There are so many things to love about a music festival. There’s the four-wheel drives with mattresses and tents strapped to their lids, and there’s the road-trip soundtrack dancing in your ears as your stare out the window at the infinite road. There’s the deep-fried assortment of carnival cuisine which serenades you in the night and slaps you in the morning. There’s the gumboots and the raincoats and the facepaint and the guitars. The list goes on and on, and for the first time in my life I’m not romanticising. Falls Festival was everything you’d imagine and more.
Falls was my first sleepaway festival, but I found myself feeling pretty prepared for what I was heading into. That’s the thing about living in the new age, even if you’ve never seen the Eiffel Tower or gone scuba diving with sharks, you can pretty much imagine what it’d be like. You can’t remember seeing an image of the Eiffel Tower for the first time. You’ve seen it next to a car, a bike, a vendor, a tree, a person; you know roughly how tall it will be. You’ve seen it in the day, with the sun shining through its tip. You’ve seen it in the dark, with it’s lights glowing against the Parisian skyline. You’ve seen in through every filter on Instagram. Seeing the Eiffel Tower is extraordinary, but not that extraordinary any more. That’s the kind of thinking I had, going to Falls.
Turns out, I wasn’t wrong. But I wasn’t quite right either. See, I was pretty spot on about what the campsite would be like, what the stage would be like, what the food would be like. I was pretty much in the right ballpark when it came to the fashion and the company (except for that one guy who wore a g-string in the moshpit, he was a whole other kind of surprising). But I’ll tell you what I didn’t see coming. I wasn’t prepared for that feeling.
I’m standing in the mosh and suddenly it makes complete sense why they call it a pit. There are armpits near my face and unexpected pits in the ground and a pit in my stomach as the band I love walks on stage. But that’s not the feeling I’m talking about. The feeling, that feeling which made me exhale in reverence, went a little something like this. A few boppy songs in, the band (The Wombats) tells us they’re playing one of those ‘lighters in the air’ kind of songs. There is some mumbling around me as the boys tune their instruments and start playing an unfamiliar prelude. I can feel everyone, including myself, listening intensely, waiting. And then this one chord strikes. And it’s as though that one chord pummels straight into us as we let out this collective gasp. That gasp, that’s my favourite part of going to music festivals. It damn well gets me every time. It’s this united gasp of recognition you share with thousands of your closest strangers. “This song!” we say, “I LOVE THIS SONG”. And then we are singing together. That temporary togetherness? I live for that.