I have to admit something, and it’s not easy. I’m addicted to preparing for The Fest. A cure might be hopeless but I’m hoping that my story can help other like me – first time Fest goers looking for answers to some of the weekend’s logistical questions.
First things first. Lock down your tickets. Then I would suggest locking down your accommodations. The more I deal with the fest, the people, the website, the more I realize that it is meticulously organized and curated. More on that later, but I suggest that people stay in the hotels dedicated to the fest. The Holiday Inn is supposedly located right in the middle of the action. The whole thing is booked by Fest attendees and will thus be an absolute free-for-all during the entire event. I’m not sure I can handle that type of commitment. I booked at the Wyndham. Another Fest hotel that is supposedly a little more chill. Once again I have no frame of reference on this and we shall see. I should also mention that the Holiday Inn has some kind of Flea Market thing happening. I’ve got it pictured where venders and bands can sell merch and other trinkets that would appeal to Fest-goers. Once again, I’m not sure about this. Pure conjecture at this point.
Band Prep: Right now I’m in band-prep stage. You might want to follow my lead on this as it will help you get a handle on the 350 plus bands that are playing The Fest. I was hoping for something a little more user-friendly from the website, but when you’ve got over 100 bands playing a day, there’s probably no “perfect way” to convey the when and where for each band. It looks like this breaks down along philosophical and/or personal-preference lines. Are you looking to stay in one spot and get the most bang for your buck? Then you will be looking at the schedule by location. If you are committed to catching at least a piece of some of the bands on your wish list, then you can break the schedule down by date and time. At this point, I found that I could no longer work with the website, I needed to get some micro-organization going. So I copied the time and date schedules and dropped them into an excel spreadsheet. I broke them up with a tab for each day. I found with a little tinkering you can get the day’s entire schedule in chronological order: my choice for the best way to get a handle on what’s happening when and where.
Phew. Okay. Are you still with me? Step one was to highlight all the bands I definitely wanted to check out. I found it useful to start here and get an idea of what the skeleton of my schedule was gonna look like. I’ve got some locks as you might guess: Against Me (performing Reinventing Axl Rose), Superchunk, Smoking Popes, Hum, 88 Fingers Louie, Teenage Bottlerocket, The Movielife, Pegboy, Off With Their Heads, The Bigger Empty; you get the idea. I had a lot of other bands that I wanted to check as well, and I really want to check some of the cover shows, but I digress. Get you’re a-list, can’t-miss picks in the spreadsheet; mine are highlighted in yellow.
After the skeleton is in place, you can fill in the meat. I chose to highlight these bands in blue. I thought I knew a lot about punk music, emo, screamo, indie, etc. Maybe I do, but I’m always willing to learn more, so I made a dive into some of the bands I hadn’t heard of. Once again the spreadsheet comes in handy for this task. I use eMusic for most of my music purchases these days, so I found it most useful to check out some of the lesser-known (to me at least) bands. You can use YouTube, that would probably be better and I’ve had to resort to it a few times when the band’s music is not available on eMusic. And most of the bands are available on bandcamp as well. One thing that I’m finding as I go through the bands that are new to me: they’re all really good. I spent a day checking out bands and one after another proved to be amazing. Some of the bands I’ve been turned on to (and subsequently really want to check at The Fest): Sinai Vessel, City of Caterpillar (how did I miss these guys?), Apologies I have none, Army of Ponch, Deadaires, Tartar Control and many many more. I’ve got my b-list highlighted in blue. Once again I must tip my hat to The Fest as they obviously know their music and have assembled an amazing lineup this year. I’m thinking you could conceivably just pop into any venue and end up getting into the show happening at the time. Which would require no prep at all. Can’t have that now can we?
OK. So you’ve got your tickets, accommodations, schedule. You’re well on your way to maximum family fun at The Fest. To round out your enjoyment, definitely download the App. Take your spreadsheet and then transfer that info over to the App and it will sort your schedule by date and time. Now you are ready to go mobile! Next, you might want to check out the website. It’s loaded with goodies!! If you haven’t already, download all the Comps!! Get them in heavy rotation on your sonic delivery vehicle of choice. I’m from the old school, so I burned CDs. You might just find one of your new favorite bands in there. I had to juggle my schedule because I came across a must-see through the comp: Tartar Control. I guarantee you’ll find something in there that you might have missed. Hidden gems.
If you are insane like me, you can start planning your wardrobe, but you might not be that hardcore. I just can’t decide if it makes sense to represent for your favorite bands at the fest, or to bust obscure band Ts to give you more street cred. I could go on for days on this subject. Don’t forget your swimsuit!! There are pool parties happening at both the Wyndham and Holiday Inn. I’m guessing that will be a sight to behold.
I really could keep going and drive this whole preparation thing right into the ground, but I think I’ve already lost most of you, so to those who stayed til the end. I’ll see you on Sunday night. Teen Agers and Tiltwheel are my choices to close things out. Let’s get together and toast the fact that we survived. Cheers.