It’s time to pour our hearts out. Music festivals are gone, like a lost relative.
By Adam Bloodworth
Music festivals are (almost certainly) gone. At least for 2020, and that is incredibly sad. I should say, firstly, that despite my catchy headline, it isn’t all doom and gloom. There is some optimism to be snatched at, like a guy rope blowing in the wind, or a set list thrown roughishly from the stage.
How so? Well, part of the grieving process for any lost loved one (or summer full of them) is remembering the fun we had. The things we learnt. So, in the interests of moaning constructively, here is a higgeldy-piggeldy article listing some of the reasons why I love music festivals, and some of the best LOLs I’ve had while at them. (Pls honour my grieving period by reading on, and read to the bottom, where I show how you can help keep your favourite independent festival alive for 2021).
Why I love music festivals, and why I’ll miss them desperately
I came out to one of my best friends at a music festival. I sang on stage in front of 10,000 people at a music festival, and more times than I can remember, I laid down in the long, wet grass in the pre-dawn and assessed my very darkest and very brightest thoughts with old friends – and new friends – at music festivals.
(It should go unsaid, then, that I’ve also woken up in the early afternoon with my legs akimbo, outside my half-closed tent, thirsty and hungover, all too frequently at music festivals.)
In a world dictated by last buses, last trains (first trains in the morning), and busy late-night Tubes, music festivals offer the chance to experience something more freeing: a life without timetables, and (if the festival is done right) a wholly pleasurable world where there is no need to worry or fret. At least, for the weekend.
Music festivals allow us to be with the people we love in the simplest way I’d argue humanly possible: sharing a field together. Sharing tents, cold supermarket food and gross warm cider. Maybe there’s some bands too. And some theatre.
But music festivals aren’t really about the bands. Or the line-ups. They might be a smidge about those, but really, they’re a way for us to collectively unravel. Especially now we’re all more fraught and frantically connected than ever.
As well as unravelling, music festivals make it easy to try new things. I think of myself as an outgoing person, but still, music festivals make me try things I have been putting off trying in the real world. This is due to the immediacy of things to do, and the diversity of things to do, within one eyshot.
I tried my first gong bath at a music festival, my first dance therapy at a festival and my first laughter yoga. These things helped me learn to overcome certain fears, and certain other anxieties.
And without intending to bang on, the magic is that these experiences are just there: included within the fair cost of a ticket, part of a collective effort by some passionate people to create a utopian city where nothing feels like too much stress, or hard work.
At festivals there’s no need to plan to do something in five weeks’ time, as is the norm in London. At festivals I’m doing it live!
But, curveball: music festivals aren’t really about the new experiences either. They might be a smidge about those, (actually, quite a big smidge about those), but much like travelling, with music festivals, the destination isn’t the point: we go for the surprising and thrilling things that happen along the way.
I’ve made a few of my closest friends at festivals. I’m sure many of us have. I set up a website, this one, about festivals, nearly ten years ago to share some of those wondeful experiences, and people occasionally tell me they like the concept of what we do (we try to write about festivals in a creative way, dividing things to do into ‘Culture’ and ‘Trash’: as we all have the capacity to be a bit of both.)
How to save music festivals
The BBC’s Steve Holden wrote this very useful guide on how to support your favourite music festival from going under amid Covid-19. Give it a read, but essentially, hanging on to your ticket could literally save your favourite independent event from going under. And with that, we can hope for 2021 to be the best music festival summer ever.
Please consider, if at all possible, not asking for a refund. If at all possible. Thank you.
(And then, maybe one day I can wake up half in, half out, of my tiny pop-up tent again.)
Love, Adam | C/T Editor. xx
(If I’ve made you nostalgic for the festi sesh, here are a few of our reviews from some of our favourite festivals, new and old. Give them a read if you’re bored of Zoom pub quizzes).
We Out Here: read about why we love it there (and are pumped for the next edition)
Bestival: read about we loved it there
Standon: read about why we love it there