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Soak in the music and sun

At summer music festivals, keep these rules in mind in order to have a great time

POSTED: June 24, 2009 10:30 p.m.
DREW ALLEN/For The Times

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There is nothing worse than being sunburned and parched at an outdoor music festival. Take it from me, I’ve been there.

As a veteran of three Bonnaroos and countless individual concerts, I’ve learned from my past mistakes. Yes, it might appear cool to be the drunk gal or guy making a ruckus in the middle of the crowd. Or you might not be able to resist laughing about last night’s events through a bystander’s favorite song. (Teenyboppers at the Beck show at the 2006 Bonnaroo, I’m looking at you.)

Now, I’m a more respectful concert-goer, and I feel like I’ve got a few tricks up my sleeve.

So, if you’re heading out to AthFest this weekend, or are one of the lucky ones traveling to Chicago in August for Lollapalooza, here are some tips for you:

1. If you’re outside, carry and apply sunscreen and/or wear a loose, long-sleeved shirt: On my third Bonnaroo, I finally got smart and did this religiously. It saved me from discomfort that comes from burn lines (you know, the areas that you miss with sunscreen) from different shirts worn throughout the event. It may seem tempting to wear that cute bikini top or show off your killer summer abs, but resist! Your skin will thank you when you’re older (and less wrinkly).

2. Keep yourself hydrated: Dehydration from a lack of water (or overconsumption of alcohol) is probably the No. 1 reason you’ll end up in a medical tent or hospital while attending a concert. Keep water handy and cut back on those beers or cocktails. Alcohol may make you less inhibited, but you may miss something that you were looking forward to. Example: After too many beers at a Radiohead show, I lamented to a friend of mine, saying, “Man, I can’t believe they didn’t play ‘Karma Police.’” My friend: “They did.” Me: “Oh.”

3. Bring your own cash: If you want to stand in line for the ATM for three hours, go for it.

4. Abstain from sitting or standing next to the speakers: I may be getting old, but it took my ears three days to stop ringing from the TV on the Radio show I just saw at the Tabernacle. If you love the gift of hearing, protect your ears with earplugs, or situate yourself away from the speakers.

5. Don’t be the jerk who “accidentally” bumps into and/or gropes the hot girl or guy: Need I say more? (It could get you arrested.)

6. Moshing. Is. Dead.

7. Bring your own snacks: If you’re picky about what you eat or care about your health, you should bring your own food. That way you don’t have to leave your fought-over space near the stage and you don’t have to spend 20 minutes in line for carnival-style food.

8. Believe it or not, bring a book: If you’re like me and get bored easily, bring along a book. There will be lots of down time in between shows, or perhaps you just want to enjoy the music that’s playing in the background. Or maybe the music sucks. At least you can have a literary escape in the meantime.

9. Embrace comfortable shoes: I love Crocs. There, I said it. They have saved my feet many times during our past year-and-a-half together, and I am altogether a happier person for it. If you’re going to be standing for long periods of time, those old flip-flops are not going to do you any favors. Get yourself a pair of Crocs, or wear some old tennis shoes, and make your feet feel better.

10. Have fun: If you wanna dance, dance. If you wanna sing, sing. If you wanna cheer, cheer. Move to the music, and enjoy yourself. This is the only time I recommend making a fool out of yourself, so use it or lose it.


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