Agarwal's Guide to Music Festivals
Updated: Apr 2
Image credits: Shreyank Gupta
Based on real-life syllabus
Music Festival Edition
Contains the complete study materials and tears of every festival-goer
Jugaad solutions with additional questions about whether it was even worth it
100% not proven to actually work
Problem 1: Sold out tickets
Your friend’s cousin’s landlord knows the fest organiser, and you’ve told the office intern to let you know as soon as it’s out. The tickets get sold out anyway. In the words of Prateek Kuhad, “If you go, I won’t even know”
Solution: Taking into account the time during which you hover above your keyboard and the limit as infinity, it’s estimated that you can buy your tickets by registering your details with the ticket vendor prior. Open the tab to the ticket link beforehand - the night before even - and refresh only when the sale goes live. Doing it after that will push you down the queue. Use several browsers on the same device, and download an auto-refresh extension if you’d like the page to automatically refresh when the tickets go live.
Problem 2: Dealing with drunk people
Someone's puking to Indian Ocean's “Behne Do”. Even worse, that someone is your friend. The next headlining act is about to take the stage right after, and you don’t want to miss this.
Solution: Hold them up at a 90-degree angle if they’ve not passed out yet and encourage them to drink water. Get them home and asleep as soon as possible. In case it’s someone you know, encourage them to take a PartySafe before drinking. Discuss if the friend plans on getting drunk, and what band you’d like to catch before playing babysitter duties. Usually of course there is no agenda to get drunk, so be with them and stop them before they drink too much. With strangers, be polite enough to help, but make it clear you might not be able to be there every step of the way. Yes, you’re probably going to end up watching a video of the next act anyway. Compassion first, concert later.
Problem 3: Not being able to choose
Two of your favourite bands are playing at the EXACT same time. The stages are at two opposite ends of the ground.
Solution: The whole is greater than the sum of its parts. You could either watch one band’s full performance, or watch half and half of both. The latter requires self-control and not being disappointed about missing that one song you love. Also consider the crowd's response to both. Mild-mannered crowds in front of internationally acclaimed acts can make them not as exciting as the ones up and dancing to the local band.
Problem 4: Bumping into an ex and other folks
Ah, the problems of being in a tightly knit indie music community. Making your ex listen to your favourite band and converting them into a fan ended up being a mistake. Maybe if you hide under a beer bucket and go “Kaun hai tu, hai tu kidhar ka?” they won’t recognise you.
Integration is not that bad after all: merge with the crowd! If it’s a small-ish festival, give a slight smile and a nod from a distance, and let the other person take the initiative. Have a couple of polite questions ready in case you do have to make conversation. Breakaway in between either by arranging a friend to come rescue you, or suddenly remembering that you had food waiting for you, or both - “My friend’s waiting for me by the food stall so I’ll catch you later”.
Problem 5: PDA right in front of you
You’re not quite sure which performance to be watching. The couple is blocking your view of the band, it’s too crowded to look anywhere else. It’s so right up in your line of vision you might as well be a part of their love story. You'd like to scream ‘Let me go passing by’, but not as sweetly as When Chai Met Toast did.
You’re basically in a circle you don’t want to be a part of - chart out a tangential escape plan. If no one lets you move, remind the couple that you’d rather not be a part of this love triangle. Make your presence clear by cheering for the band close to their ears, or innocently interrupting them to ask them where the bathroom is.
Problem 6: Overly priced food and booze
You can’t take food inside, it’s the end of the month and all the food partners at the fest seem to be collecting money for their children’s dahej. Fasting doesn’t help - your stomach is growling more loudly than Godless’ vocalist on stage.
It’s all a matter of calculating opportunity cost, for which you’ll have to do a restaurant scope before you go to a music festival. Check out the closest food joints to the venue online and offline. It may be hard to find one with the new age ones that happen these days in the middle of a forest, of course. Eat as much as you can before the first gig you’re attending, and if water is allowed inside the festival, consider taking lemon flavoured water to keep the energy levels going.
Do you get step marks for trying? Is there a reward for being here? It may be a cliche, but it's true - music festivals, especially indie music festivals, are their own reward.