From the Studio

Music festivals dominate summer concert landscape

Courtesy of Emma Herrera

Emma Herrera, a senior information management and technology major, has been to Shaky Beats Music Festival, Shaky Knees Music Festival, Governor’s Ball, Mad Decent Block Party and Budweiser’s Made in America. She's also attended a music festival in London.

The sun shines through your tent, waking you up right at the crack of dawn. You stretch and wake up your best friend, who groans because like you, they only got three hours of sleep.

There’s commotion on the outside of your tent already while everyone is getting ready for the day — girls picking out their crochet tops and floral headbands, someone popping open a bottle of champagne and making mimosas, someone else blasting music to DJ for the rest of the campers. You are tired and you haven’t showered, yet you are so unbelievably excited for the day. Day three of your favorite music festival.

This common scene can be found at the concert format that dominates every summer: Artists and musicians coming together nationwide in music festivals, bringing people together through a shared love and the universal language of music. In the United States — although it was not the first music festival — the Woodstock Music & Art Fair is one of the most celebrated music festivals of all time, and since then the presence of music festivals in the U.S. has skyrocketed.

Festivals big and small have gained such a large following that, unlike Woodstock, they are not just a one and done deal — they have become annual events. Festival attendees wait all year for the release of their favorite festival’s lineup, although many times the lineup does not even matter and music lovers buy their tickets way in advance.

Recently, some of the biggest music festivals have released their lineups, making Syracuse University festival regulars excited to escape the snowy days of February and enter the summery good vibes of music.

James Togo, a sophomore biochemistry major, is currently writing an essay for class about the progression of music festivals. Togo has been to the Firefly Music Festival for the last three years in Dover, Delaware, and the Moonrise Festival in Baltimore three times as well. He said the two festivals usually have completely different style lineups — Firefly consists of mainly indie rock bands with the occasional rap artists, whereas Moonrise is strictly electronic dance music.

“I think that festival is a great eye-opening experience,” said Togo, on Firefly. “You have to wake up every morning and shower and eat and then pregame for the day of music. I camped next to like 20 of my friends from high school, and we all go every year. So, it’s a community thing.”

Togo also said the accompanying visuals and light shows are “insane and elaborate,” referring to attractions like a giant peacock and a flying saucer with octopus arms.

Alex Waxenbaum, a senior television, radio and film major, has been to his fair share of music festivals and agrees it’s a way for a whole community to come together.

“I love the scene. I love seeing just a massive crowd of people enjoying the music, dancing and having a good time. It’s just great to be part of something bigger than you,” said Waxembaum, who has been to Governors Ball, Panorama Music Festival, Mad Decent Block Party — all in New York City — and FYF Fest in Los Angeles.

Emma Herrera, a senior information management and technology major, has been to Shaky Beats Music Festival and Shaky Knees Music Festival in Atlanta twice, Governor’s Ball once, Mad Decent Block Party twice and Budweiser’s Made in America in Philadelphia once. She also has been to the Wireless Music Festival in London, which she said was unlike any festival she’s ever been to.

For Herrera, the people and the venue really make the festivals special, but she also enjoys picking out specific outfits that she can’t wear anywhere else besides a festival.

“The lineup is definitely a huge component. But I think there’s a couple of other things too,” she said. “… Honestly, probably the number one thing I love. Sometimes I’ll go shopping and be like, ‘this is perfect for a festival.’ It’s kind of like its own genre.”

Although people go back to the same festivals year after year and go to multiple ones per year, they never get bored and keep coming back. They crave the festival atmosphere and eagerly wait until the summertime when they can be in that environment again. Why?

“It’s the freedom to listen to like 30 artists a day versus three,” Togo said. “It’s always a new experience.


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