The 10 Summer Music Festival Archetypes


As the summer festival season heats up, and especially with so many corporate festivals these days mixing together genres and people of different interests, I thought it would be interesting to extrapolate on some of the people you might expect to see (or hope you don’t) as you try to get the most from your summer festival experience. Who knows, maybe you’ll find example of yourself here. I can probably fit in a few of the categories myself, so don’t get too insulted or you’ve missed the point.


1. Douche Rocket

douche-rocket-festivalRolling shirt off for the entirety, with a backwards baseball cap, shaved chest, cargo shorts with extraneous straps, and double fisting corporate beer, he’ll over-talk through your favorite band’s set, and refer to anyone outside his circle of friends as a “fag.” Traveling in the human equivalent to roving bands of young male wild animals in the throes of new found sexual maturity, he is as horny as he is stupid, frogging his buddies on the arm, doing pushups between shows to tone his pecs, and annoyingly playing grab ass with his buddies in the line for the Port-O-Johns while everyone else is trying to keep track of who’s turn is next. He thinks any of the opening and side stage bands are for homos, and he’s only heard of the main headliners. The only reason he showed up early was to hawk high school chicks. He thinks garbage cans are for pussies.

2. Over-Prepared Expensive Gear Dude

Out $700 for his three separate festival day outfits, he buys only the best mesh interior breathable shirts from L.L. Bean and REI to stay cool, and stupid looking wide brim floppy hats to stave off skin cancer. His backpack has a bladder and a hose trailing down his arm so he can take a drink at any moment, and it dubs as a wireless hotspot. He has battery charging capability for four USB devices simultaneously, and organized the festival schedule into a spreadsheet that he then turned into a customized app that he could share friends. He knows exactly what he is going to eat for every meal at the fest even before he leaves his house, and has all of his pictures annotated and organized before he gets home. His tent cost him $1,800, and he’d love to tell you how lightweight and efficient it is. He spends most of the fest fumbling with various bits of his gear to get them exactly right, and shows his appreciation for music by doing bad white guy dancing at the side of the stage, or standing 37 rows back and tapping his toes in his open-toed Keen performance sandals. He ends all of his festival conversations with “Stay hydrated, and don’t forget your sun screen.”

3. Clueless Overscreaming Front Row Chick

front-row-festival-girlsStationed in front of the stage the entire fest, she has no idea who this band is, but she wants to have the guitar player’s babies and she’ll scream at the top of her lungs after every song. She lives to be goaded by the lead singer to “Put your hands in the air and make some noooisseee!!!!” The country version wears cutoffs with boots and an cheap Wal-Mart straw cowboy hat. The pop/indie rock version wears puffy silk flower necklaces. They both wear bikini tops and glitterface. She prefaces any decision she makes with “Oh my God so okay y’all…” and has her face buried in her phone between sets. She got completely blitzed off of half a wine cooler and had to call her cool uncle to come rescue her.Β  She thinks the urinal in the Port-O-John is a purse holder.

4. Overzealous Space Eater

A football lineman in high school, he’s a cousin of the Douche Rocket (see above), but is shaggy-headed with a spotty beard, and completely out of shape. He’s the life of the party (or at least, thinks he is), screaming and yelling right behind you in your ear, or bumping into you with his sweaty whale arms, or standing in front of you with his annoying back hair pouring out the edges of his sleeveless shirt. He the guy always wanting the rest of the crowd to join him in stupid chants for the next band coming out. The terribleness of his singing is only outdone by his apparent cluelessness of the right lyrics. The only way he knows how to drink beer is to chug it and then let out a barbaric yawp afterwards. He’s generally personable, but will immediately turn into an asshole if he thinks someone is “talking shit.” Already taking up space for two in the cramped area in front of the stage, he smell’s like a mule’s ass and keeps turning around to look for his buddy who’s bringing more beer. He’s the guy EMT’s are always fetching out of the crowd on a stretcher. He strikes up a conversation with you in the pisser.

5. Ironic Nerdcore People Watcher

hipsterA poster boy for post-hipster culture, he paid full price for a complete weekend ticket so he could ignore all of the bands and instead spend his time making fun of passers by with his snotty friends. He was going to see this electronic noise band he’d been hearing about, but then became concerned what people might think if they saw him enjoying himself, so he instead just bought their latest vinyl at the merch tent before leaving. He’s figured out how to remain pasty white throughout the entire weekend, and still uses a flip phone to be ironic. He did shave his beard, but he hasn’t given up on the handlebar mustache, David Koresh glasses, or tapered jeans. He only eats organic, but will take whatever pills you hand him. He’ll tell you and inside joke just so he can laugh at you for not getting it. He’s moving to Portland next year.

6. Hippie Burnout

Eternally time stuck in the year Jerry Garcia died, he’s a refugee from the Phish tour trying to give this corporate festival a Rainbow Gathering vibe by hippie hand dancing in front of the stage, playing hacky sack in the middle of the busy food court, and causing quaffs of patchouli to trail through the crowd behind his dreadlocks and moth-eaten poncho. He wants to sell you hemp jewelry, and have you watch his dog while he looks for his girlfriend. His girlfriend has three dirty-faced kids attached to herself with one long piece of gauze fabric, and is standing right by the stage speakers, permanently damaging the kids’ hearing for life. They’ve got skins if you’ve got bud. They don’t have enough money to leave on Sunday.

7. Lawn Chair Old Fart

lawn-chairA favorite of local-oriented festivals and country/bluegrass festivals, they show up at 7 a.m. because they hate waiting in ticket lines—only to set up their chairs in an annoying spot right in front of the stage and wait seven hours before the first band starts. Usually traveling in couples or groups of couples, they always make sure to tell each other before they get up to go somewhere to make sure nobody steals their lawn chair. They always clap, but they never stand. They bring their own lunch. If anything the least bit strange occurs, they will mercilessly stare at it until it completely stops. Wondering aloud why the music has to be so loud, they’re more concerned about what the weather might do than what band is next. They’ll report you to security for smoking pot.


8. Industrial Art Exhibitionist

Arriving to the fest in a 1992 Toyota hatchback converted into an “art car” to look like a robotic land shark constructed from found objects and tiny bits of cracked mirrors epoxied to fiberglass, they put out Herculean efforts to prove how much cooler and expressive they are than you. A cross between Beetlejuice and Mad Max, they’re decked out in knee high tank boots, a trench coat with the sleeves cut off and the collar starched to stick straight up, and steampunk goggles and top hat. A favorite of the Burning Man Festival, they protest against economic injustice in the world by suspending themselves by their nipples from a flagpole for five straight hours.

9. The Outlaw

Riding up to the festival on a $25,000 Harley Davidson and parking even closer than the handicapped spots, he wants you to think he’s a tough outlaw from the streets, but his six-figure managerial position at a cubicle farm helped pay for his VIP tickets. He’ll be sweating his ass off in full leather chaps, black vest, and skeleton-printed skull cap, but that’s okay because he looks tough with his goatee and faded upper arm tattoo. A true dinosaur if there ever was one, he thinks Hank Williams Jr. and .38 Special are still culturally relevant. He chides that the asshole Douche Rockets starting a fight over near the beer tent probably drive Kawasaki’s, and is right. He thinks this festival is okay because at least there’s no “Obama voters” in the crowd.

10. Blogger / Journalist

Self-important because he’s here on business while everyone else is having fun and enjoying music and friends, he’s constantly having to update his live blog for his seven sympathy followers. Whether standing in front of the stage 30 minutes early with a schedule in one hand and a camera in the other, or bugging bands back stage for interviews when all they want to do is relax and smoke pot, he always looks incredibly skewed in his priorities and quietly desperate. He eats his lunch on the go, and semi-rudely pushes through the crowd to get to his next “assignment.” He sees the other attendees at the festival as easily-compartmentalized Archetypes as opposed to cool people just trying to enjoy themselves at a music festival.


11. Millennial Costumer

Thinking their favorite corporate festival is just another version of Halloween or Mardi Gras, they show up dressed in cheap full-body costumes from Hobby Lobby, and carrying sings that make no sense to anyone but themselves, like a picture of Alf or a Converse low top. One of the days of the fest, they all dress up in U.S.A. gear ironically. A bulls-eye of the Bonnaroo demo, after college they want to start a culturally-responsible local food business. They’re at this festival to be seen.

12. Agro Heavy Metal / Emo Guy

Dressed in all black, long sleeves, and white facepaint for a festival day forecasted to get to 97-degrees, their greasy long hair is purposely cascading down in front of their face, and they walk around the festival ground with a scowl on their face indicative of The Crow. They annoyingly try to start mosh pits during completely inappropriate times.