O U T S I D E L E F T   stay i n d e p e n d e n t

How To Survive The Dreaded Summer Music Festival.

get the weekly Outsideleft newsletter
by Alarcon, for outsideleft.com
originally published: June, 2005
Security guards won't think twice about using your head as a bongo when they beat out the solo to Inna Gadda Da Vida.
by Alarcon, for outsideleft.com
originally published: June, 2005
Security guards won't think twice about using your head as a bongo when they beat out the solo to Inna Gadda Da Vida.

"Yes, yes, yes, it's the summer festival, the truly detestable summer festival."
- - Edwyn Collins, 1995


It's never been put in words better than when old Ed sang it on "Gorgeous George," has it? The all-day music festival with over 20,000 people in attendance in a deplorable outdoor setting amidst the unwashed masses may be the closest thing we ever get to our own personal Vietnam. Besides the body odor, there's going to be loads of bad music, slimy record label types vying for your money and security guards that won't think twice about using your head as a bongo when they beat out the drum solo to "Inna Gadda Da Vida."


Sounds scary, right? Don't despair; I have music festival experience, baby, and plenty of it. By carefully using this handy guide, you can turn a harrowing experience into a day you'll embellish about for the rest of your lives. So good luck and remember; by reading this paragraph, we wave all responsibilities of any arrests or injuries.

Bait The Homophobes
Sure it's not very PC but what is these days? There's nothing better than goading the testosterone-fueled jocks that festivals like these bring out. The idea isn't original though, who'll ever forget trailblazing pseudo-homos like Cobain & Nosevelic or Farrell & Navarro? Anyway, it's your job to stir things up. I'm not saying you have to tongue your pal in the beer line. All that's needed here is simple hand holding or an arm around the waist; then stand back for the fireworks. By the way this only works for guys - - girls showing any type of physical affection towards one another will most likely be filmed via closed-circuit camera onto the arena's jumbotron.

Dance Party, USA
Start a slam pit (or what the kids call mosh pits nowadays) during the opening band's set. It'll drive the rented security guards apeshit - - they won't know what hit 'em. Ever since uncoordinated teens have been snapping their pencil-thin necks at local shows, it's reported that just about every concert promoter on the planet has had to pay triple the amount of insurance that they did two years ago. This only means more fun for you. Create your own little "Chaos Theory" experiment. See what happens when you whip up a bunch of drunken prepubescent teens and chubby, frustrated ex-jocks that couldn't pass the police academy standards into a free-for-all frenzy. It's a fiery cocktail with explosive results - when the bespeckled indie hipsters get pulled out of the pit with busted spleens, sit back, relax with your $10 light beer and pat yourself on the back for a job well done.


The days of clunky Doc Martin's died out with Lollapalooza - wait, Perry Farrell's flogging that dead horse again? Gah! Anyhoo, today's tours are much more streamlined meaning concert goers must be agile and fleet-footed to survive. I suggest a suede skate shoe preferably dark in color. Tip: For best results, Scotchguard shoes the night before to repel against urine, vomit and alcohol.

Do not wear the antique watch grandma gave you for Christmas - - for that matter, stay away from any jewelry at all. It's just going to get lost, broken, stolen or hocked for drug money anyway. Instead, stick with the basics: t-shirt, loose shorts with reliable pockets and a cheap pair of sunglasses. More tips: that piercing your neighbor in the pit has in his nose will make for great leverage when attempting to crowd surf.

Bring as much as mom gives you. There's a strict "no re-entry" policy at these festivals so once you're in, they control the economy. Food and beverage prices rival Disneyland's and I don't care how "indie" some of the participating labels claim to be, I'm not paying $35 for a fucking silk-screened t-shirt that some crack addict will sell me in the parking lot for $8. Finally (and I speak from experience here), whatever you do, save a minimum of $15. It'll come in handy for bus/taxi fare or as a bribe when you get shitfaced and your drunk friends leave you and you're forced to beg people in the parking lot to take you home.

see more stories from outsideleft's Music archive »»


Alarcon co-founded outsideleft with lamontpaul in 2004. His work for o/l has attracted the attention of hundreds of thousands of readers, oh and probably the fbi too.

Outsideleft Night In
OL's Daily Playlist to Stay In For
mon.29.june, OUTSIDELEFT 100


thumb through the ancient archives:

search for something you might like...

sign up for the outsideleft weekly. a selection of new and archived stories every week. Or less.

View previous campaigns.

State of the Summer Slate '08: Gone Early
It's been years since our resident movie man Seth got so excited about a slate of summer movies... This season he sees them all so you won't have to
Ps & Qs: A Style Guide For The Modern Guy
Fancylad on free advice, corkage fees, and those cheap rubber sandals you're seeing everywhere.
Youth & Young Manhood Part 1
Joe Ambrose, on the 25th anniversary of a Rolling Stones show at Dublin's Slane Castle, looks back while not looking backwards
Michael Alarcon: Morrissey is Dead
Outsideleft founder Michael Alarcon returns to talk about Morrisseys missed opportunity
Dare to Lay Back
Tasha's There's Still The Moon is the last record you'll ever need to hear
The Enniscorthy Echo
Joe meets author Peter Murphy, author of the critically acclaimed novel, John The Relevator. It's a page turning classic says Joe.
Some of our favorite things...