Reaching Live Music Nirvana: Music Festivals
Since practically the beginnings of human history, we have gathered to celebrate life, fortune, and prosperity - to share ideas, culture, and food, and most importantly, a moment in time. With the forever changing world, societal influences (political or nonpolitical), and technological advancements, this gathering, today, has ultimately manifested into one particular entity in mainstream modern culture. Imagine a crowd of thousands, all dressed in urban-island castaway get-ups, relentlessly fist pounding to the music of their favorite artists in hopes of reaching sonic nirvana. I like to call it the Music Festival Culture.
We've all at some point heard of Woodstock, the EDCs, SXSW, Coachella, the Burning Man, Ultra, Lollapalooza, and so forth. We've also all most likely heard a festival-goer list the many artists they got to see perform, their amazing once-in-a-lifetime, life changing experience, and the fact you missed out, that is, if you didn't attend. We've also most likely heard or witnessed the unraveling of such Utopian accounts. The news stories, social media posts, or first-hand witness of the drug and alcohol-fueled raging, excessive ticketing & travel costs, violent outbreaks, detrimental environmental impacts, and the lack of proper sanitation/health services, all culminating in crime, lawsuits, and even death. When we take a introspective step back, what does this music festival movement provide to our society and how is it changing our perception of music & culture?
As a now infrequent festival goer, I historically attended these gatherings first and foremost for the musical experience. Nothing gets better as a fan than having the ability to see a collection of my favorite artists all perform live on the same day and at same venue. This extension of live music concerts is the multi-genre music fan's wet dream. Not only that, music festivals have introduced me to new artists of which I probably wouldn't have encountered otherwise. Though it is true, at the base of it all, music festivals are a marketing tool presented by promotion/event companies in partnership with various corporations and labels (obvious from the product placements dispersed throughout the venue and free giveaways) to promote artists, sell tickets and products, and to bring back more business for the following year. When you think about it, this strategic new way of 'putting on a show' is truly revolutionary for the music industry. In a time where the digital MP3 and streaming is trump, and the death of CD, analog, and 1st person physical sharing is obvious, music festivals provide a fortunate exception that is a segue from past to the present, and sometimes into the future (hologram concerts). This culmination of music, business, technology, and people, provides a foundation for the immediate and efficient exchange of ideas, both artistic and not, something often overlooked.
Secondly, I attend music festivals for the social setting. There's no place like festivals where you can go to meet fellow music fans of all backgrounds, whether it be ethnicity, nationality, age, income, occupation, or religion. Guaranteed, I have yet to experience a place where the individuals are as friendly and open-minded as the ones you meet at a music festival. Whether it be drug-induced, a less severe version Stockholm syndrome, or pack mentality, I would say 90% of the goers I've met from personal experience not only take interest in your immediate attitude openly helping you have to a good time, but also taking heed to your physical and mental state, making sure you're good. If you ask me, this is the definition of a modern-day Utopia. Although only temporary, it's a place where people care for people, free from the clutches of discrimination and differences. It is true, music has always been a great unifier.
Lastly, I attend music festivals for its innate ability to serve as a momentary escape from the hardships of life. I like to think of it as a micro-vacation, a small sliver in time that allows you to forget your anxieties, analyze your life and happiness, and revitalize your mission for personal growth. In modern culture, our ability to escape to simpler times is often clouded and overshadowed by the constant internal and external push to strive for complexity. A never-ending reach growing more in part due to technology and ever more due to materialism.
Ultimately, it's exciting to see how live music festivals are progressing in our modern society. The opportunity for the music industry, artists, and fans to all benefit from such an immersive experience is such an important one to our culture. Its establishment is the foundation of sharing personal expression, something tethered to our deepest primal nature. As worlds collide between future and present, it is among few institutions that has the innate ability to capture our attention and possibly change how we look at the world, and we should respect it as such.