Sasquatch. This was the first year I went. What seems like a million years ago now, OJ and I made plans to go. The conversation went a little something like this:
“Hey. So Sasquatch tickets are on sale this week. We should go, right?”
Throwing caution and any remaining common sense to the wind, we purchased our tickets and started making plans. As it turns out, Sasquatch! was pretty much one of the best decisions we’ve made this year. The festival, the people, the trip – amazing. So amazing that we’ve all decided to do it again, twice, next year. That’s right kids – in 2014 there will be two Sasquatch! festivals.
I wrote this post because I promised OJ I would. Every day at Sasquatch!, she asked me what I was going to do to make next year even more awesome. This post is the result of that incessant questioning. And because I’m still suffering from a harsh Sasquatch! hangover (and want to go back every single day).
What follows are my tips for having a killer experience at a ginormous music festival, all 21 of them.
1. Arrive early.
You might think you don’t need to arrive on Thursday since there’s no music until Friday — but you would be wrong. We left Edmonton on Wednesday night and made it to the Gorge before 12pm. We had no insane lines to contend with. We pulled into the campgrounds, were greeted by cheerful event staff, and waited for maybe 45 minutes before we were let in to set up our campsite. Within in hour we had our tents set up and were playing drinking games with our neighbours.
2. Stake out your spot.
Kind of related to the first point. Make sure when you pack your vehicle that you’re able to grab your bags, tent and party shelter with relative ease. You will want quick access to throw out your things, and set up faster than your neighbours. I’d argue we were pretty fortunate and camped next to some pretty spectacular people that we didn’t mind being smushed up against.
3. Bring a flag pole.
Okay, the flag pole wasn’t our idea. It was our rad neighbour, Thor’s idea, and a brilliant one at that. When you’re drunk, it’s dark, you’re hanging out with 25,000 people it can be a good idea to have some sort of camp identifier. A flag is brilliant. Just make sure that it is light enough to fly valiantly overhead. We’ve got a special one in the works for Sasquatch! 2014.
4. Get Thor as your neighbour.
Well actually, you can’t. Because I’m RSVP’ing with him for next year. We lucked out big time. Thor is the sweetest person in the whole entire universe. And gives hugs that could rip your face off (come on Oklahoma girls – get on that already). Pray to the Sasquatch! gods that you may be so lucky to find a neighbour like him.
5. Bring lots of alcohol.
You’d be amazed at the amount of alcohol that you can consume when you wake up at 7:30am and you don’t have anything to do until 3:30pm. I don’t remember how many cases of beer we purchased, but suffice it to say that 87% of our $400 Fred Meyer bill was spent on beer, 2 litres of vodka and a mickey of Fireball. Next year, we will be trying out this little trick. Just be aware that if you get really drunk before you get to the hill and pass a sun-burnt and passed out friend a bottle of alcohol instead of water, they will spit it out and/or spill some of it. You’ve been warned (sorry, Thor).
6. Bring lots of water.
Everyone was warning us about dehydration because of the weather, and perhaps this will be more of an issue with Sasquatch!: Part Two in July. But that wasn’t really a concern of mine. Booze dehydration was. I was ridiculously thirsty every single night after walking back to camp through the miles and miles of the dust raised by 25,000 feet. Oh, and because I’d been drinking all god damn day. You also want extra water for cooking and brushing your teeth. No one likes smelly festival breath, no one.
7. Bring lemons and limes.
Okay, this isn’t really a survival tip, so much as this is a reminder for me about what kinds of beverages I want to consume next year. And I’ve all but decided it will be gin and vodka. Beer makes you feel bloated (or maybe that’s just when consumed in mass quantities?). If you’re not keen on drinking tons of beer. Feel free to follow suit! Clear liquids + citrus + mint = fancy pants festival drinks. You’ll make lots o fnew friends.
8. Bring a belt. Or two.
This is definitely another one of the tips that is more a personal reminder than anything. And an excuse to talk more about Thor, aka “greatest neighbour ever”. A few weeks prior to Sasquatch I lost my belt. I couldn’t find it when I was packing so I just went without. And it was horrible, until Thor offered me an amazing neon yellow belt. Which I wanted very badly to steal from him. Of course he caught wind of my plan to abscond with his belt, conveniently lost it, and then loaned me a plain black belt on the following day. Crafty. Moral of the story: bring your own god damn belt.
9. Bring prosecco!
Nothing says bad ass quite like pouring yourself and your camp-mates prosecco first thing in the morning. Trust me (and Arizona) on this. And if you’re feeling really fancy and want to do brunch, bring orange juice for mimosas.
10. Bring real food.
Jill, I love you – but vegan chorizo isn’t good. Next year, I think I’ll be taking over some of the menu planning/cooking for the group. No one died because of the faux meat, but dammit – I missed bacon. We definitely went lighter on the “real” food because we thought we wouldn’t have a lot of time or energy, but that’s not true. There’s plenty of time to cook a meal before you head to the hill for the day, and when you come back at the end of the the night – you’re usually hungry, drinking and shooting the shit with new friends. Bring real food. You won’t be sorry.
11. Bring your mobile and a charger.
You will probably have shit coverage at the Gorge, so don’t bother buying a data plan if you’re coming from out-of-state/out-of-country. But do bring your phone, throw it on airplane mode and capture all the amazing memories from the weekend. Sure you cell phone won’t take brilliant pictures of the band on stage when you’re a thousand miles away on the hill – but it is brilliant for selfies, sunsets and group photos. And if you really want to, you could bring a point and shoot (cameras with removable lenses require a press pass/approval).
12. Bring music!
Make sure whatever you bring is easily rechargeable or you have extra batteries. Our neighbours had some really rad charging options, so we were able to use an iPod and homemade speaker system all weekend long.
13. Bring tarps and emergency blankets.
This might be an either/or sort of thing, but I was quite pleased that we had both. The picnic shelter we brought was not weather-proof, hell it wasn’t really even weather resistant, until we tied a tarp to the top and hung emergency blankets in front of the screens. Bonus points for people smart enough to bring two tarps so that when it was time to go to the hill and it was raining their asses didn’t get wet. Additional bonus points awarded to those smart enough to bring those tiny festival chairs. Although. I’m still undecided if I’m a sit on the hill and watch all day long – or join the maddening hordes – festival goer. The jury is still out.
14. Bring a picnic shelter (and chairs).
We had one of the screened in varieties and it worked like a charm — though it was rather snug when we had 9+ people inside of it. The more the merrier, right? Some things to note: make sure your shelter is weather-proofed straight out of the box, or bring extra tarps, tape and ties to weather-proof as necessary.
15. Bring appropriate clothing.
Common sense, right? It’s a music festival in the summer. Shorts, tank tops and all the rest. But there’s this thing called the weather, and it is totally unpredictable. There were too many people walking around at a snailspace in near hypothermic stupors. Don’t be that person. Bring a sweatshirt. Bring a water-proof jacket. You can thank me later.
16. Bring a good tent.
Something you bought 8 years ago from Canadian Tire, or similar, is probably not your best bet. If your tent is neon, doesn’t have a full fly, or you can see through the “bath tub” bottom – it’s time to replace it. Sure. Eastern Washington doesn’t usually get a ton of rain – but guarantee it will rain at least one day during Sasquatch and you want to make sure that all your shit stays dry. Another tip for keeping your shit dry is actually knowing how to set up your tent. Stakes and tie downs are a necessity. Gorge = high wind area. Me = not wanting to save your ass and set up your tent properly.
17. Bring a bag.
You’ll want a decently sized bag you can toss your water, your “water”, your snacks, your hoodie or jacket, and your other necessities in it. Necessities of mine included: hand sanitizer, cash, visa and ID (New Zealand passport isn’t proper ID, by the way). The only downside to carrying a bag into the festival grounds is that you will be searched. The searching isn’t invasive or irritating, it just takes awhile because you have to take everything out of your bag.
18. Bring sunscreen for everyone in your group.
Have a group sunscreen session before you start drinking for the day. The end.
19. Bring some money.
Yes, Sasquatch! is expensive. No, you don’t need to spend a ton of extra money. There were some things we were pleased to have money for: showers ($3), coffee ($1-$5 depending on taste), merch ($25-45 per shirt/hoodie), tall boys ($13), chili cheese fries ($8) and ice ($5-$10).
20. Accept that you can’t see every band playing.
This is the most heartbreaking part of Sasquatch!. You really can’t be everywhere at once, and there will always be bands on a smaller stage that you should be on the main stage. Luckily, they release the lineups in February, so you and your friends will have a crap ton of time to sort out which bands are most important for you to see.
21. Be nice!
There are 25,000 people crammed into one place. It can be overwhelming and exhausting. Or it can be rad. Choose rad. Be helpful, be friendly and then everyone will ask if you’re from Canada. That’s how you know you’ve won the festival.
Anything I missed? Bring it to Sasquatch! 2014 — I’ll be there for both weekends.