Why I Don't Like Music Festivals
As someone that lives and breathes music, I don't much care for music festivals. People always seem surprised by this fact, but music festivals aren't designed with the serious music fan in mind. They're more like getting a buffet meal instead of ordering off the menu. I went to the Boston Calling fest last night and here are the shenanigans I saw:
- •This is a three day festival. I was only in town for Friday and bought a day pass to specifically to see Sufjan Stevens. There were only three acts on the bill Friday night and the festival published a performance order, but no approximate start times so I decided to show up when gates opened to stake out a good spot for Sufjan.
- •Since I was there I figured I'd pay attention to Lisa Hannigan and Aaron Dessner's set. They were chill and really good (she was in Damien Rice's band, he's in The National), but about 60 seconds into their set, the couple next to me started showing each other YouTube videos at full volume. I'm screaming inside: "WHY THE FUCK ARE YOU HERE?"
- •Hannigan & Dessner finish up and now everybody's ready for Sufjan and two drunk underage folks are puking their guts out right in the middle of the crowd. The sun hasn't even set and the gates have been open less than two hours and multiple people are doing the technicolor yawn. No thanks.
- •Sufjan is finally playing and no matter where I go it's just people chattering. And I keep moving around looking for folks actually watching the show. Quiet song? They keep talking: "OMG! Kim totally hooked up with Patterson last week" and "Duuuude! Get more beers!" For the love of all things holy, shut up and let me hear what I paid $70 to hear.
- •When he closes with his most popular song, "Chicago," the chatterers finally start paying attention. They're singing along at the top of their lungs, but at least they're into it now!
- •You're going to sing along to the horn parts too? Oh fuck off!!
- •"DA DA DA DAAAA DAAAAAAAA!!! DA DA DA DA! DA DA DA DAAAA!!"
- •I saw Sufjan about six months ago in a 2,000 seat theater and I think the audience was more reverential than people are at most church services I've ever attended. I vastly prefer that atmosphere.
- •I know a lot of people love festivals and I'm glad they do. It's just not my scene. I like being with an audience of 100% dialed in true believers.
- •If it's one of my all-time favorite artists I'll go, and I'll have fun, but I'll be secretly wishing it was in a smaller venue the whole time.