Festival etiquette 101: Five ways to be sound this summer

Words: Dylan Murphy

We didn’t lock ourselves in our gaffs for two years for a few idiots to ruin the summer everyone has been waiting for before it’s even begun. Don’t be that guy, don’t be a dick this summer.

It’s been three whole years since we had a full festival season without interruptions. In peak lockdown and as unrealistic as it seemed, the idea of a ‘freedom day’ almost singlehandedly kept people’s sanity in check. It was supposed to be euphoric: Clubs and festivals opening in tandem, restrictions vanishing right before our very eyes and not a single phone in sight – just vibes. Obviously, it didn’t happen like that.

Understandably, the events industry getting back on their feet is the first thing that comes to mind when we think of post-Covid challenges. However, it’s easy to forget whilst many of us were waiting for experiences to return, younger people were waiting for their first chance to go to clubs and festivals. It’s not just events they’ve missed out on, but the kind of life experience that many of us take for granted.

For the most part, societal norms are pretty intuitive. Don’t shout at people in public places, use a toilet when you need a piss, don’t litter. Largely, (sound) people abide by those ideas without any fuss, but when it comes to festivals a lot of those rules go out the window. I don’t think we need to explain why it’s fine to shout in a mosh pit but not at the supermarket and as much as it pains us, you are free to wear that daisy chain on your head at Electric Picnic that wouldn’t see the light of day at during your work hours at PWC. However, for some reason, even when a lot of the other stuff shouldn’t change, people really like to use festivals as an opportunity to be an obnoxious asshole. Even people who have had those essential experiences where they should’ve learnt how to act. So for all the people who are heading to their first festival (or the people that need reminding), here’s five ways to not to be a dick this summer.


Talking during performances

Look, I’m not going to shhh you during a show, but it’s really fucking annoying to pay for something and involuntarily have my ears invaded by NFT collection chatter. Not only that, but it’s pretty disrespectful to whoever is playing. We’re not talking about “This song was on Fifa 12!” or commenting on the gig with your friends, we’re referring to non-stop chatter when we’re here to be serenaded by SZA.

Please, just shut up.


Moshing during the wrong songs

I remember reading on Reddit about audience members trying to create mosh pits in the middle of Solange’s show at Longitude in 2018. I assure you, there are no songs on A Seat At The Table, that are mosh material. There’s a big contingency of guys that want to thrash about regardless of the music and the people around them and it can really ruin the vibe of a set. Let the music dictate the room, don’t press your pubescent rage on everyone else. Yes, there are hype songs that invite a circle being opened, the artist might even call for it, but read the room.


Unwanted sexual advances

This is the most serious inclusion on the list. Nearly half of female festival goers under forty have said they faced unwanted sexual behaviour at a music festival, with the most common forms being unwelcome and forceful dancing and verbal sexualised harassment.

The sense of freedom and hedonism that comes with being at a festival is, at times, extended into lawlessness by more often than not, men. It’s pretty simple. Don’t grind on people without consent or make unwanted physical or verbal advances. Don’t take advantage of people under the influence and respect everyone at the festival.


Filming the whole concert

If you want to waste your whole experience by watching through your phone and recording a video you’ll never watch again, that’s on you. But if you have the flash on or are getting in the way of other people’s view, you’re being a melt. Social media would have us believe that every experience needs to be publicly broadcast for it to be valid and that’s just not the case. Sure, keep some memories you’ll look back on, but try stay in the moment. Not too long ago we were starved of these visceral experiences and it’s a gift to have live music back. It’s more important to actually enjoy the experience than ensure others think you did.


Know your limits

For a lot of people, this summer will be their first festival experience. It’s something you never forget. These are unique spaces. It’s hard to be in a bad mood when you spend all day outdoors with your friends drinking, having craic and seeing your favourite artists. Most people are in the same frame of mind – this is a time to let go and forget about the shite we usually can’t get away from. Predictably, that often involves drinking and other times taking drugs. We’re not going to advocate for taking drugs or encourage excessive drinking, but it happens. So in the case you do take drugs, test them if possible, don’t buy inside the festival and remember to go slowly. Take incremental amounts and gauge how you are feeling and remember to look out for your friends and to stay hydrated.

For more information visit the HSE website.