Of the music festivals I’ve been to, there is only one that comes to the forefront of my mind: the Land of Nod Experiment. It was put on by NOOMOON in the middle of Michigan during a month that was both hot and muddy: July 2009. Hot and muddy… In other words, perfect conditions for connecting with artists, strangers, and nature.
Perhaps I loved Land of Nod for the simple reason that she was my first, that I fell in love with her over the course of a whirlwind weekend, one that may have changed the course of my life. Perhaps it was because I attended with the tightly knit group of friends that I had grown up with, individuals that were and still are close to my heart. Perhaps it was because I didn’t pay and was included amongst the crew as an “assistant” to the band that my friends and their family had made a Detroit success. Perhaps it was none of these things. Perhaps it was all of them and more.
It should be noted that music festivals possess a million facets, each with the capability of drawing people in. The overarching allure, for me, is made of the mysteries that unfold and the connections that are created within these festivals, occurrences that simply cannot be expressed with words alone; these expressions need feeling to be known, they need emotion and vivification. And so, let’s vivify a bit.
During my three-day stint at Land of Nod, I helped a woman push her van out of the thickest mud I’ve ever set foot in; I explored the possibility that I’d cannibalized my friend, who we later memorialized in a song sung by dozens of strangers around a makeshift funeral pyre (Ricardo was neither dismembered nor eaten, he was actually standing right with us around the fire); I met the singer from Eagles of Death Metal while he played with his son after the band’s set; I even found myself standing next to of Montreal as they prepared to go on stage. At the time I thought little of it, but as the years have gone by, I’ve relished in this moment. Of Montreal is one of my favorite bands now. They are prolific, otherworldly, and (most certainly) not for everyone.
So are music festivals for me? I would say, “Absolutely.” Are they for everyone though? Like of Montreal, they are most certainly not. Be willing to get dirty, be willing to befriend people that you don’t know and may never see again, be willing to be strange and let yourself go. Be open, be mindful, and be aware of the fact that you define the experience for yourself, not vice versa.