Some true stories and seasoned advice The Sherp would like to share with you before your next music festival adventure.
Music festivals are memorable, whether the experiences have been good, bad or outright strange. But as we’ve discussed before, at the end of the day, music fests are public events. With several thousand people– or sometimes more– in one place, festivals are not one of the safest environments to be in. The Sherp, welding our years of festival observatory skills, has compiled a list of some useful tips on how you can implement safety from your end at a music festival or any large-scale music event.
1. Drug safety: know your drug and where it’s coming from.
“At Summer Set in 2013 for first camping festival and my tent neighbor offered me some kind of liquid shrooms to take which I had never heard of. One of my friends and I had some but I took a bit more and it was instant hallucinations. We decided to go to first show middle of afternoon and my friend has a compulsive seizure on the ground and her eyes started rolling back. And I’m standing there hallucinating some horrific scenes as I think my friend is dead and I’m hallucinating her funeral and my past at same time and it was a nightmare. Then four or five of us go with police with her to medical escort tent to make sure she is alright. She ended up being alright but that was the worst moment of my life. I didn’t sleep for about the next two weeks because I was afraid of falling asleep.”
We do not support or ridicule drug usage; to each his own. But if you’re doing substance, make sure you know what it is, where it comes from and how much of it is safe to take. Many festivals have started drug education and sobriety camps on festival grounds that help you reject temptation and if you’re planing on consuming the intoxicants either way, provide you with necessary information.
2. Stick with the herd.
“I was walking around and got lost for a moment. I turned around and my friends were gone. Something told me to go back to my original location. Once I got there my friends had returned. What a relief! They were looking for the bathroom and looking for something to eat at the time.” – via WikiFestivals
As fun as it is losing yourself in the music and transcendent vibe of a music festival, it’s much safer to have your peeps around you. Music festivals, especially the large-scale ones, can often be overwhelming due to their sheer size and population. If you’re splitting from your group for any reason, make sure you have a fixed point in the arena where you can catch up with them later. Cell reception is very unreliable at festivals, make sure there’s a way to get to your posse in case of an emergency.
3. Trust no bitch.
“So yea first year of college when I embarked on my journey to NH7 little did I know that I would wake up in a hospital. They lacked safety protocols in terms of drug consumption. I was chilling with a group of foreigners and my drink got spiked. After the NH7 team found out they ensured I was secure from police inquiry.” – Rudre Malik, NH7 Weekender, Pune
It’s an awesome experience to meet someone new at the festival, bond with a stranger, discover a foreign culture. Especially if you’re at a culturally diverse festival (like Burning Man) it’s always fun to meet new people. But it’s also essential to remember that these people will not look out for you. You have to be fundamentally self-sustained at a festival, trusting no one with your drinks, food or strange pills– especially strange pills, needless to mention.
4. Always, always charge your phone.
“I had a solar cell phone charging pack hanging from my bag all weekend. Keeps your phone nice and charged and turned into a great way to meet new people!” – at Wayhome festival
Even though cell reception irrevocably sucks at most festivals, having a phone is very important and keeping it charged as well as investing in a reliable portable charger is a good idea. You need to have some form of contact with people who can come to your aid in an emergency, and in an uber crowded place like a music fest, a cell phone is your best shot.
5. Know your limits.
“Music festival in April. Me and about 12 of my friends all went and planned on taking around .25 MDMA each. Well one of our friends started rolling really hard and redosed with another 2 random pills she got from strangers and about 20 minutes before the festival was over. Our friend who took a total of 4 pills ended up collapsing and having a seizure right in front of us. We all freaked the fuck out as she was carried away by security. Some of us were convinced she died on the spot. Luckily it was just a seizure because she has Epilepsy and was totally fine the next day.”
We’re all for partying like there’s no tomorrow, folks. But there’s a fine line between fun and fucked up, and believe us, you do not want to be the latter. Make sure you know your body and it’s limits before you indulge. Whether it’s drugs or alcohol, knowing when to stop is essential.
6. Know that festival security isn’t always efficient.
“Literally last night at summer set my cousin texted me saying she was being followed by some guy who was being really aggressive. I couldn’t find her so I went to security and explained the situation, they said they let all the security guys know. Yet when I asked any of them they had no idea what I was talking about. When I finally found her 2 hours later she was right next to a security guard who she said tried to get her to leave with some random guy because she was “annoying” him. Pretty fucked up honestly.”
It’s despicable, but it’s true. Festival security, while mostly reliable, can sometimes be unpredictable, depending on the festival. The hazards of this can range from neglect to undue roughness with the attendees, for this reason, make sure you follow points 2 & 4 for backup.
7. Carry your own water and other necessary supplies.
“The amount of people struggling and crying and begging for water trying to bring back all of their shit to the cars at Camp Bisco this year. No help from staff whatsofuckingever. No tractors, no water stations, no cars. Nothing.”
Or buy a bottle or more as soon as you get inside, since many festivals don’t allow liquids through security. Especially for those attending summer festivals or festivals in cities famous for humid weather. Nothing destroys a good vibe better than gut-wrenching thirst. We suggest you carry a relatively light backpack, no one wants a boulder on your back, weighing you down, but do carry necessary items like your phone, charger, water, maybe a taser, etc.
8. Know your environment.
“I got too excited seeing the The Strokes this spring and separated from the girl I was with. The crowd was pretty big, I got semi-close, realized how bad I fucked up, started to exit on left of stage, finally got out of the crowd and started to really freak out.”
It’s much easier to not get lost if you know the festival arena well. festivals usually provide maps, especially if the venue is massive, but you can even memorize certain landmarks and set them as specific meeting spots amongst your friends. Food stalls, Ferris wheels, bright colored banners/tents/stages.
9. Keep your wristband on at all times.
“I took my wristband off because it was too tight, and i think it fell through a hole in my pocket. It shouldn’t be a big deal, but i’m devastated.” – Electric Forest
Guard it with your life if you must. A lost wristband is an unnecessary complication amidst the chaos that is an average music fest. Don’t try to take it off before the festival is completely over, no matter how annoying it gets.
10. Or just forget everything we’ve said and carry a zombie killing device instead.
“When you’re at a festival it’s best to bring a zombie killing device. A glowing scepter has worked for me.”
(Disclaimer: All uncredited quotes are taken from festival attendees on Reddit and the credibility of each story lies with the individual who posted them. If you have originally posted any of the stories above, do let us know and we will provide credit where it is due.)