Music Festivals 101 – How Not to Be an Asshole

32 million people attend a music festival in the United States each year. According to some statistics I just made up, about 3.57% of that crowd will be made up of assholes. Some people are assholes by nature, we can’t help or change that, this article isn’t for them. There are some of us are accidental assholes, by being “that guy” or “that girl” you can really put a damper on someone else’s good time.

I’m guilty of being an accidental asshole, my first Bonnaroo I chugged some whiskey from the bed of my friends pick up truck around 11 am, I pushed through a crowd or two and ended up throwing up and falling asleep under a tree.

I apologize to anyone who had to witness and experience that. I was young and stupid, I hope this article will help some of you new festival goers, maybe even some of you veterans get the most out of your festival, without ruining someone else’s good time.


  • Totems – I’m a big fan of totems. They’re a great way to meet new friends, be creative, get a laugh and help with finding lost friends. If you have a totem, please make sure it is a decent length pole. It sucks when you’re standing in a crowd and a low hanging totem is completely blocking the sage. Instead of seeing Father John Misty command the stage, you see Kayne West as a gay fish. If you make a totem hold it high or get a long pole.
  • totem


  • Cell Phones – Like most people I like to snap a few pictures of a show. Totally normal and understandable. Take the phone out maybe 3 times per set, keep it our for 30 seconds, put it away. Please do not Snap Chat the entire set. Please do not take 15 minute long videos with your phone 5 inches above your head. Most people want to watch the music on stage as it unfolds in real time, not through your phone screen.



  • Respect Space – I’m not talking about “safe space” hopefully every inch of a music festival is a safe space. I’m referring to dancing space mixed with your backpack, camel bak, sombrero whatever. When a crowd gets tight you don’t want to be the dude who flips his sombrero onto his back and is constantly poking you in the face with it. I know this is a unique example, but you get the idea.


  • If You Love an Artist and Want a Good Spot, Show up Early – I’m a camper, when I love an artist I like to get a great spot for their set. I have waited for 8+ hours before, slowly making my way up closer and closer to the front. There’s always a handful of people that feel they are entitled to the front of the crowd halfway through the set. Even worse if you just barrel; through the crowd like people don’t exist and all that matters is your view. Don’t be that guy.Event 06 of the Australian V8 Supercar Championship Series


  • Try and Know Your Limits – If you are indulging in some extra curricular stuff at a fest, first off make sure you are testing whatever you are taking, there’s a lot of nonsense that can be very dangerous. Once tested, make sure you are using within your limits. Stay hydrated. Throwing up in a crowd is never a good time either. Be safe guys. You don’t want to pass out from heat exhaustion and dehydration. Disappear from your group for a day and show back up with a medical bracelet on.


  • Talking During a Set – If you’re not into the music and you are more entertained by the conversation with your friends, that’s fine. Don’t form a circle and yell talk to each other during a Jack Johnson set. It’s not the same as talking during a movie, but it’s close. Most people are there to listen tot he band, not about how good Amish Doughnuts are. (P:S They’re amazing)talking


  • Littering annnnnd –Just don’t litter. It’s a lot easier to just drop an empty beer as you run to the next set. It’s not too hard to toss it in a recycling bin. Also, clean up your campsite before you leave. Don’t let the poor volunteers have to clean up your mess. We’re mostly all adults and here together. Please.
  • camp

Most people go to music festivals to have an amazing time. To leave the real world behind and dive into a world filled with music, art and amazing people. The uniqueness of the crowds is something that makes music festivals great. I don’t care if you’re a bro, a hippy, a businessman, a wook, a sweaty raver, a teenager, whatever. Just don’t be an asshole.

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