It’s that time of the year when I want to punch my screen whenever I scroll through Facebook or Instagram and am faced with picture upon picture of girls with beachy waves wearing crochet waistcoats and men in absurd sunglasses, brandishing a can of Grolsch like rock’n’roll ain’t got nothing on them.
That’s right, it’s festival season, and it’s time to call bullshit on the people trying to project a semblance of free-spirited individuality by buying into this display of pseudo-hedonism so commercialized it makes Valentine’s Day look like a communist holiday.
People’s idea of a good time will vary widely, but for an activity so incredibly unappealing in so many ways, the peer pressure put upon people in their twenties to spend precious vacation money on festival tickets and the paraphernalia that goes along with that is outrageous.
I like music. My father is a musician, I was brought up with music and have an appreciation for all genres (with the possible exception of metal). I am rarely in a room in silence – I cook with music, walk to work with music, write best with music, and often fall asleep listening to music. I will happily pay for an album on iTunes, give over my hard-earned cash for the pleasure of listening to Spotify ad-free and will splash out on tickets to experience the live performance of anyone from my favorite artist to an unknown band with an incredible sound.
Festival goers need to stop kidding themselves that it’s about the music. You can see most of the big acts in a venue for a fraction of the price, a much more comfortable surrounding and immeasurably better acoustics.
As for the “vibe”, the “ethos”, or any other abstract definition of whatever warped alternative lifestyle these people think they’re adopting, let’s take a reality check. As much as you might enjoy being at one with nature, slopping around a mixture of mud, urine and feces whilst your feet sweat so much your designer wellies start to give off the odor of extra mature-camembert is not a pleasant experience for anyone involved.
You are not going to a festival to re-discover the simple life, no matter how many hallucinogens you take. Anywhere you go dragging along dry shampoo, portable phone chargers and microfiber pillows, expecting overpriced burgers and an endless supply of beer is not going to be a place anyone can call bohemian.
I suppose the option for gullible social media posers with no grasp on reality has to be available, and I have nothing against people inflicting this upon themselves if they wish to, but can we once and for all dispel the myth that festivals are somehow synonymous with fun-loving, inclusive, kumbaya-singing, peace promoting, freedom-fighters and the rest of us are either too old, boring or conservative so see it?
For the small section of society who still hankers after the summer of love and what festivals meant in “the good old days”, I have an idea. Let’s set up our own event, to showcase musicians and artists who are eschewed from the mainstream, to give a safe space to people with alternative views. Let’s allow people to hang out for free and bring their own booze. Hell, we can even let them put up a tent if people desperately want to – each to their own – but let’s make it anything but cool. I even have a name: No hashtags allowed.