This is mud. Three hours of heavy rain shortly after the start of the festival combined with a not insignificant number of feet walking across the grounds combined with the frequent animal visitors to the park (geese / dogs / feral cats / et cetera) yield a unique mud blend that is extremely slick yet sticky and also heavily smells of shit. While the texture will threaten to cause you both to slip and to be stuck, this is temporary and location based. The smell will burn your nostrils for the duration of the festival no matter where you are positioned.
This is how you discover your new favorite band, later.
This is a puddle. Like the mud, they are caused by excessive precipitation, but unlike the mud, these are more liquid than dirt. Avoid these when possible, as they will leave your socks wet.
Here is how you accept the inevitability that your shoes and/or sandals will be ruined, no matter how carefully you step, how much you keep to the sidewalks, or how much you clean your footwear them after returning home. Accepting this enables you to walk more confidently through mud patches and giant puddles, spending less time on exaggerated walking movements. Accepting this saves you from trying to excessively clean your shoes after each day ends.
This is your cell phone. It will simultaneously be your life line and the most frustrating part of your festival experience. Learn to text message in short bursts, as your signal strength will not last.
This is how you arbitrarily create genres to describe bands. Attach common modifiers (“post”, “noise”, “folk”, “French”) to existing musical genres (“rock”, “punk”, “folk”, “house”), repeating as necessary. Gradually increase your available pool of modifiers and genres, until you are able to string together genres like “prep-folk” or “Spanish disco-house” without sounding sarcastic. Practice this skill with any song you hear, ever. We are only able to describe things to others using familiar concepts, and while “post-blues ska” may not be defined anywhere else, at least you are trying.
Here is how you discretely roll your eyes without obvious disrespect at every reference to Michael Jackson, including the one from a well known and highly regarded hip-hop artist about how people used to say “One Love” but now instead say “One Glove”.
This is how you sell out to Toyota. By writing your (possibly fake) name and (possibly fake) email address on a four inch by six inch card, you will be entitled to enter into a small air conditioned hybrid Toyota automobile and driven a quarter mile closer to the festival entrance. The driver will attempt to engage in banter, including but not limited to questions such as So Where Are You All From, What Bands Are You Looking Forward To Seeing Today, and Never Heard Of Them Who Would You Say They Are Like. You may choose to ignore him, as you have already sacrificed your dignity by exchanging (possibly fake) personal information for air conditioning.
Here are Flents “Quiet! Please” Foam Ear Plugs. They have a Noise Reduction Rating of 29 out of 30. Prevent future hearing problems by using proper hearing protection today. Buy them immediately.
This is My Bloody Valentine. They are the type of band that has enough credibility to have their albums labeled as “seminal”. They play a genre of music known as “shoegaze”, which involves standing terribly still on the stage and looking down almost the entire time. The music is heavy on distortion and comes across as the proverbial (non-Phil Spector) “wall of sound”. Vocals are provided but are there to act as an instrument, not to be understood. This may frustrate your musical sensibilities.
Please be aware that My Bloody Valentine may have at one time held the Guinness World Record™ for World’s Loudest Band before it was considered “irresponsible” for such a record to exist.
This is the last song in My Bloody Valentine’s set. The live version of this song has one notable difference from the studio version: there is an added section where Kevin Shields and Bilinda Butcher play one chord, repeatedly, as loud and as fast as they possibly can. This section lasts between six and fifteen minutes, depending on who you ask. Common side effects include general discomfort, headache, dizziness, and nausea. This section is referred to in most literature about My Bloody Valentine as “the holocaust section“.
Here is how you survive The Holocaust Section: earplugs (see above), plus as much distance as possible between you and the stage where you can still maintain comfort. It has been suggested that Battery Park in Manhattan was a suitable distance away and still within earshot of the show.
Here is how you dance to a My Bloody Valentine song, given all of the above. Alternately, this is how you extend your middle finger at My Bloody Valentine, should you be diametrically opposed to dancing (again, given all of the above).
This is how you film the video screen near the stage with your digital camera or cell phone. Your first instinct may be that filming the stage directly is a better idea. This is incorrect. Realize that you are far away and no picture or video of the stage will be of any interest to anyone as nothing can be seen.
Here is how, with some ingenuity, you can cut a foot of mud-drenched fabric off of your pants and throw it out. This will slightly decrease the smell and greatly increase your comfort at the expense of what may be good pants. These are the tradeoffs you will face in life.
Order new shoes from Zappos after the first day of the festival. You have already accepted that you are losing the battle against the mud, and if you place an order as soon as you return home, and if your order is bumped to overnight shipping, you will receive them on Monday.
Here is how you fold your legs when you are sitting on the ground, so as to not get the mud from your legs and shoes on the remainder of your clothing.
Here is Jay-Z covering the Beastie Boys’ “No Sleep Till Brooklyn”. Screaming along with the refrain is encouraged.
This is how you walk away from a band you were hoping to like. This will happen repeatedly. Not every set can live up to your high expectations. If at any time you find you are not enjoying yourself, move on. There is always something else.
Here is how you stand behind a trash can as a preventative measure against having someone tall stand directly in front of you and block your already poor view of the stage.
This is how you politely have a conversation with a stranger about her losing her sandals directly in front of you in the mud. You will bond with many people this weekend over the shared misery of the mud.
Here is The Do LaB. It is the closest thing there is here to a dedicated dance stage. Make this your default choice when none of the scheduled excite you.
This is how you come to accept that everyone is either high, drunk, a blogger, or some combination thereof. This may give you the impression that everyone but you is kind of a dick. You are not exempt from this classification scheme.
Here is how you deal with having cigarette ashes flicked carelessly onto your bare leg.
This is how you read a paperback between sets by stage light.
Here is Tool. While listening to their set, you may begin to mentally calculate dates to realize that you have been listening to them for nearly 13 years, longer than any other band at the festival. The memory of driving to SAT prep classes and singing the lyrics to “Flood” may be recalled when the band begins to play the same song. Eventually you may reach one or more conclusions about the nature of time and/or longevity in the music industry and/or the self-selective nature of music listening habits in the late 90’s and into the 2000’s. Try to enjoy yourself even as you consider what it means that you are here.
Here is how you say “wooo” with varying levels of enthusiasm. While there are an infinite number of “wooo”s you can create, focus on the three primary variants: the serious, rocked-out “WOOO!”; the slightly tired but still excited “Wooo!”; the sarcastic “wooo.”
This is how you post an anonymous comment to Brooklyn Vegan to either defend or attack the festival mid-weekend.
Try to not get frustrated when the doors on the last day are delayed by four hours because of a tornado-level thunderstorm. It is for your safety, even if it cancels a number of bands you had hoped to see.
Here is Coldplay. Notice how their set is much better than you thought it would be. Stay longer than you originally intended to. MGMT is honestly not that good live.
Here is how you stay calm when your cellular signal fluctuates wildly when you are not moving.
This is Etienne De Crecy. With the clever use of a single projector and a rig reminiscent of Hollywood Squares, he will blow minds while playing French house. Be sure to stand at an ample distance, as being on the barricade ruins most of the effect.
This is your body. You will have it with you all weekend.
On this issue there is no counsel; you must make your best guess. For myself, I do not ever expect ever really to know.
But in the interval, if it is an interval: here is aspirin for your muscles, strong soap for your skin, overnight shipping for your replacement shoes, clean air for your nose, sleep for your stamina, quiet for your ears, and real wireless for your phone.
(with apologies to DFW)