How To Avoid Obnoxious Summer Festival Fans

If John-Paul Sartre was correct when he said that Hell is other people, then summer music festivals are a special kind of Hell indeed. As wonderful as it can be to spend a day communing with your favorite bands in the open air, the hassles of communing with other human beings can be a real bringdown. You’ll never be able to avoid the festival freak show entirely, but this guide can help you steer clear of some of the most malodorous breeds of music fan.

Drunks and druggies

Illicit substance abuse is an unavoidable facet of any sizable music festival, especially the outdoor ones. The vast majority of these users are casual stoners who can be easily ignored by anyone who disapproves. As with anything, though, some folks take it too far. You definitely don’t want to put yourself in the direct path of a hallucinogenic freak-out or amphetamine-fueled rampage. Booze can be even worse. At eight bucks a pop, festival beer is too pricey for most attendees to attempt drinking to excess, but there are always plenty of folks who smuggle in enough hootch to get dangerously sloppy by the middle of the second set. Drunk hazards run the gamut from unprovoked fistfights to projectile vomiting, with plenty of equally noxious behaviors in between.

How to recognize them: Moving erratically and babbling nonsense would be dead giveaways in most settings, but that’s pretty much de rigueur behavior at a music festival. You may have to trust your gut.

How to avoid them: Exercise increased alertness during sets by bands with a reputation for trippiness, extreme raucousness or a hit single that infiltrated the frat house circuit.


These are music lovers who have dedicated their lives to the teachings of a particular band or artist. Regardless of however many hundreds of acts are on the bill, there’s only one performer who matters in their minds. They camp out in front of the stage hours in advance, blocking access for fans of all the preceding acts. They’re rude and dismissive when other bands are playing and obnoxiously enthusiastic when their chosen ones take the stage. They may even break into interfactional squabbling over topics like who’s seen the band play live most often, or whether the group lost its way when the original drummer ODed.

How to recognize them: They’ll generally be decked-out head to toe in band merchandise (the older or more obscure the concert t-shirt the better) and may even be toting homemade gifts for the band members.

How to avoid them: Steer clear of the front of the stage for several hours prior to the band’s scheduled set. Also avoid backstage areas or any place where fans might come into physical contact with the artists.


Dancing is a natural byproduct of any music venue. Busting out a few moves is just a reflexive reaction to any semblance of a rhythm. Heck, some people can even get down to the assonant squalls of folks like Ornette Coleman or Phillip Glass. The point is that there’s nothing at all wrong with dancing to your favorite band. In fact, there’s a lot that’s very right with it, so long as you maintain some common decency. The problem arises when overexuberant types regard the entire fest grounds as their own personal danceteria instead of gravitating toward dance-friendly pockets like the front of the stage and the outskirts of the crowd. No matter how much you’re feeling the groove, the people in your immediate vicinity have no interest in being smacked in the face by your flailing arms or free-swinging dreadlocks.

How to recognize them: Keep an eye out for people noticeably sweatier than the other patrons, and always be wary of shirtlessness. Overlap with the “Drunks and Druggies” contingent is also quite likely.

How to avoid them: Try to situate yourself near a group of particularly hip-looking hipsters, as everyone knows those people are far too uptight to dance under any circumstance. (Warning: This cure may be nearly as bad as the disease.)

Semi-professional festers

There is a peculiar subculture of music fans who devote the better part of their existence to attending festivals. They show up with backpacks, blankets and marker flags in tow. They know where to stake out the prime real estate at every major outdoor venue and will defend their claims with their lives. They’re into the music, sure, but their approach isn’t that of any casual concertgoer. Many of them seem to take an almost businesslike approach to festing, as though this is just as much a job as it is entertainment. Who are these people? Where do they come from? How do they finance their nomadic lifestyles? The world may never know, but they’ll be an unnerving, obtrusive presence for the foreseeable future.

How to recognize them: The aforementioned flags and blankets are a bit of a clue. Heavy-duty portable coolers may also enter the picture.

How to avoid them: Again, the flags and blankets should tip you off.


Any large-scale entertainment event is bound to lure a few familiar faces along with the usual unwashed rabble. Though many festival-going stars are happy to parlay their fame into a comfortable spot backstage, others understandably prefer to get into the thick of the crowd and live like the common people. This can be a problem for non-famous folks who happen to get pulled into a star’s orbit. It isn’t the celebrity’s fault, but the steady stream of gawkers and stalkers gets old fast for an innocent bystander. From amateur autograph hounds to professional paparazzi to creepy guys who pull the old “Quick, snap a picture of me dancing next to Alyssa Milano” trick, a surprising number of otherwise rational people lose their common sense when faced with tangential fame.

Even worse are people who have become famous specifically for their antics at public events. Exhibitionists like mod dancer Beatle Bob, “rock poet” Thax Douglas and professional panhandler The Naked Cowboy make active spectacles of themselves, attracting a particularly obnoxious breed of ironic followers. Steer clear of these guys at all costs.

How to recognize them: They’re celebrities. Duh.

How to avoid them: Anytime you see a crowd of people focused on something other than the stage, it’s a good rule of thumb to head in the opposite direction.



Hilarious list, but if it wasn't for the fans, festivals wouldn't be half as entertaining.

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