It’s still pretty darn cold across much of the country, but that isn’t stopping the excitement bubbling up for spring and summer’s most anticipated outdoor music events. Coachella, Bonnaroo, Outside Lands and Life is Good may seem far away – but they’ll be here before you know it! Today I thought I’d get us in the mood for warm weather and great live music by sharing a Q&A I recently did with PJ Perdaems, our manager of Field Operations and Special Events. He’s a seasoned Stubber, who ventured to his first festival last year, Bonnaroo, and his tips may prove helpful if you’re looking forward to attending your first music festival this year!
StubHub’s Manager of Field Operations and Special Events PJ Perdaems
JF: So, we know you made your festival debut at Bonnaroo – was it really the first and only one you’ve been to?
PJ: I was given the opportunity to attend three music festivals last year. I started with Bonnaroo, then found myself at Outside Lands and finally at Life is Good. The only other time I went to a “music festival” was Music Midtown in Atlanta when I was in my 20’s, and I went to see two bands and wander around with my friends. I might as well been going to the mall. I am now 40 and prefer the club level to the pit any day, so I had no idea what I was in for.
JF: What was your first impression?
PJ: My first impression was being struck by the realization that I had clearly chosen to start out at the biggest event of the year. Similar to how the Daytona 500 opens up NASCAR’s season, mine was a baptism by fire. I went big right out of the box. With nearly 100,000 fans going four days straight with continuous music in multiple locations, it is a music buffet. There is truly something for every taste including a pleasant surprise of stand-up comedy.
Tough job: PJ (standing front and center) and fellow Stubbers take a break from the music to hang out at the StubHub Sports Lounge.
JF: Sounds like you had quite the experience at Bonnaroo! Was it your favorite festival of the summer?
PJ: Outside Lands was my personal favorite – great location, beautiful surroundings, a true enchanted forest. I enjoyed knowing that by midnight the music would be done, since I don’t have the stamina to keep the music adventure going till 4 a.m. anymore. I know there are many people who can, but for me I am glad I got to experience my first Girl Talk show at the reasonable hour of 9 p.m. I know the true festival fan might scoff at this, but I like a few limits in life. Outside Lands is done in three days, the perfect amount of time to get in what you need and still leave you wanting more.
JF: Sounds like these can run the gamut from partying all night to a more chill environment. In your opinion, are there any festivals that might be ok for families?
PJ: In my opinion, Life is Good was the place for kids. If you used to love Bonnaroo when you were wild and single, but now you have a career, a spouse and a 5-year-old, this is the place for you. It is the friendliest and most inviting of all the events I attended. There is no chance of being carried away in a sea of humanity, but you still get a very laid-back, fun vibe. Life is Good was truly family friendly with great music for all ages.
JF: So, now that you’ve got three under your belt, what do you think is the best part of attending a festival?
PJ: Value! Want to see Coldplay or Adele? Why see one show of your favorite artist at a stadium, when you can get 20 or 100 more for about the same price or cheaper!
JF: What tips do you have for newbies to the scene?
PJ: I have five tips for first timers:
1) Start small. Similar to Music Midtown in Atlanta, there are music festivals in most major cities that you can visit for the day and not make the commitment of living out of your car or a tent for a week.
2) You may be going because you want to see your favorite band, but make sure to throw in a couple of other shows. Stroll around and sample a song here or there and maybe you might find a sound you like. I experienced the greatness of Girl Talk by doing this.
3) Make sure you don’t cut it too close between shows. If there are five minutes between the end of one show and the show you want to see on another stage, that is not enough time. Make sure you get value out of your ticket, but like a buffet if you try to eat everything you will get sick – so don’t overdo it!
4) Plan ahead for the weather and the long days. Sunblock, sunglasses, very comfortable shoes, cash, baby wipes, water and something to sit on (blanket, walking stool) are essential. Most festivals are in warm weather so HYDRATE! (And remember: Beer is not hydrating.)
5) Go with the flow! Sometimes the best experiences are the ones you did not plan for. A music festival is not the place for bad vibes, so take it in, let it flow over you and roll with it. You might be surprised how much you enjoy it! I know I was.
Thanks to PJ for being a good sport and sharing his experiences and tips as a first timer on the scene. For those of you who are seasoned pros when it comes to attending festivals, stay tuned – I’ll be doing a follow-up blog with festival veteran Michael Pingel. You just might learn a new thing about getting the most out of your music experience! In the meantime, what are some of your tips for festival first timers?