Feb 182013

Author: Mary Willson


Fans soak in the sun at Wakarusa music festival. Wakarusa is a week long music marathon, where the sun and heat adds to the festivities.



A sea of tents is a common site at any camping-centered music festival.

A sea of tents is a common site at any camping-centered music festival.

“Three days of Music and Peace,” the honed motto of the epic Woodstock music festival, still guides the passionate community and artists that come together for marathons of music, art, and human celebration.

As the reality of warm weather turns the corner, there is little more freeing, passion-building, and exciting as a music festival to truly unwind from the grind of the past semester.



A festival attendee focuses on a stage, as the crowds swell, the community still feels close through a shared bond of music.

“It is an exprience unlike any other planned ‘vacation’ just because of the ultimate freedom you have at festivals,” said freshman finance major, Ryan Fergen. Fergen spent his senior trip at Mulberry Mountain,in the Ozarks of Arkansas at Wakarusa music festival. “It is enlightening to see the way people connect through music and how complete strangers from around the country can become instant friends through a common band or show.”


Music festivals are a golden reality, which pushes attendees into a wonderfully accepting community, while enjoying the passions that music can bring. For this reason, festivals have grown in popularity and stay on the top of the list for rallying through warm weather experiences.

“The biggest difference between festivals and shows is you actually get to live the music. When you are surrounded by thousands of people that are doing the exact same thing you are doing and living out of a tent and eating [bad] food it makes you appreciate the lifestyle so much more,” Fergen said. “Things happen at festivals that you would never even think about doing at a normal show. My friends and I discussed the feeling that once we walked into the ‘boundaries’ of Wakarusa it was like we walked into another country with no rules and different expectations for society.”

Wake up in a tent, slap some sunscreen on, eat anything you can find, grab a drink, go to your first show; rally until early in the morning, back in the tent; repeat. This is the daily grind when on break and at one of the outdoor paradises of music festivals, a complete juxtaposition of life in a student’s society.

Woodstock, the ultimate, historically epic mega-festival from Aug. 15 to 18 in 1969 sets the stage for modern music marathons.  Thirty two acts took the stage including Santana, Jimi Hendrix and the Grateful Dead—all with a crowd of 500,000 watching. As 44 years have passed and technology has increased exponentially, festivals generations behind its day-in-age were truly raw, and community oriented.

As technology has swept into daily lives, spontaneous moments such as this have dwindled. Music festivals bring those feelings into the center-stage, because through lack of outlets, wifi, and cell-phone service, being present in the moment becomes ever-exceedingly the current reality. This, coupled with energetic music and artists who are excited to be at the festival, creates a blissful show experience.

The kindness and community at festivals is felt whether one is at an electronic festival, a diverse music festival, or a bluegrass festival—the atmosphere is the same. Everyone is there to live the music.

“It’s all about the energy. Unlike a lot of concerts, at electronic ones everyone is nice to each other,” said Zaid Hassani, electrical engineering sophomore. “You rarely see fights, everyone is there for the same cause and just give off positive energy.”

Hassani made the journey to Electronic Dance Carnival (EDC) last year, and is preparing to go again. He also is an electronic DJ.

There are thousands of music festivals throughout the nation, and thousands more abroad. The largest festival in the US is South by Southwest (SXSW) with 20,000 visitors.

Popular ones within the festival season include Coachella in California, Sasquatch in May, Lollapalooza in Chicago, Firefly in Delaware, Governors Ball in New York, Bonoroo in Tennessee.

“It’s crazy because there’s thousands and thousands of people there, but you’re all there for the same reason,” said freshman Charlie Anderson, international studies major. Anderson went to Wakarusa least year, Mile High in 2009, and is getting ready to head to SXSW this March. “It feels like you’re a part of something that’s solidified in music.”

The music festival trend is truly timeless, as music is a passion that will be ignited throughout the generations to come. As our society becomes more controlled by technology, pressures of jobs, families and the like, weeks of giving it all up for the pleasure of music is something to experience.

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