23 tips to live the best rock festival of your life
Whether you're thinking of attending your first or your 34th rock music festival, good planning is a must if you want to live a tremendous experience. Many unforeseen events can occur and many adventures could quickly ruin the moment. If you don’t want to smash your glasses in the mosh pit and be blind for the next two days like my friend Anny, or lose your friends after a bodysurfing session and spend half a day wandering the site to look for them, I suggest you read and apply these 23 tips and tricks to live the rock festival of your life.
Phase # 1: Rock festival preparation
- The show will take place rain or shine. I wish you a lot of sun but remain ready for any weather by bringing one of those cheap plastic rain ponchos. You can also use it to sit instead of bringing a tarp. A garbage bag also does the job.
- Visit the festival website to check the prohibited items on the site. Often camping chairs, backpacks, food, beverages and alcohol are refused at the entrance. If you bring a super great kit in a backpack that is confiscated at the entrance, you will regret it.
- Bring two pairs of shoes and leave one in the car or in your tent. My friend Fanny lost her left shoe in the mosh pit on the first day of the Rockfest last year. It ain’t cool to party during three days with only one shoe. Speaking of shoes, avoid sandals if you want to come back with the same number of toes that you had when you got there.
- Wrap a bandana on your head or on your wrist. It’s useful in so many ways. You can use it to hold your hair, protect yourself from the sun, to attach something to your bag, to clean yourself quickly or to wrap something fragile in your bag.
- Bring a plastic bottle to always have water on hand. Spending 12 hours in the sun drinking beer dehydrates. The ideal one is a retractable water bottle with carabiner clip that you can hang on your bag for quick access and to maximize space.
- Bring the following items that are often forgotten but very practical: sunscreen, bandages (combat boots smashed on the head and blisters are common), disinfectant gel, medications for headaches (beer and sun you remember?) and earplugs (you will sleep about 4-5 hours a night, you want to spend these hours recovering).
- Personally, my magic items are tie wraps. Over the years, I used them to repair a backpack strap, to replace a broken lace, to tie my purchases to my bag and even to tie my hair when I had lost my elastic while bodysurfing.
- Baby wipes will be your best friends and will serve you on many occasions. To clean your face and hands, wipe at toilet (because paper tends to be a scarce commodity from day 2), clean a wound, etc.
- If you camp on the spot, you will want to think to bring these items that will be very useful and that you will be able to leave in the tent: toilet paper roll, lighter, plastic bags (for your dirty clothes, your purchases, to insulate your soaked boots, etc.), roll of string or rope (to attach, repair or hang anything), Swiss army knife, flashlight (the frontal ones are ideal), Ziplocs-type resealable bags, condoms (you don’t want to bring back unwanted memories), protein snacks, water in good quantity (to avoid the comings and goings to the nearest source of water that can be 15 minutes walk away), your toothbrush, a large towel, spare clothes and underwear. Also think of buying a sleeping bag lining, a kind of thin cocoon that is inserted into the sleeping bag. It will avoid staining your sleeping bag of all the mud you will bring back with you.
- Festival or not, almost nobody survives without his cell phone. You will want to bring it to take pictures and videos and contact your friends. Three things to know: before leaving, make a backup of all your data on your computer. The number of phones lost in festivals is mind-blowing. Secondly, get a rigid and waterproof case. No need to explain why. Finally, know that the network is often overloaded and that you will possibly have no reception so don’t count on your phone blindly.
- Speaking of mobile phone, don’t forget your charging wire. But the opportunities to recharge it will not be frequent so the ideal is to bring a backup battery (and don’t forget to charge it before leaving!).
- If you don’t want to live what Anny experienced (in intro, remember her?) try, if possible, to wear contact lenses instead of your glasses. And if you have one, bring a second pair of glasses that you will leave in the car or tent.
- A really great thing for girls: The Go-girl. It's a kind of funneled cup that allows you to empty your bladder upright. Because the toilets are often disgusting, not to mention the incredibly long waiting line. To hell with the ego, we prefer the practical aspect. You can find some on the web or in an outdoor store.
- For clothes, choose pieces that can be superimposed because the days will be very hot and evenings very cool. The combination of a tank top, a t-shirt and an hoodie (which you will attach to your waist during the day) is ideal.
- Grab a good supply of cash. First because ATMs are scarce (and are quickly empty) and the waiting lines are awful. Second, because like everyone else, you will probably underestimate your expenses; alcohol, food, purchase of merchandise, etc.
- Bring a glow stick. I know it's not a rave but a rock show. But believe me, with a glow stick on your head or around your neck, the chances of you getting walked on at night are reduced by half. I do not count knee bumps and boots that I received on the head while I was quietly sitting back taking a beer between two shows.
Phase # 2: Getting to your rock destination
- Plan a lot of time to get to the site. There will be monster traffic, several streets will be closed and parking spaces will be difficult to find and often far from the main site. Privilege carpooling and public transportation.
- Festivals often offer shuttles to surrounding municipalities. My personal thing for several years at Montebello Rockfest is to park my car in one of these cities, equip it for camping (inflated mattress, sleeping bag, camping kit) and take the shuttle for the round trip to my car. I save costs (of campground) and time (in traffic).
- Plan to camp on site (on a lot or like me in your car). To make the round trip every morning and evening would be much too long and exhausting. Do not rely on motels, hotels and AirBnB in the area since they are usually 100% booked several months before the event.
- Fill up the gas tank before arriving in the busy area. When the time comes to leave, don’t count on the gas stations in the area, there will be a quite hallucinating waiting time at the pump.
Phase 3: Live the metalhead experience
- There will be no lockers at the door so bring the essentials and keep the rest in the tent or car.
- With your friends, agree in advance on a specific meeting point in case you lose sight of each other. Despite that '' in front of the hot dog stand '' may seem to be precise enough, I assure you it’s not. With 200,000 people on the site, there’s quickly 10,000 people at your landmark and maybe you’ll never find your friend that is standing 15 feet from you.
- Same thing for the show. If you dream of experiencing a little bodysurf session, remember exactly where your friends are before you take off. And I assure you that finding them during the same show will be a challenge. '' Next to the dude with the inflatable doll on his head '' is not the best landmark. The dude in question may be gone to the beer stand by the time you find your way back through the crowd.
That's it, you're more than ready to live the experience of your life as an informed rock festival-goer! All you have to do now is to make new metalhead friends, discover new bands that will make your world better, laugh out loud, sing to the point of breaking your vocal cords, head bang as if there was no tomorrow and rock that mosh pit until exhaustion. Have fun, you'll have plenty of time to recover afterwards. Rock on!
And just for fun, tell us what was the last rock music festival you attended or the one you plan on going to in the comments below!
One last thing, if you want to look great at you next festival, come and see our rock/metal/goth/punk clothing, shoes and accessories collections at Trashcan.rocks!