Which Fest is Best?
“Fests” have become the buzz word for the music world. Just a few years ago they were a shell of what they have become. Camp Bisco, OzzFest, Warped Tour, Austin City Limits, Farm Aid the grandfathers of fest gave you bang for the buck featuring numerous bands on a couple stages maybe a couple days in a row. The tickets were reasonable the water was scarce and food? Well food wasn’t necessary at all.
Now things are different. Fests are actually multi day, multi ethnic, haute cuisine social media monstrosities with charging stations and VIP decks and more drugs and more sweat and more people and more buck and more bands with shorter sets and more stages with greater span until.. you need tactical training to even attend.
Check your bag, wear your wristband, load your credit card so you can scan a veggie burger with the wave of a wrist (after waiting on line and missing 4 acts)- but we love them and the fans sit poised waiting for the line up. Boston Calling will entice you with teaser bands when there is still snow on the ground- the event, held in May has grown to such proportion that its not even worth the trot. Stages football fields apart with constant changes ensures that youll miss one of the bands you’ve most wanted to see. You’ll stand on flat pavement with no grade thus no site line while some suburban white kid with dread locks crowd surfs a sweaty Van to your head. Not my scene man.
There was a time when I was a big Fest fan. Warped was outstanding (and apparently a pedophiles dream come true!) rocknyc covered this event for years and always with great enthusiasm. But the line up got tired and the crowds got larger and more obnoxious until it became a sweaty disgusting poser paradise and we closed the door on our Warped world.
In its place New York offered Governors Ball- which we have covered annually for many years. The perspective much more positive the line up much more timely the organization must more refined. Panorama same deal- it appears New York knows how to throw a fest.
There is Coachella, Burning Man SXSW, all who have ended up too big for their britches and making this spring summer time frame dubbed ‘Fest Season’. Cosmetic companies and department stores now have ‘fest’ inspired cosmetic and clothing lines and so help me God I see one more fake flower head wreath I will torch it like a burnin ring of fire.
Fests are no longer cutting edge for cool outsiders but rather a cookie cutter right of passage for the not to discriminate palate. Lets be fair there are some incredible line ups and if you enjoy peeing in a plastic phone booth, or looking at the back of Steve’s sweaty neck you’re in luck. But If Im shelling out $300 I honestly need more. I need a site line and some shade and maybe a pool and a hotel room and a proper 90 min set and less transit and maybe an air conditioned shuttle.
There is a website called Festticket.com. It lists the top 15 US fests and to be honest, I havent even heard of some of them. The site helps you book your entire experience, and actually offers a planning magazine.Festivals are outright destinations now- so you can go coast to coast to get kicked in the head by a pair of sweaty vans and hear Jack White do the same tired set. Did I mention this just isnt my scene? Its hell.
This being said I will most likely be driving to Chicago this August for Lallapalooza.