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Festival Decision Making

Festival Decision Making 101 | To Go or Not to Go?

by Fresh Music Freaks Staff

Are you having trouble with festival decision making? Can’t figure out which ones are worth your time and money?  Well, let me give you some pointers. As a seasoned raver, I know what factors drive me to attend specific festivals.  Let me help you figure out which ones are worth the effort before you dedicate your weekends to them.

Not all events are created equal, and as much as we want to go to everything, decisions must be made. So, when facing the fateful “to go or not to go” dilemma, I ask myself three key questions to maximize enjoyment of my favorite pastime.

First, “Who have I seen on the lineup and who do I need to see?”  

We all have our favorites who we would cross the country to see and will never tire of watching. But I know I will get the most out of a festival if I’m seeing more than just the crowd pleasers on the lineup.  There are always artists I haven’t seen, let alone heard, and if it doesn’t pass this first checkpoint of festival decision making, it’s highly unlikely I’ll go.

I have a wide variety of taste, so many styles satisfy my thirst. A great example of this was Electric Forest weekend one. I was most excited to see one of my absolute favorite artists: Jauz . His set hit all the right spots as usual, but another artist by the name of CloZee stole the show for me that weekend. Her hypnotic melodies caught my attention the first night and she’s since made a fan of me.

I still pull up CloZee’s recorded set once in a while and it takes me right back to that night. Electric Forest always pulls out the big artists in their lineups. But it’s also the ultimate place for discovering new genres and styles which only enhances the festival experience.

Second, “Is it worth the travel/time off?”  

Working in the wedding industry, my work has very distinct busy and slow seasons. One of the busiest times is Fall. It’s a time when the money is flowing, but free weekends are rare, so my festival decision making must be thorough. Unfortunately for me, Fall is when every dubstep lover’s dream festival lands.

Lost Lands, which is held in the heart of Ohio, is about a 7-hour drive for me. This means extra time off work in all the chaos of wedding season. Lost Lands 2018 passed the first test. The lineup was stacked with countless great artists, some of which I’ve had on my must-see list for years. Bass music is where it all started for me, and having as much fun as I did the first year I attended, I opted for yes. I packed up my little car, gathered my favorite people, and made the trip.

I saw so many great sets, but right at the top, tied for first, was Rusko and Feed Me. I’d been dying to see them for quite some time, and they blew me away with some of the most original sets of the weekend. I appreciate the effort Excision makes in curating this festival because Lost Lands production quality and venue is worth the time off by far. Get info on Excision’s 2019 curated fests Bass Canyon and Lost Lands HERE.

Last but not least, “Who will be attending this festival?”

If an event passes my first two festival decision questions, it’s highly likely I’ll go.  A solid lineup that’s worth the trip sounds pretty good, right? But to fully seal the deal, I ask myself what kind of company I’ll be around, aside from my wonderful friends. As much as I hate to admit it, a shitty crowd can kill a great festival for me.

Sometimes the turnout of friends and loved ones is enough to overlook a less than desirable crowd. But I find it’s hard to enjoy the music when you feel as though you’re surrounded by people who aren’t appreciating the artist as they should. I prefer to be around like-minded people who are there for the same reason I am; they love the music.  

I’ve found in my years of festival attendance that certain cities and venues attract crowds that are there to get drunk, or worse, are only looking for a social place to use recreational drugs. This is the environment I found myself in at Spring Awakening. SAMF 2018 had a solid lineup with a wide variety of genres and plenty of artists for me to discover.  Since a good friend of mine was playing, I decided to send it and make the two-hour trip to Chicago.

Unfortunately, I had a hard time enjoying myself at times due to the company around me. At one point I saw someone wearing a Jauz jersey and said, “Hey! I like your jersey,” while pointing out my Jauz hat. This was greeted with a scowl and an eye roll, followed by a rude “Who cares?”  This unfriendly, yet all too common kind of encounter, along with dozens of people carried out for overconsumption demonstrated that SAMF is simply not for me. However, I will say it wasn’t a total bust. Seeing Cosmic Gate play on the signature trance stage sparked a real love for the genre that I now hold dear to my heart.

So keep these three things in mind the next time you’re involved in festival decision making. We’re fortunate to live in a time with so many great festivals to choose from, and these fundamental questions can make the difference between a decent fest versus an incredible one. Music is something that makes this world beautiful, and combined with the right people, time and place, it can deliver an unforgettable experience!

*Featured Image Via Ashley Rahl *

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