There has been a debate percolating in the CFUR office for a while now. It has incurred heated battles and large divisions. Relationships have ended, friendships have been forever strained, forever changed, after long sworn friends learned they were on opposite sides of this contentious battle. It was been long and bloody, indeed. We entered as genial radio hosts, nary a hair displaced on our side parted, dark-rimmed glasses-bearing heads. we have emerged, weary and broken, with distant gazes and memories of brutal fisticuffs. but we press on, soldier on, because we must defend the side that is ours, the side that is in all of our hearts. The sides are, of course, those who are pro music festivals, and those who are not. It's not really that heated, I've just been reading a lot of A Song of Ice and Fire lately (that's Game of Thrones for you show watching plebeians) and wish I was George R.R. Martin. But, back to festivals and the controversy.
Both points of view have merit. For me, I like festivals because you can access a whackload of your favourite artists in one place, You can make a bunch of new friends while listening to those artists, you can drink beer, and getting there and being there is an adventure and an experience. You might run into old friends, bring some with you, and get to know a new town or valley. Often, artists you would have never thought of as collaborators will bop in on one another's sets, making festivals an exercise in constant reinvention and creativity.
For some nameless others, there are other points to be made. It's expensive. You have to buy food for a stretch of days. Either you get swept up in the madness and you're so hammered that you barely remember the shows, or you're too sober and the excitement of seeing St. Vincent is neutralized by a frat bro puking on you from three feet away. If it's an open air festival, the acoustics are generally terrible, and you listen to watered down, warbly versions of your favourite songs because the musicians, like everyone else, are hammered.
For some, the answer is an in-town, multivenued location. Artswells does this very excellently: they've got multiple concert halls where artists can play their sets without compromising sound quality. The shows are still intimate, and the town benefits economically. This, however, requires an entire town to surrender their auditory peace of mind and walking areas to a barrage of mostly young people, in varying degrees of sobriety and undress.
For others, going to individual shows is more appealing: take a flight to Vancouver, see the Danny Brown concert, spend the night in a hotel, and fly back the next day. It's neat, it's simple, and you can fully experience one show. You don't have to decide which of your favourite artists are more with seeing if they have conflicting time slots. You don't have to deal with other people's tents or bad cooking smells. Get in, get out.
None of us really have the best answer: it comes down to personal preference. If you're more of an introvert, maybe stick to one show. If you're into the festival experience, hit up something with tons of art, like Burning Man. If you want to dance, try an EDM festival. If you want to experience local culture, try a small festival close to home. The key point is: if you're going to a music event this summer, make sure you know what you're in for. Don't head to Lollapalooza and expect quiet tea and reflection hour by the serene lake. Don't go to the Kanye West show with your tent and a 24 pack of beer. Do have fun, whatever you do, and do be safe. Music should be fun. Have a wicked summer!