over the place and have it be considered trendy. I was self conscious the first day with WWWY being a punk and kind of throwback festival, but I soon realized one of the most beautiful parts of festivals is the freedom for self expression. If you feel like drawing all over your body - go for it. If you feel like wearing cat ears - go for it. If you feel like wearing a bralette - you rock that. Do whatever makes you feel most comfortable and free in your own skin.
5. Learn the etiquette
At WWWY people were truly there for the music, which was amazing, it was hard to find a person with their phone out. It was considered kind of rude to be taking selfies during performances and people would sometimes judge you. Not saying this is okay at all, again, festivals are supposed to be about freedom and enjoyment for yourself. But, if getting that killer picture is important to you (like it was to me), figure out the politest way to go about it not to disturb other concert goers.
6. Make mosh pit friends
When the mosh pit gets too crazy, make friends who will help protect you from getting fallen on and who you can do the same for!
7. Find new bands
The headliners at WWWY didn’t start until later in the afternoon, but I was lucky my friend pushed me outside of my comfort zone though to see more than just the specific artists I came to see. Going early was the best decision I ever made because I found a new favorite band, The Regrettes (check them out, they’re super feminist and great for when you want to get pumped up.)
8. Have an “in case of emergency” meeting spot
Like sunscreen should go without saying, but this is especially important. I ended up separated from my friend when I had to go to the medic tent briefly. She was in the thick of a mosh pit and had no way of reaching me or way for me to reach her, luckily I didn’t have to worry about finding her because I knew that she’d come look for me at our “in case of emergency” meeting spot as soon as the set was done, and she did.
9. Have a code word
If you’re ever put into a situation where you’re uncomfortable for whatever reason and need to get out make sure to have a code word with your friends. For my friend and I the code word was “pickles”, cliche but effective.
10. Have fun!
Most importantly, have a freaking blast. Don’t stress about how you look, or posting on your snapchat story, or if you’re dancing is okay. Just enjoy the music and make some killer memories.