Part of planning to go to a music festival involves coordinating with other people. Who else you know is going? Who do they want to see? Who’s hosting the pregame? And it’s all fun and games. You get to see great bands with great friends. Wahoo.
But say there’s a band you’d really like to see and say your friends want to head out early to get ready for the Saturday night parties. Fair enough. Turn back time a year ago—even half a year ago—and I’d take this as my time to bounce too. However, this past weekend at Boston Calling, your girl did something real radical: I flew solo at the city’s biannual music festival.
I won’t lie. At first, I felt hella awkward. It seemed like everyone there was with either a friend or significant other (did anyone else who went on Sunday feel like every single goddamn person was with the love of their life???) and then there was me. But I paid good, hard-earned money for those tickets! Three of the acts that sold me on this festival were alt-J, Daughter, and Alabama Shakes. Each has a very different sound, but all struck me as bands that would put on strong live performances and all I’ve, at one point or another, been moderately obsessed with. So Saturday night when my friends took off after the first few alt-J songs, I chose to stay. And I’m so glad I did because they killed it. I mean, alt-J hardly pronounce words understandably on their albums so you can imagine how live they sound like drunkards slurring, but their instrumentals are so precise and powerful. After a song or two, I realized that I, in fact, was not the only person even just within a 6-foot radius by myself and that it, in fact, really didn’t matter.
Back in March I got super into Daughter’s “His Young Heart” EP and would still tell you that “Candles” is one of the 3-5 songs that encapsulates my being. Watching the almost painfully modest band take the stage and coo their fragile songs the same week as I uttered the phrase “I’m feeling really vulnerable about life right now” was an experience that I honestly wouldn’t have wanted to share with another person. Completely contrastly, Alabama Shakes owned the stage (Brittany Howard is fierce AF) and allowed me to embrace this empowering solo experience. I actually had other friends at the festival I could’ve reached out to, but there was something special about being one in a crowd of people, all there for the same reason. There was something nice about laughing with the family next to me about a group of people dancing to our left. There was something comforting about singing the same words as the strangers around me. And there was something liberating about doing what I wanted to do and not needing anyone else.
The other night, I had this drunken epiphany (don’t judge, you all know you’ve been there too!). There were all sorts of contributing factors and this may seem like a simple realization that I maybe should’ve had, say, two years ago, but I saw myself as an independent adult. Just in the past year, I’ve been hospitalized twice, depending on how you look at the world once my fault, once not. I’ve traveled Southern Spain on my own—an experience I cannot recommend highly enough. I worked three summer jobs, saving up some solid cashmoney so that after college I can maybe even support myself. I moved into an apartment. I’ve possibly found my place at a college more than 400 times the size of my high school graduating class. And I’m actively plotting out my future. All of this on my own. I’m pretty much a real person. It’s a tad scary; I came to the realization after considering how the scope of my life does not fit within the scope of any single person’s, even that of either of my parents’. But it’s also exciting. I feel like I can take on just about anything that comes my way, take care of myself, answer to no one. I feel decently confident about life. Going to a couple shows of Boston Calling on my own doesn’t prove this or equate to evidence of these things, but I can tell you that for my individual self I wouldn’t have gone alone if these things weren’t true.
Of course, I loved dancing to CHVRCHES with two of my good friends and ogling over Hozier (he’s so damn sexy and talented—did you know he had such an amazing vocal range?—and I’m in love with him, no shame). And I wouldn’t recommend buying tickets to a festival none of your friends are going to. But for anyone feeling both a touch of confidence and desire for more, I would totally recommend hitting up part of a festival or maybe that obscure show you want to see that no one else is down for by yourself. Because you, especially if you are and consider yourself an adult, should do what you want. I’m not gonna get into the whole “life is too short” shpiel, but like fuck the system, make your own choices. Solo fest and be badass like your girl here!