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In Praise Of New York Music Festivals

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When I was a wee slip of a boy, I got booted from the Boy Scouts and no, not for rubbing two sticks together, but for double backing on a hike and taking a train to the final destination. I mention this to express in the simplest of terms my loathing for the great outdoors and, naturally, this infected my opinions of Music Festivals.

Really, if you think I am driving to a field in the middle of nowhere, to camp out for three days so I can hear music from a 1000 feet away, you are greatly mistaken.  I am not doing anything of the sort.

But when Festivals get to New York, they are a lot more fun. If they are on Randall’s Island, it is just a walk across the bridge and a train ride  from my home. At the end of the night, you double back. It’s easier to get to than MetLife.

So since the I hate Boy Scouts (except for the stick rubbing thingy) I always hated the Music Festival on principle. That Woodstock mud and rain stuff? Not so much. Not even for Hendrix. But over the years I’ve grown to love Governors Ball, and, after swearing up and down that I would never do it, I ponied up nearly $800 for the Panorama gig. And while what drew me to the dark side was the terrific new Kendrick Lamar, once you got rid of the camping question, there is no good reason not to…

So here is my answers to the doubters when they are told they don’t have to spend three days without a shower:

1 – You can’t see anything/hear anything – Well, you can if you go VIP, but really, with the 2016 technology, you can anyway between amplifiers and LCD screens. I am used to nosebleeds most of the time, so if anything Festivals vastly improve my sightlines.

2 – Too many people are talking, disturbing, etc. – No worse than at any other show. And, again, less true at VIP.

3 – The sets are too short – Are you joking me? The half to hour to hour and a half long set are perfect. Remember, in the early sixties, the Who, etc, played FIFTEEN MINUTE sets. As Townshend noted in his autobiography,the guitar solo was invented to KILL TIME, when they were first to play an hour.

4 – The bands phone it in – Again, the opposite seems true, if a band is between other equal bands, they better not phone it. And if all they’ve got is 30 minutes in front of 50,000 fans, there is no reason not to blow us away.

Though I don’t use Festivals for quite that reason (I go to check out bands so when they come to town next I can decide whether to see them again or not… also, so I can see em from better sightlines than the ones I can afford at Arenas and Huts. It isn’t a finishing end for the good live bands but a beginning) it is a great way to figure out live bands without spending a fortune So go, represent, just don’t rub your sticks together.

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