The Night Before
9:00pm : How to get to the festival tomorrow? Every street is closed so Uber would suck, and there's no convenient SEPTA stations (shocker). My roommate says she walked last year. It's 2 miles. I’m gonna do it.
10:20am: I leave my apartment and hit up Starbucks. It’s gross outside. I’m wearing black ripped jeans with a waterproof windbreaker under a jean jacket. I feel a bit cold, but I figure I’ll warm up.
11:00am: The walk was easy but I can’t find the press entrance. I talk to security guards who instruct me on long detours. Every street is blocked off. I walk for another half hour and find it.
11:35am: I mill around the festival. Everything is that bright red Budweiser color, and if that's not enough for you, it also says Budweiser everywhere. It’s obnoxious. They give out red, “Budweiser”–marked water bottles and have water–bottle–filling stations advising you to “give a damn” and not get too fucked up. But then they sell Bud by 25oz cans…
11:40am: I notice this carnival swing ride called Vertigo that seems like a terrible idea when drunk. On beer.
11:50am: This location’s pretty cool. Behind the main stage is the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
12:00pm: Doors open. About two people enter. There is a foreboding breeze. It looks like it’s going to rain.
12:10: I sit under a tree and people watch. A lot of people actually wore pants, which they should have given it's 63 degrees. Boys wear sports jerseys. Lots of fanny packs. Pigtails. Power buns. Red, white, and blue—dressing in theme. A couple walks by in sweatshirts with flag appliqués and hats with stars and stripes. I can’t decide if they’re weird or cute. A lot of bandanas? Red ones. Some idiots in crop tops and jean shorts. I get that’s the outfit you had planned out for months, but do you also not feel temperatures?
1:15: The music starts with Queen of Jeans on the Skate Stage (we covered that too). The lead singer has a really good voice. I realize that the name “Skate Stage” refers to the skateboarders on the ramp next to the stage.
1:45: It starts to drizzle.
2:15: I buy a bowl of chicken and rice. It’s pretty tasty. It’s also really getting rainy. I’m having a hard time being outside.
2:30: They must be handing out ponchos because there are a lot of people in those clear–plastic–garbage–bag–with–a–hood getups. Some also brought their own ponchos, and life is turning into a sea of red, yellow, and blue plastic. Also traditional raincoats. I have my raincoat on too but the whole air is just wet and I feel yucky.
3:00: Time for Mt. Joy at the Skate Stage! They are amazing, and let me tell you why. I cower under a tree in the rain and watch them.
3:40: Mt. Joy finishes. It’s really, really raining. I open my red umbrella and power–walk to the press tent. This is a lot for me. I sit and relax.
4:40: I interview Mt. Joy. They’re really nice and fun. Here’s what they said (another shameless plug, yes)
5:30: I leave. Migos is (are?) about to go on but it’s been too long of a day. Fuck this. I am wet and cold. I try to find a place where roads are open and I can Uber. I end up on Aspen Avenue and 27th Street, only to look up and see the fucking art museum and realize I’ve just made a giant circle. I open Google Maps and walk the other way and ultimately cross the river. At this point I’m a mile from campus so I continue to walk home. Yes, it’s still raining and I’m hungry.
6:15: HOME!. My phone says I covered 10.3 miles. I talk to my roommate. I shower and put on sweatpants. I missed J.Cole but I also don’t know any of his music. I make pancakes.
11:30am: I start my walk. My shoes are still wet from yesterday and a blister has emerged on my right foot. My weather app says 0% chance of rain although it’s kind of misty outside. My plan is to stay for the Chainsmokers and Jay-Z at the end of the day, although I’m not sure I’ll make it.
12:07pm: Tourists in front of the art museum pretend to be Rocky.
12:10pm: I arrive! From experience, the walk was easy. Why did I get here so early?
12:30pm: It smells like mud and warm trash. Like New York City streets on the most humid day of the summer. This smell kind of goes away when I pass the food trucks. Today people wear a mix of pants and shorts; I’m in jeans and long sleeves and quite comfortable.
12:45pm: I get to the Skate Stage because indie bands will be playing and I enjoy those. I talk to some of the skateboarders for my article. They’re sweet.
1:25pm: I’m asked if I’m registered to vote at my current address. (I am.)
2:15pm: I got to the press tent to chill before my interview, but I hear music and get FOMO so I head over to check out PNB Rock. The weed smell is pervasive and PNB sings about how “every day we lit.”
2:30pm: I return to the press tent for my interview. I can hear BROODS starting and they sound great but I’m about to talk to Beach Slang so I can’t go. They’re “rad."
3:10pm: I head back to Skate Stage and it is JAMMED. Where did all these people come from? I then realize these people are here for Rob $tone. Seriously, how many times is he going to say “fuck?"
3:30pm: I buy a $14 kimchi and chicken rice bowl from a Korean food truck.
4:15pm: Pusha T’s a big deal, so I feel like I should catch some of it for the sake of this article.
4:22pm: Fuck Pusha T. Japanese Breakfast is playing on Skate Stage, so I’m going back. I sit down on bleachers to the side of the stage and chill out while she performs.
4:55pm: Japanese Breakfast ends. I hear music from other stages but I’m not going. I sit cross–legged on these little bleachers. Beach Slang is in 20. My feet hurt. The same girl asks me if I’m registered to vote at my current location. (I still am.)
5:15pm: Beach Slang starts! They’re loud, but fun to watch. As they play, more people come over.
6:20pm: My feet are now screaming. I want to see some of Run the Jewels, so I do. The center area is a literal sea of people.
6:35pm: RTJ is fun but I'm hungry. I want food. I push through a bunch of people for chicken and rice. There’s some seizure–generating EDM artist going on behind me.
6:48pm: This has to be the 7th time I've heard, “all my friends are dead; push me to the edge” today.
6:55pm: I decide it’s good idea to fight the crowd pre–Chainsmokers (they start at 7:30) to find my friend. I am wrong. I get yelled at and pushed. But then I run into a different friend who has lost all of his friends, so he is alone too. Life is good. The Chainsmokers start with a DJ set.
7:45pm: My friend has to leave to meet friends for dinner. I find this odd but don’t judge. He feels bad leaving me but I tell him it’s okay—I don’t want to fight the crowd and I have a decent spot.
7:50pm: I get over my fear of being alone at large concerts. “Closer” is fun. “Young” takes me back to my summer side gig at Abercrombie and Fitch because it was on their corporate playlist. It’s also not the greatest song, IMO. The Chainsmokers do this weird scripted dialogue between songs, which is corny/fake AF.
8:08pm: A fistfight breaks out next to me.
8:40pm: The Chainsmokers finish with a cool fireworks show. I decide to find my friend so I traverse through the throngs. It becomes overwhelming so I say screw it and walk over to the press tent.
8:45pm: Have you ever used a porta–potty after dark? I hope not!
8:49pm: I sit on the grass outside the press tent eating a Larabar and drinking water. I hear Marshmello so I walk outside the press tent gate and I can see him! This is cool. He has a marshmallow over his head.
9:40pm: I’ve been texting with the photographer who’s also here and said he’d come find me which he hasn’t yet, and Jay–Z is about to start and I don’t want to be alone.
9:42pm: Here he is! We watch Jay–Z. There’s a giant Jeff Koons–esque balloon dog sculpture on the stage. I don’t know the first few songs, but I rock out to “Empire State of Mind.” The whole thing is fun—gorgeous night, a little chilly even, and it’s cool to be among thousands of people hanging out together and singing Jay–Z.
10:20pm: We beat the masses and leave. We Uber back to campus.
10:50pm: I am home. My feet still hurt. I’ve covered over six miles today. I sit at my desk and eat cereal out of the box. I am tired. The festival was fun, probably would have been more enjoyable if I was more into rap. I guess it remains to be seen if I go again next year.