According to the Gregorian calendar, summer doesn’t start for about another few weeks.
But according to a more important calendar – the calendar according to Perry Farrell – summer is already here.
I love music festivals because they give me an excuse to do nothing but eat, drink, and watch live music hangover dawn (11 a.m.) to drunk dusk (11 p.m.).
They’re also a perfect excuse to do other things you wouldn’t normally do: wear a headband, drink vodka, straight, out of a Camelbak, abstain from bathing for 72 hours.
But it’s not all fun and drinking games on the festival circuit. There are hazards. I know, because I’ve fallen prey to all of them.
Which is why I’m qualified to dispense these pearls of wisdom.
This is Part I of my Music Festival Survival Guide – a few helpful bits of advice to remember when you walk through those festival gates this summer.
Guys: Avoid the fire between your thighs (it’s not what it sounds like).
When you’re at an outdoor festival on a hot summer afternoon, you’re going to sweat. All over.
Now, when your upper body turns Dagobah, there’s a simple solution, take off your shirt, pee on it and then wrap it around your head like Bear Grylls.
But down below: problems. When your balls start to sweat, they start to rub against your thighs, which are also sweaty. And when you’re walking 5 miles a day from stage to stage, this sweaty friction leads to one thing: chafing.
The first year I went to Lollapalooza, I spent the first night waddling up Michigan Ave. like I just got passed around by the Sisters from The Shawshank Redemption.
Never fear, though, for there is a simple solution: Every morning, take a handful of baby powder and dump it in your boxers. Problem solved.*
The person in line behind you at the Port-a-Potty? Yeah, you’re never going to see that person again.
Let’s say you’re on the mound, ready to throw the pitch, but nature is behind the plate holding down two fingers instead of one.
You’re wary, because who does that in a public toilet, right?
But remember, there are 100,000 other people here. That dude in the V-neck who was behind you in line? Yeah, you’re never going to see him again.
Plus, if you actually do end up seeing that person again, you now have a great ice-breaker, right?
“Hey, where have I seen you before? Oh that’s right — you were behind me in line for the Port-a-Potty! Sorry about that! Actually, I’m not. What you experienced was the result of two pulled pork sandwiches, a cheesesteak, Barbacoa tacos and three slices of pizza. It was a masterpiece, right?”
Please note: this piece of advice really only applies to camping festivals like Bonnaroo or Coachella – places where you don’t have the luxury of returning to a nice, comfortable hotel bathroom at the end of the day. Because who the hell poops in a Port-a-Potty if he doesn’t have to?
(Someone who’s having a major mid-day emergency brought on by too many lobster corn dogs, that’s who.
Which brings me to my next piece of advice…)
When in doubt, always spend $9 on a lobster corn dog.
Okay, so now I’ve gotten really specific: this only applies to those of you going to Lollapalooza.
If you are in that select group of half a million, I can’t stress this enough. The lobster corn dog is something that sounds, to be sure, like it was conceived in a fever dream by the hellspawn of Guy Fieri and Gordon Ramsey.
But once you bite into one, everything changes. All of a sudden, everything around you just sort of disappears and the world falls silent. The only thing you hear is the crunch of that crispy outer layer of cornbread encapsulating a softer, moist layer that further encapsulates a rich heaping of succulent lobster meat. And then there’s that sauce, OH THAT SAUCE, I don’t even know what it is, but it will make your knees buckle.
I’m sorry, where was I again?
Oh, that’s right…
Be resourceful. Be prepared. Ask for forgiveness, not for permission.
You’ll likely be spending three long days outdoors with nothing but a backpack, some cash in your pocket for beer and food, and a folded-up schedule of set times. So you’re going to have to make do with what the resources you have on your person. Think of yourself like a mountain man, only a mountain man who’s making life difficult for himself for the sole reason of seeing hipster bands who probably won’t be around in two years.
If your cash starts running low and you have to smuggle tiny bottles of liquor in your girlfriend’s cleavage, then that’s what you have to do.
If you have to “volunteer” to pick up bottles and cans just so you can get one of those giant plastic recycling bags that you’ll use as a make-shift poncho so you can stay dry and hit a bar after the show, then go for it.
And if it rains and you take off your water-logged socks to squeeze the excess water into a bottle to drink, you should absolutely never do that because they give out water for free. Seriously, that’s disgusting.
It’s every man for himself out there. Or every woman for herself, I’m all about gender equality.
Lastly, no matter which festival you attend this summer, Blues Traveler will be performing. Don’t accept anything edible from anyone you don’t know if Blues Traveler is playing within earshot.
This one’s pretty self-explanatory.
Stay tuned for Part II of my Summer Music Festival Survival Guide, in which I’ll review the types of people you will encounter at a typical summer music festival.
In the meantime, I’m going to start practicing how to mutter “this band sounds so much better in a small venue” under my breath to impress everyone standing around me during a Passion Pit set.
*For the ladies: Even sans testes, you’re still probably going to experience chafing, so you can either go with the same baby powder remedy, or wear really, really tight Lycra bicycle shorts to combat the friction. On second thought, definitely go with the tight shorts.
For more from Rob…
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