Rocking Summer Music Festivals

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MADELINE FOLLIN, 23, a singer in the indie-pop duo Cults, grew up going to music festivals around San Diego, her hometown. Now she knows her way around them as a performer.

She and Brian Oblivion, a guitarist who also sings, released a bright, peppy self-titled debut album last year that earned them a perch on the indie-festival circuit.

"A lot of people described the last record as happy summer music," said Ms. Follin, which may be one reason the pair have been invited to play several festivals this summer, including Governors Ball in New York, June 23 and 24.

Below Ms. Follin shares her festival tips.

Q. Before you started performing at festivals, which did you attend as a fan?

A. I've always gone to Coachella. The first time I went, I was a freshman in high school. My brother and I didn't have tickets, so we had to sneak in, jumping over fences and paying 20 bucks to security guards to let us in.

Q. What was it like performing there?

A. It was terrifying. We were playing among our idols like the Arcade Fire, the Strokes and Twin Shadow. There's a celebrity scene at Coachella. You see Megan Fox and Katy Perry. But most people are just fans of the music. They book tickets months in advance before they even know the lineup, because you know Coachella will be getting every one of your favorite bands.

Q. Are there any other festivals whose lineups are consistently great?

A. Any of the festivals by All Tomorrow's Parties because amazing bands like Portishead and Les Savy Fav are asked to curate each day's lineup. The ATP festival we played in Minehead, U.K., was at a holiday camp, which looks like a mall but with an ice-skating rink, bars, and a Ferris wheel. ATP rents the compound for the weekend, and everyone, the bands and fans, are staying in these apartments that look like army barracks. So you're in the middle of nowhere with your favorite bands, getting drunk and staying up until 6 in the morning. It's unreal.

Q. How do you navigate the big festivals that draw tens of thousands?

A. You have to come with a plan and make some compromises about which bands you want to see. Lollapalooza in Grant Park in Chicago is great but massive. It can take up to 25 minutes to get from Point A to Point B. It's hot, but dehydration is part of the fun there. Not at the Warped Tour, though, where you're stuck in a parking lot on black asphalt with a bunch of pill poppers.

Q. What are some good up-and-coming festivals?

A. The FYF Fest during Labor Day weekend in Los Angeles is doing an awesome job. It's held in City Hall Park with three stages. They have the right amount of food, really good vendors. There's no insane line to go to the bathroom. And the bands are amazing.

Q. Where do you stay when you go to these festivals?

A. A lot of my friends get together and rent houses and apartments. Every March during South by Southwest people clear out of Austin and rent out their places. One band I know found someone on Craigslist who let them stay with him in exchange for tickets. That's a cheap way to do it. You can find these listings on Craigslist or VRBO.com. It's more fun to get a house with a pool and be with all of your friends than stay in some hotel.

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This article originally appeared in The New York Times.


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