“Please allow me to introduce myself, I’m a man of wealth and taste.”
By Croix Provence
Er… make that a woman, and nix the wealth part. Really, I am prepared to quote some of history’s greatest lyrics until you understand how important music is to me, and how important it continues to be for the human race to be “sitting around and singing songs ‘til the night turns in to day”. See? They “can’t stop, won’t stop.” “break on through to the other side”, right out of my mouth. Note: I choose only to lyrically interrupt this article with awesome lyrics. Apologies for the silly reference back there; I promise it won’t “get fooled” happen again. Okay, now they’re just slipping out. I’ll try to put a button on that.
As a self-proclaimed music junkie, I take great pride in listening to every (yes, even country) genre of music out there. Classic rock, hip hop, dubstep, bluegrass, skiffle, doo-wop, metal, alternative, pop, classical, primal scream, opera, throat singing, a capella, gospel, a capella gospel, screaming children/Disney stars… you name it! I want to hear it all, understand it all, and give it all a fair shot. Because you never know what song might sneak in to your mind and refuse to leave.
You know what? I can hear it all! The beautiful, dangerous thing about music nowadays is that we are oversaturated with it. We have the ability to listen to signed touring bands, unsigned bands who just finished recording on iTunes in their garage, and nervous singers (not unlike myself) who are sharing their voices for the first time on SoundCloud and YouTube. We can hear mastered tracks and raw audio. We can hear beats from India, and guitarists from South Africa, and even freaking “Gangnam Style” from South Korea! The sheer amount of music that we have access to is absolutely amazing and wonderful! That being said, it also has become easier to access music without giving artists their due. Who doesn’t love a free download? I know I do! But when big-time musicians like Pharrell barely bring in $3,000 for one of the biggest songs of 2014, something is wrong. Hmm… If only there was a way to financially support musicians while simultaneously having a bad ass time ourselves…
Lo and behold, friends! Such dreams do exist! There, beyond the horizon, you can hear the faint feedback of a sound check, spot the glimmer of a Ferris wheel, and smell the bodies of the unwashed youth! It can only be… it must be… a music festival! Praise Aaliyah! A land of wonder where you can experience unsigned talent of all different genres, the biggest names in the music scene, and golden oldies who got back together for one last hurrah. Even some of the guests who camp out are playing their own music, dreaming of playing at a festival one day; that’s what Cage The Elephant spent their time and prowess doing before getting signed! If you think the world wide web is the first source of opens doors for musicians in all walks of their careers, you’re wrong. Music festivals (hipster glasses on) did it first, and did it better, by offering you a three-day helping of music along with a one-of-a-kind life experience.
Recently, there has been a huge upsurge in the amount of festivals in America. There are reported to be around eight-hundred fifty music festivals of all sizes and varieties happening in our country at any given point throughout the year. That is “insane in the membrane” or, as others would call it, “insane in the brain!” That means there are potentially sixteen music festivals happening every single week somewhere in the USA, not to mention that there are hundreds of festivals happening overseas as well.
Why is this industry growing so fast? Could it be to rake in money? To give weekend hippies something to brag about on Instagram? It is becoming a huge cultural fad to go to a music festival over the summer. Or could it be a sense of misplaced nostalgia that those of us who didn’t get to experience Woodstock ’69 are looking for? Yes, I’m still devastated about not being there (were you there?), but this is not why festivals are on the rise. For people who live, breathe, and feel music, it is our oasis. To some it is a lifestyle; a living situation that changes when your pack up your tent every Monday morning with the promise of something new and something beautiful at the end of every Thursday night. To all of us, though, it is an experience; an endless seventy-two (or more) hour community of music and its thousands of lovers. It’s good people who want to share this experience as much as they want to share that questionable “cigarette” with you. It’s an oasis of discovering new music the way it was meant to be discovered: in your face, in your ears, and in your eyes as it rips through you to make place in your soul. To be bombarded with every genre, to hear songs fueled by good times, drugs, heartbreak, and to see the person who wrote those words actually live those memories again when singing them. To be completely and utterly freed from yourself and become absorbed in the atmosphere of talent and happiness and positivity and soul surrounding you… that is an experience worth paying for, and that is why the festival industry is booming.
Going to music festivals is an undeniable experience to indulge yourself in while supporting musicians everywhere who put words in our mouths and strings in our souls when we can’t find the right things to say. It is the open door our generation needs to expand our musical horizons. Of course, we have at-home options like Pandora and Spotify that give us a never-ending library of music to peruse, and that’s also great! It may be free for you to listen, but every time a song play, they send money to the artists, because they simply have to profit somehow. No money for Pharrell means no music for us (unless, of course, he jams out with the people recording iTunes in their garage). We have access to an eternal iTunes library, CDs from our yesteryears, and – if our parents were particularly awesome – a selection of vinyls. Music is all around us, physically, mentally, and emotionally, sharing a language with us that only it can speak and we can understand.
I digress. With all of this soul-felt music-loving artist-supporting being said, I leave you, my new friends, with these questions to ponder: When’s the last time you succumbed to the power of your favorite song, whatever that power may be? Is your need for free music more important that paying the artist that created it?
Would you rather sit at home ripping music for free, or would you rather pay to go to a music festival, and be free? You dwell on that. Think hard. Think true. In the meantime, I think I’ll “turn off [my] mind, relax, and float downstream.”
Croix Provence, abridged: Singer. Actress. Model. Dork. Snack enthusiast. Freelance writer. Music lover. Comic Con freak. Adrenaline junkie. Short sentence sorcerer. Follow @CroixProvence on Twitter and Instagram, and like Croix Provence on Facebook.