Walking up to the festival entrance you’re filled with crippling energy, knowing that with every step, you’re closer to experiencing the bass of every song pound in your chest. Excitement takes over your body, yet you’re feeling nervous.
You’re thinking, “Could the jitters be the premature stages of a seizure? Is it possible to die of excitement?” Your heart stops when you realize you’re only a few feet away from your favorite artist, and when the music starts, your ears experience the raw talent of the artist you came to see.
Music is a universal language that joins individuals of the world and spreads the story of life from different perspectives. Music festivals offer a one-of-a-kind experience by presenting people of diverse backgrounds in an environment full of fun times.
Many fanatics take advantage of the welcoming and relaxed environment of a festival to detach themselves from a monotonous perspective of the world and its people. Attendees can experience, firsthand, music’s impact on people from all over the world.
This blend of cultures and backgrounds can expand an individual’s understanding of the music world and beyond. By coming together to appreciate music, Festivalarians enjoy a variety of uprising artists while expanding and redefining their image of music and music festivals.
The most notorious, yet beloved, music festival in the U.S. is the 1969 Woodstock Festival held in Bethel, New York. On the official Woodstock website, Joni Mitchell summarizes the experience by testifying that the individuals at Woodstock began to realize they were all part of a greater organism.
With the political segregation happening at the time, these Festivalarians found it imperative to promote peace and love and became a prime example of unity among a multitude of individuals.
In an interview with CNN, Lisa Law, who also attended Woodstock, recalled that everybody helped everybody, despite the inclement weather and critical shortages of food, water, shelter, dry clothing and sanitation facilities. The young activists/music lovers were dedicated to creating their own image which embodied the idea of “make love, not war.”
However, after 48 years, critics argue that Woodstock represented much of what was wrong with the 60s: A glorification of drugs, a loosening of sexual morality and a socially corrosive disrespect for authority. Influences spread quickly and festivals thereafter became associated with an image of lazy, drug-induced hippies.
On the other hand, Woodstock attendees said their experiences were life-changing. Richie Havens, the first performer at Woodstock, said everyone was happy to be in the same place with so many brothers and sisters who shared this common bond.
The most influential aspect of the festival was the connection to one another felt by everyone who was involved in the festival, and the millions who couldn’t be there but were touched by it.
Over the years, the festival experience has improved tremendously. For example, by expanding the festival grounds, every festival goer has the opportunity to express their euphoria through different means: Dance, singalong, hooping, swaying or whatever it may be.
Additionally, advancements in technology have made it easier to share this unique experience. Photos from all types of media help to capture these indescribable moments in one image. Festival-goers tend to share and broadcast their festival experiences on various networks through multiple pictures, videos and texts all to describe one moment for everyone to see.
One of the most famous pictures from Woodstock frames a handful of youth expressing their happiness through dance. Each individual captured in the photograph adorns a different facial expression, however, they all still seem to be unapologetically happy.
The unknown photographer saw the perfect frame to broadcast the meaning of Woodstock, which was to unite through music and share the moment. Similarly, local photographs today are able to capture people from different backgrounds united by music. With the availability of personal cameras and advanced mass communication, we are given the opportunity to shape the festival image and share the idea of peace and unity.
Music festivals all over the world promote the value of unity and music. In Lafayette, music festivals are embedded into the culture. Even in this small city, men, women and children from all over the world come to experience the many festivals dedicated to spotlighting unique cultures. Whether its Festival International, Festival Acadiens et Creole or any other music festival, they all bring people together to one small, accepting community in order to create a positive environment for themselves and future generations.