“All we need is hope. And for that we have each other…We will rise” – Andra Day
Sunday night, more than 22,000 music fans were enjoying the Route 91 Harvest Festival in Las Vegas. As the world now knows, by the end it had turned into the deadliest mass shooting in modern US history. As of today, 59 people lost their lives and 527 were injured during the terrorist attack. The festival community and the world will never forget those souls. Music is a universal call that brings people from all walks of life together. This is why the festival community has grown so rapidly and continues to grow each year. Festivals are a special space for people to be free, enjoy art, food, music and each other. A week ago, I was in Las Vegas for 5th annual Life is Beautiful Festival. My parents were horrified to think I was in the exact same spot just a week ago dancing and singing with my friends. They asked me to stay away from concerts for a while. If I did, then the terrorist would have accomplished what he wanted which was to instill fear. Music is my soulmate and I need it to survive each day. I went to see The XX at Ascend Amphitheatre last night and it was beautiful. So glad I went.
I attend 2-4 major music festivals a year and then smaller concerts and shows in between those. I look forward to each festival as I know they are a special world of their own where you can forget the problems of the outside society. Music festivals are as the broader world should be each day. Neighbors share food, help pitch tents and people look out for each other. This is why I love festivals. This is why we need festivals. The terrorist knew to attack a safe place. With so much decisiveness and negativity in the world we need a few days a year to remind us that thousands can come together as one, love each other and help each other. Yes, I know there are always a few bad seeds at festivals, but always remember, the good far outnumbers the bad. On Monday night, Nashville help a vigil and free concert for the victims. Music heals and during this time, I know many in the community are using it as a way to cope and move forward. I am.
“What the world needs now is love, sweet love. No, not just for some, but for everyone.” – Andra Day x What the World Needs Now
Each festival I have gone to forms its own community that you will always be a part of long after the last artist performs. I will forever be a Bonnaroovian and I always remember the Bonnaroo motto “Radiate Positivity.” I try to each day, even though sometimes I fail. Life is Beautiful taught me you can find beauty if you just look around. Even now, in the darkest hour, they are shining lights of hope. Stories of heroism coming out of Vegas remind us of the good that we each have in us. Below are Polaroids from a couple that was pregnant and sitting near the back of Life is Beautiful. My friend and I watched a set with them, shared food, took pictures and danced. I may never see them again, but they will always be apart of my festival family. If we weren’t at a festival, we might have ignored each other and not really engaged in conversation. I’m glad I met them. I have made lots of festival friends over the years. Some of them I still keep in touch with and try to link up with at different festivals. In the outside society we try to avoid strangers and awkward conversations. Strangers really don’t exist at festivals. Everyone becomes friends whether it’s while camping.
Festivals let us connect. We need more human connection as much as we need food and water many scientists and psychologists have argued. There is nothing more beautiful than 10,000 souls collectively singing the same song and swaying together as one. “Being socially connected is our brain’s lifelong passion,” said Lieberman, a professor of psychology in the UCLA College of Letters and Science and a professor of psychiatry and biobehavioral science at UCLA’s Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior. Sometimes we need to get off of social media and interact in person. That’s what festivals are for. So next time you go, put down the phone and just enjoy the music without taking a video. And I do hope you decide to still go.
Music Festival organizers work year round to ensure the safety of performers and attendees. I’m sure moving forward, they will be more diligent than ever. We should keep going, keep dancing, keep singing and keeping loving each other.Together, we are stronger. Together, we are more beautiful. Together, we win. Austin City Limits begins on Friday, October 6. It’s one of my favorite festivals. I went to Weekend 2 and had a great time. I hope everyone that attends this year, has a beautiful, safe weekend 1 and weekend 2. I will leave you with the lyrics from my favorite song that wakes me up as my alarm each morning.
“Keep your head up. Keep your heart strong.” – Ben Howard x Keep Your Head Up