While on my way back to Baton Rouge with my friends asleep in the car and songs from the concerts we had recently been to playing softly, I sit here reminiscing on the week I have had. I have been at a music festival called Hangout Fest, and can honestly say that it has probably been one of the best times of my life. I really have never been to anything like it, and it was just such an awesome experience. The idea of a music festival seemed a little overwhelming to me at first; a bunch of young adults running around in little clothing, screaming their lungs out to their favorite songs, most likely experiencing heat stroke all along the way. But while I assumed the worst as usual, I am now able to appreciate how extremely wrong I was in thinking that music festivals were a recipe for disaster, and realize what makes music festivals in themselves such unique and fantastic experiences.
Walking into the festival for the first time was almost nerve-racking. This was my first festival, however my friends were coming for the second time, and I felt like I had heard every detail of their last Hangout Fest multiple times. They talked about how amazing and unbelievable it was, so I felt like there was almost pressure that this year’s festival could not possibly top last years. I wanted more than anything to have the same extraordinary experience that they had the year before, so I prepared how I thought would be necessary. I mapped out exactly what concerts I was going to at what times, meticulously planned out what I would be wearing each day, cleared up storage on my phone for the pictures I would be taking to post everywhere, etc. The first day I did my hair, put a full face of makeup on, strapped on my fanny pack… and then the rain started. I hadn’t planned for weather issues, and apparently Hangout Fest hadn’t either. The festival was delayed for four hours. When we finally got in, my previously planned out schedule was basically useless, and within 20 minutes my curled hair was a sweaty mess. The artists that I wanted to go see were no longer playing, so at the last minute I decided to attend a concert that my friend wanted to go to, but I had no idea who they were. We walked up to the stage area and a noticeably older crowd was enjoying a small concert. I stood there, annoyed because this wasn’t apart of my plan at all and I didn’t know this band, so how could I possibly enjoy the show?
It was during this concert that I realized how truly incredible music festivals were. Not only was the band actually so phenomenal, but watching my friend listen and thoroughly enjoy this band that he was so excited to see was so awesome. The next day, another friend decided that she wanted to go to a small concert earlier than our large group had expected to get to the festival, and I happily tagged along. I stood in the 100 degree heat with legitimate Goosebumps because a) surprise surprise another amazing band but more importantly b) I could actually see the pure happiness of my friend in that moment, and being able to witness that was truly incredible.
Music festivals aren’t meant to be experienced alone, and luckily for me I had some of my best friends around me to enjoy the festival with. Hangout Fest was so much more than listening to the bands I had planned on and taking cute pictures along the way. In fact, I legitimately have 2 pictures of myself at the festival because I was too busy dancing and enjoying the bands that I really forgot to take any (the fact that I looked like a wet dog due to the heat might have also played a part in that, but you get the idea.)
While this article started as my experience at Hangout Festival, I realize that what I am really trying to say is thank you to the people that made it so great. Thank you for bringing me to bands that made standing in a packed crowd totally worth it and introduced me to some of my favorite new artists. Thank you for coming with me to my favorite bands and not being weirded out as I completely lost my sh!t and danced around like an idiot during the concerts. Thank you for giving me one of the coolest experiences of my life. And most importantly, thank you for being the amazing people that you all are.