If you are reading this you are too late. You should already be gone. You should have said to yourself — Screw it! Go up Thursday night. Forget about being older and wiser and more cautious and tired and objecting to all these kids rainy day fashions and the polite way they smoke their tobaccos in the neck pouches while they trudge along in the mud and muck and rain and gloop next to 10000 other kids who want to see Soil & Pimp Sessions at the Field of Heaven Stage. You should beat the rush and get there early and spend the much underrated Thursday night seeing and talking to some of the artists who arrive early (I bet DJ Shadow is already planning a secret set with Shugo Tokumaru), enjoying the more relaxing state of events and maybe even getting backstage access for beers and photos & interviews…plus you can set up your tent super quick and close to showers, toilets and the exit so as to get in and out like a spy boss without having to walk for 20 minutes in the drunken rain to get to your slanted downhill excuse for a tent.
Tips For Polite Punks to Party Down at Summer Festivals
As for the equipment you definitely want a sleeping bag and a tent (the air mattress would be nice, but if you’re exposed to the myriad mists and mucks, would it make you feel all that much better to have a cushion? Plus you will be sleeping on a golf course, so it’s pretty grassy and comfortable…), although I myself opted for a hammock and a tarp which worked well enough once I stole a few trees from some greedy campground usurpers (you know how they lay out their tarps for Hanami, which as a placemarker meaning “This is mine”?, well, imagine that for the entire putting green and fairway and even the super-uncomfortably-angled rough, which is where you will end up by the time you get there on Friday afternoon? In the evening. Because how long do you think it will take to drive along the one road (along with everyone else) that goes to this podunk backwater to find outrageously expensive parking, unload, schlep your shite in mind-bogglingly bovine-like fashion, then go and check in and get your various colored wristbands (coveting the guys next to you who pulled up in a golf cart to get their rainbow passes) and then pass through the gate, retrieving your recycle bag, only to trudge up through the gravel to eventually find a spot right when the major headliners for Friday have already begun getting soused enough to play this largest of Asian festivals (before or after they head to South Korea for the Jisan Valley Rock Festival…) for the outrageous pile of yen Smash has promised them…? A loooong time…Do yourself a favor and benefit from whatever wisdom you’ve picked up traveling in all these far flung locales, give yourself the luxury of time.
As for boots, I would think of trudging for three days around in heavy hiking boots and consider buying a pair of very light & very cheap rubber rain boots. And if you don’t have $75 for a pair of Outdoor Research’s excellent wind and light rain resistant Ferrosi Pants, then go for cargo shorts. Its form over function at the rainiest festival in the world. Speaking of which, plan on wrapping your camera in some kind of plastic (your local electronics behemoth has something to this effect…) and having an easily accessible backpack that lets you move well in a throng of mostly wet and feline people and is not overly heavy on the back and shoulders…a must but mostly, bring Snacks (and a flask)! This is the best part of hitchhiking/festivaling: sharing food and drink with your new friends. Plus the food there is likely quite expensive and not all that great or plentiful…I made a bunch of tasty onigiri before my last road trip up and they lasted me for a day or two…
Once the shock of Friday wears off and the latenight club scene begins to groove at the Crystal Palace, the protectiveness of Saturday will guide you to explore the outer reaches. Grab a Dragondola and head up to the Day Dreaming & Silent Breeze–it’s the closest you’ll get to blue skies and the light should be fantastic. I have always wanted to hide out past the last gondola down and party with a group of like-minded stow-aways at the forbidden top, yet the likelihood of gale force winds driving in soaking summer rains in the black and lonely night while revelers danced the night away below always kept me close to the beer stand.