Will Not Fade’s Guide To Surviving A Music Festival

Will Not Fade Guide Festival Survival Guide Wristbands Timetables Tickets

Festival Season

It’s summer in New Zealand. New Years celebrations are mere days away, which will soon be followed by regional anniversary days and Waitangi Day. And those holidays come on top of any time off many of us have around the Christmas/New Year period.

Just as the warm summer evenings usher in a time of barbecues and backyard cricket, they also signal the start of festival season.

It has been a fickle time for promoters in recent years. Many festivals I cut my teeth on sadly no longer exist, such as Parachute at Mystery Creek, and Big Day Out. This year saw the cancellation of Westfest (due to the cancellation of the Australian festival Soundwave which it had piggybacked off) and the McLaren Falls/Echo festival. There will be no Auckland City Limits next year either.

All is not lost however, with staples such as Rhythm and Vines/Alps, Laneway, WOMAD, Homegrown, Raggamuffin, Splore, and some new entries like Bay Dreams and One Love offering a variety of genres and locations to appeal to all tastes.

So to help you to have the best festival experience possible, here are some tips for surviving festivals.

Wear Earplugs

Your poor ears get enough of a hard time as it is. Wearing earplugs is a super easy way to protect them, and believe it or not, actually makes the music sound better. It does this by cutting out the higher frequencies that cause hearing damage. Ok, so some of the foam plugs won’t make things sound optimal, but take my word for it when I say that I never go to a live music gig without my earplugs. I use these and they are well worth the money. Go for the attenuating type for best sound quality that still protects. They’ll be more comfortable than foam plugs after a full day’s use too.

Stay hydrated.

It’s summer. It’s hot. Being packed into a venue with hundreds of other sweaty concertgoers makes it even hotter. Do yourself a favour and have plenty of water throughout the day. And increase that amount if you’re having alcohol as well. Because you’re going to be kicking yourself later if you spent $150 on that ticket just to hang out in the paramedics tent for most of the day.

Be prepared for the weather.

I got sunburnt so badly at Big Day Out 2011 that I was still peeling a few weeks later. But the weather changed halfway throughout the day and got cold and damp. Suddenly everyone in singlets couldn’t cope and the crowd noticeably thinned well before many of the headliners played.

If you’re attending a fest with any outdoor stages I recommend buying a $2 rain poncho. It’s cheap and small enough to fit in your pocket, so no harm done if you don’t need it. But you’ll be glad you have it if the weather starts to turn.

It’s more likely to be a scorcher over the summer months, so slip, slop, slap and wrap to avoid looking like a beetroot for the following week. And as tempting as it is to take your nicest gear, think about taking a hat and some sunnies that you won’t miss so much if they get lost in the mosh pit.

On that note, jandals may be great for summer, but don’t protect your toes from getting trampled on by the people dancing near you!

Figure Out Your Schedule

The worst thing about festivals is that often the best bands clash. Have a look at the timetable beforehand to plan which stages you need to be at and when. Sometimes this means deciding between watching a full set of one band, or catching half sets for two bands.

Bear in mind that often stages have limited capacity, so get there early if there is an act that you are desperate to see.

Take some cash.

Many festivals won’t let you take your own food or drink in, even if it’s just water in a clear, sealed bottle. Once you’re inside they’ll charge you the earth for food and drink because you have no other option. My advice is buy the biggest bottle possible at the start of the day and keep refilling it at a tap.

And take cash. It can be faster and more reliable than eftpos.

Have a contingency plan

I once lost my mate at Big Day Out. We were both at Rise Against’s set to start with. He decided to leave early to secure a good spot to see Muse later on, while I stayed on. The crowd was so wild that I swear I was sideways for most of the set. After the band had finished I reached into my pocket to text my friend, only to find that I had lost my phone. Luckily I had his home phone number written on a card along with other emergencies contacts that I kept in my wallet. After some panicked moments of stressing I managed to find a phone I could use and rang his mum, who in turn messaged him to meet me at an appointed spot.

What I learnt from that situation was that it pays to establish a meet up point at the start of the day, so that you can find your friends if you get separated.  It also pays to carry some spare cash and have a list of emergency phone numbers with you.

Charge your phone. 


So you can contact friends. But also keep it in your pocket when you don’t need it. You came to watch bands play live, not through a screen.

Avoid The Queues

This tip depends upon how desperate you are for overpriced beer. I tend not to drink alcohol at most gigs, so am happy to line up for an under-18 wristband if it’s an option, or chose not to line up for the extra over-18 band if that is required. I don’t find it embarrassing and it usually means that I get to watch an extra hour of music, compared to those who deciding to spend their time queuing for a wristband (not to mention the additional time queuing up for drinks!)

Another way to miss the queues is by showing up late, but that means you will miss the acts playing at the start of the day.

Have fun!

Have fun! Check out a band you haven’t heard of before! Get your boogie on! Soak it all in!

[on an unrelated note, the gif above of the crazy frog bro looks so much like I did when I was a kid. It’s uncanny!]

Here’s a link to a cool web comic by Toby Morris which sums up this last point well.

Is there anything we forgot? Feel free to comment below and offer your own tips!

Arctic Drones’ tribute to Explosions In The Sky – The Earth Is Not a Cold Dead Place

Explosions In The Sky The Earth Is Not A Cold Dead Place

We are honoured to be included in a piece that David Zeidler has put together to celebrate the thirteenth anniversary of Explosions In The Sky’s seminal third album, The Earth Is Not a Cold Dead Place. Joseph’s snippet features alongside a great many other musicians, designers and writers involved in the wider post-rock scene, all reflecting on the EITS album and how it has influenced them.

The Blaze and the Bloom: Explosions in the Sky’s The Earth Is Not A Cold Dead Place and its Integral Duality

David (who organised the Arctic Drones article) had also teamed up with our own writer CJ Blessum to organise the incredible international post-rock compilation Open Language, released earlier this year.

Thanks to David Zeidler and Arctic Drones for involving Will Not Fade in your work!

Here for a moment… A Tribute To Maybeshewill


Leicester post-rockers Maybeshewill just played their last ever show at KOKO in London, supported by worriedaboutsatan and You Slut! [who reformed especially for the show].

I couldn’t make it. Sadly that means I will never see them play live. It’s understandable, seeing as I live on the opposite side of the world. I honestly think that I will miss the band though.

Like I mentioned in my review of their final albumI discovered Maybeshewill through a sampler attached to Rock Sound magazine. The song had a risqué title, and being a teenage boy, I was terrified that my parents would stumble upon the song that I had ripped to the family computer. I wonder what would have been worse – my mum finding a file named “The Paris Hilton Sex Tape”, or the also rudely named “C.N.T.R.C.K.T” from the same album?

I think Maybeshewill were the band that I joined Bandcamp for, so that I could purchase their live album Live At The Y Theatre. It included a link to download the video of the show, but I never actually downloaded it because the file size was 2 gigabytes, and my bloody flatmates always used up the internet bandwidth allowance, meaning that the download was nigh on impossible on the capped speeds once we had exceeded our limits. I’ll upgrade to unlimited internet someday…

As well as loving the band for their music, I also admire them for their DIY ethic. They started their own record label/collective, Robot Needs Home, to launch their own debut EP. I don’t think they ever anticipated growing to the size they are now.

This blogpost from guitarist John Helps aligned so well with my ideals about authenticity, resourcefulness and community. In the liner notes of Not For Want Of Trying they write “this record was performed, recorded, mixed, and mastered by Maybeshewill at various locations throughout 2007. It cost us nothing. DIY FTW”. They proceed to thank friends and family who helped them with the process, stating that “we owe more to these people than we owe to the bank”, and “this record is as much yours as it is ours”. There seems to be more integrity in any artistic project when it is independently run, because the artist needn’t compromise their values to appease any external figures. I try to run my blog by those principles, and consider my work a success, despite never having spent any money on it.

The band’s final album, Fair Youth, was released just as I started this blog. I enthusiastically reviewed it, and although it was not my best piece of writing (being among my first), it taught me a lot about what it takes to write for a music blog (including don’t let your dad leave comments that people will laugh about on the internet!). I stand by what I wrote back then – it is a good album, and one the band can be proud to leave as a parting gift.

Maybeshewill will always be important to me. They were one of the bands that started me on a journey of discovering post-rock. They showed me that music can be exciting without vocals. They combined electronica, samples and brilliant musicianship. They made brilliant music using an indie model.

To quote one of their song titles : “Our History Will Be What We Make of It”. Maybeshewill made a legacy worth remembering

Joseph James