More than Madness – The Festival Manifesto.

There’s a certain kind of girl I love looking at, and coming from my particularly homosexual brain, that means a lot. She’s tall, maybe a little too skinny on account of her choice of nicotine over food, she’s dressed in bright colours which don’t cling to her skin in the traditional places, she has the armbands from three music festivals still wound around her wrist, and she’s smiling at me, from the other side of the mess of peroxide-infused hair that blocks her eyeliner.

She’s the kind of girl you wish you knew when you were fifteen and that you still can’t believe is finally a constant part of your reality. Because what she represents is the culture-set you longed to be a part of. And now, because she’s smiling at you, and asking you if you’ve got your Daisies ticket yet, you know that somehow you managed to become the person you wanted to be.

But, you don’t say it in so many words. That would be awkward because, right now, you’re sandwiched between friends in the backseat of a car headed to the music festival you’ve been looking forward to for months; the place where you’ll be surrounded by people having the best time of their lives and who’ve also wanted to get there as badly as you have.

And that’s why music festivals are important – because they are the peak of everything. It’s a space that’s built around the kids who grew up on the music, the ones who wished they could already have been there when they were 15, and now that they’re 21 and they’ve finally made it to the campsite (with money they somehow scraped together) they’re the happiest they’ve ever been.

See, festival culture is about more than just a 3-day bout of hedonism. The real picture is this:

She’s barefoot in the mud and the band that she’s been dying to see is on stage – she’s enjoying the shit out of their set. Her eyes are shut and her hands are up in the air – her time is the present and nothing else because, for once, she’s free of any worry about the demands placed upon her.

She’s just being.

And, because of that, the space becomes heaven, because everyone in it is happy with exactly where they are and what they’re doing there. And that’s something that I feel deserves attention, and it needs to be respected and seen for what it is. Because I’m one of those kids and music has always been a part of my life. It’s my continuous thread; my default setting.

See, when I walk into a music store, I’m with all my best friends (Thanks, Penny Lane) I’m with the friend who was there when I was crying my eyes out. I’m there with the kid who was there when I just wanted to have a good time. I’m there with the friend who was there because I needed to learn a massive lesson.

And I think that when you hear something and you relate to it so strongly and then eventually you see the person responsible for thousands of those secret epiphanies, then that’s what we need to be writing down because it’s the truest stuff.

So, yeah, I’m a fan. A massive one. And, I’ll be at Rocking the Daisies and Oppikoppi and Splashy Fen and Jungala and Vortex and Synergy and whatever other festival tickets I can get my hands onto this year, because I want to write about it.

I want to write about the kids having the best time of their lives.

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