I don’t want to brag but I saw Beyoncé perform on the mainstage at this year’s Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival. The superstar put on a passionate pop opera that mixed history, family, and politics with lush voals, visceral arrangements, and breathtaking choreography. It was legendary.
I feel lucky I saw her set, especially since I was able to stream it live into my living room. I had front row seats and didn’t have to elbow anybody to get out of my way. My eyes didn’t water from clouds of patchouli oil, and, um, dank kush, and I didn’t choke from the ripe smell that only a few thousand people who hadn’t bathed in a few days can produce. The line to the bathroom was incredibly short. The water was cheap—in fact, it flowed out of my faucet for free. My couch was comfortable. There I was, all alone, gently shouting “woooo” and pumping my fist and I couldn’t have been more happy.
As far as I can tell there are two main seasons: winter and music festival season and winter is now, officially, over. I can tell because I keep seeing announcements for music festivals that everyone I know wants to go to, except for me.
I really want to like music festivals—but I do not like music festivals. These are the kind of paradoxes that make my life both exciting and frustrating. I am not the enemy of fun. I want you to love music festivals if you happen to love them. I mean, I like the idea of dancing to my favorite bands under the moon, but the realities of attending a music festival light up anxieties like a Ferris wheel at night.
Anyway, you are not defined by what other people think of the things that bring you joy. You may not like what brings me joy, like caramelizing onions, or re-watching the first season of The West Wing, and that would be okay. I am not defined by what you think of the things that bring me joy.
To me, at least, music festivals are like paying a premium for a panic attack inside a busy, post-apocalyptic Apple store. First and foremost, there are the crowds. I get sweaty just thinking about large groups of people, especially when those large groups are half-naked, and losing their minds on molly or double shot caramel macchiatos. I went to a festival once and saw a naked man in a headdress spinning fire as hundreds chanted “fire, fire, fire” and I spent the rest of the festival whispering “Nope, nope, nope” to myself.
It’s not that like I don’t want throngs of of people covered in glitter, bumping and grinding. I just prefer to be far, far away from such revels. Preferably, while wearing sweat pants and waiting for a burrito delivery.
I also don’t really love the outside. It’s either too cold or too hot outside. There are bugs there, too. And sand. I have friends who enjoy camping because it connects them to nature but I’m afraid if I were ever to truly try to connect with nature I’d immediately get a “network error” message. I like the inside. The inside is safe and stress-free. The best snacks live inside.
There are so many festivals featuring so much music that I feel guilty not taking advantage of these opportunities. These festivals are so popular I predict, eventually, there will be a music festival that’s nothing but dozens of smaller festivals. A mega-festival. Have fun at the mega-festival, kids! I’m staying home because I am an introvert, like a snail with a necktie. Wisdom is just knowing who you are, and accepting it. I suppose I feel guilty lying to friends about always having a plan whenever they bring up going to see Sensitive Bearded Man open for European DJ, featuring 90s Pop Star. If they’re reading this, now, surprise: I don’t really have plans. Sorry.
My dream music festival is simple: a fancy bus picks me up from my home and after a short drive it lets me off next to tent pitched in a beautiful field and inside the tent is an exact replica of my apartment and there are burritos and a pretty sick Spotify playlist is piped through speakers pumping out beats at a very reasonable volume. Oh, and my dog is there, too. Then we snuggle up, relax, and watch Beyoncé reunite with Destiny’s Child on a flatscreen.
Later, I’ll fire up my Instagram and toss out hearts to all my friends dancing their hearts out at their dream music festivals.