Festival goers are generally the best, most caring, most fun-loving people on the planet but like any other situation there are always a few bad apples. Alleviating some of the drama can improve your festival so here are a few tricks to avoid shady people and embrace the good vibes.
It is always beneficial to get to know your camping neighbors as soon as possible. Being friendly with the people around you can provide you with extra support throughout the weekend. If you forgot something like a hammer, flashlight, etc., they can have your back. These people may also keep an eye on your campsite when you leave for a show, making it less likely that you will get ripped off. Often, at bigger festivals I have found that the show I want to see is going on at the same time as the show my friends want to see, so rather than watching a show alone, I can just go with my neighbors. They can end up being your good friends by the end of the weekend, so now you have more buddies to go to shows with, and if they are really cool you may now find hosts to put you up in other cities if you ever find yourself wanting to travel.
Another benefit of making friends with your camping neighbors is that you now have a more reliable pool of people to scout out or purchase party favors. Most festivals host a variety of goodies available for purchase, however, if you are not at least a little picky about who you buy from, you may end up with a pocket full of baking soda and vitamins. Start by asking around with your camping neighbors and learn from their mistakes or victories. If they bought bunk, find out from who and avoid them, and visa verso. You can usually find someone camping near you who has what you want so it is a good idea to hit them up rather than someone wandering the grounds. If they are set up nearby then they are less likely to sell you something fake because you know where they “live”. Not all traveling salesmen are con artists, but many are. A good way to tell the difference is by taking a minute to check out the person and the merchandise. A few warning signs to look for is if the guy seems to be in a big hurry or doesn’t really show you anything out in the open, or the price seems a little off. They may just be looking for some quick cash at your expense, so to avoid drama go into your tent a chat with them for a few minutes. I don’t suggest trying anything new for the first time at a festival, but if you are going that route, get help from someone who has seen or done it before to make sure it’s the real deal. Again, you don’t want to end up with something that who knows what the hell it is. The seller themselves can give away a little about their product without even saying a word. Check out their pupils, clothes, hygiene, etc. These can all be little clues as to what sort of party favors they themselves enjoy and perhaps even the quality of what they have for sale.
A rule of thumb I have always stood by is to never buy anything from anyone outside the festival grounds. For example, when arriving at a festival you often end up waiting in a long line of cars to get in to the campsite. Some view this as a prime opportunity to rip people off! It’s perfect if you think about it, so many people just lined up, unable to go anywhere fast, fresh at the show so still having plenty of money, and getting ready to go through a security scan so they have to hide it pretty much immediately. All these things can lead to you getting bull shit. Many of these shady people are trying to make quick cash to buy tickets. Even if it is not completely bunk stuff you can at least count on that the portions will be a little slack because they need to make money fast. Buying from these people is also shady because they know that once you leave their sight you will likely never see them again, and once you start your weekend off you will likely forget to even care and just move on with your life. All in all, just avoid the outside sellers.
This principle can also be applied to tickets. If you decide to go to a festival at the last minute or don’t have a ticket for some reason, beware of buying them from anyone other than the official box office. Yes, sometimes people bail at the last minute and their friends try to sell the ticket just to avoid eating the money, but it is rare. More likely the case is that that ticket will end up on eBay or Stub Hub before ending up in some one’s hand. Festival tickets are generally more than $100 so it would suck to hand over that kind of money for nothing. If you do need to purchase a ticket and someone genuinely seems to need to sell one just exercise some caution. The first step is examining the ticket carefully. Make sure the dates match up and that it is not a ticket from last year. Printed tickets sent by the festival are usually very distinct, thick, glossy, artwork covered creations. Those are easy to validate, but computer printed tickets are trickier. There is no way to know if it is a copy or has already been scanned, etc. Buyer beware! To save yourself the drama it is usually a good idea to just purchase tickets before arrival at the festival or from the official on site box office.
Don’t let shadiness destroy your weekend! Put out good vibes and good vibes will come back to you!