Music festivals will drive you nuts. There's no way around it. They're full-sensory experiences that challenge your personal bubbles, patience, eardrums, and, well, limits with just about everything. (Contrary to popular Mean Girls lore, the limit does exist!) This makes staying sane and basic human recovery vital to a good time. You may think you're there for a good time until your good time gets dehydrated. This isn't amateur hour, y'all. This is the hour to get real. So, we went to the folks that do festival season for a part of their living: the musicians. Here's how they make it work. Godspeed, ye festival friends.
If you're gonna go to a festival you know, you should already know what it is at this point. Festival culture is so synonymous with music now. I think that you can just do you. I think maybe if you asked me this question seven years ago, I'd be like, "Listen, honey, here's your tips." But festivals have become so user-friendly and they've become so diverse that you just do you; show up, drink some water, have a good time.— LIZZO, who needs no introduction. Her Coconut Oil EP is out now
Drink a lot of water and stay hydrated. Bring headphones so that you could, like, zone people out if you're an introvert. Also, bring a portable phone charger and a notebook.— Rituals Of Mine, whose new album, Devoted, can be streamed below
On our side of the festival as performers, we have a secret pre-show handshake that gets us in good spirits. It's important to keep things light and positive in backstage situations that are often so tense.—Porter Robinson + Madeon, who have joined forces to become an EDM machine
I burn my nose every summer, so my festival go-to is a baseball cap. It looks cute and you save your face. Everyone who "nose" me, "nose" I burn my nose every summer.— Allison Closner from Joseph, who are on tour with their new album, I'm Alone, No You're Not
Find ways to stay cool! All the coolest kids these days are watching Game of Thrones and listening to Drake. You don’t want to be the loser caught at a festival who isn’t familiar with the latest trends… Seriously though, you’ll find yourself basking in the sun surrounded by body heat all day, so dress accordingly and stay hydrated! Soak a bandana in water and wrap it around your head to stay cool, bring a water bottle that you can refill, and find an ice cream stand that sells soft frozen pink lemonade. I can’t even begin to tell you how many times frozen pink lemonade has saved my life. As tempting as it is to rock flip flops or sandals, don’t do it! Your toes will get crushed and your feet will be caked in dirt for days. Find some light, comfortable shoes that you don’t mind getting ruined. Most importantly, have fun, make friends, and enjoy the music. Pick an artist you’ve never heard of and check out them out. I’ve discovered so many of my new favorite artists by stumbling into their set.— Nate of A R I Z O N A, who just dropped their new video for "Electric Touch"
Hydrate. If you have a shot, have a sip of water after it. Try to dress in layers; layers are important.— Xenia Rubinos, who you can catch on tour this summer
Cheat Codes, who just dropped a song with Demi LovatoMatthew Russell: I personally like to meditate and get my mind right in the morning before we start our day. And maybe a cold pressed green juice with less than 25 grams of sugar.Trevor Dahl: I like to stretch and drink a lot of water.Kevin Ford: Listen to Drake, eat healthy food.
I would suggest setting an intention and a purpose for the festival beforehand and doing some research on what you want to see. Try and check out smaller artists because they're typically artists on the come up. Drink a lot of water 'cause it's easy to get dehydrated. Just make sure you take care of yourself and you know what you want out of it. Have a plan.— SassyBlack, whose new album, No More Weak Dates, is out now
WEAVES, who has a debut album out nowJasmyn Burke: Try to eat Wendy's chili. When I'm on tour I have an emergency kit with Vitamin C, medicinal mushrooms, and a little B12 in there. Try and take those every day because you don't want to get sick. You're shaking hands, you're hugging, there are cheek kisses, so you have to be prepared for these types of interactions. And I would also say water.Spencer Cole: Drink more water than anything else.
I always have this little tube of Manuka honey for my throat. It sounds strange, but I take it on stage with me; you never know what you might breathe in when you’re playing outside. I always take advantage of the millions of bottles of water backstage, too. They’re everywhere, so you can always have one with you.—Meg Mac, who you can catch at Firefly
Make sure you have a double inflatable mattress, duvet, and pillows. Make sure your tent bed is as comfortable as your bed at home. Bananas for breakfast and drink as much water as alcohol! Or do what we do, just power through... sleep when you're dead!— CROOX, whose new single "Loyal" drops April 28
For me, I feel worst when I don't really eat and drink properly. At festivals, there's SO MUCH alcohol, and food can be really expensive. Plus, you're usually darting between stages and bands to catch things, so it's easy to forget to eat something with any nutritional value or drink enough water. As a singer, my voice gets wrecked from being in dusty fields, talking over loud music, and being dehydrated, so I try to make sure that I get enough water and I'm not starving 'cause then I start feeling out of sorts and I get tired and sick. I always make sure I have some granola bars, some apples, and water with me. Also, those effervescent vitamin C tablets are a real lifesaver.— Bright Light, Bright Light, who is gearing up to release his Cinematography II - Back In The Habit on April 28
I stick to a very strict schedule of never making a schedule. It helps me have the most fun and stay in the moment when I'm not doing promo or press or performing. I think the best way to do festivals is to passively and aimlessly walk around them until something grabs your attention. Never try to meet someone in some place and, above all, DO NOT listen to some boring-ass band that your friends like just to preserve the "buddy system." Festivals are places where you can truly embrace your inner ADD kid and really live presently.— Grace Mitchell, who just dropped her new song, "Now." Listen below!
We go and watch as much music as we can. Not only are we lucky enough to be playing festivals, we basically get a free ticket to go and watch loads of acts that we love.— Kyle Simmons of Bastille, who are currently on the Wild, Wild Tour supporting their new album, Wild World
During music festival season, we try to balance out the craziness with group workouts. We gather all the OH WONDER crew and go on big hikes, runs, or just do star jumps in the parking lot. Anything to get our hearts racing and shake off the post-festival comedown.— OH WONDER, whose new album, ULTRALIFE, drops June 16
A/J Jackson from Saint Motel says, "Not sure how I’m the only person on this insanely long tour who hasn’t gotten sick but here is my regimen:"
"Don't wear your nicest shoes and prepare to lose every friend you showed up with," The Knocks' BRoc says. "Fanny pack over backpack [and an] extra battery is key," adds JPatt. You can stream The Knocks' Testify EP below
We gotta make sure we have a big healthy meal after a performance to keep our energy up. Staying hydrated with lots of water and lots of coffee; always bring a Mophie to keep your phone charged for all those great festival selfies! Plus, you never know who ya gonna see backstage.— After Romeo, who just dropped "Shut Up"
I try to get an hour of yoga in no matter where I go, since I can do that anywhere—in a venue or especially outside. Also, I can do yoga still wearing glitter on my face from the night before or for the show later and feel right at home.— Ariana and the Rose, who just dropped her new Retrograde EP
Music festivals are a rare moment for us all to be in a collective vibe, celebrating, dancing, being together, and feeling solidarity in joy and expression. It's really exciting to us that festivals make people feel free and excited to be themselves, to dance how they feel, and dress how they want; the crazier, more unique, and more [yourself], the better.— SOFI TUKKER, who you can catch on tour now
Life hack: Keep the bag that your tent comes in ‘cause after you've unpacked and set it up, that acts nicely as a sleeping bag. Another one: If Catfish and the Bottlemen are playing, always, always go watch them.— Van McCann of Catfish and the Bottlemen, who are about to headline a North American tour beginning May 2 and joining Green Day's arena tour later on
There is no way to feel good during festival season, so we get high as hell and just enjoy the chaos. We love beverages—water, coconut water, margaritas, whatever; just keep that throat moist. Hydration is key!— Christian Zucconi of GROUPLOVE, who will release their Little Mess EP on April 22. The EP will be available digitally on May 5
"Keep medical masks handy. Someone is bound to get sick, and if you keep them behind a mask, it can save the rest of the band."—McKinley Kitts of flor, who are gearing up to release their new album, come out. you’re hiding., on May 19. Catch them at Lollapalooza, Bunbury Music Festival, and Capitol Hill Block Party this summer
A light workout in the morning, followed by drinking a shit ton of water. I usually wait until 6pm to start drinking [alcohol].— Mondo Cozmo, who is currently on tour
Pacing is the number one thing. Don't go too hard too soon. You have to pick and choose; if you try to see everything, you're going to be really exhausted by the time Radiohead or whatever big headlining act comes on.— The Seshen, who you can catch on tour this summer
First, you've got to mentally brace yourself for what's about to happen. Festivals can be grueling but extremely rewarding at the same time. So we like to spend the morning looking in a mirror, saying positive uplifting quotes to ourselves. For example: "Go get 'em tiger" or something lighter like, "F.E.A.R. has two meanings: Forget Everything And Run, or Face Everything And Rise. The choice is yours." Then we continue going about our day as normal. Drink lots of fluid to stay hydrated—LaCroix in particular whilst we are in the U.S.—and then eat a crisp. Also, pacing around in different directions backstage whilst getting in people's way can help to clear your head.— HONNE, who just dropped "Warm On A Cold Night (ft. Aminé)"
Downtown Boys, who you can find touring Full Communism this summerVictoria Ruiz: I think about why I do music all the time. I read non-music-related things, like poetry and historical non-fiction. I use a lot of essential oils and look at pictures of my friends and family all the time. In the van, we also like to go really in depth and research random topics, like the history of 7-Eleven or various animals. We also like to quote funny things we have heard along the way in random voices. This helps a lot. We all have our little things at various points, whether it's being able to get a good cup of coffee in a random place, finding cool and cheap makeup, sending postcards, or buying those little quarter machine toys. These little things keep it all going.Joey La Neve DeFrancesco: Honestly, festivals are generally way plusher than most shows we do. There's lots of food and drink everywhere, so it's a fun game to see how much shit we can get in our limited amount of time. I imagine some people are jaded to it all, but as a band with limited resources, it's still always exciting. The festival world is a strange and new place for us; it still often feels like I snuck into a fancy dinner party or something, so I try to really appreciate that weirdness, as well as the opportunity we have to reach people who wouldn't otherwise come listen to our message in a punk basement.
For festival season, the essentials for me are lots of peach tea, a sick but comfortable outfit, and rest. Going all day and all night for a whole weekend takes a toll on the body. Hydration, good food, and rest is essential for everyone.- Whethan, whose single, "Savage” feat. Flux Pavilion & MAX, will rock your world
For every alcoholic drink I consume, I make sure I have a bottle of water. It's the only way to keep my buzz going while also staying hydrated. Bring an empty water bottle into the site with you so you don't have to pay a million bucks for a bottle each time, and it's better for the environment! Since so many bands play the same festivals nowadays, I try and space out who I can actually catch at each one so I'm not manic running around trying to fit everything into one experience. It's fun to leave yourself time to mix in nonmusic-related exploration at the festival.— LPX, who just dropped the video for her debut song, "Tightrope"
The important thing is a spiritual and physical balance. I obviously try to counterbalance excess with reasonable healthy eating; partying with meditation and exercise but also try to remember that spiritual well-being comes from time out and self-care—even if I'm stressed about the set, or what I have to do. Sometimes the best thing for me to do is to take time out and go do something relaxing for a few hours and try to forget about everything. A frozen yogurt and a walk can go a long way to keeping your headspace in check.— Anna Lunoe, who you can catch at Coachella this weekend
A friend once told me that hydration is paramount. and it wasn't until I played my first festival that I realized that truer words were never spoken. Staying hydrated is key to being able to hit every set you want to see under a blazing hot sun while continuing into the night for an oblivious bliss of LED lights and bass that's so heavy, it's sure to hit your heart right out of rhythm. Wearing cotton clothes helps, too.— Flint Eastwood, who you can catch at festivals like Lollapalooza, Bonnaroo, Summerfest, and Sasquatch this year
"Tour bloat" is certainly a thing. It’s quite easy to fall into the trap of cigarettes, alcohol, and bad food when playing a new show in a new city every night for a month, but that quickly wears thin. I’m not sure there’s any way of me saying this and not coming across as "holier than thou," but I tend to go running most days on tour; I find it's a nice way to see a city you’re only in for 24 hours at most. I’ve also recently got quite into meditation [*rolls eyes*]. I started to listen to podcasts about the mind/consciousness about a year ago, and they’ve massively impacted my creative process and tour routine.
Another way I keep the anxiety at bay is to work on new music. My new EP, out soon, was written between hotels, airplanes, and my home studio last year. I got to a point where I realized that I no longer have the luxury of time; it actually propelled my creative output, and I think I’ve produced my best work so far. That and lots of red wine and cheese.— TOURIST, who, yes, has new music coming soon, but in the meantime, catch him at Coachella
Water, podcasts, and shapeless flowy outfits to feel yourself in.— morgxn, who has a new single called "XX" dropping Friday, April 14
Festival season can take its toll—the travel, the constant madness, excess, and lack of sleep. It's tough on the body and mind. No matter where I go, I always take my swimming costume, on the off chance that there will be a pool or sea to swim in. Swimming immediately gives me relief and time to clear my head. I'm a water baby. Always have been.— Marnie, whose new album, Strange Words and Weird Wars, drops June 2
Never wear your favorite shoes to a festival because you will ruin them. I once made the mistake of throwing myself in a moshpit with my favorite white sneakers. Now they are gray/brown.— Saint Weekend, who just dropped his debut EP, Golden Youth