"This Is The Whitest Thing I've Ever Seen": Notes From a First Festival

Categories: Governors Ball

At 22, Samatha Nemana attended her first music festival. "It's become a thing you have to do at least once," she says on her first day. Luckily for the New Jersey native and NYU grad, she was attending a festival in a city that she's been living in for four years and has known her entire life. Being a jaded New Yorker, she went in with few expectations, actually not even psyching herself up too much for the weekend. As Sam reflects, "The key to being content with your life is to not have expectations."

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After attending more than a few festivals myself, it was interesting to watch a good friend experience one for the first time. Having told her all of my funniest stories of music festivals past, I was mostly excited to watch her react to the same things that happen at all of these events: people in weird outfits on weird drugs acting weird during decent bands. I remembered my first Lollapalooza at 15 when I had been excited to see Pearl Jam headline, met Patti Smith, and smelled weed for the first time. It was one of the best weekends of my life and felt thrillingly cool to be a part of. Annabel Finkel, 16, had a similarly great time at her first festival. Having only attended the first day of Gov Ball, she was able to see acts like the 1975 and Grimes. "I had the best day," she says the day after. "I'm super exhausted now, but I definitely want to go again next year!" For her, the festival was a "happy place," filled with dancing people, cool outfits, and free ice cream.

While Sam enjoyed the festival, it wasn't exactly her favorite place to be. "What I always assumed is that [Governors Ball] would be a chill, indie crowd given what people who have gone have told me," she says. "However, it was a super festival-y crowd." She expanded on her use of "festival-y," noting that it was similar to Cornell's annual Slope Day events she would attend to visit friends where "a bunch of frat bros hang out on a lawn and drunkenly listen to music." As it's been continuously noted over the past few years, festivals are less and less about the music and more about being seen and able to say that you have been to a music festival. Sam, while also a person who prefers to see concerts in more intimate settings, found the culture of the festival distracted from the music, a huge part of what attracted her to Gov Ball. Acts like Jenny Lewis, Neko Case, and Interpol were some old favorites of hers that she was delighted to see (even though she briefly confused Interpol for Incubus).

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