Music Festival

Why I Won’t Attend Another Music Festival

Derek Australia 69 Comments

Music FestivalSomething flew onto my upper lip and I woke up. In my exhausted state, still half-asleep, my attempts to swat whatever was bouncing around my face, nearly ended up giving me a bloody mouth. The insect swooped down again and hopped from my left cheek to my left eye before gently coming to rest on my nose. I swatted again, hitting my nose with more force than I would have liked.

Not only was it the middle of the night, but it was the middle of the night in the middle of nowhere and I was inside a tent. As a result, I couldn’t see anything in the darkness, and could only react once I felt the moth land on my face again.

The problem then grew when I felt a second moth flying around my face, and it became even worse as I felt three and then four and before long, dozens of moths attacking me from all angles. It was a full on offensive that left me wondering how on earth all of these moths got into my tent in the first place.

At one point, I opened the flap of my tent and tried to force all of the moths outside with large swooping motions of my arms. It didn’t work and instead, they actually seemed to grow in number, as there were now even more moths attempting to fly into my ear canals, up my nose and even into my eye sockets, all at the same time.

The rain outside forced me to remain in my tent and while I could have buried myself in the depths of my sleeping bag and wrapped my face in a t-shirt, I was determined to get rid of these moths.

Unfortunately, I failed. But after a couple of hours, my exhaustion became too much once again and despite the crazed moths, I somehow managed to fall back asleep.

MEREDITH MUSIC FESTIVAL

The above tale took place two years ago during my last visit to Australia, while I was attending the Meredith Music Festival with some friends, an annual festival that takes place in rural Victoria. Before the festival had begun, I was undoubtedly excited to spend some time in the country, listening to good music, especially upon hearing that the forecast called for near perfect weather for the duration of the three-day event.

The problem began, however, when, at the exact same second that we drove through the entrance gate of the festival, the rain began to fall. Fifteen minutes later, as my friends and I tried to set up our tents on a muddy patch of land, the rain poured down with greater force. By the time we made our way down to the main stage and began listening to some music, we could barely see the stage through the rain.

And on that first night, at around 9:00pm, after shivering under a tree while holding a broken umbrella for 8 hours and listening to bands that I no longer cared about, I wandered back to my tent wanting nothing else but to fall asleep.

Fall asleep I did. But as soon as I drifted off, that’s when the moths arrived.

THE BATTLE ENDS

After my exhausting battle with the moths, I woke up the following morning to the flap of my tent flapping around in the wind. I apparently forgot to shut the flap after trying to shoo the moths away during the night. Climbing out of my sleeping bag, I looked for my glasses but couldn’t find them anywhere and so I decided to step outside into the blurry world for a big morning stretch.

As soon as I stepped outside, the only sounds I could hear were those of instant laughter. My friends, who were sitting under a tarp eating breakfast, began laughing hysterically. Our tent neighbors to the left let out a fair amount of chuckles, as did our tent neighbors to the right.

Well, it turns out that I had not battled an army of ferocious moths during the night at all. Instead, there had been a large hole in the side of my sleeping bag and as a result, the feathers had been pouring out of that hole, one by one, flying all around the tent and landing all over my face….and hair and every other part of my body.

So there I stood in the rain for all Meredith festival-goers to see, completely covered from head to toe in a thick layer of white feathers.

Meredith Music Festival 2008

TWO MORE DAYS

Day two of the festival played out much like day one with record amounts of rain continuing to fall. The only difference was that I was covered in feathers all day and when I returned to our campsite in the evening, my tent was flooded. However, despite seeming like a most unfortunate occurrence, after a quick look around me I actually felt quite thankful. One of my friend’s tents had literally blown away and was now sitting upside down about 50 feet from its original site and my other friend’s tent had completely collapsed and now lay in the middle of a large muddy puddle.

Fully soaked and just wanting to get some decent sleep again, I stumbled all the way back towards the stage and asked my friend who drove us to the festival for the keys to her car. I then put on every piece of dry clothing I had, sat in the driver seat and tried to sleep. An hour later, every door to the car opened simultaneously and my friends all piled in, having no other place to sleep as well.

So that’s how we passed the second night, with five of us packed into a small car, all sitting there wet, cold, stinky and grumpy while trying to fall asleep with heavy winds and rain beating down on the outside of the vehicle. Not a word was said, but I’m quite sure that every single one of us would have traded the few musical acts we did manage to see for a few hours in a heated room with a comfy bed.

The rain finally did let up during the third day, at the exact same moment that we drove through the exit gate of the Meredith Music Festival and began the drive back to Melbourne. Incredibly, this was also the exact same moment that I decided never to attend another music festival again.

In fact, these days, whenever I even hear the words “music” and “festival” mentioned in the same sentence, I shudder and immediately walk away. Just a few weeks ago, when I arrived in Melbourne for my current visit, my friends asked me whether or not I would be attending the Falls Music Festival or the Golden Plains Festival this year.

Not a chance. Call me old or boring, or call me both, but my Music Festival days have come to an end.


Photo credits: Pyramid Stage | Marquee Fail
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Comments 69

  1. MenZ

    Hi Earl,

    I know this is an old post but if you ever wander to Borneo ( Malaysia ) in July-August feel free to check Rainforest World music Festival.I’m sure you won’t discover the same experienced as this one. Three days event each year.

    Check their website : http://rwmf.net/

  2. Ruby Hooper

    Hi Earl!

    I’m a young Melbournite and I absolutely love music festivals! It’s a shame that you had a bad experience! 2 years ago I travelled up to Byron Bay for Bluesfest to see Bob Dylan and BB King and by the fifth day the ground was absolutely horrible and the camping pretty bad too. The upside of the event was the music and the friends I made.
    I’m currently living in Spain and can’t wait for all the festivals I’m planning to go to in the Summer!

    Happy traveling!

  3. Chris

    Hi Earl,

    After that same Meredith of 2009, my partner Sarah also swore she would never attend again.

    It stands as testament to my powers of persuasion that I’ve managed to get her back to every year since!

    I can understand your perspective, especially as we also spent that 2nd night in the car after our tent succumbed to the wind (when your tent poles are sticking through the roof, no amount of gaffer tape will do the job).

    At least it sounds like you’ve had many other great experiences down her in Victoria in any case!

    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey Chris – Ha…that is impressive and now that a few years have passed, I’ve attended one or two music festivals as well, which did indeed turn out much better!

  4. Pingback: Camping, Kangaroos & A Fine Looking Teepee | Wandering Earl

    1. Earl

      Hey Rebecca – Music festivals do seem to play a major role in an Australian’s life so at least I gave it a try 🙂 Some of my friends attend several of these festivals every single summer and they always enjoy them, regardless of the weather. Wish I could do the same but it’s just not happening!

  5. Dina

    Just by reading the title, I thought the reason is because the loud noise makes your ear-wax get compacted inside your ear (remembering your post about the dirtiest place in India 🙂 )

    That’s a very long music festival! Or probably it’s just me that don’t know much about music festival and this length is normal? The rain, the wind, the moth, the feathers… that’s a great story!

    1. Earl

      Hey Dina – Thanks for reminding me about that ear wax story 🙂 I think 3-day music festivals are quite normal and there are even plenty that are longer than that. 3 days used to be my max but now, as you can see, it is down to one day!

  6. Pingback: A Typical Summer Week In Melbourne | Wandering Earl

    1. Earl

      Hey Michael – To be honest, I’ve never really thought about attending Burning Man, probably because I don’t spend much time in the US these days. But if I happened to be in the area when it was on, I’d probably be curious enough to attend. Although I don’t think I would travel to the US specifically for that event 🙂

  7. Little House

    That’s a great story – I especially like the feather part. I’ve never been to a music festival (concerts, yes, but not festival.) My husband however has and he also has sworn never to go again. His story, though, revolves around a bad trip but not of the traveling kind. 😉

    1. Earl

      @Little House: Oh, I can certainly understand how that kind of bad trip could ruin a festival 🙂 I’m sure his story is a lot more intense than mine! It probably is a good idea to just stick with the concerts from now on….

  8. Jeremy B

    Earl- Seriously, where is the picture? We need to see the Feather man! That could be your superhero alterego. You know put a WE across your chest and fashion wings or a cape from sowething…

    1. Earl

      Hey Jeremy – Another interesting idea 🙂 And to be honest, I’ve always wanted wings and a cape. But I need to find a much easier way to cover myself with feathers as I’m not about to go through that festival ordeal again!

  9. Erin

    Haha! We used to go to a festival every year, and being England they inevitably involved rain. I realised it’s been 5 years since we last went to one though as we’ve been travelling or saving for travelling. I hope our festival days aren’t over but I do have a feeling we wouldn’t enjoy the roughing it aspect quite as much as we used to.

    1. Earl

      Hey Erin – Maybe because most of the festivals you’ve been to have involved some rain, you’ll be more immune than most and won’t get sick of the roughing it as much. Surely that’s enough reason to attend another one soon and see how it goes! Five years is a decent amount of time to have passed since your last one. Although there probably aren’t as many to attend down there in South America….

  10. jason

    Earl, I’ve made mates try and drag me to all 3 music festivals you mention above ‘Meredith, Golden Plains and The Falls’ as they go every year. I keep knocking them back, much to their disappointment, but I’m also done with Music Festivals. I’ll go anywhere for the day, but can’t stand staying for two or three days in a tent. Drives me bananas…..Had a laugh about the feathers mate….

    1. Earl

      Hey Jason – Your decision not to attend those festivals seems like quite a solid decision to me. Let others flop around in the mud and freeze in their flooded tents!

      I’d also be up for a one-day event of any sort but when spending the night is involved, it’s a different situation. And I’ll admit that this is slightly odd considering that I’m perfectly happy to camp in the middle of nowhere or sleep in some nasty rooms in developing countries during my travels!

      1. jason

        I’m with you Earl. Put me in a tent halfway up a mountain side, or sleeping under the stars in some far away land is somehow rewarding. Putting up with rain, mud and god knows what else whilst feeling hungover is not my idea of fun anymore. Been there, done that……Take it easy mate

  11. Shannon O'Donnell

    There was a 3 day music festival in Florida that my mom and brothers went to every single year – and I would beg and beg until I was old enough to go. And when I went, there weren’t any feathers, but the rain was epic, the campground muddy, and I’m like you – probably not in need of another music festival any time soon! 🙂

    1. Earl

      Sawatdee Kawp Shannon! I guess we’ll have to settle for karaoke nights in Chiang Mai instead of music festivals. Now that is something I’ll participate in over and over again 🙂

  12. Sandi

    Oh, Earl… One of the things I miss the most is the 6 day music festival with over 7 stages and 20,000 people that I would go to each year. Even if you aren’t into any of the bands playing, people watching is quite humorous. You are getting old and boring for sure 😉

    1. Earl

      Hey Sandi – A 6-day music festival? No thank you 🙂 I do agree the people watching aspect is quite enjoyable but not enjoyable enough to convince me to attend such an event! Old and boring I am…

  13. Amelia

    TAKE 2:

    OLD & BORING! (you asked for it)

    Plus, you owe me a sleeping bag. Mine mysteriously has no feathers left in it ?!? Hmmm.

    1. Earl

      Hey Natalie – Haha…I do enjoy camping when things go well and I’m actually going camping in a week here in Australia for a couple of nights. And this time I’ve checked the sleeping bag beforehand 🙂

  14. Nate

    Another great story! There aren’t many things in the world worse than a camping disaster. I’m mentally preparing myself as I’m going to spend a good part of the next 10 months camping. Yikes. I’ll make sure to share the horror stories and link back to this.

    1. Earl

      Hey Nate – I’m sure you’ll definitely have some camping adventures to share, but with such a goal as yours, a little rain or mud won’t bother you at all.

      Can’t believe there’s only a little over a month until you’re off…looking forward to following this epic journey of yours!

    1. Earl

      Hey Christy – You are right, feathers are infinitely better than mosquitos or almost anything else I can imagine being covered in! And actually, the tent and the sleeping bag were not mine and the funniest part was the reaction of my friend (who I borrowed the stuff from) when I handed them back to her 🙂

  15. Andi

    Oh gosh, this reminds me of the time I drove across the Outback. It was so hot that we had to leave the camper van windows open but then swarms of flies would come in and attack us. Ahhhhhhh!!! This is exactly why I will never go camping again LOL.

    1. Earl

      Hey Andi – Never again? Surely being in a camper van in a cooler climate would be quite enjoyable…certainly better than a tent in the rain!

    1. Earl

      Hey Jill – Well, what I might have failed to mention was that I had also consumed ‘several’ beers during that day and so my body eventually had no strength at all to remain awake any longer!

    1. Earl

      Hey Ayngelina – That’s a good approach…attend and then leave if the rain arrives. Perhaps I could use that one as well, as long as I had my own vehicle to make sure I could get out of there whenever I want!

    1. Earl

      Hey Siddhartha – Due to the rain, the cameras were not used too much during this festival. I actually emailed all of my friends that I was with and nobody had any photos except for one of our tents. I agree though, would have been nice to have a shot of all those feathers!

    1. Earl

      Hey Hanna – Thank you so much for that link! I hadn’t heard of this festival before but now I’ll be heading over to Know Your Product tomorrow evening. It sounds like the kind of festival I still enjoy 🙂

  16. Theodora

    The feathers, the feathers, the feathers… Like something out of Hitchcock. Or Burroughs…

    Festivals are one of those things you always think you’ll never grow out of. Until you finally do. And if there’s one thing about this Australian summer, it’s that it’s not the weather for festivals…

    1. Earl

      Hey Theodora – I’m not sure if there is another place on the planet with such unpredictable or constantly changing weather than Melbourne! And who would’ve thought music festivals would lose their appeal? Actually, I can still handle (and still enjoy) one day music festivals, but these multi-day ones are no longer my thing.

  17. Maria Staal

    Great story, Earl! Very funny. I used to go to a music festival here in the Netherlands, but luckily it never rained that much. I can totally understand that after all the rain, mud and feathers, you decided never to go again.

    1. Earl

      Hey Maria – Glad to hear you’ve had music festival success over the years. And I’m sure some people would have loved the mud and feathers, but for me, not so much 🙂

  18. th.rive

    True, LOL about the moths, and huge bummer with three days of rain. How is THAT is your reason you won’t attend another music festival?

    If it hurts when you pee once will you quit peeing – or will you try to mend your experience so you can enjoy peeing again? (best metaphor, I know).

    Anyhow. As someone who is about to experience Coachella down in Cali I … I dunno … hope for no rain (at all) to match 3 days of an awesome lineup.

    I encourage you to try again 🙂
    -Torbjorn

    1. Earl

      @th.rive: Thanks for the comment! There’s one major difference – I can decide whether or not I want to attend music festivals but I can’t decide whether or not I want to pee 🙂
      My point was that I’ve now been to enough music festivals over the years and that I no longer enjoy flopping around in the mud and dealing with the elements all for a chance to listen to some live music. There are other things I’d rather be doing be time these days.

      With that said, I do hope there isn’t any rain while you’re at Coachella! As long as there are no moths, I’m sure you’ll have a good time regardless.

      1. th.rive

        oh ya, and that being said I did enjoy the post.

        Coachella will be great. I’m going to do ahead and ‘risk the jinx’ and say the weather’s going to work out for me. Always does! I’m magical like that.

        -Torbjorn

  19. Spinster's Compass

    Aside from annual free summer concerts in my hometown and Thames Festival in London (only lasts a few hours), you’d never see me step foot in a music festival (unless it was the same as the aforementioned – short, sweet and to the point). Not fond of crowds and too damn old. 😐

    1. Earl

      @Spinster’s Compass: Short and sweet sounds good to me as well. Not sure how many music festivals fit into that category but sounds like the Thames Festival certainly does. Now that is a festival I would attend!

  20. WanderingTrader

    You know I dont know if its because we get older or because we just have different interests but I can def understand where your coming from…. I still wont miss a good carnival though.. thats my limit. lol

    1. Earl

      @WanderingTrader: Haha…from what I hear, a good Carnival never gets old! I need to attend one at some point soon to see if there’s any truth to that…

  21. Turkey's For Life

    And same here! We used to be seasoned festival goers but all that’s for the younger generation – and of course those older ones who are just addicted to festival attendance!
    Funny about the feathers in the sleeping bag. We love camping but there is nothing worse than putting your tent up in the rain – and then your sleeping bag bursts! 🙂

    1. Earl

      @Turkey’s For Life: It’s good to know that others feel the same way. Music festivals seem to lose their appeal at a certain stage in life. And I’m all up for camping as well, but even the threat of rain makes me think twice these days!

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  23. Corinne

    Haha, there’s no way I could have fallen asleep with so many moths coming on my face/body. I would have been scared to death and would have woken up everybody! Really creepy, yuck.
    Although I’m a big fan of music festivals, I never sleep on the site. Things like rain and other nastier stuff seems really likely to happen more often than what we think.

    1. Earl

      Hey Corinne – Luckily, I was too exhausted to remain awake because it would have not been fun if I ended up battling these ‘moths’ all night long inside that tent. And attending music festivals without staying the night seems like quite a wise idea to me!

  24. Jennifer Barry

    LOL about the feathers, Earl! I’m sure it wasn’t as amusing to you at the time. I’ve never been to a music festival and I don’t have much inclination to. The reality is that I have a short attention span for anything, between 2-4 hours. After that, I just want to be somewhere else.

    1. Earl

      Hey Jennifer – Short attention spans and long music festivals definitely don’t mix 🙂 I have a feeling if you were at this festival you would have left after an hour!

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