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Music Festival Memories

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Me above the crowd at Coachella^^^

I’m going “off-brand” today, and sharing with you guys my memories from all of my music festival experiences. I’ve been wanting to write this post for a while now, as music festivals, and music in general, have played a HUGE role in my life for the past 8 years.

It all started in college, back in the year 2012. My 4 years spent in college (2010 – 2014), was the same time that Electronic Dance Music (EDM) burst in to the college scene AND mainstream culture. Slowly, frat parties began to drift away from the sounds of ‘Lil Wayne and Nelly, to The Chainsmokers and Zedd. The headliners for Little 5 (Indiana University’s annual bike race/week-long party), shifted from Nicki Minaj and Wiz Khalifa to Afrojack and Avicii. Side note: Avicii headlined Little 5 my sophomore year, when he was on the verge of becoming insanely popular. It would be another year before I experienced my first EDM show, but I’ll never forget how insane the hype was for him to come to campus. In all 4 years at school, this was by far the most talked-about show, and for years after. If I can think of only one song that defined my college experience, it would be “Levels” by Avicii. Take a unanimous poll from everyone else in my grade – I guarantee they would all agree. I’ll never forget sophomore year of college, at the Homecoming tailgate. Blasting “Levels” over and over again, while everyone jumped around in the mud until we were out of breath. Avicii’s legacy lives on for me on a personal level through these memories.

Speed up to 2012, fall of my junior year. My friend convinced me to go with her to a Big Gigantic show. Up until then, I had gotten in to EDM music, but like everyone else, it was a totally new thing for me. I’ll never forget that show, in the middle of the tailgate fields on campus, across from the football stadium. The lights, the mesmerizing sounds of Dominic on the saxophone, the amazing people I met at that show, who I still keep in touch with, to this day.

From then on, I was hooked. I never missed an EDM show on campus for the next 2 years. And trust me, there was a lot of shows – Skrillex, who played for a crowed of no more than 100 people at a dive bar. Who ended up crowd surfing at the end of his show. Or internationally acclaimed Markus Schulz, who played at that same bar my senior year (and was the best show I saw during my college years). Or Borgeous, where hundreds of us gathered in a barn 30 minutes outside town. I’ll never forget how hot it was in there. When you walked out, you could literally see the steam seeping through the entrance.

It wasn’t until after I had graduated that I attended my first festival. It was Spring Awakening in Chicago, 2014. For the next three years that I spent in Chicago, truly, my best memories were spent at music festivals/shows, surrounded by the people I loved, and who loved the music right along with me. I was lucky enough to have a large, amazing group of friends in Chicago, who all were into festivals and shows just as much as I was. We hardly ever missed an EDM show at The Aragon Ballroom, and every summer was spent attending each and every EDM festival – Spring Awakening, Mamby on the Beach, Lollapalooza, North Coast and Freaky Deaky. And when we went to these shows, we were DEEP. I’m talking a group of 20, or sometimes more. I can’t say enough how lucky I was to be surrounded by these people, in that city, enjoying good music and making the greatest memories. When I think about it long enough, I’m sooo nostalgic, and miss these people. It’s the weirdest feeling, knowing those days are over. That our group is split up now. Never again will we attend another festival, all together. We all have gone our own ways, as we have grown older, in to our twenties. But those memories are what I will keep with me forever, and carry with me everywhere I go.

My music festivals weren’t limited to just Chicago. I did my fair share of traveling to festivals as well. In one year, I had gone to Spring Awakening, Electric Daisy Carnival Las Vegas (EDCLV), Lollapalooza, Coachella AND Electric Forest (where I camped out for SIX DAYS). Since not all of these festivals are strictly EDM music, this was around the time that I discovered jam bands (which led to my love of The Grateful Dead, which spiraled in to my love of all things 60’s & 70’s rock ‘n’n roll). I saw The String Cheese Incident 5 times in one month – 3 times at Electric Forest, then 2 more times at Red Rocks in Denver, a few weeks later. That’s the thing I love about music festivals. If you let yourself wander around, through the different stages for a little while, you can stumble upon your next favorite artist, or musical genre.

I love the sound of jam bands. I call it happy music. I truly believe the artists of jam bands are the most musically talented of anyone else out there. They way they can play live for hours on end, flowing through each individual song, but making you feel like you’ve just listened to one continuous song, for 3 hours. The way they let you get lost in the sounds of the music, but then bring you right back to reality with their harmonious vocals. I just can’t say enough about jam bands. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, go look up The Grateful Dead, String Cheese Incident or Umphrey’s McGee, for your listening pleasure.

Each and every festival I’ve gone to is uniquely different. If you’re extremely into EDM, you can’t miss EDCLV. In the middle of the Vegas desert, this festival is for 3 nights, from sunset to sunrise. The displays are like nothing you have ever seen, or will see again, at any other festival. I met the most amazing group of humans at this festival, who I continue friendships with to this day. Spring Awakening is the greatest EDM festival in the Midwest. The fact that it’s in Chicago, the birthplace of Kaskade and House music, gives this festival a little more meaning for me. Also, the Chicago rave crowd is what I know – it’s home to me.

If you ask me the one festival you MUST experience at least once in your lifetime, it’s definitely Electric Forest. By far the most magical festival I’ve ever been to, and the greatest festival memories of my life were made here. This festival is the most authentic “festival” experience you will ever have. It’s main focus is EDM and jam band music, so there’s something for everyone, musically. It’s literally set up in a forest in Michigan, and when I tell you I felt like I was transported to a different world the moment I stepped on to the forest grounds, I could not be more serious. You could get lost (in a good way), wandering through the forest, experiencing all the live displays, music and art that this festival offers. I promise, you not leave The Forest the same way you came in (for the better).

I love most EDM (excluding trap music), but my faves are Trance and Deep House, and my fave DJ’s are Above & Beyond and Porter Robinson. There is something so mesmerizing about trance music. When you see it live, with the lights and angelic vocals, it takes you to a state of total bliss and ecstasy. Literally, you’re put in a musical trance for about 5 or 6 hours. And I could listen to the 4/4 beats of deep house literally all night (and I have). I can’t think of anything better.

If you’re reading this and have never experienced a music festival, you probably think I’m crazy, or at the very least, over dramatic. But hear me when I say, the experiences you will walk away with after just one festival are ones you will carry with you for the rest of your life. The people I’ve met, the music I’ve discovered, and even the outrageous outfits I’ve worn, are what I will be sharing with my kids and grandkids one day. For all you who have been to a festival or two, you know what I’m talking about. Although I’ve slown down my festival-goings the past 2 years, you’ll still be able to catch me at one or two in the near future (ACL, for one).

And there you have it. A piece of me and a piece of my life that has, in a way, defined who I am. And although times have changed, priorities in my life have changed, and I’ve grown up just a little, the feelings and love I experienced from the music will stay with me forever. One of these days, I’ll make my ultimate EDM and Jam Band playlists to share with you guys – stay tuned.

Mamby on the Beach

The first EDM show I ever went to – Big Gigantic

Mamby on the Beach

Little 5 show in college – cam’t remember who we saw…

Lollapalooza

Spring Awakening

Lollapalooza

Spring Awakening

Lollapalooza

Spring Awakening

Lollapalooza

Spring Awakening w/ my Festy Besty

Me & Kaskade – Chicago

Afrojack @ Navy Pier for 4th of July

North Coast

Afrojack @ Navy Pier for 4th of July

North Coast

North Coast… duh

North Coast

North Coast

North Coast

North Coast

North Coast

Adventure Club at the Aragon Ballroom, New Year’s Eve

Freaky Deaky, Halloween

North Coast

Freaky Deaky

Lollapalooza

Coachella

Adventure Club at the Aragon Ballroom, New Year’s Eve

Coachella

Arfojack @ Navy Pier, 4th of July

Coachella… obvi

Afrojack @ Navy Pier, 4th of July

Coachella

Dillon Francis at The Aragon Ballroom

Coachella

Electric Daisy Carnival, Las Vegas

Coachella

Electric Daisy Carnival, Las Vegas

Spring Awakening

Electric Daisy Carnival, Las Vegas

 

Spring Awakening

Electric Daisy Carnival, Las Vegas

Spring Awakening

Electric Daisy Carnival, Las Vegas

Electric Forest

Electric Daisy Carnival, Las Vegas

Electric Forest

Electric Daisy Carnival, Las Vegas

Electric Forest

Electric Daisy Carnival, Las Vegas

Electric Forest

Mamby on the Beach

Electric Forest

Freaky Deaky

Electric Forest

The Chainsmokers at The Aragon Ballroom

View from Electric Forest

North Coast

Electric Forest

Freaky Deaky

Electric Forest

The String Cheese Incident at Red Rocks

The String Cheese Incident at Red Rocks

The String Cheese Incident at Red Rocks

 

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  • […] I Wore.” It will feature any and all outfits I wear to music festivals. If you guys saw my Music Festival Memories post, you learned how passionate I am about my festivals, and music in general. Music festivals are […]

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