Summer is upon us and with that comes festival season. You may be camped out, living out of a van, staying in a 14-bedroom “condo” outside of Coachella, or simply roaming the streets of a decently sized city, but, regardless of format, these will all have a beer garden. Except in rare, anarchy-laden cases where the entire site is licensed, in which case expect civilization to burn like a kerosene-soaked Rome while whatever bluegrass band on the main stage fiddles away. So, for those of us not able to freely roam with an ounce or two of alcohol while the bands play, here’s a few pointers for how to survive.
Don’t Overdo It on the Pre-Drinking: Yes, beer is expensive. So is food, gasoline, insurance, your student loan and the pass you just bought for the festival. While it’s not a bad thing to pre-emptively save a few bucks with a couple of knocked-back cold ones of your choice (always more varied than the festival selection unless it involves individual venues) try to keep the fun-time juice under control. There’s absolutely nothing lamer than dropping money to see a band you’ve been waiting to see for years, only to pass out and be sent home (or to the tent/van/condo) 30 minutes before they take to the stage.
Eat Something: See the last sentence of the first point. You can also line the stomach at home before launching yourself towards the grounds, campfire the hell out of something that fits in a bun or partake of whatever the food vendors may offer.
Unless They’re Truly Unique: Unless you programmed the lineup yourself, there’s going to be a couple of bands you have to sit through that may not be your thing. That’s fine. But no one needs to hear your witty heckles (Turn down the suck!) that have never been used before, ever, by anyone.
Take Care of Your Friends: You’ll have at least one buddy who disregards that important first point and needs to be babysat, nursed, or have their hair held while they do an intestinal cleanse.
Have Someone Keep a Schedule: If sight lines don’t exist for the stage from the beer gardens and the area is licensed, you may have to leave in order to see whatever band at whatever stage at whatever time. Appoint someone to keep time and give yourselves plenty of leeway to herd the cats that are your friends.
Backstage/Artist Lounge: If you get backstage, do NOT help yourself to the band’s booze unless they specifically say you can. Yes, this may mean you need to wait until their set is over in order to ask/be offered. The bands are the folks who drove 12 hours, got no sleep, and just played their asses off so that you and everyone else could enjoy them. Their beer may be one of the few perks they get all week, so let them be the first to crack it open. If you violate his rule, don’t be surprised if you’re (deservedly) tossed out.
by Spencer BrownAB, Alberta