The last three days have been an experience that was completely outside of my normal character, to say the least. The awkward saurus actually ventured outside and spent three days at a local music festival. The line up was too awesome to be ignored, and so there I was.
I had plenty of anxious thoughts leading up to it. I was concerned for the rampant crowds, the over-bearing July heat, traffic and the lack of private space were all rushing through my mind. True to form, as we arrived to the field where the event would be held, most of my fears were realized.
The field was across from a stadium where two yearly NASCAR events took place. The recently mowed thick grass emitted a sour aroma in the humid air. The week leading up to the event had been ridiculously hot, with temperatures easily in the triple digits. Though it had been rainy and the temperatures more tolerable, there was a dusty stink that could not be escaped.
The lines to get in were managed pretty well, serpentines set up to channel the people into the correct lines. I was patted down and our bags were searched. The first two days’ security was nothing compared to the third day’s. The recent shooting in Colorado seemed to ignite a fire under the security team, and bags were inspected with much more scrutiny.
It was obvious that they weren’t searching for drugs. The rampant smoke billowing from all directions was practically unavoidable. What was more annoying, however, was the amount of cigarette smoke. For an outside event, it was unavoidable. I have been many years without a cigarette, and as a reformed smoker, I have come to loathe them. We live in a smoke-free state, no businesses here allow indoor smoking. Even on the campus where I work, there is no smoking, even outside. Perhaps that’s why it bothered me so much.
Beyond that, the amount of people in what can only be described as costumes was pretty jolting as well. Body paint, tutus, ironic hats, and all manner of barely-there dress were rampant. Perhaps it’s the festival attitude, but I always felt that concerts were a jeans and tee shirt worthy event. This felt more like going to the circus. Adding alcohol and god knows what else to the mix, and the weird got much much weirder.
The music itself was great. For the most part, we enjoyed every act we had come there to see. There were only two major snags. One came as the headlining act, Jack White, took the stage the first night.
In the rain, or perhaps the faulty sound check, the band took the stage to only Jack’s microphone working in the speakers. All the monitors seemed to be working, as the band continued to jam out oblivious to the fact that we could hear nothing but Jack’s solo warbling. Note to Jack: Don’t go a Capella.
During that same set, we arrived early, so by the time they were in full swing, we were surrounded by people. Most folks had no problem bumping into me and my husband. Some guys were horsing around and shoving each other. One connected with my husband and spilled his eight dollar beer everywhere. It was at that moment when he lost all patience and if we didn’t get him out of there, there probably would have been blood.
The same stage had the opposite problem when Modest Mouse were doing their set. The lead singer’s microphone was either faulty or turned down so low that we could barely hear anything he was singing. It was frustrating, and the band left the stage about halfway through their set. I decided to get something to eat on the other side of the festival. Not ten minutes after I left, the band came back on stage, and I missed the end of their set.
Though we survived the weekend, tired and exhausted, and frankly really really tired of people, it was an experience to say the least. It was nice to say we had been there, and saw the acts we saw. Would we venture back out again next year? Probably not.