The 30-something’s guide to music festivals

As I’ve gotten older there are a number of things that I don’t seem to enjoy as much as I did in my younger days. Don’t get me wrong, I like to have a good time – but drinking till dawn ain’t my thing anymore. Then there are those activities that fall within a transitional phase. This is where music festivals come in. I love me some live music; whether it’s outdoors at a small restaurant, at a concert, or even the acoustic guitarist at your local Potbelly sandwich deli. So you can see why music festivals seem like an awesome idea! And they are, until they’re not.


We’ve gone to Lollapalooza here in Chicago a number of times. Ohh the music, the sunshine, the drinks, the crushed muddy toes and mile long port-o-potty lines…just glorious. There are so many things I love about music fests, but feeling old and instinctively watching out for the plethora of wasted 16 year-old girls in attendance, is not one of them. I remember last year we were approached by a teenage boy who jokingly asked if we had any “Mollies” (which I later learned is some hip new drug all the kids are into these days). He spotted us old fogies (I mean, we are in our early 30s) and thought “LOLs – these people will have no idea or possession of this cutting-edge illegal drug”. So anymore, I have to prepare myself both mentally and physically for attending a large music festival.image5

Lost much? 

When attending with a group of friends, one of the first things I do is pick a “when separated spot” (thanks to my mom for enforcing things like the ‘buddy system’ and selecting a ‘safe spot’ when I was little). Other than taking pictures and shaky videos of your favorite bands, cell phones at music festivals are damned near pointless. There is no way that you will have a useful level of cell service. This is why we have to do things the old-fashioned way and make plans to meet up with friends at specific places and times in advance. Some people choose to bring massive balloons or signs to help them spot each other in a crowd – I personally find those obnoxious, but to each his own. On this topic, I recommend setting up your ‘Find my iPhone’ service before you head out for the festivities just in case in all the melodious chaos you not only get separated from your friends, but also your phone.image6

Selfie stick hell

Then there’s the selfie sticks. What can I say about selfie sticks? Well, they’re obnoxious, anyone holding one should be embarrassed, the person holding it can’t possibly be living in the moment…and you’re at a festival, hopefully with friends, and if not, with hundreds if not thousands of other people who can take a photo for you! That said, #leaveyostickathome. Most fests anymore have rules prohibiting them but for those of us who are forced to deal with the selfie stick phenomenon at a concert, my only word of advice is move. Move away. Don’t get drunk, end up shoving the annoying teenager holding said selfie stick and then spiral into a disastrous altercation with someone who isn’t even 18 years old yet. However, if you spot a 40-year old with a selfie stick, feel free to tell them what’s up. Just jokes…kinda.

You gotta go when you gotta go

After a couple or 6 beers, you might find yourself in an endless port-o-potty line. But don’t fret. Having read this handy dandy survival guide, you came prepared! First, you got in line BEFORE you thought you might pee your pants. Second, you remembered to pack Charmin toilet paper to-go wipes so when you finally get your chance, you’re not faced with a “drip-dry only” situation. If you have a big enough bag (or someone with big cargo pockets!) you can even pack some anti-bacterial wet wipes to use for opening the door, etc. (Nope, I’m not anal at all.) Lastly, the cardinal rule: don’t leave home for a music festival without hand sanitizer!! Of course I like to get all fancy with the Bath & Body Works summer scents.

BEER! And yes, that is 'Steven' from That 70's Show in the background :P

BEER! And yes, that is ‘Steven’ from That 70’s Show in the background 😛

Hangry Eyes (#DirtyDancingFansOnly)

While at a music fest and trying desperately to catch all your favorite bands and carefully navigate between the drunken stupor that’s ensued, the last thing you want to do is become “hangry” (hungry+angry). If you or someone you love suffers from hangriness, you know how dangerous this can be. We almost got in an actual fight with someone in the food line one year at Lollapalooza; learn from my experiences and bring a damn protein bar or a bag of almonds. Your fest mates thank you.

Secret to making it to day 2 of a music fest

On to the drinks! As many 30-something’s will tell you, the drinks don’t quite flow like they used to. Every now and then I think I can hang like I did in my 20s and then I’m abruptly reminded with a throbbing headache and nausea that I am indeed not 22 years old. So, my number one recommendation is to hydrate! Most festivals sell coconut water and they really do the trick to help keep you quenched and headache free. I usually try to chug a bottle of water for every alcoholic drink I consume; this is a bit difficult at busy fests per our mile long port-o-potty lines…so I will make an exception and say every other drink. 🙂image2

What not to wear 

Then there’s dress attire. This may be more of a rant than a tip, but you should know what to expect: lots of high-waisted shorts (that seven people in the entire universe can actually pull off), crop tops on people who should not wear crop tops, metallic temp tattoos, and lots of basketball jerseys. Try not to stare, they actually think that means they look good and only encourages this unpleasant behavior. For ladies, I recommend bringing a small cross-body bag that can fit the aforementioned port-o-potty items but that will not get in the way when you’re trying to navigate the music-crazed crowds.

Walking disasters beware

Last but not least, we must protect ourselves. I am a walking bruise waiting to happen. I’ve come to the conclusion that all open toed sandals are not appropriate for music festivals. Closed-toe sneakers or Toms are my new footwear of choice. When that selfie stick ass in front of you topples backward and stomps on your pretty polished toes, you’ll thank me. And we can’t forget the importance of skincare! Wrinkles aren’t hot, people…and neither is peeling skin from sunburn. Cover-up with sunscreen before you leave home. I also usually bring sunscreen wipes by Goop! with me as one usually needs to reapply–which would also allow you to share with your music fest mates who sadly did not read this post and prepare properly.  #justsaying

Note my lovely friend's flipflops above. This ended in a broken, bloody toe :(

Note my lovely friend’s flipflops above. This ended in a broken, bloody toe 🙁

I now pronounce you officially certified for Music Fest Season. Time to get your fest on!

Some additional random pics from previous Lollapaloozas for your viewing pleasure:


Having us a good time 🙂

See 'crowd spotting' balloon object on right :)

See obnoxious ‘crowd spotting’ balloon object on right 🙂



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