Friday, April 3, 2015

11 Ways Music Festivals Are Pretty Much The Same As A Zombie Apocalypse

I’ve had a great love for music festivals since the loss of my music festival-ginity in the summer of 2006. It was Cornerstone music festival in good old Bushnell, Illinois. I was sixteen, I’d never really kissed a boy, and my feet were consistently clad with either Converse sneakers or slip-on Vans. That summer was kind of a magical time of self-discovery for me. I came out of my shell more than I ever had before, and I got to spend an entire week going to concert after concert with all my buddies. 

For three consecutive summers, we returned to that same music festival, and it was always crazy fun. The last time we all went together I was 18, I’d just graduated from high school, and my friends and I literally slept overnight on the side of the road next to a soybean field just to get through the festival gates before everyone else. Epic, right?

But as much as my love for music festivals shaped my teenage years, so did my appreciation for the zombie genre. Zombie movies like 28 Days Later and I am Legend were a big deal in my friend group, and I personally have loved all things zombie since Shawn of the Dead graced my parent’s DVD player when I was an awkward 14 year old with one of the worst haircuts of my life.

So, with the beginning of music festival season fast approaching, and the season five finale of my all-time favorite zombie-related TV show — The Walking Dead — now behind us, I got to thinking about how very similar these two loves of mine really are. Here are 10 ways I’ve realized that music festivals are pretty much just like the zombie apocalypse.

1. Everyone Is Kind Of Gross

I don’t care how often you shower at a music festival — you will always be a bit dirty. Not unlike every single character in The Walking Dead. And the worst part? Just minutes after you’ve completed the whole god-awful process of waiting in line, washing your hair in sulfur-water, and accidentally dropping your clean underwear on the communal shower floor, you’ll be dripping in sweat again.

2. Pack Mentality Rules

Music festivals are social. Period. There’s a real vibe of brotherly love and community at these things, and I love it. Everywhere you look, friend groups, couples, and sometimes even families are roaming in and out of concert tents, lining up at food trucks, or sprawling out in fields. It’s awesome, and it’s smarter than going it alone. Just like in every zombie movie or TV show ever, there’s safety in numbers.

3. … But There Are A Few Lone Wolves

You will see the occasional loner broodingly skateboarding their way to the main stage, or enjoying some solitary reading time sitting on the last empty picnic table in the open air food court, or inexplicably napping just yards from the death metal stage with their hat tilted strategically over their face. But, loners aren’t the norm at music festivals. Nor are they the norm in zombie apocalypse epics.

4. Never Will Your Entire Camp Be Asleep

Granted, it’s not to keep an eye out for zombie hordes, but there will always be a couple members of your group awake at all times. Whether it’s because they discovered a techno dance club while on a 3 a.m. bathroom excursion, or they stumbled upon a bonfire of friendly strangers, or they’re around your communal campfire toking and talking about their heartbreaking search for love, there will never be a time when your entire camp is asleep.

5. You Experience A Whole New Level of Hangry 

Constant exposure to spring/summer heat and sunshine is going to make you perpetually thirsty. Plus, between walking everywhere, moshing with gusto, and occasionally needing to climb on top of your buddy’s shoulders just so you can see the band over the crowd, you’ll want to eat all the funnel cakes and corndogs in sight.

6. You Spend A Lot Of Time Building Campfires

Fortunately, these fires are mainly for light warmth, ambiance, or marshmallow roasting (instead of preventing yourself from freezing to death in the middle of zombie infested wilderness). Nevertheless, fire-building is a crucial part of enjoying any music festival, especially if you went to the one I did in northern Illinois. It may get pretty hot during the day up there, but after dark, you’ll probably need that fire to stay comfortable.

7. You Welcome Friendly Randos Into Your Crew

Much like the union of Ricks’ Camp and Herschel’s family in season two of The Walking Dead, you will find yourself befriending other camps during your music festival experience. Whether you and your friends get invited to play a game of Frisbee golf, or join in a random hookah circle, or choose to actually fuse your camp with another, you’re going to make new friends without even trying.  

8. Technology Is Hard To Come By

Okay, so the technology at music festivals isn’t so lacking that you have to drink out of woodland creeks. Pretty much everyone has their cellphone at all times. But if by some miracle you can actually get cell service in the middle of whatever dirt field or meadow your festival takes place, good luck keeping that sucker charged up. If your campsite even has an electric hookup, you’re not going to be walking all the way back to your camp every time the battery hits 20 percent. And if you do, you’re doing music festivals wrong.

9. You Spend Most Of Your Time Outdoors, Whether You Like It Or Not

Even when you’re not outside at a music festival you’re still kind of outside. Your tent or camper is really just a thin layer between you and the elements. At best, you might find yourself inside of a barn or a mostly enclosed merchandise tent. And if you choose to stay in a hotel instead of onsite, you’re cheating yourself of the whole glorious experience. Yeah, it gets hot and sweaty. But all the fun festival stuff takes place outdoors, and if you’re doing it right, you’ll probably wake up outside at some point with no recollection of how you got there.

10. You Have To Protect Your Comrades 

I can’t tell you how many times my friend Izzy saved me from getting elbowed in the face during some of the more hardcore concerts we went to. She literally made a barricade around me with her freakishly strong arms just so I wouldn’t get pommeled by mosh pit run-off. 

Weak as I am, I too have protected fellow festival-goers. I’ve had to pull dudes up by the back of their t-shirts, mid-trip, and mere seconds before their faces hit the ground just so the circle mosh pit we were running in wouldn’t trample them. I know that doesn’t exactly make me Michonne or anything, but the principle is the same. You’ve got to protect each other.

11. You Learn To Move As A Group

Just like Rick and his crew have to work as a team to keep each other alive in The Walking Dead, festival goers have to learn how to move in unison or moshing would be downright terrifying. It’s all about being aware of your fellow mosher’s movements, and proceeding accordingly. If you do it right, moshing can be really fun. But if you don’t pay attention, it’s a concussion waiting to happen. So, learn how to mosh with the pit, not against it.

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