Festival Friday: Survival of the Schedule

There is this beautiful time when the line-up is announced, tickets are purchased and possibilities abound as to how it will all come together.

Then it all crashes when the schedule is finally announced. Suddenly, there are conflicts, there is timing involved, and just when you think you've got it all figured out you realize that you will spend 14 hours a day going from one band to the next. Intense.

Don't worry, it'll be okay. Just take a breath. We'll figure this out.

- Pick out your must-sees. Even if you want to just leave it to chance, double check the list and make sure there isn't a set that you would kick yourself for missing. If you want to be up close and personal for the whole set of your must-see, make time for a bathroom break, replenish your water, and time to find your spot.

- Think about location and time of day. For example, I sunburn very easily, so I try to stay in the sun for short durations between 3:30 and 5:30. It's not easy, I've had to miss some great stuff, but I'd rather be able to enjoy the rest of the festival as a non-lobster. Catch 15 minutes of a band in a very sunny area, then find a shady area to enjoy the rest or go see another band in a shaded area.

- Make sure you give yourself time to rest. Especially if it's a multi-day festival. Don't overdo it on the first or second day and be laid up for the rest of the festival. Take your time. Take care of yourself. Find times in the schedule where you would miss a few bands in order to take a break. See if there are any bands that you would be just as happy to lay on the lawn and listen. Knowing of a few spots where you can rest beforehand might help you be able to stay up really late for that one set you're dying to see, or endure some time up in the front of the mob at a band you absolutely love.

- Be flexible.

- Don't forget to eat. This can get a little tricky, if you're on a budget like us and need to find time to escape back to the campsite. We carry snacks in my bag to help sustain us between meals - have some carbs, have some protein, but don't have anything that melts (including chewy granola bars, candy, yogurt covered granola bars, etc.).

- Print off a schedule and mark it up. Sometimes I use a star rating system, sometimes I just write comments next to the band's name - "!" or "meh." If you don't know a lot of bands, maybe it would help to write what kind of music it is. That way if you're feeling more reggae than rock, you'll know where to go. Also, anything you really don't care about can just be crossed right off.

If all else fails - Just do a 3 song set. 3 songs and you can count is my rule of thumb. Often, I get to hear a song the band is known for, an older song and a newer song. It's almost always a perfect set, and great for catching a bunch of bands stacked on top of each other or an easy way to find new stuff. For bands that don't necessarily have defined songs, 15 minutes is a good equivalent. There have been times that I've stayed for less and there are times I've ended up staying for the entire set.

My summer project for my students is to build their own three song set. 3 songs that they can play anytime and give people a good idea of who they are or where they're at. It is the magic number after all.

I hope that might help any of you feeling stressed looking at those festival line-ups. Just take a breath, make some notes and wing it. Have fun, stay hydrated, and use sunscreen!

Ps. The 3 song set idea might place me at Lady Gaga on a smaller stage at Lollapalooza in 2007. I can't place it, but looking at the schedule, it's very likely. How weird is that?