Festival survival guide

by Jason Gross

13 August 2008


I have to hand it to All Points West for not only having a puzzling name for an East coast music festival but for also running it pretty well.  Sure, they had the usual overpriced, unhealthy foods available (though some veggie alternatives were there too) and the port-a-potties weren’t exactly plentiful (three areas with one each for the non-VIP crowd) and the ferry service from NYC to the Jersey City cite was more than double the price of a regular West side Water Taxi but the acts did actually start on time, there were some interesting art exhibits around the area and except for Sunday, the other two days had a good line-up- I was there on Saturday to see Animal Collective, the Roots, Kings of Leon and Radiohead (all of whom put on really good shows).  Aside from that, it occurred to me that going to a day festival takes some skill and planning so here’s some helpful hints I picked up.

- Beforehand, go to the Festival’s website and check out their listing of things that are not allowed (maybe in their FAQ section).  It’s important because unless you drive there and can leave stuff in your car, you might have to trash all the things that you brought but can’t take instead.  Some examples are drinks and food (though occ. they let you take an empty water bottle), umbrellas (bring a poncho instead if it looks like rain), air rifles, etc..

- Taking extra sunblock is a good idea as it’s almost always allowed instead and if you didn’t know already, the white gooey stuff only lasts a few hours before it wears out.

- Unless you’re planning to get there early or push your way up front, binoculars are a good idea too though check the fest website to make sure it’s not a no-no.

- Don’t count on phone service- every there is trying to call everyone else so you probably won’t connect with your friends.  It’s better to plan a time and place to meet up beforehand.  Still, make sure your phone is fully charged before you go ‘cause the extended time it takes to make calls will drain the battery.

- A small blanket or towel is good to have.  If you’re standing around for hours and also walking around the grounds, your feet get tired so having a clean place to squat is always desirable.

- Allow extra time for getting there.  I found that out the hard way when I was met with a mile-long line for the ferry to NJ.  Similarly, figure on the same thing going back home.

- Bring enough money with you ‘cause the ATM’s they provide there always have hefty fees attached to them.

- Since the food choices there aren’t gonna be optimal, have a big breakfast or lunch before you go so that you’re not starved there and have to gulp down all that greasy food.

- Earplugs, earplugs, earplugs.  Can’t stress it enough.  Even if you’re pretty far from the speakers, the loud sound can still get ya.

- See if you can snag a fest guide when you come in so you know where the stages, food, facilities, etc.. all are.

- Though they don’t let you bring umbrellas to shade yourself, a good hat and a battery-powered hand-fan (which only cost a few bucks) can help you make it through the heat.

- An empty water bottle is a good thing to carry around since you can keep refilling it at fountains or water stations.  You wanna keep hydrated if you’re gonna be standing and bakin’ under the sun for hours.

- The eateries don’t always supply napkins so tissues and/or hand sanitizer are good to have with you.

- Good sight/vantage points can usually be found at the far side of the stage- most people are too lazy to walk over there so they crowd the near side and the middle instead.

- Don’t wear band T-shirts ‘cause that’s not hip anymore.  Actually, since it isn’t, maybe you should wear them just to stand out!

- Don’t yell out for “Free Bird.”  It’s just not funny anymore and you might encourage knuckleheads there to carry on this pathetic tradition.  It’s not even cool to do it at a Skynyrd concert because everyone knows that they’re gonna play it anyway.

- Don’t call everyone there “dude” unless you’re from Southern Cali.  Even then, don’t do it, OK?

- Don’t step on someone else’s blanket- that’s bad karma.

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