The first months of the year have passed. Pigeons are starting to leave their droppings on our balconies again and messages about newly born calves are appearing on our Facebook timelines. The approach of spring makes many people eagerly look forward to summer. And what is summer without festivals?
Visits to festivals are a bit like a birthday party: the anticipatory pleasure kicks in as soon as you start planning for the day, but the reality never quite lives up to expectations. The festival equivalent of a disappointing birthday party is a day on which you become separated from your friends and your mobile phone isn’t working, and it also starts raining, which means having to spend five euros for some sort of garbage bag poncho. Having donned the poncho, you then spend the rest of the day sweating like a pig while watching, with a watery beer in your hand, the performance of some random, rather average artist in a half empty tent replete with puddles of mud while your friends are being transported to seventh heaven by an awesome act. And when night arrives and you’re finally lying in your leaking tent in the company of the campsite’s lingering, indefinable stench, someone three tents away starts shouting ‘Slayer!’ every five minutes. So much for sleep.
While such an experience can certainly crush a person’s joie de vivre, things could always be worse.
Exhausted, hungry and dehydrated
Precisely to avoid the kind of scenario described above, last year I decided to attend the Pinkpop Festival for just a day. After all, how much could go wrong in one day? Alas, my strategy seemed pointless from the start. As soon as I had bought a ticket, it turned out that my good friend and planned festival buddy Bob had decided to attend the festival for the entire weekend. I therefore travelled alone and met up with him at the festival site.
And did everything else go to plan? Not really. After the last performance of the day, I headed for the station in good spirits. In the middle of a sea of inebriated individuals, however, I got lost on the way and missed my train. So it was that hours later, exhausted, hungry and dehydrated, I ended up on a stiflingly hot bus serving the Eindhoven‑Rotterdam route and packed with sweating festivalgoers. I finally stumbled through my door at half past six in the morning. ‘Never again,’ I told myself.
There is a problem, however. Come summer, many artists whose performances I would very much like to see will be at festivals in the Netherlands, Germany and Belgium. Fortunately, I am never too miserable to ignore my own advice. I am therefore thinking about going again to some festival far away. It could of course end up being just another bad day, but that doesn’t really matter. The possibility of a bad day will not dampen the few months of anticipatory pleasure.