The moment a festival lineup drops, music fans all over the internet dust off their thesauruses to find new ways of saying “not sick enough”. The way people pick them apart makes it seem like there isn’t a festival lineup out there that will please everybody - except maybe EDC, which then gets heat for pleasing everybody.
But what if instead of wanting more desirable acts on a lineup, everyone were fine with fewer? Festivals are about more than who’s playing, after all. Some music aficionados are only there for the music, and you’ll hear them complain about the crowd, the price of beer, or the sound system … but then why leave your house in the first place? While there are many reasons attending festivals with less-than-mind blowing lineups can be a stellar experience overall, here a few.
Stacked lineups mean you have to festival at a hectic pace
If you’ve been to Coachella or any massive of that scale, you’ll be well acquainted with the festivalgoer who covets their perfect execution plan. Perhaps some people lead such relaxed everyday lives lacking in routines or deadlines, that adhering to a strict schedule of back-to-back artists to maximize the number of acts attended in one festival might be how they like to party For others, who have more tightly scheduled lives that require discipline and focus, perhaps having to be at specific stages at exact times for three or more days in a row might not be the ideal way of spending free time. Festivals already provide an incredible bang for your buck, not only from the production value, but from the number of wonderful acts they provide. However those large, knock-your-socks-off events are filled with attendees who are heading to the next stage or worrying more about coordinating than vibing.
A FOMO-free festival can be nice
Conflicting time slots are the worst! Why pay money to make tough decisions? There's nothing funnier than listening to people justify why they chose one set over another (like anybody except for them really cares about their festival schedule). Then, there is the classic "I caught the first half of set A, and caught the second half of set B”. Perhaps this school of thought is really for the Type B, but a successful festival is one where picking out which top to wear on Day 1 is the hardest decision you’ll have to make all week.
It’s a great excuse to spend time with friends
Festivals are a highly social event. There's a reason we leave the sanctuary of our at-home monitors and brave sweaty crowds of intoxicated people to see our favorite artists perform. Part of that reason is because what makes live music great is the audience. For most festivals that are large enough and close enough to your hometown, you'll likely see many familiar faces. If you’re just social and organized enough, you may have coordinated to attend the event with some cohorts. Therein lies the beauty. You get to drink beers and have fun with the friends who are excited to see Odesza, instead of the people next to whom you nod-and-frown at the after hours every weekend. Festivals can be some of the only times you party with friends who are not keyed into the same sub-genre as you Lineups with artists you don’t always appreciate really open up those social occasions.
It gives you time to appreciate your surroundings
From installations to scenery, there’s so much to take in. Heck, even Coachella has the word "arts" in its name. There are many festival crews that take extreme pride in offering a variety of experiences other than just the music: art, sculpture, yoga, workshops. One could even argue that the gorgeous scenery at Sasquatch’s The Gorge and SXM’s Happy Bay are dazzling outdoor landscapes that you only really get to experience a handful of times. If there is a two- to three-hour break in the afternoon without a must-see artist on the bill, expand your attention to other activities and get lost in exhibitions that don't solely focus on music.
Festival sets are great, but they can be pretty short
Some snobs will try and convince you that the longer the set, the greater the opportunity for a journey, and the better the overall experience. While this is an extremist point of view that devalues shorter sets, it often seems any performance less than four hours is merely a teaser. Festival sets are meant to exhilarate the crowd with banger after banger. Get in, show the crowd what you got, leave them hanging for the next performer, get out. While this method varies greatly from a club set, each has their time and place and are cathartic experiences that highlight different capabilities of an artist and showcase different experiences.
People are their best selves at festivals, and that should be celebrated
Festivals are all about the accoutrements: from dazzling outfits to witty festival poles to extreme PLUR attitudes. Club life may be the heart and soul of electronic music, but it's very refreshing to ditch the Friday night sneakers and spandex for an entire weekend. Besides, the community at festivals celebrates creativity and beauty, and not everybody expresses themselves with dials and knobs. Some people are only able to express this in outfits so amazing you can’t fathom how they got them on in the first place. This could technically count as “the scenery” of a festival, or even your friends! But what’s great about attending a festival with huge gaps in artists you want to see on the lineup, is taking joy in one another and not feeling guilty about stopping to take a photo shoot with everyone’s phone in the group.
When seeking a highly specific night of artists who play to support the headliner, buy tickets to a show at your nearest nightclub. If you want to dance in the daylight to a variety of artists whose names you don't know or care about, music festivals are there to save the day ... or weekend. It’s a refreshing change of pace seeing Rødhåd set to the backdrop of palm trees, or connecting with the friends you rarely make time to see because they are usually leaving spin class around the same time you’re going to bed on the weekends. Besides, there’s nothing quite like suffering through a bit of tropical house while in line for the porta potties to make someone appreciate proper techno vibes more than ever before.