It’s the most wonderful time of the year.
No, not Christmas. Festival season. Hundreds of thousands of you descend upon those inevitably British muddy fields for a long weekend of beer, music, rain and more beer. Whether it’s the big-hitters like Glastonbury or the smaller affairs such as Y Not you’re headed to this summer, don’t move a muscle without reading what advice some of our favourite Birmingham bands have to offer about heading to the land of the festivals…
What do you love about festivals?
Austin, Swim Deep: There’s not as many boundaries. You can be primal, something in your body realises that and you feel a bit mad. No rozzers.
Connor, Jaws: One thing I love about Festivals is catching up with all the other bands and homies, another thing is having the opportunity to go and see bands.
Rebecca, Ekkah: The amazing atmosphere and discovering new music.
Matt, Juice: I’d like to give you something meaningful here about individuality, music and love, but if I’m honest festivals are one of the few places where you can’t be judged for drinking before 12pm. I’m going to drink when I’m thirsty and if I’m thirsty at 10:30am then I’m going to drink at 10:30am.
Robb, The Mighty Young: Getting pissed in a field around like-minded people and discovering your new favourite band.
Alex, Pleasure House: The atmosphere, the vibes. I love the fact that you can share such a momentous occasion with thousands of strangers and feel connected. Being constantly not-sober is also fun.
What are your essential items for a festival?
Austin, Swim Deep: Sorry for the boring response but personally, I like water, baby wipes, drugs and fruit.
Connor, Jaws: Money for all that really lovely expensive food.
Rebecca, Ekkah: Lip balm, disposable camera, fancy dress outfits and of course glitter!!!!
Matt, Juice: Baby wipes and hand sanitiser. You are going to be without access to proper bathroom facilities for anything up to five days, and while I am all for embracing the spirit of getting away from the routine of real life, the reality is you’re likely going to be paying a tenner for a burger that you’re likely going to be eating with your hands. Unless you want to be patient zero in an outbreak of typhoid you’re going to need these. Oh and if you bring shower stuff to a festival you are a mug.
Robb, The Mighty Young: Painkillers, sunglasses and a chair. A chair probably tops the list. I’m assuming booze goes without saying.
Alex, Pleasure House: A wind-proof lighter and a toothbrush.
What is your number 1 survival tip?
Austin, Swim Deep: Plenty of that good water.
Connor, Jaws: Go in expecting the absolute worst and then it’s never as bad as you think it was going to be. Also take some hand sanitiser and wash every 5 seconds.
Rebecca, Ekkah: Make friends with your neighbours.
Matt, Juice: Don’t camp next to arseholes. It’s only going to end up in insults on the first day, a fight on the second, and faecal revenge on the third. People are animals so don’t poke the bear, especially when all that separates the two of you is a thin layer of nylon.
Robb, The Mighty Young: Don’t let your girlfriend go by herself.
Alex, Pleasure House: Pace yourself.
Your two favourite bands are playing at the same time – what do you do?
Austin, Swim Deep: Don’t bother about worrying, go to the one that suits your mood, or the one that is in a tent so will sound better.
Connor, Jaws: In these situations I do the 50/50 and catch a bit of both. Sometimes the fraction varies on how far across a festival site the bands are.
Rebecca, Ekkah: Flip a coin.
Matt, Juice: Pick one and if they’re boring you after three songs go over to the other, it’s okay to miss the start of a set. Nothing unmissable has ever happened in the first 15 minutes of a performance at a festival.
Robb, The Mighty Young: It depends on the festival. If it’s Glasto, you’re screwed, but if it’s something smaller you can normally catch half of each. Just pick the order wisely, if you know they’ll close with your favourite song, see that band second.
Alex, Pleasure House: Stop being so greedy and choose a favourite band.
What to do when the music finishes?
Austin, Swim Deep: Find the love of your life and have a dance.
Connor, Jaws: The music never finishes what ya on about? (Jokes I go to sleep.)
Rebecca, Ekkah: Find somewhere to watch the sunrise.
Matt, Juice: Ideally the music doesn’t stop until you do. However, if you find yourself at a loss, your best bet is your campsite with your friends to talk and drink and smoke through to dawn. This is where things get real, this is where you find out who you are and this is where you find out who your friends are.
Robb, The Mighty Young: Some of the more hippy-related festivals have a nudist sauna after hours, so I go there. If not, it’s find a fire and drink until you can’t see.
Alex, Pleasure House: The music never finishes.
Do you have any advice for first timers?
Austin, Swim Deep: Don’t worry about sticking to a big group of mates, it’ll get you nowhere. What I’ve realised over the years is that you alllllways find your mates, and if you don’t you find new ones, everyone is looking for a good time so don’t worry about a thing and let it all out. Also, don’t get so off your nut that you end up seeing 3 bands the whole weekend. If you see lots of artists and find new ones you’ll come back with a satisfaction that will conquer any comedown.
Connor, Jaws: I think if you’re going to a festival you just have to dive in head first. It’s not nice, it’s not clean and it’s not comfortable but it’s the time of your bloody life, unless you spend £20 on a kebab and a beer and get food poisoning while your tent gets flooded with rain on the second night.
Rebecca, Ekkah: Be prepared for post festival blues.
Matt, Juice: Expect to shit and sleep in uncomfortable places, but try and keep these places separate. Also, pace yourself, no-one likes a liability so don’t do that to your friends. If you piss where you’re sleeping – whether that’s a tent or a hotel room – you not only have to live with it for the festival, your friends are not going to let you forget about it.
Robb, The Mighty Young: Don’t camp by a fence, drunks will piss on your tent.
Alex, Pleasure House: Don’t eat anything you find on the floor…
Has anything happened at a festival that you’d rather not happen again?
Austin, Swim Deep: Oh god, a few hiccups but nothing serious thankfully. When I was 16 a girl put her hands down my pants and I suddenly started to dehydrate quite seriously right then and there and had to walk around bare feet in the cold mud at 2 am (it felt like I was at war at the time) to find water. That was pretty hellish.
Connor, Jaws: Nothing that bad to be honest, boring I know but I try and be so well organised with the people I’m with so no one ever gets lost.
Rebecca, Ekkah: A freak storm hit Bestival whilst we were there and a gazebo flew through the air and wiped out our tent. Not ideal!
Matt, Juice: I did wake up one morning at Bestival last year to find that all the spiders at the festival had decided to move in for the night. I’m taking a break from tents for a while.
Robb, The Mighty Young: 2009. I drank a case of port on the first night and slipped on a piece of corrugated iron in the rain. I was wearing a thong and a top hat and some poor hippy volunteer had to spend an hour sponging my arse down with a cold compress.
Alex, Pleasure House: No because I can’t really remember.
So there we have it. Just try not to end up like Robb.
You can catch all of these bands playing near you this summer at a whole host of festivals and shows.
Founding editor of Counteract. Freelance travel and music journalist.