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I&H Music Festival Survival Guide: First Timer vs. Seasoned Pro


A couple weekends ago, I traveled to Las Vegas for the Life Is Beautiful music festival. This was my first ever music festival, and I relied on Aditi a lot beforehand for suggestions and advice about the experience. Originally hailing from Tennessee, Aditi is practically an expert on the music fest scene (she first started attending Bonnaroo in high school). As a seasoned pro and a first timer, we teamed up to give you our top tips on making the most of your next festival experience.


Before going to Life is Beautiful, I remember looking at the line up with a building sense of FOMO. I had picked out the bands that I knew I wanted to see right away (e.g. Death Cab, Edward Sharpe, Saint Motel, etc), but then what about the rest? Some of the bands I had never heard of — what if I missed out on someone really good because I hadn’t done my research ahead of time?

Just before I locked myself in my room for 3 days to binge-listen to every discography of every musician in the line-up, I addressed my concerns with a co-worker. Her response: “Girl, the whole point of going to a music festival is to be front and center for your favorite bands, the ones where you’re able to sing the lyrics at the top of your lungs! If you can do that, the rest is just an added bonus.”

And she was right. Rather than worrying about who I was/wasn’t seeing at all hours of the festival, I gave up some control and opted to just go with the flow.


Looking around at the other festival goers, it was easy to feel intimidated. So many people there were dressed to the nines in their carefully crafted “bohemian chic” ensembles, long sun-kissed hair perfectly undone in effortless beachy waves, snapping selfies with their equally put together friends. I was with my parents (who I’ve figured out are actually way cooler than I am) boppin’ around in old jean shorts and well-loved vintage dresses. There were a few moments where I would get self-conscious, like I was back in middle school trying to fit in with the “cool kids”. Then I realized (as I did my sophomore year of high school) that it was so much more fun to be real than cool. By that I mean: be true to who you are, because the rest of it doesn’t matter. If that means belting out Edward Sharpe’s “Home” and dancing with your dear mom, then by all means — do it 🙂


Who you go with matters – When you’re at a festival, it’s really important to go with the flow and not to get overwhelmed by the crowds, the heat (usually), and trying to make it to every show on time. Chances are you won’t always get as close as you’d like and you’ll have a much better time if you’re with people who share the same mindset. You want to be able to have a great time and not worry about being on a schedule. If you do go with a group, I highly recommend having a meeting point in the park. I have lost friends multiple times and multiple different festivals where we had no cell signal and thousands of people around us. Don’t learn the hard way!

Listen to some artists that you don’t know ahead of the festival (although do your best to avoid Maddie’s Music FOMO situation — if you know you’re not a fan of death metal, you don’t need to listen to all the death metal bands playing). There’s nothing quite like discovering an artist that you love for the first time. What’s even more exciting is seeing an artist perform live, right after you discover them. Especially when you’re at a smaller stage where the vibe is more relaxed and less about getting to the front. It creates a more intimate performance.

If you want to be in the front row – I think the best strategy is finding three shows in a row that you’d love to see (at the same stage) and getting to the stage ahead of time for the first show. As people clear out in between shows, it’s pretty easy to make your way to the front by the time the third one starts. But don’t be that person who pretends they’re looking for their friends…which brings me to…


Nothing is worse than rude people at a music festival. It actually feels like a total contradiction. Don’t be rude to other people, no matter how gross or tired you feel.


Maddie: Governors Ball / Firefly

Aditi: Camp Flog Gnaw Carnival

Ready to go? Here’s where you can find your next festival fix!

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