July 12, 2017

Music Festival Checklist.

"Better to have that, and not need it, than need it and not have it." - Woodrow F. Call

"Be Prepared" - Scouts Motto

"Better safe, than sorry." - Mom

The best advice in life comes from many places, well I'm about to give you some real world, sage advice about the most important things to bring with you and remember at an outdoor music festival.

via turnedup2eleven


Always check the rules and regulations on the festival's website. Some will allow you to carry regular back-packs or bags of a certain size. Some of the newest security regulations have required us to carry clear plastic bags, where all contents can be easily viewed by concert goers AND staff at the security checks. The bags come in all sizes. This is a bit annoying, but at the same time safety is a huge concern in places with this many people so please save yourself some time, read the rules and respect the requests of the venue and concert promoters. Other venues will only allow you to carry a purse, approximately the size of your palm, if it's not a see through material. All items are subject to search - just comply with security, and you'll get through the line much, much faster!

In this bag you'll want to keep some very important items:

Sunburns suck, and skin cancer is even worse. Protect yourself. I apply my sunblock before leaving my hotel, and then take a smaller bottle for reapplication as needed. Most venues will not allow aerosol cans, so again, read the rules. Same goes for your lips! I always carry a spare SPF Lip Balm and a gloss.

Store these somewhere safe in your bag they are often needed for re-entry, if you are able to leave the festival and come back. If we plan enough ahead Mike and I always laminate our tickets, especially if we need them for two days. Thankfully some music festivals give you a wrist band, if you don't luck out and get a band, please keep your tickets safe, or keep a back up at the hotel.

Band-aids / Blister Block
I can tell you from experience that even in the best worn in shoes, sometimes blisters happen. They are never comfortable but Blister block and band-aids truly help!

Great for fashion AND function. These come in very handy when a festival is held during the dry season or in a parking lot (thinking back to Warped Tour circa... 2002ish? my teeth were caked in dust and eventually became mud, thanks to my silva - yeah it's gross, so do us all a favor and save your lungs and your grill and wear a bandana around your face as needed.

Protection from the Sun - I don't know about you but my forehead is always the first part of my face to show sunburn - I have been saved from a wicked burn a time or two by wrapping the bandana around the effected part of my scalp. You can also wet the bandana and use it as a cool cloth as well at a super hot festival.

They also come in handy when it rains - but a word of advice, if you want to wear one in the rain, make sure you wash it before the festival. In a moment of desperation Mike (my husband for any new readers) and I grabbed some at the Music Midtown fest a few years ago, during a down pour, they were great to keep our hair back from the falling rain, until the red dye bled all over Mike's favorite shirt. Not to mention bandanas are way more comfortable, and soft after a good wash!

Weather permitting it may be needed in an instant and who wants to pay the over priced fee that concert places charge for these items. Hit up the camping section at Target and snag one for $4.00 or less, vs. the $7-10 at most venues).

They are also a great way to not only keep YOURSELF dry, but all your gear - covering your backpack will ensure that your bag and items stay dry, AND your merch doesn't get ruined after purchasing it.  We survived the downpour on July 4th, 2015 watching The Foo Fighters 20th Anniversary concert thanks to our ponchos, we might have had a ton of rain fall on us, but our posters and tshirts stayed super dry! My mascara on the other hand was a mess.

Foo Fighters July 4th • 20th Anniversary 2015 • via jamofpearls
Foo Fighters July 4th • DC • 2015 • Worth the rain to catch this show! • via turnedup2eleven

You can be stylish or functional with these - either way - protect your eyes, and face from harsh rays with a hat! Bonus if it rains and you have a ball cap it will keep the rain out of your eyes so you can focus on your favorite lead guitarist, or drummer. Which ever.

BRIGHT RAYS equal tired and even often sunburned eyes. Protect your peepers people!
Sloss Fest 2015 via jamofpearls
Small Wallet
Dudes have it easy - they can usually hide a wallet in one of their many pockets. Especially in cargo shorts. Women we have to get a bit more creative. I usually tend to take a smaller wallet, and only carry vital items, ID - Credit Card - Cash - Insurance Cards (Guys, I'm 40, not an animal, I care about my health and well being). That being said - finding a small, secure wallet can be hard. I was lucky enough to find one that had a small strap. I like to put my wallet in my front pocket at shows. The wallet I have is tiny, it fits in the front of most of my shorts pockets - and I tend to loop the strap on my first belt loop then slip the wallet in my shorts pocket. This will keep the wallet secure, and when I head to the port-a-johns also keeps the wallet from falling on the ground in that nasty environment. I can't tell you the number of times I have had that wallet fall out as I hovered, thankfully the strap keeps it attached to me. Most festivals will say NO CHAINS for wallets, this is a small strap, much like some of the cute clutches women carry these days. Another great option I found here. I am ordering this immediately! Sure your boobs will sweat but you will always know where your money, and important items are!

Small Wallet II - Electric Boogaloo
Not saying your pocket WILL get picked, but I'm saying it might. Having your wallet in a safe place - front pocket, hidden part of your backpack (way deep), or even your bra is best. Be aware of your surroundings at all times. Be safe... Better safe than sorry my momma always said!

Hand Wipes
Remember those port-a-johns I mentioned a moment ago, yeah, the germ pools! Some festivals you go to have hand washing stations or at least some anti-bac hanging up inside. I by pass those lines and just carry some wipes in my bag. I also frankly like the idea of wiping OFF the germs and dirt vs. just rubbing it in with alcohol.

Water Jug
Most festivals will allow you to bring in 1, factory sealed 12 oz. water bottle with water in it, others will request that you bring an empty bottle of your own. This a MUST in my book. I don't care how much you would rather have vodka or beer, STAYING HYDRATED is a must in hot weather months. I mean, I can't tell you the number of times it's been around 8 pm at a fest and I've seen men and women face down in their own muck, and their friends are pissed. Don't be the person your friends have to babysit and the one other concert goers laugh at and often post on instagram with a funny hashtag. Trade off. One drink, one water the entire day. You'll be way happier you dropped a ton of money to see your favorite band if you actually REMEMBER it.  If you aren't having to go to the bathroom a lot - it's great if you're up front waiting to see a band but honestly, it also means you're dehydrated... you might want to drink some water, rather than pass out during your favorite band's set.

Outside food and beverages are usually prohibited. Unless you're at Red Rocks which is strange but nice. I always carry some gum to help freshen my breath and often times handle the dust issue (refer to the bandana section). I mean, after a few IPA's, then sweating and being thirsty no one has fresh breath kids.

Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit • Red Rocks, CO 2016 • via turnedup2eleven
Please again, see guidelines for cameras and recording equipment it would suck to get yours confiscated or be told you have to take the item all. the. way. back. to. your. car!  It's great to catch your favorite band live, and you want to document it. Cameras on phones have come a long way, I suggest using that. And I also suggest taking maybe 2-4 photos, but don't spend the entire time looking through your phone and missing everything happening around you! ENJOY the moment, not just the memories.

Pearl Jam • Music Midtown • ATL, GA • 2014 • via jamofpearls
Long Sleeve Shirt / Jacket
Depending on how hot it is, you may not need either of these but I have always found it helpful to have a light weight long sleeve shirt or button up shirt in my bag for an all day music fest. Once the sun goes down, if you've had too much sun it can help keep you warm. And in turn also protect you if you do get burt before the sun sets.  It is also helpful when and if you are caught in a down pour to have a warm, dry shirt in your bag to make you feel better.

Sloss Fest 2015 • via jamofpearls
Portable Phone Charger
Most festivals have charging stations, but why chance it? If you know having a full battery on your phone is important to you - do this. Mike and I usually travel together and stick together, so we have one or the other to use, but if you plan to distance yourself from your crew at any time, please try to have a full phone charge to get back with them. *** Keep in mind often times in a busy festival setting, text messages might not send as well, and there is rarely wifi available. (See below for my note about Meeting Places).

Your Phone
This is an obvious thing to bring, but I always suggest to bring it and download the festival APP if available. Not only will you be able to check the schedule, but also have access to a map. Some apps allow you to create your own schedule alerting you to when your next chosen band is ready to hit the stage and where.

Festival Map
If you're a bit more old school and would rather conserve your phone battery for important stuff like photos and videos - I would suggest checking at the information tent at the festival and getting yourself a printed out map, or brochure. Most festivals, like Sloss Fest will have people handing out maps as you walk in the gates. This might seem like trash to some of you but it's helpful to get a lay of the land before you commit to where you want to stand for the day. Important things to note are restrooms, hydration stations, merch tents as well as vendors for food and drinks! Most of these will be available to view on your phone, but I like having a larger version, that's easier to read, and let's me keep my phone in a safe place most of the time so I don't drop, or lose it. Or chance digging in my bag and leaving pockets open accidentally (see also be safe and wise about your belongings).

Plastic Bag
It's helpful to have a plastic bag in your bag - sometimes you'll get one at the merch tent, others you won't. It's great to have them to protect your new shirts or items you buy, or simply cover items you want to KEEP dry, like your phone, or a shirt for later.  Music festivals that get hot are notorious for spraying fans with water, you don't want that bit of water to ruin your phone or other items.

Ear Plugs
Heading up to the front of the line? Want to be close to the action? Great, you'll also be close to the speakers blasting loud enough to get to the folks in the back. Prolonged exposure to this type of noise can cause serious hearing damage. Trust me, if my husband and I can go almost deaf for almost 24 hours after being front row a friend's show in a local bar, AND an AC/DC concert in an indoor venue FAR from the stage, you can totally do damage up front at a show outdoors! Just get some cheap ear plugs, no one will judge, everyone is beginning to wear them, including all our rock and hip hop idols!

Mini First Aid Kit
Along with the band aids mentioned above, you may want to carry a small First Aid kit with items like ibuprofen, or your choice of headache cures. If you have allergies or any other medication you need to remember to take, I would suggest to take it before you leave for the show, but sometimes you have to take these things at certain times. It's nice to have a small bag in your pack to tend to these needs a head of time.  Another option might be eye drops. I wear contacts and my eyes tend to get really dry and irritated during a dusty, or allergy ridden time of year. I carry drops to help with this. Maybe toss the Gum in this pack as well. Ladies it's nice to also have some type of a bag to carry your "firecrackers" if ole Aunt Flow rears her ugly head on the weekend of your festival as well - and the hand wipe will help with this issue as well!


As I stated, cell phones are often rendered useless at music festivals. Not only is LOUD and hard to hear, text messages tend to send really slow, and batteries die.  It's always great to have a "meeting place" in case you get lost, or can't find your crew after running to get a drink. Mike and I always have one, in case we get separated. Find a good landmark upon entering and tell your crew to meet there after the show ends - especially if you are the driver it's your responsibility to get there and make sure ALL your friends are ready to roll before leaving, yes even Sally, she's been drunk all day but you have to be sure she gets home safely - even if that hoe was talking to the guy you were interested in all day!


via turnedup2eleven
I hate that most music festivals are starting to crack down on these items. Huge signs, or long tall poles with flags, although a bit annoying if they are up front waving in front of your view, they are VERY helpful in keeping crews together during a busy show.  I can't tell you the number of times we were able to find friends of ours just by following their floating Husky head of their beloved dog Russo [pictured above].  Check with the concert rules, if they are allowed, I say go big or go home! It's so much easier to find your friends when you know what flag they are hanging under!

My only note of consideration is this - during the show if are up front and center and NOT waiting for a friend to get back up to meet you - maybe keep the waving down to a minimum for the folks in the back. Everyone is there to enjoy the show!


Basically be smart, but let your freak flag fly!
BOHO, ROBO, DON'T KNOW? Follow your instincts, be comfortable but enjoy getting dressed. If you like comfort go for the old school t-shirt and shorts. Want more flare, go ahead and wear the flower head crown, when else is that going to be socially acceptable, am I right? Some shows are during Halloween, others are in the dead of the summer, the bottom line is, you do you. Be comfortable and enjoy yourself!

Proper Shoes
I've seen this time and time again... a young woman walking like a baby deer for the first time. She's wobbling and having a really hard time getting around on the grass in her platform shoes. I envy her shoes but not her situation because girl, they cute, but you are having issues. And in turn I've seen dudes walking around with a broken flip flop, searching for his friends.

I can't stress enough to wear COMFORTABLE and PROTECTIVE shoes. If you are a guy or girl that likes to sit on the sidelines, or a nice blanket in the back then YES by all means wear those flip flops. If you want to be up front, or in a pit, you should probably opt for sneakers or boots or something with a closed toe. I've had my foot stepped on before and it's painful, especially if the person doing it was dancing or jumping to the beat of the music.  I usually opt for something like a slip on sneaker, or high top (Vans) or hiking type sandal like a (Teva) - or Keen - the closed toe in the Keen is great for times like this. They are a bit more expensive but hold up great over time. I've had mine for about 8 years now and other than fading in color, they integrity of the shoe is still intact. [Note: I had my last pair of slim strap Tevas for about only 2 years and they broke after Jazzfest last year - too much walking and dancing]. Basic sneakers, lace up boots, nothing too heavy. Remember you'll be walking... a lot. Sometimes more than you realized (again, Jazzfest 2016).

Jazz Fest 2016 • Pearl Jam • via turnedup2eleven
To each his or her own on this part, but at a festival if it's going to be 100+ degrees, I tend to go light on the make-up and wear as much water proof, and sweat proof items as I can. Unless you are going to an Alice Cooper Show or heading to 'The Gathering' to see ICP, it's really not a great look to have make-up running down your face, unless that's the exact look you're going for. Or it's VoodooFest in New Orleans, but again, to each their own.

Recreational Drugs + Booze
Basically carry and use at your own risk. That goes for you trying to sneak in that flask too. I'm not here to harsh your buzz, man I'm just saying... I'd rather not get kicked out of a festival and miss my favorite band for something as silly as that. Did you know they make tampon flasks now? Insanity!

I tend to like to be as clear minded as possible at a show. Mike and I have a few drinks before hand, but it's minimal, compared to any given Friday night. I paid good money to see a band that I love, and I don't want my mind clouded and I certainly don't want a black out to ruin my chances of seeing something epic.  My point is, I would have been really, really sad if I was too drunk when I saw Soundgarden this year. I will never get to see them live again and I'm glad I can remember EVERY moment I had with Chris Cornell and the guys on stage.

Soundgarden 2017 • Tuscaloosa, AL • via turnedup2eleven
Did I miss anything? What would you add to the list?  Let me know!

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Michael Henderson said...

Great points, all!

Michael Henderson said...

Speaking as someone who's had to carry a friend out over his shoulder after a show (what...I'm not leaving a Pearl Jam set early), please do not drink yourself stupid.

Kelly @ turned UP to ELEVEN! said...

You are one heck of a friend babe, for sure!

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