I had never attended a music festival before—not a major one, at least. I had been to small festivals, where the lineups would bring a crowd of a thousand or so to their feet in rapturous excitement, but never had I attended a music festival where the numbers reached beyond 100,000 attendees over the span of three days.
When I tentatively looked up New York City’s Governor’s Ball music festival, it was simply with the intention to browse upcoming music festivals and imagine what it would be like to attend one, as I had done previous years. Suddenly, I was looking up potential Airbnbs, Greyhound tickets, and casually measuring my friends’ levels of interest. I ended up buying a ticket for only one day of the festival, mostly to ensure that I would follow through with my tentative plans. It feels like the two and a half months leading up to the music festival flew right by. With school, vacation, figuring out the rest of my life … I barely had time to process my impending experience until I was on an overnight Greyhound to New York City with two of my friends this past Wednesday.
I could not have asked for a better weekend away from home. The weather remained blessedly vibrant and sunny, keeping us warm during the day when the crowds were thinner. I was anxious and nervous about attending the festival because I had little knowledge and experience. However, a festival this large with headliners like Chance the Rapper and Lorde (just for day one!) was always going to be tightly controlled in order to run as smoothly as possible. As such, the smoothness of the festival and the overall enthusiasm and excitement buzzing about helped cement the memory of the day in my brain.
I experienced a high like never before, solely through the power of being around friends and strangers who gracefully and willingly shared a collective joy. Concerts provide a feeling akin to camaraderie, but there’s something about a whole day of concerts and waiting in lines for hours at a time that provides a different kind of relationship between you, your friends, strangers, and the artists.
If you can, please attend a music festival at least once in your life. If you can, buy a one-day ticket to ensure that you get to see the artists that you really want to see.
I recommend attending with friends who are willing to brave the elements, the wait times, and the rowdy crowds. I also recommend living through the experience of a music festival with your eyes wide open and setting your heart ablaze with the emotions of thousands of people. I recommend taking in how tired you are after a full day on your feet. I recommend balking at the absurd food and drink prices, but succumbing to them anyway because of how hungry and parched you are.
I recommend becoming breathless from singing too loudly to words you can barely hear over the roar of the crowd. I recommend laughing until tears stream down your face because you did it; you purchased the tickets and you’re here, present. I recommend thinking about how much shit we’ve endured in this world over the past few months; how music heals and glues us together as opposed to breaking and dividing.
I recommend taking the time to live and breathe. Let the music run through your veins like an unstoppable force. Let it inspire and overtake you as you smile until your cheeks hurt and you’re gripping your friends’ hands in solidarity.
I can’t wait to do it all over again.