The 10 Commandments of Summer Music Festival Behavior


Summer music festival season is fast approaching, and we love a good weekend of sun and song as much as the next music fan. Still, it can be difficult to navigate crowds of tens of thousands, including many attendees who seem like they’ve never been to a live show, much less a weekend-long festival, before. For the sake of both those newbies and weary veterans like ourselves, we present the 10 commandments of summer music festival behavior. Follow these, and we promise that you (and the people around you) will have a much better time.

Image via Brooklyn Vegan

1. Thou shalt honor thy fellow concert goers. This is a wide-ranging commandment, but the gist of it is this: Be aware of the people around you. That means, if you’re a 6’8” guy, don’t stand way in front, blocking the view of all the shorter folks behind you. A corollary: By no means should you ever hoist a young child or half-naked girlfriend on your shoulders. If you’re not a professional photographer on assignment, don’t spend the entire set standing stock-still, taking cell phone photos. Try not to step on lots of feet. Please, please, do not sing along. If you must, don’t be loud about it.

2. Thou shalt not buy pills from strangers. Come on, people. We know it’s tempting. But if you wouldn’t eat food some rando gave you, it’s probably not a good idea to pay money from, then swallow, an intoxicant of uncertain origins.

3. Thou shalt not drink too much beer. Nothing goes together like alcohol and music. No one can blame you for wanting to get a light buzz going while you’re watching your favorite band. Just know your limits. Otherwise, you’ll end up wasting tons of time lining up to use the frankly disgusting Porta-Potties and are likely to do any number of other things you’ll regret the next morning. And if it’s a multi-day festival? The last thing you want is to spend most of a hot, sweaty afternoon of music hung over.

4. Thou shalt not mosh. Okay, if you’re watching a grindcore band, feel free. But the moshing epidemic is out of control. We’ve seen people doing it at even the most sedate of indie-rock shows. Not only is that annoying to the people around you who actually want to, you know, listen to music without being knocked over by a giant beardo in a Dillinger Escape Plan T-shirt; it also wastes valuable energy. It’s not easy to stay on your feet in 85-degree weather for two or three days in a row, and overexerting yourself is liable to result in big-time burnout.

Trash at Lollapalooza 2009. Image via willo-wee! at Flickr.

5. Thou shalt not litter. Not to sound like your elementary school teacher or anything, but littering is gross. It attracts bugs and vermin (and any outdoor festival will already have its share of those pests), glass bottles shatter and cut up people’s feet, it’s no fun to party amid garbage rotting in the sun, and the cleanup is a nightmare for event staff. Besides, this is 2010: time to be a little more conscious of the world around us.

6. Thou shalt check out at least one artist thou hast never heard before. Festival slates are packed with tons of big names, so it may be hard to justify spending time on openers you’re not familiar with. That’s why you’ll want to arrive early enough to check out a few of the unknown groups that generally kick off the day. These acts can be hit or miss, but you may just go home with a brand new favorite band.

7. Thou shalt stay hydrated. This one is absolutely essential. Hopefully, you’re attending a festival that’s cool enough to allow you to bring in your own reusable water bottle. If you’re not, we recommend getting creative with your secret stash or (as a last resort) bringing enough cash to fund multiple $5 water bottle purchases (and then properly disposing of said bottles). We know people who have come unprepared and ended up passed out in the medical tent. When you pay $250 for a festival pass, you do not want your weekend to end that way.

8. Thou shalt wear reasonable, if not sensible, shoes. Please, ladies: Leave the high heels at home. Think about how much pain you’re in after a night of dancing in your four-inch stilettos. Now multiply that by the ten times as many hours you’ll spend standing on grass or blacktop at a multi-day music festival. Are sexy legs really worth a miserable weekend? You may also want to avoid flip-flops or other open-toe sandals if this is the kind of event that makes you legitimately fear being stepped on.

9. Thou shalt shower as often as possible. Sometimes, at festivals that involve camping, this just isn’t an option. But after a sweaty day of dancing, even the most delicate among us will smell like a pair of gym shorts that just ran a marathon. So, for the sake of yourself and others, make every effort to get thee to a hotel shower, garden hose, or even take a dip in a nearby lake, at least once a day. And don’t forget to pack deodorant.

10. Thou shalt not be this guy:

Top image via Boy’s Last Shot on Flickr.