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Festival Survival Guide


Copaface

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So MCR are at a few festivals this year. This obviously means a lot of MCR fans will be going and a lot will be festival virgins. I've been to Download, Sonisphere and the Leeds festivals for the past three years so I thought I'd pass on some tips, guidelines and wisdom from my years of experience with festivals.

Festival season is my favourite time of year by far and festivals provide you with some of the best/weirdest/craziest/drunkest experiences of your life. Most of my favourite stories to tell people are simply crazy shit that happens at festivals. If this year you're going to your first festival, just to see MCR or not, you'll need a few tips to remember while you're having an amazing time:

STUFF YOU'LL NEED

The Obvious.

TENT - Unless you're planning to sleep on the floor, you'll need a tent to kip in. If you're planning to sleep at all.

SLEEPING BAG/BLANKETS - Although it'll be summer, it gets fucking cold at night. As annoying as it will be when you wake up in immense heat, you don't want to get sick at a festival.

MONEY - No matter what you bring, it's never enough so always make sure you have plenty of money or your bank card for emergencies/rides (if the festival you're going to has playground rides... most of them do)/merchandise/food/drink.

PHONE - At some point you or someone in your group will get lost. So have your phone on you. There's usually phone charging stations at festivals for if your battery dies.

Hygiene/Essentials

WET WIPES/CLEANING WIPES - There are showers at festivals but sometimes you come out of them dirtier than you went in (except at Sonisphere. The showers at Sonisphere are amazing) so take some cleaning wipes so you'll feel less grimy.

DEODERANT/BODY SPRAY - No-one likes the smelly person.

TOOTHBRUSH/TOOTHPASTE - No-one likes the person with bad breath (or vomit breath from too much drinking the night before)

SUN LOTION - Yeah, I learned this one the hard way...

DRY SHAMPOO - Spray in dry shampoo is a lifesaver. No more greasebomb.

INSECT REPELLANT - Those tiny little midgie flies are a bitch. And wasps. Those wasps are bastards.

FIRST AID - I always put together a little first aid bag consisting of: paracetamol, plasters, antiseptic wipes (Savlon)

CONDOMS - Even if you're not planning anything. People drink at festivals and shit happens when people are drunk. Even though there's emergency contraception (morning after pill) at the chemist tent but that's an embarrassing trip. We don't want no festival babies or coming home with something you didn't go there with... You get my drift.

TOILET ROLL - Very important!!! You MUST bring your own toilet roll. Although they are provided in the portaloos, they'll be gone/thrown up on/disgustingly dirty after the first day. So please please please for the love of God, bring your own toilet roll. You will not regret it.

OTHER ESSENTIALS: Hand sanitizer, hair brush, vaseline/lip balm (sun hates your lips), 'Lady Essentials' (if by some awful bad luck 'Aunt Flo' comes to town while you're there).

Conveniences

TORCH/LAMP - Surprise, surprise it gets dark at night and the lamplights won't be enough. You need a torch.

PLASTIC BAGS - One for your rubbish and one for your dirty clothes.

LIGHTER - Even if you don't smoke. You'd be surprised how many friends you can make by just having a lighter.

WELLIES - You can bring normal shoes if it's not muddy. But chances are, it's going to be muddy.

ID - You can't get no booze without ID. You'll run out of booze even if you bring your own supply.

Food/Alcohol

Most festivals will let you bring small gas cookers which are useful if you're bringing food like soup and Pot Noodles and stuff. Disposable barbeques (you can get these cheap at any supermarket) are a good idea since... well, barbeques are fun. The best kinds of food to bring with you are fruit snack pots, biscuits and cereal bars. There are LOADS of food stands (including vegan/vegetarian food stands) in the camping area and the arena including mostly burgers, hot dogs, nacho stands, milkshake stands, juice bars, noodle bars, chinese food, thai food, kebabs, indian food etc.

Again, most festivals will let you bring your own alcohol. I always see people rolling in with kegs and crates and stuff so, as long as you have ID, there really isn't an issue with bringing alcohol. Plus the police there are more concerned with drug issues rather than alcohol issues. If you're bringing spirits that you don't want to drink straight (vodka, Jagermeister, Jack Daniel's etc.) then pre-mix it with your chosen mixer in plastic bottles before you go. Also, have one designated water bottle. All that booze, you WILL need water. Oh, and lucozade, orange juice and bacon sandwiches are the best hangover cures.

VARIOUS TIPS.

* Planning to get there - If you're going by car, you will definitely want to set off early. And I mean like 5am early. Back at Leeds Fest '08, me and my best friend Helen made the mistake of setting off in the afternoon. We got stuck in traffic and were told that we'd be queuing for 6 hours. So we had to get out of the car and walk 7 miles to the site. With all our camping stuff, food and bags. It was not pretty. We never got the ache from our shoulders and legs for the whole weekend. Learn from our mistake. Set off early or book a coach.

* Don't get your stuff robbed - Keep your phone, money and ID on you AT ALL TIMES. There are plenty of dicks at festivals. At Sonisphere, a group of dicks went around on the first night robbing tents. I found three purses shoved underneath mine in the morning. So make sure the stuff you leave in your tent is stuff you can deal with it if it gets stolen. So obviously try not to take valuables like iPods with you unless you're going to keep them with you. Oh, and don't think that getting a padlock for your tent will help. Having a padlock is practically an invitation for tent-slashers.

* Be aware and prepared for the portaloos - Okay, I'm not going to sugar-coat this one. The portaloos are revolting. For the first day they're pretty okay. By the second day, they're getting a bit rank. By the last day, you'll feel ill at the thought of using them. The worst are at Reading/Leeds. There, they are practically medieval. Basically they're a plank with a hole in it over a pit. And you can see right down into this pit. And you can see everything that everyone else has done in this pit. Try working on your thigh muscles before you go so you'll be able to hover over the seat instead of actually sitting on it. And like I said, PLEASE bring your own toilet roll. Oh, and be prepared for the smell. It is unholy. I hope you're not unlucky enough to be stuck in the camping spot right next to them...

* Drugs - Let's be grown up now. There are drugs at festivals and you'll probably come across them. And let's face it, experimentation happens. I'm not going to preach because I'm no angel myself. Just don't be stupid about it. Make sure you're with someone you trust in case something goes wrong. Don't go mad and take too much. Don't do it near the stewards. If the person selling/giving them to you looks dodgy then they probably are.

* The bands - Bands play from about 12pm til 11:30pm across various stages (there are little programmes on neck lanyards that tell you the times bands are on) but if, like me, you're planning to stay at the front all day to catch the headliner, don't drink the night before, bring cereal bars and water with you so you'll survive all day. If you're going to be doing this at Leeds festival, let me know. Me and a group of MCR fans are going to camp outside the arena entrance the night before so get in touch with me (www.twitter.com/Copaface_) and you are more than welcome to come and join us. :)

* Final points - Don't bother with the oxygen bar. It doesn't do shit.

Early bird tickets are worth it.

To save money, buy your food at the noodle bar. They give you shit loads and it fills you up all day.

Wearing gecko jewellry is a code for swingers. Just so you know.

Collecting empty beer cartons and handing them in gets you free beer tokens.

Don't light your campfire with deoderant. A guy near our tent at Download 2010 did that and set loads of shit on fire.

When watching the bands, don't sit near the walls at the side of the main stage. That's where all the guys piss.

Bear in mind that everything you bring, you'll be carrying a long way to the campsites.

On the last night, the campsites tend to turn into little 'riots'. People will tear things down and burn things. So just a warning to be careful.

Costumes you WILL see at a festival: morph suits, guys in banana suits, superhero costumes, mankinis.

Knowing about internet memes will gain you popularity.

Try the hot cider. It is amazing.

Finally, for your enjoyment...

Shit That Happens At Festivals: A Picture Montage.

It gets cold...

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It got cold at Leeds... My friend Helen very kindly pushed me over while I was tied up in my hoodie.

Drink, drink and more drink...

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At Sonisphere, I got so drunk I couldn't put my hoodie on.

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Erin getting her drink on.

You meet the most random people...

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At Leeds, I found a guy in a V For Vendetta Mask holding a pineapple.

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Guys in morph suits...

The most amazing shit happens...

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'Team Patrick' was an in-joke with us and my friend Ali, who works for a website interviewing and reviewing bands, got Matt from Funeral For A Friend to get in on the joke. Amazing.

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Ali with Matt.

You have the time of your life...

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Drunk dancing while Iron Maiden were playing.

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Me and two of three of my babes (Ali took the picture).

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I'm a very experienced festival goer myself and I just can say, your guide is BRILLIANT! Everything a festival newbie needs to know!

The "costumes" part made me laugh so hard... I guess there's been a guy in a banana costume at every festival I've been to.

I'd just add to the list of stuff to take with you

- Duct tape (can save lives... And your tent.)

- A hat, cap or something like that (protects you from the sun and awful things like sunstrokes)

And when it's really hot, don't forget to drink water, a lot of.

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Me and some friends are going to leeds :D I'm a little scared though :lol:

Haha, don't be scared, you will LOVE it.

Me and a bunch of others are going to be staying outside the arena entrance on the Friday night so we can be at the barrier for MCR. Like I said, feel free to join us! Just send me a message :)

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I'm a very experienced festival goer myself and I just can say, your guide is BRILLIANT! Everything a festival newbie needs to know!

The "costumes" part made me laugh so hard... I guess there's been a guy in a banana costume at every festival I've been to.

I'd just add to the list of stuff to take with you

- Duct tape (can save lives... And your tent.)

- A hat, cap or something like that (protects you from the sun and awful things like sunstrokes)

And when it's really hot, don't forget to drink water, a lot of.

DUCT TAPE. I knew I forgot something... x)

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  • 4 weeks later...

Thanks for this. :)

I'm going to Reading for the first time this year, and I can't waaaaait.

The only thing I'm worried about are the riots on the last day.

They don't sound pleasant.

Quick question: Tips on staying at the front?

I'm hoping to get to the front for 30STM and MCR on the Friday, and once I'm in the front spot I'm not really gunna want to leave.

I'm guessing just bring lots of water (even though that might mean a trip to the dreaded portaloos) and food that you can eat uncooked.

How bad is the barrier pressure?

The only time I've been near the front at a concert that matches the scale at Reading was KOL in Hyde Park.

That was a scary experience if I'm honest, everyone just surged forward when they came on and I lost my friend in the crowd.

Didn't help that the majority of people around me were drunk. :rolleyes:

So any tips would be great. ^_^

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Be prepared that the crowd will be different than at a headlining show. There will be a lot of people there who are not there to see MCR, because they love the band. Some people will even go to start fights or to "emo-bash" (yes, even in 2011). The crowd will also probably be older. The barrier pressure will be massive. Not in an "OMGZZZZ, I wanna lick Gerard's face!111!!!eleven" but in "big dudes in mosh pits" way.

Make friends and look out for other people! If someone falls, you do everything in your power to help them.

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Quick question: Tips on staying at the front?

I'm hoping to get to the front for 30STM and MCR on the Friday, and once I'm in the front spot I'm not really gunna want to leave.

I'm guessing just bring lots of water (even though that might mean a trip to the dreaded portaloos) and food that you can eat uncooked.

How bad is the barrier pressure?

That sounds intense and I really hope you'll be able to stay there :) I think tons of water is a must!!

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i'm kinda worried i'm gonna get crushed now :huh: although i am only going for saturday at leeds so i guess i won't have to worry about the portaloos too much

Does anyone konw how easy it is to meet the bands (as in MCR). I there a signing tent or anything?

I would say it depends on the crowd and what time of the day they're playing. If they're playing late, the possibility of drunk assholes starting violent pits is much bigger. But just remember to enjoy the concert and keep a good pit etiquette. If you look after other people, other people are more likely to look after you.

I haven't been to a festival with a signing tent, I don't think they're common in Europe. But do some research on the festival's webpage, you'll never know.

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Thanks for this. :)

I'm going to Reading for the first time this year, and I can't waaaaait.

The only thing I'm worried about are the riots on the last day.

They don't sound pleasant.

Quick question: Tips on staying at the front?

I'm hoping to get to the front for 30STM and MCR on the Friday, and once I'm in the front spot I'm not really gunna want to leave.

I'm guessing just bring lots of water (even though that might mean a trip to the dreaded portaloos) and food that you can eat uncooked.

How bad is the barrier pressure?

The only time I've been near the front at a concert that matches the scale at Reading was KOL in Hyde Park.

That was a scary experience if I'm honest, everyone just surged forward when they came on and I lost my friend in the crowd.

Didn't help that the majority of people around me were drunk. :rolleyes:

So any tips would be great. ^_^

I'm going to be there too :D

Get there at the beginning of the day, that's what I have done for the last couple of years when I wanted to see the last few bands. You can't take bottles into the arena. If you are at the front they provide you with water like a normal concert.

The pressure is pretty bad. My cousin cracked a rib last year during Paramore, so we asked to be dragged over the barrier so that we could go nearer the back. Though most people were at the festival to see Blink 182 which is why there was so much pressure, I have a feeling that it won't be as bad as that this year, well on the friday anyway :)

Helpful info for any festival goer: When going to the loo's, have a scarf with perfume sprayed on it and tie it around your face (killjoy style), it helps cover up the smell. I did it last year and it worked awesomely :)

Also, avoid the campsite loo's as mush as possible. At Reading the arena loo's are soooo much better, it is unbelievable, even on the Sunday night.

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i'm kinda worried i'm gonna get crushed now :huh: although i am only going for saturday at leeds so i guess i won't have to worry about the portaloos too much

Does anyone konw how easy it is to meet the bands (as in MCR). I there a signing tent or anything?

Unfortunately headlining acts don't do the signing tents at R&L :(

Your best bet of meeting them is if they are wondering around the festival site, watching bands and stuff. :)

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Helpful info for any festival goer: When going to the loo's, have a scarf with perfume sprayed on it and tie it around your face (killjoy style), it helps cover up the smell. I did it last year and it worked awesomely :)

It's already a part of my killjoy outfit, so that is no problem and a great suggestion :)

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Check out the festival's pit policy before going!

Some festivals empty out the pit booths between each concert, so staying up front all day will not necessarily get you a front spot when MCR is playing.

That's a really good idea! I'm not going to R&L, but have pit tickets on HCT and am definitely going to be checking with the venue in advance about their policies for this

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That's a really good idea! I'm not going to R&L, but have pit tickets on HCT and am definitely going to be checking with the venue in advance about their policies for this

I haven't heard of a venue, that isn't an outdoor festival, which empties the pit between each band. I don't think any venue would have the capacity.

I think they empty the pits to clean them out and, to be honest, sell more beverages.

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I haven't heard of a venue, that isn't an outdoor festival, which empties the pit between each band. I don't think any venue would have the capacity.

I think they empty the pits to clean them out and, to be honest, sell more beverages.

ahhh sorry to short hand it, honda civic tour in the states with blink :) I got pit tickets for one of the dates. I don't think they'll empty it by any means, but it may be a little intense with the blink fans, who really knows at this point? :P

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Thanks for this. :)

I'm going to Reading for the first time this year, and I can't waaaaait.

The only thing I'm worried about are the riots on the last day.

They don't sound pleasant.

Quick question: Tips on staying at the front?

I'm hoping to get to the front for 30STM and MCR on the Friday, and once I'm in the front spot I'm not really gunna want to leave.

I'm guessing just bring lots of water (even though that might mean a trip to the dreaded portaloos) and food that you can eat uncooked.

How bad is the barrier pressure?

The only time I've been near the front at a concert that matches the scale at Reading was KOL in Hyde Park.

That was a scary experience if I'm honest, everyone just surged forward when they came on and I lost my friend in the crowd.

Didn't help that the majority of people around me were drunk. :rolleyes:

So any tips would be great. ^_^

The 'riots' on the last night aren't usually too bad in terms of people getting attacked or anything like that. People just tend to pull the campsite barriers down and burning abandoned tents, the only reason I gave a warning about it, is because people will be drunk. So I just wanted to warn people that on the last night, the drunk idiots tend to be a little worse than usual. But I wouldn't worry about it too much. Just stay in the middle of a campsite and not on the edge and you should be fine.

As for tips for staying at the front, barrier pressure really depends on the band and how many people are going to turn out to see them. Some bands get people going more than others. The only one I'd be slightly worried about for Reading/Leeds is Bring Me The Horizon because I know their fans tend to get a little wild. The best bet for staying at the front is to get to the barrier which means going to the arena entrance pretty early and just running for the front at the beginning of the day. Take a small rucksack with you and wear it backwards so you can open it in front of you without taking it off, and put in a bottle of water (stewards at the front of the stage will hand out water inbetween bands though in case you run out) and a few cereal bars or something to keep you going. There's intervals between the bands, so if one band was kind of a crush, you'll get a break and a chance to breathe before the next one comes on.

Inbetween bands, some or most of the crowd will probably disperse as people will be likely to want to see other bands on other stages too, so if you're not planning to wait outside the arena entrance, trying to see how the main stage crowd disperses inbetween bands is probably your best bet. But that isn't as guaranteed...

But yeah, plenty of water is a must. There are free water taps in the campsites so you can fill up there instead of paying stupid prices for bottled water in the arena.

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i'm kinda worried i'm gonna get crushed now :huh: although i am only going for saturday at leeds so i guess i won't have to worry about the portaloos too much

Does anyone konw how easy it is to meet the bands (as in MCR). I there a signing tent or anything?

There is a signing tent but it's very rare that headlining bands will be there because the security just aren't capable of handling queues that massive. But you can always check since you never know...

The backstage area is completely separate from the arena and campsite and pretty much off limits to the audience unless they're invited by the band (like some kid got picked out of the audience and sent backstage for a little while during Weezer at Leeds last year) or they have a press/media pass. Most bands won't stay long anyway. Most of them just do their set and see perhaps a few bands before or after themselves.

The bands do have permission to be in the camping area but, again this is extremely-super rare. Although I have heard stories of how the band Madness camped out with the festival-goers at Glastonbury... But I doubt MCR would be able to do this without being swamped...

Like I said to the other person, the crowd surges really depend on the band and the amount of people that turn out to see them. So it's pretty unpredictable. The crowds tend to disperse a bit inbetween bands so the crowd changes a lot throughout the day.

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Although I have heard stories of how the band Madness camped out with the festival-goers at Glastonbury.

*Hopes this happens at Reading Fest.*

Also about the riots, it depends where you camp. I agree with Copaface, don't camp on the edges, easier to target and people pee on your tents.

Also some of the camps are more well known for the riots, for example, Purple, Green and Yellow are the main ones at Reading.

The safest bet to avoid the "riot areas" are camping in white or red camp because they are separated from the main camping area. Last year we camped in purple, typically it was the only camp with rioting and it started a few tents away from where we were. We just packed up and walked to the train station and went home :)

But just be on your guard. Any sign of trouble go and alert security :)

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