I’m Throwing In the Music Festival Towel

Right after I wash it twice and then use some Purell.


My recent trip to Delaware was motivated by the same intentions that most of my other random jaunts are: a cocktail of genuine interest and a nagging need to challenge the borders of my comfort zone. My concern over the latter has always existed, but further manifested itself this past year. As I approach my first wedding anniversary, the memory of my husband and I tying that complicated knot reminds me of the promise we made to never forgo the ardent spirits that attracted us to one another in the first place. This in spite of having made the decision to “settle down” at 21.

It’s that promise that propelled us toward a 6 mile hike up an unmarked Costa Rican trail, into a rain soaked tent among the thicket of a New Jersey forest, and, most recently, behind the Macy’s of a mall where there was a “rugged campsite” for Firefly Music Festival. It was our second festival in the span of two months and it’s safe to say it may be our last. Yes, at the tender age of 22, I am ready to renounce participation in all future music festivals because they make me feel only one thing: OLD.

And sweaty. Very, very sweaty. And subpar, lest I be wearing a flower crown. Come to think of it, music festivals make me feel uncoordinated, too, for my lack of ability to carry a hula hoop on my hips while looking like the offspring of Dionysus and Athena on magical mushrooms. The epiphany hit me like 100 Fireball shots as I stood in a muddy line at said festival to use an unusable port-a-potty.

I realized that the grip on my travel-sized Charmin was so tight, my knuckles were white. My next thought was, wait, I’m carrying travel-sized Charmin. And my husband is waiting for me at the exit with Purell. I looked around at the people waiting beside me, none of whom were carrying toiletries. I felt very uncool, like I had lost a sense of carefree that previously, I thought I had. One that would allow me to pee without wiping, or hula hoop without looking like a hopscotching tin man.

My second epiphany came as my husband and I began our walk back to the campgrounds. It was late at night and we strained our eyes to see. In the distance, I could make out a group of about 50 people sitting cross legged on the floor, blankly staring ahead. I thought we’d stumbled upon some sort of shamanic meditation but as we neared the crowd, a large sign looming above them came into view: “CHARGING STATION.” 

The crowd was not practicing sanskrit yoga, they were waiting for their smartphone batteries to hit 100%.

I thought about the performances missed so festival goers could Instagram pictures of themselves lounging on technicolor-dream-coat blankets. I thought about the fact that at 11pm, I was headed to my tent with a waning buzz and the sound of the day ringing in my ears. I laughed at how embarrassed I felt when my husband asked some guy at the Foo Fighters set what a “mosh-pit” was, and cringed at the mosh-pit that followed.

My aversion towards being pushed around or hoisted upon the shoulders of a shirtless boy made me feel lame. My lack of face paint rendered me ordinary, and my sobriety deemed me prude. I spent the better part of the weekend looking at myself in comparison to the “cliched-festival-goer” and I’d forgotten what I’d come for — the music.

But music shouldn’t make you feel dated, or boring, or like your missing something extraordinary if you camelback isn’t full of vodka. So that’s why I’m done with festivals.

Visit Esther’s blog, The Philosophy of Windex here and follow her ass on Instagram hereImage via LIFE

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  • Sarah

    This article is borderline unreadable and incoherent. There are typographical and grammatical errors (“boarders” instead of “borders; “the performances being missed out on so that they could Instagram …” implies that performances Instagram; “crowd,” as you’ve used it in the previous sentence is collective and therefore singular), there is missing punctuation (“very very sweaty”), and the writer’s voice is muddled by her attempts to sound like a writer and to reach a profound conclusion. The writer’s account, through lack of information or detail, and through lack of a clear or sympathetic voice, renders her “epiphanies” trivial. In all, this reads like a submission to an introductory creative writing class and not the kind of thought-provoking content that I (admittedly, not a writer. I am an architect.) would expect from this forum.

    • Amelia Diamond

      Thank you for sharing your thoughts, as we encourage Man Repeller to be an
      open forum.You can blame me, Amelia, for any copy edits that were missed in this post.

      That said, I respectfully disagree with your comment on the writer’s voice and writing style and stand behind her wholeheartedly.

      • Hereshoping Themayanswereright

        Right on Amelia. I lol’d, thought it was hilarious and totally related. Great post! No need to apologize for any copy edits – I’m here for the fun and relatability as most of us are:-) Love you guys!!

    • On the other hand, though, if every single piece on here was constantly thought-provoking, I for one would feel like I needed to take a hiatus. This site definitely has essays that require some thought and time in forming a response, but then there are others that appeal to us on strictly emotional terms, as if this blog was just a room of girlfriends talking about our own trials and tribulations.

      The mixture of the intellectual and the purely fun is what keeps me coming back to this forum multiple times a day. It’s like the Goldilocks equation: not too much of one, not too much of the other….just rigggghhht.

    • Rae

      I don’t think her voice is ‘muddled’ at all; quite the contrary. I personally think that her writing style makes me feel as though she’s speaking directly to me, like we’re girlfriends sharing weekend stories over a cup of coffee. I don’t presume to speak for the author, but I would venture to guess that that is what she’s going for; and if so, then I would like her to know that she nailed it.

    • WeDontNeedNoEducation

      @ Sarah I bet you were a hoot in High School!!
      I always wondered what the Hall monitors went on to do with themselves, I guess we have the answer, They troll the internet looking for misplaced punctiuation and “Unreadable” Articles.
      You should lighten up maybe take in a Music Festival take some X and chill….
      I thought Article was great read….

    • Fefe

      It is incorrect for parenthesis to enclose part of one sentence followed by additional whole sentences, but such critiques seem


    • Hereshoping Themayanswereright

      OMG somebody’s constipated grandma reads manrepeller! Awesome!!!

    • “the performances being missed out on so that they could Instagram …” implies that performances Instagram

      Well, it doesn’t.

      We mostly need to pay attention to the sentence structure when reading and processing an utterance and often, we need to move back in a sentence to really get the meaning. Like in the above sentence: after having reached THEY we have to move to the left for a split second, wondering who or what the pronoun refers to, because in English, pronouns normally refer to things already said and those are to the left. While doing so, it gets clear soon enough “the performances” is not the noun referred to, so we have to move even further to the left, until we reach “the crowd” or “people” or someone. See, it has to be a SOMEONE the pronoun THEY is referring to, because the verb “miss out” mostly needs a human (or living) being as a subject to carry out its meaning and it is obvious the performances do not fit the slot. Also, the verb “instagram”, to which THEY is a subject, needs a human being.
      Now, the living and/or dead are very important parameters in linguistics, but they are also important in real life: Esther obviously “knew” the pronoun THEY in connection with MISS OUT will most probably be understood as referring to human beings and expected everyone else to know that, too. Such knowledge is a part of our “grammatic brain” and need not be involved overtly. We need not think about human or non-human, pronoun, verb or subject, since we just “know” these things the linguists love to discuss into such detail.

      So your assumption is wrong. (oh and, just in case: while I speak English only as a foreign language and not too well, I also studied linguistics – quite well)

    • TheCarrie125 .

      That was cruel. Why the need to be so critical? The article was fun… as I suspect it was intended.

    • Gracie M.

      calm down.

  • You a hoot, Esther! Such a funny essay.

    I have to say, though, I don’t think the music itself should be at all the reason you feel old, etc. If anything, the music should make you feel young again. (I feel so silly saying this because you’re young and beautiful at just 22.) I make the decision every time I listen to live music (well, thus far at least) to do so sober because I want to be unaltered and present with every fiber of my being. So as for being sick of festivals, it’s 100% the ignorance of the people and perhaps the setting if you’re more into keeping things clean. Music, though, music alone will always — or at least I hope it should — be the aspect that makes you forget the people that make festivals so horrible. It’s like being able to sit alone under a redwood tree and feel like everything is going to be okay. I’m just a dot next to this melody and/or tree.

    • Esther Levy

      Of course. Music will always and forever posses that power for me. I’ve just found that in certain settings it’s difficult to isolate the ‘music experience’ from all of the other shnit that tends to go on. “I make the decision every time I listen to live music (well, thus far at least) to do so sober because I want to be unaltered and present with every fiber of my being” – I couldn’t agree more.

      • Oh, they undoubtedly get muddled. Guess that’s why stand alone (single?) concerts are often more appealing. One day. One musical artist group. Etc.

      • P.S. I started reading P.O.W. not too long ago and those are some great essays.

  • JimmyFooIsMyBitch

    Married at 22? Holy shit. Old at 22? Holy shit. Just… wow, holy shit.

    • Haha I feel old at 18! People are constantly telling me my dry sense of humor or my affinity for circle skirts reminds them of their grandmothers and even great grandmothers. Talk about yung n wild n free ……(*underscore* at tumblr.com)

  • mvg

    I’m 22 and feel the same way you do! I’ve been married for a year as well and found your writing to be genuine, funny and anything but pretentious (a break from many other blogs and articles). Please keep writing, for grammatical and typographical errors can be corrected any day, but the courage to write what’s on your mind and have people enjoy it can’t be taught. Positive energies and love from Mexico!

  • danielle

    how could you marry someone that doesn’t know what a mosh pit is? you’re right, you don’t belong at music festivals!

    • Esther Levy

      He found out… quickly.

      • Amelia Diamond

        you know, I used to mosh in my day.

        • I’ve thrown a few pushes and semi-punches in a mosh. Wish I would have caught ya mosh in back in da day

  • Dominique
  • tonikali

    Oh Esther, I laughed so hard at you being embarrassed about your husband asking about a mosh pit!

  • Amelia Diamond

    Guys I’m going to Phish tomorrow and have two very important questions: do I bring a blanket to sit on and what do I wear?

    • Esther Levy

      oh so you’re going clothed?

      • Amelia Diamond


        • My question is what exactly were you doing at a Phish concert in the first place?

    • Not a blanket, but maybe one of those chairs that come in the sleeves? parents usually bring them to youth soccer games. I think those are SO Phish.

      • Amelia Diamond

        Wait the chairs with the cupholders in the arms? Is that what you mean? Done.

  • I used to be all over music festivals when I was younger but I too at 21 feel over them. Technology has ruined their spirit and I bloody despise floral crowns and bindis. All the line ups are the same and repetitive

    Tilly Enn// A beauty and fashion blog

  • Arthur C

    Interesting article! I don’t usually comment but seeing as how everyone has something to say, I might as we’ll chime in! The piece flowed very well, I thought. Do I think it could have been longer and more thought-provoking? Maybe. But I enjoyed it for what it was. That said, as I wannabe writer myself, I would have wrote this article differently. But then again, I wasn’t asked to write this piece. None of us were.
    I’m not an employed critic, but since I have the tools to voice my opinion it sometimes feels as though I ought to act as one. This is the problem with ubiquitous access: it allows wannabe writers and architects a platform to voice their critiques as if it matters what we actually say.

  • Emily

    Wow, what a lame drone loser college student response to this post “Sarah” – I don’t know if you’ve heard but, blogs are not based around proper grammar. Stick to architecture. Also, please enjoy my lack of commas and other flawed grammar.

  • Esther! This was great. ANDDD I was going to keep this a secret, but since we’re all friends here (right?), the other night (DON’T JUDGE ME PLEASE), I LEFT a Beyonce and Jay-Z concert early. Feels good to get that off my chest. First off, the traffic to the venue made me over an hour late, my seats were so up high and basically behind the stage, and my two friends and I were the only ones over the age of 18 in our section. I just could not hang. (the sound was also terrible and they stopped serving beer to add to it) I totally get what you mean about feeling too old. I hate that I did that to my girl B, but that $94 uber ride from gillette stadium to boson was well worth getting in bed before midnight vs. 3am if I stayed the extra 45 minutes. OMG I FEEL SO FREE NOW THAT IT’S IN THE OPEN. Thanks for allowing me to confess. We’re all still good, right?

    • You know what, girl? I think your doing that indirectly grounded that couple. Bey is no saint, and you left with your priorities set in practicality, not in that pool of blind idolization given to the pop star.

      Don’t get me wrong, she’s great, but everyone need a little wake-up call once and a while. Your energy leaving the building might have done so in subtle yet impactful way.

      • Thanks for having my back, girl.

    • Amelia Diamond

      This is a safe place, CJ. Let it out. Beyoncé forgives you and I don’t blame you.

  • alice

    L O V E!

    New OUTFIT online, what do you think about?


  • Tracy

    What a great, funny post! Love it!


  • Ago Prime
  • Esther, great post — I can totally relate. I’ve been to Bonnaroo the 4 times, and the last time I went (tender age of 26), I thought, “nupe, this shit ain’t happening again. I can’t be getting puke on by 18 year-olds that don’t know crap about good beats.” Sound quality is often poor and you do lose sight of what a music festival is all about. It’s not some party scene for teens, dammit, it’s a music festival! That being said, I’ll stick to ACL and Lolla. I think it’s more about finding the right ones and maybe going VIP when necessary. It certainly keeps the uncleanliness a bit more at bay…?

    • shelley

      I just went to my first roo this year, it was fun and all but the crowd was generally very obnoxious and immature. I kind of wondered if this was the usual bonnaroo crowd, and inforoo said it has changed in the last year or two…do you agree? maybe I’ll check out Lolla next summer

  • Paulina Villalpando

    I love the article! http://www.thepaarblog.com/

  • Cheesy

    As I reach my 50th year here in Northern CA, I graciously appreciate you reintegrating why I have thought but haven’t attended a music festival upon exiting my 20’s. Loved the post and could really care less about grammatical errors. Life is too short!

  • Ella

    This is the best thing I have read in a loooonnnggg time! You get me gurl. <3

  • Stankhead

    Lol she only feels old because she acts so damn old. and because she made the silly decision to get married at 22. Sorry not sorry

  • Yes! Its the same with concerns for me. They are so expensive (not including the expensive merchandise and £6 bottle of water). The last few I have been to, the sense of feeling cheated for handing over £5 for a dry sandwich completely flushed all the joy of the music out.