“You HAVE to come with me next time!” my college BFF slurred drunkenly over the phone from Little Rock, Arkansas. She was having a musical epiphany at a 3-day festival and called to let me hear some obscure band play over her iPhone.
No, actually, I don’t. I don’t want to go anywhere where I contract hepatitis from a porta potty.
The Internet has killed the retail music industry. Now, we must spend a gazillion dollars travelling to festivals to hear obscure genres like “sock puppet poon tang” and “tropical beaty bop-pop-a-roonie”
Music festivals aren’t for people who actually like music. They’re for people who want to get chemically annihilated in a humongous crowd while trawling for similarly wasted sexual partners. People who eschew silly amenities like food and water to camp out in the mud for a week. People who like to experience music as tiny insects a mile away, performing songs you have to watch on a Jumbotron. Sort of like watching them on YouTube, only far less comfortable.
Here are some of the music festivals I WON’T be going to. EVER.
After you sell a lung to pay the $1000 to get in, it’s only a 50 mile hike – in a 150-degree California desert sandstorm – to the festival entrance.
If you actually want to see a band, be prepared to stand for 12 hours in the blistering heat. Just be prepared for the Douche Brigade to come muscling their way to the front at the last minute. The 6-foot dude in a velvet patchwork top hat will plant himself right in front of you. Natch.
Coachella is a great place to feel body-shamed, in case you don’t already have that hangup. People train ALL YEAR for their “Coachella bodies” so they can wear as little clothing as possible. It’s crawling with skinny models dressed in Urban Outfitter’s finest. Fashion is foremost to these fringe-laden, hula-hooping, drugged-out hipsters.
If you do opt for clothing, Native American is de rigueur, which is French for “I look like an asshole.” You may not see any bands, but you’ll see oodles of molly-stoned millennials in Navajo Indian headdresses groping each other.
“The Burn,” as its cult devotees refer to it, is not really a music festival. It’s a week-long art festival which allegedly provides spiritual enlightenment in an obscure corner of the Nevada desert.
Event promoters describe it as a “radical experiment in self-expression,” but it’s 70,000 loonytunes camping out in the desert while engaged in Bacchanalian drinking, drugging and sex. Newbies are greeted with “WELCOME HOME!!” by seasoned burners with names like “Captain Pajama Pants.”
Burning Man is the antithesis to Coachella’s gym-honed perfection. Here you get leathery old bare-assed hippies, ravaged by time and psychotropic drugs. Middle-aged, middle class men in particular love to drop their inhibitions and their pants at Burning Man, so be prepared for a veritable cornucopia of naked testicles drooping like turkey wattles.
If you ARE dressed, you must be in a costume. Otherwise some self-righteous druggie perv with herpes on his lip, dressed as the big rat from Chuck E Cheese, will lecture you on participation.
I’d love to trip balls in the desert and dance around dressed in nothing but a python and duct tape over my nipples, but I have a life, a kid and I job. I can’t pencil in a trip to the desert to get so high I shit myself.
The grand finale of this hippie-flavored shindig is the burning of the actual 60-foot wooden Burning Man. I enjoy a good orgasm of flames and destruction as much as the next pyro, but I’m not interested in being asphyxiated while 70,000 frenzied stoners perform the hippie version of a Ku Klux Klan rally.
Not if I have to sign a waiver that reads:
“I acknowledge and fully understand that as a participant, I will be engaging in activities that involve risk of serious injury, including permanent disability and death.”
ELECTRIC DAISY CARNIVAL
If you’re wondering who the hell listens to that soulless, inhuman, repetitive nonsense known as “EDM” (electronic dance music), they’re all here.
Electric Daisy Carnival is a souped up, super-size rave, for people who don’t realize that raves have been over for two decades. It was cool when it was an “underground secret warehouse” culture, but like anything else that’s been commercialized, it’s a ferocious, brutal appropriation conveniently adapted for mass consumption. It’s rave folklore packaged for your 14-year-old kid.
Electric Daisy Carnival is a stage in a parking lot, full of kids with suckers in their mouths and gas masks on, getting obliterated. For three days, the same three minutes of music plays on repeat. Teeny boppers sporting knee-high fake fur and tutus have no clue what they’re listening to. All they care about is taking selfies as they flash peace signs and make duck faces.
And then there are the “Bros.” The frat boys who once inebriated themselves to Dave Matthews Band are now wearing neon tank tops with “TURN UP” in block letters and careening around to Deadmau5. The ‘roided up bro culture loves aggressively loud music they can break into gorilla-ish fights to.
And the line up? It sounds like porn. All these DJs have sex-toy names. Max Enforcer, Dirtyphonics, Gigamesh, Delta Heavy. I don’t want to listen to music made by people who sound like menacing dildos.
The EDM industry is a music industry cash cow. They’re repackaging old techno as something new and selling it to an audience who doesn’t know any better. Of course the music sounds good when you’ve lined your nasal passages with pure crystallized MDMA. I could play “Gangnam Style” in a room full of EDM fans blown up on Molly, and by the second verse I guarantee each and every one of them would be having the time of their lives. By the end of the song I could convince them it was actually a symbolic anthem regarding the struggle of a divided Korea.
You can do ingest all the drugs you want, but for fuck’s sake, don’t let those substances convince you that Electric Daisy Carnival is the event of a lifetime. You’re just ball-hair blasted and listening to a glorified Mrs. Pac-Man soundtrack.
Would you camp out in the woods at these events? What music festivals won’t you be attending?
When did I get so old that these festivals are no longer fun?
Talk to me. I’m listening.