My first and last music festival

It was a summer evening in Rome, Italy in 2013. I was 16, and it was my first time out of the country. I was staying at a friend’s house—she was a foreign exchange student who lived with my family when I was a junior in high school, obviously from Rome. (Hi, Francesca!)

We were walking one night and heard a little ditty in the distance. We followed a cobblestone road, which led us to a square filled with people and a stage. Fran, her friend and I didn’t recognize the music. It was some award show, so we stuck around for a little bit.

Another band got on stage, and we couldn’t decipher the lyrics. I think I heard them introduce themselves in English, but I honestly don’t recall. My single cell in my brain has been introduced to jazz cabbage since then.

Midway through the song, we heard the phrase, “That’s what she said,” so we laughed and realized it was, indeed, English. The tune was catchy, and we stayed until we didn’t.

The next day my friend’s then-boyfriend sent her a song to listen to. It just so happened to be the same exact song we heard the night before from the band we didn’t realize was speaking English but actually was speaking English because they said “THAT’S WHAT SHE SAID.”

The mystery band was The 1975. They still are called that, but at that time, they were also called The 1975.

It was quite a coincidence. I listened to more of their music and instantly became a fangirl. When I got back to the U.S., I ordered a CD and t-shirt, both of which I still own. The shirt still fits, and the CD still plays.

A little over a year later, the lineup for Lou Fest in St. Louis was announced. Headlining? Arctic Monkeys. Playing just before them? The 1975. I hadn’t been to a music festival and hate crowds of humans, so I wasn’t going to go for just any band. I scrounged up $60 and somehow talked my friend Lena and my brother into going with me. We hit the road on a Saturday in September to the ol’ Lou.

Here’s the only proof we attended.

Gates opened at noon and we got there slightly after. My bladder is the size of a kiwi seed, so after a 2.5 hour car ride, I was in dire need of a porcelain throne. Parks & Rec is a great show. At the time I hadn’t seen it. In said sit-com, Leslie Knope refers to the bathroom, restroom, powder room, toilet, whatever you’d like to call it, as “the whiz palace.”

We got to the gate and my brother asked the woman checking tickets, “Where is the whiz palace?”

I almost didn’t need one anymore.

She had this puzzled look on her face, so he asked again.

It was too much at this point. I was dying. I needed the damned toilet. She eventually understood the question and led us to the glorious facilities. I made it just in time.

As we were scoping the premises, we found some free hotdogs. I didn’t imbibe, because I didn’t consume meat at the time. If I went now, I would have eaten four to six, give or take.

I didn’t really give a singular shit about any band there at the time beside The 1975, and I gave half of a f*ck about the Arctic Monkeys. I regret not giving an entire one, because… well, you’ll find out in a few minutes.

The festival is relatively small, so it luckily wasn’t terribly crowded. My brother tried to purchase one (1) alcoholic beverage using a fake ID. He was only 20 at the time, didn’t drink really, but wanted to give it a whirl.

But this wasn’t just any fake ID. This was a motherf*cking McLovin’ ID. If you’re not familiar with Super Bad, shame on you. But long story short, a high schooler in the movie has a fake ID. His name on the ID is “McLovin’,” and he tries to use it. End of short story.

Actual photo of my brother trying to get a beer.

My brother walked up to the beer tent, ordered a beer and the MCLOVIN’ ID WORKED.

It worked. I was flabbergasted. You’ve got to be kidding me.

While he was enjoying his illegally obtained beverage, Lena and I made our way to the stage where The 1975 and Arctic Monkeys would be. We watched four very obscure bands no one had ever heard of. One of them, Future Islands, was a hoot. The lead singer was bashing himself in the head and was acting insane.

The crazies left the stage, and it was about time to rumble. I devised a game plan: I knew the band was going to be signing autographs at their tent immediately after they were finished performing. I pointed Lena to the tent and told her we were sprinting as soon as they were finished.

We were really close to the stage, about the equivalent to being in the second or third row. General Admission sucks. If you want to see a band really close up, you have to basically be the first people there. At this time, I was willing to do that. Now? No way in hell.  

I felt someone shove me slightly, and I saw a girl at the very front turn around.  There’s a girl behind me trying to push her way to the front. Nope. I’m not a very large human, but I put my foot down and didn’t let that girl butt her way in. I was waiting in front of this stage for five hours. I’m not letting someone’s big head in front of me.

“Those are my friends,” the girl says to me and people in front of her.

“Nice,” I said back. No one else acknowledged her.

“She needs her medicine!” she said, waving her fanny pack, which was probably full of molly.

“We can pass it up to her,” I replied.

Other people around us weren’t letting her in front of them either. Hell no. We have been here for hours. Spots are first come, first served. If you snooze, you lose.

“I need to get up there. I’ve been waiting here since 10 a.m,” she goes. I hadn’t seen her prior to this, by the way.

“Hmm… Odd, considering gates opened at 12,” I said.

“HOW OLD EVEN ARE YOU?” she asked me, angrily.

As soon as I responded, she yelled to her friend she was leaving and going back to the hotel. And then she did.

I thought this girl was actually going to punch me. After Olga left, the show was quite enjoyable. I fan-girled and whatnot, and Lena and I stuck to the plan. We sprinted to the tent immediately after the last song. We gave up our nearly front-row seats for the Arctic Monkeys to pretty much hit on this English band. It was like we were trying to be Penny Lane and her friend from Almost Famous.

We made it to the tent and were the first in line! After a couple of minutes, no one else had lined up behind us. Okay, this was weird. Off in the distance, there was a long line of girls waiting at this other tent.

FART.

We went to the wrong tent. Our workout ensued, as we sprinted to the correct tent. We waited in this monstrous line for about 30-45 minutes all to have not met the band.

Lena and I found my brother, stayed for a few Arctic Monkeys songs and went to Waffle House. This was the first and probably the last music festival I’ll attend. I have seen The 1975 three other times after this. I stayed in the back, and probably had a better time anyway.

A couple of morals to this story:

  1. Kennedy and surrounding crowd members should have been nice, and we should have let Olga up to the front with her molly bag. Because looking back now, who cares?
  2. Kennedy and Lena should have stayed put to see the Arctic Monkeys, because 2020 Kennedy would have loved that.
  3. Stay in the back and chill. You won’t have to deal with Olgas.
  4. McLovin IDs work?

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