What It's Like Going To Country Thunder For The First Time

My First Time At Country Thunder Left Me With Priceless Memories And Sore Feet

My feet hurt for two solid days after from all the walking in those cowgirl boots.

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Most people are surprised when they learn that I like country music. I say to them, I don't just like country music, I LOVE IT! I'll take country music over hip-hop or rap any day of the week. Being a woman of color, it's not hard to see why some people find it so hard to believe that I love country music. To be completely honest I don't know where I got this love of country music from. My mom always listened to rock or pop when I was growing up. My dad listened to rap and reggae almost religiously. And my brother was a mix of both. Then there was me listening to country music, and even my family members were shocked. I remember when I told my dad I was going to a Sam Hunt concert and told him that he was a country artist. The look on his face was priceless.

I had been wanting to go to Country Thunder for a couple of years now, but with school and a tight budget, it was always hard to make it so I could go. This year I was determined to go at least one of the days since the festival lasts four days. The next struggle was finding someone to go with me. I knew of a bunch of my former classmates in high school who had gone previous years and were most likely going again, this issue was, I never really talked to them only saw their posts on social media and thought it would be weird if I out of the blue asked them to go with me to Country Thunder.

Then I asked my best friend Alyssa, and it was an immediate yes. We both agreed that we could only afford going one day of the festival so we had to decide which headliner we both really wanted to see. In our top two choices we both had Dierks Bentley, so that is who we bought tickets for.

Flash forward to the weekend of Country Thunder, I had a work meeting in the morning, a scholarship lunch in the early afternoon, and Country Thunder to follow. The plan was for Alyssa and me to drive out to Florence, park relatively close to the venue and Uber or Lyft inside. It sounds like a simple plan, right? Wrong! We parked a mile and a half away from the venue. It took us an hour and a half to get a Lyft inside the venue.

Thank you, Karen, for being a hilarious Lyft driver.

She was an older lady who first drove someone to Mesa to the venue and stayed out there for several hours making her rounds, We were her last ride of the day. The reason why it took so long for us to get a ride inside is that it took forever for the drivers to get out of the venue. There is one rode in and the same rode out of the venue. Each direction there were cars were bumper to bumper until a police car zoomed passed causing everyone to drive as far on the side of the rode that they could until they were almost in a ditch. There were several Uber drivers who canceled our ride because they knew they were going to take forever to get out. Alyssa and I both had ride share apps up to try and get a ride. It was crazy, but we finally got in.

Once we were at the venue, we had the best time. We met so many nice people, bought shirts to commemorate the occasion and then found a place to watch the show. We ended up taking a photo with the duo High Valley, which I regret to say I had never heard of prior to that day. But when you're given the chance to take a photo with a singer(s), you take the opportunity. We also took the opportunity to take a photo with a guy whose butt was sticking out of his shorts.

(He was also wearing a shirt that read "Cowboy Butts Drive Me Nuts," so you know, it made sense.)

Brothers Osborne played before Dierks Bentley and wow did they command the stage. Every other song I knew and belted out along with them. It was so fun having everyone around you enjoying the same music and just having a good time. Most of us anyways had a good time anyways. Others around us got too drunk and acted aggressively towards simple situations that didn't need to escalate.

Once Dierks Bentley came on stage it was a completely different feel. He is an Arizona native, so you could easily tell the people who were actually from Arizona and how prideful they were with that fact. Dierks even told the crowd how before the show, he took a private jet from his home in Nashville out to Paradise Valley where his mom lives. Everyone in the crowd, even the big burly guy in front of me said "awwwww." It was a touching sentiment that we all appreciated to hear. Alyssa and I stayed until about 11 pm and we started to head out and find our way back to her car. We thought it was going to be an easy way out since we were leaving early. We were wrong.

It took us an hour and a half to get to the venue and it took us the same amount of time to realize we weren't getting out by Lyft, Uber, or taxi. We hitched a ride with to other people in a taxi to the entrance of the venue, but then they were going in the opposite direction that we were so the taxi driver told us to get out. We tried to get an Uber or Lyft again and both apps said there were no cars available in the area, which in reality was a lie. They were coming to the venue, but they were already booked for a ride. We were left stranded with only one option; we had to walk to the car. It was supposed to be a 30-minute walk back to the car. Mind you, we were wearing tank tops and shorts and it was below 60 degrees outside. We were miserable, to say the least. Ten minutes into our walk and a cop car approaching us in the opposite direction that we were walking stops us on a bridge. Of course, our first thought is "well shoot, please don't give us a ticket for jaywalking."

To our relief, the male officer offered to ride us off the bridge. We then told him where our car was located and he took us the rest of the way there. While in the back of the cop car, I look over at Alyssa and say, "this better be our first and only time in a cop car." The police officer overheard me and said, "Well at least it's on good circumstances." When we got to where our car was, I tried opening the door, completely forgetting I was in a cop car and had to wait for the officer to open the door. In short, Alyssa and I learned that day that we will be paying for parking the next time we go to Country Thunder. All in all, we both had a great night.

P.S. my feet hurt for two solid days after from all the walking in those cowgirl boots.

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25 Helpful Tips To Survive Any General Admission Concert

The smaller the show, the better. Trust me.
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Live music is something we should all experience in our lifetimes, however, general admission shows can admittedly be a bit daunting. Whether you're a seasoned concert goer or a first timer, I'm sure some of these tips could help make your experience more enjoyable, or frankly, survivable. Let's face it, it gets a little scary in the pit sometimes....


Before the show (day of):


1. If you plan on being front row for your favorite band at a GA show, show up a few hours early to sit outside the venue.

This tactic is so much easier than having to wiggle your way to the front in a very territorial crowd. If you want front row, you're going to have to earn it, and that means sitting down on a cold patch of concrete for hours at a time. You will even meet some cool fans who are just as dedicated as you, and who knows, you may make a friend or two.


2. Always bring a printed copy of your ticket, just in case.

Most venues will accept electronic tickets from your phone, but some venues do not. It's always good to print out a copy of your ticket or check with the venue beforehand to ensure your e-ticket will suffice. Many venues have Twitter pages and will answer quickly if you wish to ask.


3. Never assume you can buy tickets at the door.

You may be able to get away with last minute ticket shopping for smaller shows, but for the most part, it's best to buy ahead as to minimize your panic on the day of the show.


4. Buy your tickets as far in advance as possible.

Most general admission shows are super cheap if you buy tickets as soon as they are released. However, if you put it off, a $20 show can easily become a $100 show. Keep up with your favorite band's tour dates and set reminders to buy tickets as soon as they go on sale to save some money. Beware of ticket resellers, as they will rip you off with zero shame and mercy.


5. Do not be afraid to attend a show by yourself if you are unable to find someone to come with you.

It's happened to all of us. Our concert buddy has to work on the day of a highly anticipated show and despite asking everyone we know, no one can tag along, so we stay home and drown our sorrows in cookie dough ice cream instead. But that is no longer okay. Attending a show by ourselves may seem daunting, unexciting, and let's face it, we don't want to be dubbed a loser. But I'm here to tell you, none of that will happen. Odds are, you're not going to be the only one riding solo at the show and no one will know if you're alone or with a pack of friends anyway. This may even be an opportunity to make new friends and branch out.


6. Make sure to pack a few water bottles for after the show, and if it's a summer show, bring a cooler.

Trust me, as soon as you leave the show, you're going to be dying for a bottle of ice cold water so make sure you have a bottle or two in the car. It will be your savior.


7. Eat a complete meal before the show.

Shows can be expend a lot of energy, so it's always a good idea to come to a show on a relatively full stomach. The last thing you want to happen is pass out a show because you didn't eat or drink beforehand.


8. Dress comfortably and forget about being cute.

Indoor general admissions shows can get a little sweaty, especially if you find yourself squished between a bunch of people. You're going to regret wearing your heeled booties after two hours of standing (trust me, i've been there, done that). You may leave the house looking cute, but odds are, you're going to look every bit of a sweaty disaster post-show.


9. If you're going to wear make-up, make sure it's waterproof.

During the show, you will have water poured on your face by security guards, you will sweat more than you ever have in your whole life, and there may even be a tear or two. Unless you want to have crazy mascara streaks and eyeliner on your nose, you should probably wear waterproof make-up. Then again, no one is going to judge you for your post-show appearance, because odds are, they're not going to be looking too hot themselves. Embrace your ugly and rock out.


10. Wear your hair up.

During the show your hair will likely be pulled, grabbed, and touched by the people in front of you. It's also super annoying to get a face-full of hair at a show, so to make everyone happy, it's a good idea to throw your hair into a high pony and call it a day.


11. Don't, I repeat, DON'T wear a a hoodie or jacket to a show.

Most venues are poorly air-conditioned, and when you throw a million lights and a room full of people into the mix, shows can get pretty hot. The hoodie may have seemed like a good idea going into the show, but five minutes in, you're going to be resenting that hoodie and every life decision you've ever made up to that point. Some venues will have coat-check, but they can get pretty expensive and why risk precious time checking in your coat when you can be rushing to the stage instead? I always try to dress as cooly as I can, despite the weather outside. You can always bring a flannel or light sweater to wrap around your waist when you get warm.


12. Bring in as little as you can to a show and leave the valuables in the car, if at possible.

If you absolutely need to bring things into the venue (phone, medication, merch/beer money, keys, etc.), it's a good idea to bring a small purse or fanny-pack (which are so in style right now) to the show. Don't haul your entire purse to the show because I guarantee you're going to regret lugging it around real quick. And to minimize lost or damaged items, it's best to keep your most beloved items locked safely in the car. Crowds can get pretty rowdy and it's not uncommon to have something broken.


13. To my fellow glasses-wearers: if at all possible, either ditch the glasses for the night or wear contacts.

It's going to rough, but if you can do it, you will not regret it. As mentioned above, crowds get super rowdy, and when you throw in all the crowd surfers who will inevitably kick you or fall on you, there are plenty of chances for your glasses to fall off or be broken. Trust me, I've had two separate pairs of prescription glasses broken beyond repair at shows, and i've seen it happen plenty of other times as well. One semi-blurry night is far better than having to pay for glasses repairs or replacements in the future. Trust me on this one, guys.


During the show:


14. Stay hydrated. Stay hydrated. Stay hydrated.

This is an important one. Whether it's an outdoor concert in the middle of summer or an indoor general admission show, it's going to get hot, you're going to sweat, and you will become dehydrated pretty quickly if you don't make an effort to stay hydrated. If you're close to the stage/barricade, you may get likely and have guards pouring water into your mouth between songs. If not, you may have to cough up five bucks for a bottle. You don't want to pass out or be the one puking into a bucket by the entrance, so drink plenty of water during any show-- especially if you plan on consuming alcohol.


15. Don't over do it and know your limit.

Being front row for a show is an incredible experience. Not only can you hear the music better, but you'll be able to see every sweat droplet on your favorite band member's forehead. However, it can take a lot out of a person. If you feel like things are getting too out of control and you need out, don't be afraid to retreat to side stage or further back where its safer. Enjoying the show is ultimately far better than being front row in the grand scheme of things.


16. If you enjoy mosh-pits, crowd-surfing and the constant push and pull of the crowd, front center stage is your friend.

This part of the show can be really exciting, but it definitely is not for everyone. Between people charging at you, arms and fists flailing, and crowd surfers slammed onto your head as they make their way to the stage, front center stage can get pretty scary and it isn't recommended for first time concert-goers. Of course, this differs from show-to-show and genre-to-genre, but generally speaking, only stand center stage if you're prepared for mass chaos. Also, the middle of the crowd can be pretty dangerous too, as you will find yourself both pushed forward by the people in front of you, and simultaneously pushed backward by the people in front of you.


17. But if you prefer simply enjoying the show in a calm and peaceful manner, side stage or farther back is for you.

Side stage is always a good bet, since you will still have a pretty good view, will be close to the stage, and will almost certainly avoid the chaos and crowd-surfers.


18. Look out for crowd-surfers and protect your head from stray kicks or drops.

While crowd surfers certainly make things a bit more energetic, they come at a price. Always pay attention to what is going on around you, or simply look at the guard's reactions to avoid a kick to the head or neck. Pass along the surfer when you can, or if it's too late, protect your head by ducking and covering it. Concussions are common at music festivals and general admission shows so try to prevent one at all costs. Again, majority of your crowd-surfer interactions will be center stage, so if the prospect of holding up a sweaty human does not sound very appealing to you, side stage is for you. Side note: if you're wearing heeled shows, please do your fellow concert-goers a favor and don't crowd surf. There is nothing worse than being stabbed in the head by someone's heel.


19. Talk to the people around you. Don't be shy.

Get to know the people around you before the show or between bands. You meet some pretty cool people this way and it's definitely worth engaging in small talk with them, even if it's to help make the time go by faster.


20. Always show up and listen to the opening bands.

I get it, you're here for the headliner, but don't dismiss the opening bands too soon. They're probably pretty similar in musical style to the band or artist you're there for, so the chances that you'll enjoy them are pretty high. I've been introduced to some of my favorite bands through opening acts, and there's even been shows where the opening band was better than the actual headliner. Opening bands deserve your time and attention just as much as the headliner, and just because they don't have an entire tour named after them, doesn't mean their music isn't good.


21. Take as many videos and pictures as you want, who cares what anyone has to say.

If you want to take a few videos or pictures to commemorate the night, by all means, go crazy(ish). Don't apologize for your absurdly long Snapchat story or the million pictures of your favorite band member either. Maybe not record the entire concert, but a few vids here and there are perfectly OK.


22. When a band tells you to jump, move, clap, or sing-along, YOU DO IT.

Shout out your favorite lyrics. Make the floor move beneath your feet. Dance like no is watching. Just go crazy.


23. Do not be embarrassed to let loose.

No one, absolutely no one, is judging your terrible singing or wacky dance moves so don't be afraid to go a little crazy. You're going to have a much better time this way than if you stand there, stiff as a bored, conscious of scrutiny and judgment. Trust me, everyone's focus is on the band so know is going to notice if you break out into the running man mid-song.



After the show:

24. Go crazy at the merch table.

Hopefully you brought the rest of your life savings with you, because you're going to need it. Whether you want to represent your favorite band or show them a little love, the merch table is something you should not avoid, unless you know, you're totally broke.


25. Go home, rehydrate, reminisce over the wonderful night you had and get ready for your next show.

If you're like me, you never give post-concert-depression the time to fester and develop because just as one show has ended, you're preparing for a next.

Cover Image Credit: Tumblr

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Spring Awakening Is Back And Brand New, Baby — Here's What You Need To Know

Changes are here and for the better!

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Spring Awakening has become one of the most popular music festivals, attracting numerous goers every year with its incredible music and fun atmosphere. This year, after multiple venue changes, the festival will take place at Poplar Creek in Hoffman Estates, IL. The layout of the festival will not just leave attendees in awe but also truly cater to each one of them. With a 27-acre land to work with, the site will fit about five individually unique and bigger stages than before. The new production sets will be roofed to offer and allow more lights and lasers. Taking a page out of the Coachella playbook, SAMF will also have carnival rides implemented into the festival grounds as well.

Now that the grounds are bigger, there is more room for more things to be placed! Check out the official video of the design:


For the past six years, attendees have always had an amazing experience at Spring Awakening. It has become one of the most anticipated events in the Chicagoland area every single summer. From June 7th to June 9th, goers will experience yet another spectacle — something out of a movie. The festival grows and improves every single year.

Along with entirely new venue plans, the line up is absolutely mind-blowing. Many of the top artists and producers will be performing. Everyone is bound to find an artist of their liking as there is a huge variety of genres — dubstep, trap, bass, progressive house, EDM, house, deep house, trance, techno, electro, POP, chill out, downtempo, and UK garage.

From Grammy-award winner Zedd to Grammy-nominated DJ Snake, there are more than 90 amazing artists that will be there. The complete lineup can be found here as well as the daily roaster.

I cannot wait to see my favorite artists! I am most excited to see DJ's like Illenium, Zedd, Zomboy, Martin Garrix, Rezz, Cheat Codes, and Dom Dolla. But, I look forward to discovering more artists and hear different genres than the ones I usually gravitate towards!

Spring Awakening has been one of the staples in Chicago for the past six years. Of course, plans do not always work out as perfectly as one would hope, but they continue to try and incorporate new things that work at other festivals as well. After all, trial and error make perfect, right?

In addition to all of the changes this year, SAMF will be offering parking and shuttles. There are two options for parking: General Parking and Preferred Parking. For anyone not driving, taking a shuttle is another means of transportation to get to the venue that will run for the entirety of all three days. Hotel + ticket packages are also available, and a list of hotels has been provided by SAMF. The hotels are located in nearby areas for better accommodations.

Tickets are still available for purchase. While a 3-day pass is a primary option, single-day general admission tickets are being sold, too!

Let the countdown begin!

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