When you're in a band, one of the coolest things about playing a festival is mingling in the artists' area with other musicans you admire. Especially for lesser-known acts, the chance to rub shoulders with their musical heroes can count as a major perk in a job that's otherwise a non-stop touring grind.
To gain some insight into what these moments are like, we asked ten up-and-coming acts to tell us about their close encounters with their favorite artists.
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Stevie Scott, frontwoman of machineheart "I am a huge fan of MS MR and I was pumped we were playing SXSW with them this year since I had never seen them live. We had actually covered one of their songs about a year ago so I was super excited to finally see their show. We were all hanging out backstage and I saw Lizzie there and we were both wearing overalls so needless to say, I decided that we were kindred spirits. And I'm not one to fangirl but I got super shy in that moment and couldn't bring myself to go say hi to her. I guess I'll have to tell her next time I see her and we can have a good laugh about it!"
Regal Degal "We got to play a couple of East Coast dates with Panda Bear last summer; literally only two shows, and the trip was over pretty quickly. However it was a lasting experience—the P Bear crew are all friends of ours and very supportive but we'd never really talked to Noah or anything. He was super nice and earnest, and getting to see such a humble and mellow person blow people's minds with new material that had yet to be released was pretty thrilling. By the end of the second night it felt like we were all that much closer, and after I likened the experience to a sweet dream, Noah remarked that maybe one day we'll get to dream again. Fingers crossed, dawg."
Michael LoPresti of The Lighthouse and The Whaler "Some of our families came with us to Bunbury Music Festival last year in Cincinnati to hang out and take in all the bands playing the festival. While we were having lunch, Matthew’s daughter Lorenza—being her usual outgoing self—befriended another girl that had been running around the tent. As we all migrated together over their mutual friendship, we realized that the girl Lorenza had been hanging with was the daughter of one of the members of The Flaming Lips. It was a surreal experience, to be hanging with those guys in such a relaxed setting. I never thought I’d share such a natural moment with guys of that caliber. Looking back it blows my mind. Kids, bringing bands together, well, since they were born."
Anna Lunoe "So many idols walking around backstage at Coachella last year. My trailer was right next to Slash from Guns n' Roses and my big brother Mikey was a huge GNR fan as a kid. He was a guitar player too so Slash was his idol. I never met Slash unfortunately but I definitely took a pic in front of his trailer (like a dork) for my big brother Mikey!"
Giraffage "At CRSSD Fest in San Diego, I was watching Empire of the Sun from backstage. I thought they played a great set. After they finished, I watched them all exit the stage to their tent. All of a sudden, I hear loud bangs and crashes and when I look over, I see their silhouettes flipping tables, throwing fruit, smashing lights, essentially destroying their green room. I’m still not 100% sure what exactly prompted them to do this—maybe they were upset about their performance, or maybe that’s just what they do after every show. Regardless, it’s definitely one of the most rockstar things I’ve ever seen."
Hop Along frontwoman Frances Quinlan "I used to spot Adam Granduciel from War on Drugs a lot at a coffee shop we both frequented called the Lola Bean (it's not around anymore). When we met officially on tour, I was floored by just how nice he and the whole band and crew was. I knew he was nice from seeing him around and saying hey, but I had no idea we'd actually become friends. That doesn't always happen on tour. We both got sick on the road and he shared his vitamin C packs with me.They tasted horrible but definitely helped. 'We know what it's like to chase the bus,' I remember them saying. It's really cool when bands look out for each other. They didn't have to do that. It makes a huge difference and we had a great time playing with them. Did I mention they slayed and played a killer version of George Harrison's "Beware of Darkness"? Helluva tour, helluva band."
The Wooden Sky drummer Andrew Kekewich
"It was the afternoon of the last day of the festival. We were spending our day trying to find as much free beer as possible while we waited for the Stooges who were closing the night. On one of our sud hunts backstage, I could see Mike Watt from The Stooges in the distance approaching us. The rest of the Wooden Sky dudes, knowing my love for Minutemen and FIREHOSE, egged me on to go up and talk to him. I was totally starstruck and all I could do was pathetically yell his name in his face as we passed each other. A very smooth move. He politely waved, but I just stared at him as all my 'friends' laughed at me. A wonderful experience."
Jeremy Warmsley of Summer Camp "I once did an album that was produced by Markus Dravs, and he was kind enough to introduce me to Win Butler backstage at a festival. I was (and am) a huge fan of Arcade Fire but soon realized I could think of literally nothing to say to him. The three of us stood there awkwardly for a moment or two before someone else came up and started talking to Win and I stealthily backed away."
Peter Dreimanis of July Talk "Last summer and fall we played some pretty huge festivals alongside some of our favorite bands. We watched Nick Cave, Jack White, Jenny Lewis ,and Arctic Monkeys all play mere hours after we played on the same stage. It really does fuck with your head. We're all really big Cage The Elephant fans and when we played a festival with them out west, we were all pumped to see them play their new record live. Matt Shultz is an insane frontman, his body moves around the stage like a snake before he runs out onto the crowd (literally) like some bastard son of Iggy Pop. So we play our set and walk off stage to see him standing on the side holding out his hand. What seemed like a congratulatory gesture was actually an invitation to what became 48 hours of debauchery. I definitely won't forget it, well I won't forget most of it."
Laura Lloyd of No Joy "Once on tour we were stopping by the Pitchfork Music Festival. I remember being backstage when a torrential downpour started. Everyone started running for cover (there was hardly any) and I ended up taking refuge under a tiny little leaf with Sufjan Stevens. He said 'Hey, I’m Sufjan' and I said 'hi' and it was really crazy but we actually started making out? I was so excited because I was his number one fan. Later I ran into my bandmate Jasamine and told her what happened. She told me it was impossible cause not only was Sufjan not playing the festival but was on tour in Europe at the time. Also when I described his look as heavy-set 'bearded hipster' with tribal sleeves, she looked at me like I was crazy. Maybe I should google the people I’m interested from now on. Anyway, I later found out that my tiny leaf kisser was kicked out of the backstage after he told a bunch of people he was Joaquin Phoenix and no one believed him."
Young Buffalo "When we played Pukkelpop in Belgium last summer our drummer, Tim, went up to Adam from The War On Drugs and introduced himself and shot the shit. The rest of us were too scared to say anything to him haha. Festivals with good common areas backstage are great places to hang with and meet bands that you've been listening to, or even if you haven't. At another festival in Germany, I hung out with this Canadian band called the Arkells and it turned out that we knew/worked with some mutual folks. It's cool when those connections happen."