Toxic Summer: 5 Tips for Festival Fun

Posted: May 6, 2014 in Clamoring of the Crowd
Tags: , , , ,
Anna Bulbrook of The Airborne Toxic Event Perfoms at Squamish Festival, 2012. Photo by Glen

Anna Bulbrook of The Airborne Toxic Event
performs at Squamish Festival, 2012. Photo by Glen.

By Jamie

The Airborne Toxic Event kicks off a summer’s worth of festivals this Friday at Atlanta’s Shaky Knees Festival. If you are anything like me (and I’m sure many reading this are), your main reason for attending is to see TATE, with all other bands being icing on the cake. Since these festivals are so different than the regular club shows that we’re all accustomed to attending every couple of months, we’ve compiled a list of tips to help you make the most of your experience.

1. Getting to the Barrier

Just like any concert, the only way to guarantee a front spot for the show is to put in the time. Unfortunately, at a festival that time commitment can be a great deal longer and more difficult. You aren’t just competing with one band’s fans… you’re competing with the most hardcore fans of some of the biggest music acts around. At the larger festivals, you’ll need to get there as early as possible… but that’s not all. When the gates open, you have to pretend you’re Katniss from the The Hunger Games and run like hell for the barrier, stiff arming and elbowing anyone who gets in your way.

As fun as all that sounds, it’s not for everyone. If you value your safety and sanity as much as I do, you’ll need a different plan of action to get to the front. I have developed a strategy that involves a much lower probability of broken bones and has worked more than once. Slowly work your way through the crowd, towards the stage. Once you’re near the front, start chatting up the people around you. Sometimes concert goers, especially those staking out spots for a favorite band, are friendly and willing to trade with you so you can enjoy your favorite band, as long as you move back so they can enjoy theirs. (If you choose to do this, be sure to honor your promise and allow the person kind enough to let you “borrow” their spot back into it when TATE finishes their set.) If you can’t secure a front spot, don’t fret; you’ll probably get a great shot of Mikel when he decides to start climbing.

2. Be Prepared for a Short, Upbeat Setlist

If you have the time, take a look at some of our archived setlists. As you can see, TATE is usually given anywhere from 45-75 minutes at festivals. You may be dying to hear “Duet,” but don’t count on them playing it – or any other rarities, for that matter. Remember, the atmosphere usually dictates the setlist, and festival crowds tend to prefer songs they can sing and dance along to. You can expect to hear their well known singles – “Sometime Around Midnight,” “Hell and Back,” “All I Ever Wanted” and “Changing” – along with crowd pleasers like “Does This Mean Your Moving On,” “Missy,” “Wishing Well” and “All At Once.” There may be a couple extras thrown in, if time permits, but all in all you will hear a more rockin’ set with very few ballads. If you’re really lucky, maybe you’ll get to hear the punk version of “Kids!”

3. Wear a Band Shirt

Yeah, I know it’s considered a concert faux pas (one that I’m totally guilty of, by the way), but I’m going to argue that this fashion rule does not apply at music festivals. With sometimes a dozen different bands playing, I think identifying yourself as a TATE fan is a cool thing to do. You might get questions from people who have heard of the band but aren’t sure they’ve ever heard their music. Also, it might help you secure the barrier. As a case in point, one time I was referred to as “The Airborne Girl” because of my shirt, and everyone was excited to help me get a premium spot for their set. Need more convincing? While wearing a TATE t-shirt at a local festival, a friend of mine was standing towards the side of the stage where the bands were entering and exiting for their sets. Mikel spotted her, pointed to his shirt and then hers, and gave her the thumbs up. Clearly the band appreciates the support, and I think that is reason enough.

4. Spread the Word

Take advantage of the hours spent waiting to tell anyone and everyone you speak to that you’re excited to see TATE. Promise an amazing set and mention how great they are in a more intimate setting. Be prepared to share song and album titles with people looking for recommendations. Most people are open to new music, and this is a perfect opportunity to introduce them to your favorite band.

5. Have Fun

That probably goes without saying, but festivals can be hot and uncomfortable. They aren’t always the fun you envision them being. Be prepared to roll with punches, go with the flow… you get the idea. Make some new friends, discover some new music and remember that you are there to support a band that has a track record of leaving it all on stage. Even if you are only seeing them play for 45 minutes, they’ll make every hour spent in the heat, fighting for the front while standing around pushy, sweaty, stinky and sometimes obnoxious people, totally worth it.

Jamie: A Strange, Strange GirlJamie spends most of her days with her husband as they attempt to raise 4 future TATE fans and all around decent human beings. In her free time, when not obsessively listening to her favorite bands and going to concerts, she is also an aspiring seamstress. She writes about her handmade wardrobe on her blog Such a Strange Girl, and is a regular contributor to This Is Nowhere.

  1. Sammy says:

    This is actually super helpful! i will definitely rock my TATE shirt at Shaky Knees in ATL this Friday! Thanks for the post!


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