Travel: Hey, meet “Music Festival”.
Me: Hello, nice to meet you.
Music Festival: Well, lucky us, because the pleasure is ours.
In these times where many people think vinyl discs are for antique collectors, where most of us hardly buy CDs anymore (if we even ever did, and what the hell are ‘singles’ anyway?), sometimes the only ways to show our love for our favourite band and music are to listen to them religiously and regularly and track their progress on their official social media page, checking out new material as they come onto the scene. And then of course, when they go on tour, we scrimp and save and buy the more-often-than-not exorbitant tickets to watch them in the flesh for a measly 2 hour gig.
While I do listen to my music with gusto and passion, I was never one to “go all out”, attend concerts and buy their t-shirts and stuff. For one, I never budgeted for that sort of thing — I was a poor student, plus I grew up as the Napster generation. My love and my support are what that really count, my cynical side thought: they can make their money from people who can actually afford.
But there’s something that tugged at the back of my mind: I wanted to experience the sultry and sweaty scene of a summer music festival, an outdoor concert of some sort. Coming from Singapore, this whole traipsing about in a big muddy field with our favourite bands performing on a makeshift stage thing never really caught on. After all, we hold our concerts in cavernous stadiums and air-conditioned arenas, where security is well-managed (people can hardly sneak in) and we can enjoy our music in relative comfort. Moreover, a few thousand enthusiastic revelers trampling on the verdant cow grass lovingly and artificially planted with taxpayers’ money? An atrocious idea we shalln’t ever entertain!
Still, the idea of thronging amidst the “flower power” people, stringy hair matted on foreheads adorned with handmade leafy crowns, denim cutoffs, sneakers caked in mud, spilled beer forming puddles to jump in, the occasional rain shower, the roar of an inebriated crowd. I want in, not particularly because I identify myself as the bohemian sort, but for the try-everything-once experience. On top of that, it’s high time that I know what the big deal is.
(Of course, there is that sweet business of getting to see not one, not two but a couple of your favourite musicians and bands over a few days — that’s like someone saying “Here, have a whole box of chocolates, hell a whole stack of boxes of ’em, why limit yourself?” And you gorge yourself silly and for those blissful moments you forgot your name.)
So my first real concert happened in Verona in Italy. (Oh lucky me, right? But remember, I’m first a travel nerd then a music junkie, so I probably wouldn’t have gone without the allure of a new place, eh.) Or to be precise, Villafranca di Verona, an abandoned castle ruins 15km outside of the beautiful city made famous by Romeo & Juliet. Mind you, my manfriend and I were not here for the faux romance, oh sheesh no. Amidst the crumbling stone walls, stomping on grassy goo and rolling around in the stampede-like mosh pit, we saw The Killers, Franz Ferdinand, The Vaccines, Two Door Cinema Club, The Temper Trap over two days. For someone who was thrown into the deep end of the music festival pool, you could say I was so awed that this experience could last me a lifetime.
Or could it?
Clearly it didn’t. Because it made me crave for more. Now I am looking forward to the next festival with enough of my favourite bands in the lineup to make it worth my while, time and money included.
Which made me think: Sometimes we sort of enjoy one thing but not enough to pull all the stops to indulge it in. Like wholegrain raisin-infused toast — I can eat this by itself anytime but frankly after a piece or two it gets pretty meh. Not only that I have to deal with the guilt-fueled workout sessions afterwards. But spread Nutella all over it, and you have a calorie-laden hazelnut-chocolate fest going on. AND I would willingly go for my workout, knowing that I deserved it.
For me, travel is my anchor, and I love it despite all the sore legs, worn out shoes, aching back and jars of unused foreign coins sitting around uselessly, but sometimes there is only so much of museums and historical buildings and beaches and aquariums and fancy-schmancy imperial gardens that I can take.
This is one example where travel has opened up another world for me. In this case, live music. (I think my manfriend can happily concur that it’s a good thing, because now instead of being dragged around in endless contemporary art galleries, there is the option of luring me with the promise of a good ol’ muck-around-in-the-mud festival fun.)
In any case, museums are still at the top of my city break to-do list. But I could still use some eardrum-shattering rockin’ times. Just make sure it is in an odd-enough location, with a decent lineup.