Editor Matt Bean asks the EW staff what their most salient music festival memories are


You’re not afraid of a little rain, are you? Summer concerts can be messy affairs, after all, and a gambler’s mindset comes in handy when you’re playing Mother Nature for the time of your life. We asked a handful of musicians to share their tour tales as part of our Summer Music Preview, and here, I asked our own crew to do the same. No rain, no gain, right?

”A friend of mine told me I had to get to the other end of Grant Park immediately to see the Flaming Lips at Lollapalooza 2006. The heat was insane, but he had finagled a way to get us on stage: I wore a disgusting Santa Claus costume and danced while Wayne Coyne frolicked two feet away. I was drenched, but you couldn’t beat the view.” —Kyle Anderson, Senior Writer

”Senior year of high school we camped out next to the Eel River in Northern California for the Reggae on the River Festival featuring the Wailers. Washing off the summer sweat by tubing the rapids and dancing under the star-filled sky felt like the best thing on earth.” —Rachel Orvino, Senior Editor

”Beyoncé was so good at the Made in America Festival last year in Philly that I actually cried.” —Chris Rackliffe, Senior Editor (Social Media)

”I had one of those cuts-to-the-core moments watching LCD Soundsystem perform ‘All My Friends’ at the 2010 Pitchfork Music Festival. It’s this triumphant celebration of something that’s probably ending soon, which hit me extra hard as a big life change — having a kid — lurked on the horizon.” —Kyle Ryan, Editor, ew.com

”I went to the Tibetan Freedom Concert, organized by the Beastie Boys in Alpine Valley, Wisconsin, in summer 1999, and thought I was going to be crushed in a Rage Against the Machine stampede/mosh pit. It was awesome.” —Tim Stack, Senior Writer

”The Lumineers waded into the crowd at the Governors Ball in New York last year during the first hour of sun the festival had seen. We were standing in inches of fresh mud, covered in dirt and post-monsoon grime. It was just magical.” —Madison Vain, Assistant to the Editor

”Ever been in a Kohler-sponsored, superclean Porta Potti with an attendant?” —Michele Romero, Photo Editor

Sadly, Michele, you’ve gone where so few of us have. But the through-line’s clear: Summer shows invariably serve up the kinds of primordial, transcendent experiences that don’t just outweigh any of their inconveniences, they distort them gravitationally so that the bad stuff, in time, becomes part of the good.

And as festival organizers pile on amenities, that bears remembering: Sublime though it may be to wash down charcuterie, bulgogi tacos, and ricotta-and-artichoke sandwiches with fresh-pressed Thai young-coconut juices and single-origin coffees at Outside Lands this year, none of that really matters, does it?

Good music. Great friends. Go figure.
Matt Bean

PS: Oh, and Michele? I’m rolling with you this year.