I’ve been to countless music festivals in my life and I’ve also performed during many. (That’s me in the photo performing at Austin Psych Fest in 2010. Photo by Teal.)
There are a few items that have made my festival experiences as an audience member a bit easier.
I wear a small backpack or hip pouch (aka fanny pack) to carry my essentials.
1. You’ll want to drink as much water as possible.
Check the rules for the particular fest you are attending to see if they allow you to bring in empty containers for water or camel packs. Camel packs are not cute (yet), so I go for a BPA-free bottle.
2. Sanitizing wipes.
You never know when these might come in handy, just be sure you don’t use them on your body.
3. Intimate wipes.
These are the ones you can use on your body. I started using them when I first began touring. If you are feeling sweaty and sticky, these can be quite refreshing.
4. Hand sanitizer.
I prefer Jao Brand Hand Refresher for daily use, but I use Thieves when I’m at a festival. You don’t want to get sick and there are germs everywhere. Thieves is strong and contains essential oils, but it won’t dry out your hands like Purell.
Most of the time a port-o-potty is your only option at a festival. Bring tissue just in case the toilet paper has run out, which happens far too often.
6. A small flashlight.
When the sun goes down, you want to have the option of choosing the cleanest port-o-potty possible. At least I do! I bring a small flashlight so I can see while inside the port-o-potty. I find a place to hang the flashlight and keep it turned on while I’m in there to help me avoid as much yuck as possible. There is usually a screw or something similar, where the door is attached, that I find to hang it on.
I definitely damaged my ears in my younger years by not wearing ear plugs. You don’t have to wear them all day, just when you want to get up close for your favorite bands. They’re also helpful when you somehow end up in front of the speakers, trying to get closer to the stage. Trust me on this.
8. Breath mints.
You never know who you are going to run into or meet at a music festival. Hopefully you have fed yourself in addition to drinking plenty of water, so your breath may be suffering by the end of the day. If I have room, I’ll also throw floss into my bag.
WHAT FESTIVALS ARE YOU HEADED TO?
WHAT ARE YOUR ESSENTIAL ITEMS?
SHARE IN THE COMMENTS SECTION!
Before I jump into my Québec travels, a quick reflection on some of my favorite musical sets from this year’s South by Southwest Music Festival.
The fest has come and gone. As usual, a whirlwind of too many shows and not enough time. I performed three gigs and put together choice cuts from my music collection to DJ at a closing event the last day.
There have been years I have performed three times as many shows with multiple bands. Either way, the Monday following the festival I’m completely exhausted and somewhat sad the opportunity to see so many global musical acts has slipped away.
I saw Jacco Gardner twice. Hailing from The Netherlands, I’d been wanting to see him perform for several years, but always seemed to miss his sets in Austin.
My favorite local Austin band is The Octopus Project. They are some of the hardest working artists I know and beyond creative.
They hosted a day show with two stages of music at Spiderhouse Cafe, which is just north of the University of Texas campus. They invited my band, Experimental Aircraft, to perform and when it was time for their set, I tried to gracefully sit on the ground, in a dress, to get some film shots and video footage. (Hit the full screen button!)
A film they scored the music for is currently being released in theatres across the United States. It’s called Kumiko, The Treasure Hunter and it’s gorgeous. Go see it!
Wray is from Birmingham, Alabama and I first heard about them from members of The Octopus Project. I wish I had recorded more of their set. Their LP is hypnotic, but their live set is even more so.
Prince Rama. A total surprise. They were performing above the venue where I performed an official SXSW showcase with Experimental Aircraft. Again, I wish I’d recorded more, but they were so engaged with the audience, it felt rude to have electronics between us.
(For some reason YouTube can’t seem to process all of the lights and has made my video a bit shaky. Apologies!)
If you have an opportunity to see them live, go! It’s surreal, fun, beautiful, and a total trip. I dare you to dance. They begin a North American tour next week!
I heard Irish band Dott for the first time. They performed on the same showcase as my band and then again at the closing party where I was spinning records. Perfectly executed garage-pop with sweet female harmonies.
Texas musician and photographer Rachel Staggs has been traveling to perform, create, and record music most of her life. Although she is best known for her work in the band Experimental Aircraft, Rachel now makes lo-fi psychedelic indie pop with her husband in the band All in the Golden Afternoon, and solo as Rachel Goldstar. Whether sharing travel tales from across Europe and North America, exploring film photography, or making music, she’s always a wandering artist.