Coachella, Bonnaroo, Lollapalooza — these famous, multi-day concerts dominate the American festival scene, and more festivals seem to pop up every year.
The line-ups this year are killer. Beyonce, Fleet Foxes, Jamiroquai, and St. Vincent played Coachella this year; Enimem, The Killers, and Sheryl Crow are highlighting Bonnaroo; Lollapalooza’s got Arctic Monkeys, the National, Franz Ferdinand, St. Vincent, Vampire Weekend, LL Cool J, and Jack White.
In January, Pollstar announced that Coachella had become the highest-grossing music festival of all time, by a gigantic margin — in 2017, the festival raked in $114,593,000. And The Washington Post says that, using the latest available data, 32 million Americans are attending music festivals each year — that’s more than, they note, the entire population of Texas.
That’s a lot of people. Which makes for a lot of problems: sanitation problems. Security problems. Hydration problems. And yes: safety problems. Festivals are fraught places. In 2014, two men were arrested in Reading, England, for raping a girl at a music festival, the BBC reported.
And a recent Teen Vogue article on this year’s Coachella was harrowing. According to the piece, 90 percent of the 54 girls the author talked to had been groped in some way during Coachella — everything ranging from unwanted touching to genital grabbing. You need to know how to keep yourself safe. You need to have a plan. And you need to stick to it.
The Buddy System
Never go to a festival alone. Always go with a group of friends, as large of a group as possible, and always, always, always stick together. Make sure no one is ever left alone. For a group of women, having a trusted male companion or two nearby doesn’t hurt, either.
Despite what Dave Matthews might have said, drink the water. All the water. All the time. All these festivals happen in the summer. Summers are by definition hot. Multiply that by a thousands and thousands of sweaty bodies and add in alcohol and/or illicit substance consumption, and you have a great recipe for dehydration or heat exhaustion, possibly even heat stroke. Drink, drink, and drink some more — and know where the cooldown tents and water stations are located. Take advantage of them.
Make Proper Camping Arrangements
If you decide you’re going to sing a C-A-M-P-F-I-R-E S-O-N-G, make sure you utilize safe camping practices. Lock up all valuables or leave them in locked vehicles; make sure you don’t leave expensive coolers, sleeping bags, or other gear in plain site. If you can, use an RV, which is both lockable and has air conditioning.
[Be sure to check out our Security Tips For Campers, as well.]
Know The Layout
Know your way around both the music venue — the stages, the vendors, the water and cooldown tents, the bathrooms — and how to get in touch with concert officials if something does happen. Make sure you also know exactly how to get back to your campsite or car at any given time.
Watch Your Liquor
Like Macka B raps, Don’t drink too much if you can’t take it. That means, don’t drink if you don’t keep pace with one water per beer, don’t get too intoxicated, and you don’t let your own behavior get out of control. Theoretically, you’re here for the music. Be here for it.
Everyone’s Free (To Wear Sunscreen)
You’re going to baking under the sun for 13 hours. You need some sort of sun protection, and you need to reapply it throughout the day. Otherwise, you could end up with sun poisoning (blisters), which can leave actual scars. Pick the sports version that stays on after sweating.
Avoiding Sexual Assault
While men can and are assaulted, women are far more often victims. It’s hard to address such an institutional problem in a simple tips section, but some women wear a backpack to prevent being grabbed from behind — it creates distance. Also considering wearing pants or shorts, not skirts. Stay with your friends — remember: The Buddy System — and keep your distance from concertgoers who may be exhibiting questionable behavior.