summer concert survival prepping primer

Sasquatch Music Festival, George, WA

Well, we’ve entered into May which means that the summer musical festival season is upon us! Woooo!!!! (enter rock-out hand symbol here) Here in the Pacific Northwest our lineup usually begins Memorial Day weekend at the Gorge, with the Sasquatch music festival and ends Labor Day weekend in Seattle at Bumbershoot. In between, there’s always No Depression, Lilith Fair, Pickathon and a whole slew of other festivals for you to get your music on. While some music festivals are just a big one day affair that calls for throwing some extra sunscreen or batteries in your bag, some music festivals like Sasquatch, require an arsenal of camping gear and survival tactics to make it thorough the days with money in your pocket and stories of the awesome bands you saw for the way home. For those weekend long music festivals, it takes a pretty hard core concert goer to leave your tent at 11am, with a fully stocked day pack on the back and not return till the last band puts away their guitars. These folks need to be hearty, they need to be able to withstanding hail, rain, flesh searing sun, lack of water, lack of cheap booze, and lack of cheap food. In order to make it, there is proper prepping that needs to occur. Let this, my friends... be your concert survival prepping primer so that you’re ready to rock out.

A plan:

Before you ever get to the site, talk with your buddies and discuss what bands or shows people want to see. Get a schedule and plan out your days. Pick a few “must sees”, “i’d like to see”, and “that band name is too ridiculous to be a real band name, name - let’s go see them” sets. It’s best to have a basic plan laid out, but don’t schedule yourself for so many things that you miss the “best band you never heard of” and wouldn’t have heard of until you decided it just wasn’t worth running across green to catch the last five minutes of the Cold War Kids.

Get there early:

If it’s a festival where you’re going to be camping, the earliest you get there and get your tent and site set up, not only are you going to have first pick of the good places, but you’re also going to be closer to the gates and get to see the first bands on. While you may not think that getting to see the first bands sound very appealing, I almost missed seeing one of my favorite performers, the Fleet Foxes, the other year since they were the first on and it took longer than we expected to walk to the music site.


When you do get your site set up, make sure you do things like look for “landmarks” or rows or fences that you can use to guide yourself back to your tent when it’s midnight, you’re drunk, and the amount of “campers” (who are all walking back to their site at the same time as you) has multiplied by 10,000.


Chances are you are going to have neighbors at your camp site who want to party a lot later than you do. Invest in being a heavy sleeper or plugging your ears up. Most likely you’d rather use your energy to stay standing in the crowd waiting for your favorite band than listen to drunk people talk about putting explosives in the pot-a-pot (though that can be rather amusing.)

Sturdy medium sized backpack:

While reusable grocery bags are handy, you’re gonna get tired of lugging that thing around by 3pm. As well, it’s not going to fare too well if it gets stepped on while rocking out to the Black Eyed Peas. On the same note, while trendy shoulder bags are cute, this is about survival. Find a good canvas pack that could take a kicking and a rain storm with durable straps and some pockets (you’re gonna want to hide some stuff there).

Reusable water bottle:

Staying hydrated is very important at these things as it’s gonna be the one thing that helps you get through the day to see your favorite band headline. Use a reusable bottle to top off at the bathrooms or water fountains. Not only is BYOB it more environmentally friendly, but it beats paying $2 for bottled water. And... security will check these at the gate so make sure they are empty.

pack chair:

Most of the time actual lawn or camping chairs are not allowed at music venues... so, pretend like you’re at summer camp again and dig out your situpon. I’ve always been a fan of the easily packable crazy creeks.


(worst case scenario, use a boot. No Depression Festival, Seattle, WA)

durable blanket:

Similar to these, you’re gonna want a nice durable blanket for the lawn. They’re good for sitting on and claiming and reserving your proper space amongst the people, but... just don’t grab your mom’s heirloom quilt her great great grandmother made, she’s not going to be happy when you explain why it smells like beer and mustard.


Don’t laugh, I’ve found that whatever you’re trying to sneak into a music venue that isn’t allowed (your flask, your camera) you’re going to fare better in the bag search if you bury that item under tampons. Everyone tries to conceal stuff in a spare coat, which security will easily shake and feel out; however, all but the most anal guards will see the tampons and most likely not dig any further. As well, if you happen to be verging on that time of the month, you’ll be happy to have a stash at the ready. If not, you might make a new friend in need.

some extra toliet paper or napkins:

You don’t want to left empty handed in the port-a-pot

flask (liquor):

Good drinks are expensive at venues. Bring your own favorite and hide it in the bottom of your pack under some tampons or a secret stash pocket. Once inside the venue, mix it in with some soda or drink straight up. Cheaper than buying your booze there. Remember to hydrate though and drink some water for every alcoholic drink.

pita bread & peanut butter & ziploc bags:

The pita is good for making sandwiches and won’t crush like a loaf of bread and the peanut butter is nutritious and delicious. I recommend doing something simple like this for your lunches since not only do you not want to spend an arm and a leg on greasy and expensive concert food, but this means that you also don’t have to schedule “waiting in line for food” into your day. Make them before you need them so you can just reach into your pack and eat. As well, while you’re watching the Yeah Yeah Yeahs do their thing, you’re not going to be tempted to run to the pretzel stand and lose your place. Also... its a good idea to stick with food you and your belly are comfortable with, which is another reason to avoid greasy vendor food. A port-a-pot on a hot sunny warm day is no place that you want to have an unhappy stomach. Hide food under your tampons.

snack bars: lara, luna, naked (fruit bars)

While bringing in outside food is a no-no, usually if you tell them you’re a diabetic they won’t press the issue. Just in case though, hide them under the tampons.


tent repairs, sandwhich making

garbage bag or poncho:

For covering your pack when it’s a downpour on the lawn.


Make sure you bring w/ extra memory cards and batteries. Most venues are cool with cameras as long as they don’t have detachable lenses (SLR). So, unless you have a press pass... leave that SLR at home and work it with a point and shoot.

(try finding your friends in the middle of this. Bumbershoot, Seattle, WA)

fully charged cell phone:

For a one day concert where you are meeting friends and going to different shows... this is a must. For several day long ventures, I’d recommend bringing your phone but leaving it off unless you’re planning on meeting and communicating with people or have a way to charge it from your car at the end of the day.

a stash of cash:

Even though you’ve probably shelled out more than enough already for your ticket in the first place, keep an extra bit of cash tucked away in a safe place in a pocket on your pants in case your wallet gets stolen.

sunglasses / hat:

It’s hard enough to see Prince as it is, looking into the sun shouldn’t make it more difficult.


Bring extra and slather often. Remind your friends too.

Hand sanitizer / wet wipes:

Do you know how many hands have touched that port-a-pot handle? Ugh, gross.

How to Dress:

Layer people!!! At most festivals it can easily be 100 degrees in the day and then near freezing at night with the chance of thunderstorms in between. Basically, I’m always a fan of using a tank top as a base and then adding a fleece or sweater and packing a raincoat or windbreaker in the pack as well.

Decent sandals:

No one wants to get their toes crushed at the mosh pit or lose their flip flop in the mud. Everyone seems to really love t heir chaco, keen, or teva sandals for these reasons. They let your feet breathe and also offer a ridiculous amount of support at the same time. Just don’t forget to put sunscreen on your feet too... Chaco tan lines are not that attractive.

Sense of humor and adventure:

I mean, you're out there to have a good time and see some of your favorite bands. Plus, you're most likely surrounded by people who like the same music you do! Relax, meet new friends and enjoy the show!

Comments (0)

+ 0
+ 0