Rhythm's Guide to Festival Survival
The festival season is right around the corner, with Download taking place later this week before Glastonbury, V, Sonisphere, Reading and Leedset al take place over the coming months. Anyone heading to any of these weekend-long camping jaunts will need all the help they can get, so here's our (and a few of our drumming mates') top tips for festi-fun!
Embrace the camping life (or book into a hotel)
Fancy spending an entire weekend of the Great British summer open to the elements? That’s half of the festival fun right there, isn’t it? Hmmm…it seems no one told Mike Portnoy. “I went camping with my son for his Cub Scouts. It was a horrific experience! We ended up getting a hotel room.”
Or do it in style
If you can’t stomach four days in a field and the local hotels are all booked up, you could flash some cash and splash out on a mobile home to guarantee the ultimate festival experience. Just make sure you don’t ruin it for yourself by falling foul of rule 3. Machine Head's Dave McClain: “After a week it [the tour bus] starts smelling bad. Somebody always has ‘cheese foot’. Cheese foot overpowers everything.”
Spending four days in a field is no excuse for stinking the place out with your BO. Just ask Job For A Cowboy’s Jon Rice. He said: “I shower as often as possible. If I go two or three days without a shower, I get freaked out.” Jon isn't the only one keen to stay looking, and smelling, his best. Dragonforce's Dave Mackintosh: "We're a clean bunch considering we're a metal band."
Be blown away
Rob Bourdon (Linkin Park): “The first festival I went to was Lollapalooza and I remember standing in a sea of people watching Smashing Pumpkins. It was incredible. When you’re at a festival and the sun’s going down you know the big acts are coming on. There was such excitement when they came on stage.”
Justin Foley (Killswitch Engage): "We did Ozzfest when Maiden were headling and they were intense. They blew everybody off the stage."
Sample the local cuisine
With the trips from stage to stage and back to the tent each night you’re guaranteed to burn off some calories, so you can perhaps be forgiven for indulging in the typical festival culinary treats. Gallows drummer Lee Barratt is a big fan: “I’m well into my junk food. I couldn’t probably eat it every day.”
Sink a few beers
Everyone enjoys a few drinks come festival season, but try not to go overboard on the first night and leave yourself recovering for the rest of the weekend. That goes for punters and drummers. Dragonforce drummer Dave Mackintosh: “Ozzfest was the worst for hangovers. I was sweating booze before I went on. One or two songs in and I’m usually ok though.”
Avoid the portaloos
Ah, the dreaded festival toilets. The Achilles heel of many a festival goer. As Lee Barratt said: “Don’t use them. I went to Reading Festival but I managed to keep everything in for about four days. If you need to, go in a bush.” Sage words of advice there. That’s why we’ll be avoiding the toilets and also make sure we don’t camp next to Lee. Or any bushes. Judging from this pic of KIllswitch Engage's Justin Foley, he isn't too keen on portaloos either.
Forget the technical difficulties
Of course, with so little time between bands, any kind of soundcheck is few and far between, meaning a festival set is like a game of Russian roulette for the poor guy at the back. It’s a problem that Vinnie Paul is familiar with: “To be honest it’s like walking into a maze. It’s like getting onto someone else’s drumset.”
Check the weather
Pick any weekend in the British summer and you’re guaranteed a mixed bag when it comes to weather. Expect to be sunburnt one minute and absolutely drenched the next. Joey Jordison: “[We played a] 30 degree show with rain in the Slipknot tour. It was brutal.”