3   earplugs & eye mask

Sleep is a rare commodity when attending a festival, and so it should be! With so many great bands to see, parties to visit, weird and wonderful people to observe, films to go and see, sleep is not high on the list of priorities. However, festival life is exhausting! Schlepping yourself around the terrain all day long, standing for hours on end to get just the right spot to see your favourite act and then dancing like a maniac when they hit the stage, no chair or ergonomically shaped mattress in sight, drinking vast amounts of festivalbeer with no water-intake to soften the blow: your body is in bits at the end of day one. Therefore, when the time finally comes you are no longer able to keep your body in an upright position, you need to make sure you maximise the sleep experience. Besides rowdy co-campers, in my case there is another distinct noise-risk to take into account: nasally challenged festivalfriends sleeping right next door, a mere sheet of tent cloth away… Add to this the fact that festivalbedtime tends to be more or less synonymous with dawn, it seems clear that earplugs and an eye mask are no frivolous luxury items but bare necessities!

2   the carefully planned itinerary…

… which inevitably goes out the window the minute the festival starts. For me, scrutinizing and debating the itinerary is already half of the fun leading up to the festival (as was probably already painfully evident to readers of blogpost “Lowlands pt. 2”). I think up ideal routes and timetables with the precision and logistical efficiency of an air traffic controller, neurotically clinging to the illusion that the festival experience is something that can be planned and mapped out. Inevitably, upon arrival, all bets are off:

  • Endless traffic jams messing up the schedule before the terrain is even in sight
  • The camp ground you had in mind (the one with the perfect location and the decent shower facilities) is already inundated with an ocean of colourful little domes, you’re forced to head to the one which is technically across the province border
  • The Band, the one you planned your weekend around, cancels (I’m reminded of Rock Werchter 2005 When Ryan Adams pulled out at the last moment..)
  • You thought you desperately wanted to see that band everyone keeps going on about (Rock Werchter 2003: Grandaddy, uninspired and monotonous), but then you walk past something you hardly know which is so much more fun (Rock Werchter 2005: Dresden Dolls, was unsure about the album, but live they totally won me over)
  • You get drunk and pass out lying on the grass in a state of bliss, missing 2 of your headliners

In short, who cares about the itinerary at the end of the day. Even a controlfreak like me knows when to just go with the festivalflow.

1   festivalfriends

Well perhaps this blog is not the appropriate place to get sentimental, but really, what fun is a festival if you’re wandering around by yourself? I know I might be offending some diehard festivalnuts out there who traipse around Europe to ‘do’ them all for the sake of the music, alone if need be. But however much I love my music, the most fun is had in the middle of the night huddled under our ‘lowrider partytent’, burning marshmallows over the tiny flame of a candle and polishing off whatever vile concoction of liquor is left lying around in our respective tents.

Lowlands Lowrider 2007

Our trusty lowrider partytent at lowlands 2006, R.I.P.

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