Watching Music Festivals on TV is One of My Favorite Pastimes

So, as an autistic human, concerts are *a lot* for me. I love music and I even love live music. Concerts have such a specific energy that fills up my whole body. It seems like my passion for music and the feeling that the energy of music gives me would make me an ideal candidate for loving a music festival! So why don’t I love going to them?

Well, there are a lot of reasons for that, most of them “other people” related. The first problem is getting there, of course. I famously hate driving (despite loving almost all of my cars), so getting to the event is always a hassle. Sure, I could have someone else drive me, but that makes me feel mad guilty.

Why would I want someone else to do something for me that I don’t want to do for myself? Feels mean.

And then when you get to the event, there is a line to get in that always feels super disorganized. Once in the event, there is no escape from the elements (I’m assuming we’re going to an outdoor festival, okay?) or a place to regulate.

Now, true, I used to go to these all the time. In fact, I discovered the first band I became truly obsessed with at the very first 99x Big Day Out in 1997. My dad had just died (we were supposed to go together) and we were getting ready to move to Florida from Georgia. It was a time of great transition in my life.

It was a good time – a friend of the family took me and my younger brother and I mosh pit-ed for the first time. I was super close to the stage for the band before the Mighty Mighty Bosstones, who I adored because of their appearance in Clueless and I had no idea they would change my life.

Literally.

And continually.

From the moment they started the chords of “This Little Light of Mine”… well, at first I was like, “WTF a jesus song?!” but then I went with it and was filled with 45 minutes of the most life-affirming, inspiring music I’ve ever felt.

In the years following, I went to about one Cowboy Mouth concert per year.

I loved them so much that I convinced a coworker to travel to the New Orleans Jazz Fest a few years later. That was also a life-changing trip, where I fell head over heels in love with New Orleans. And I got to see Mystikal live for the first time because we got bored with the Dave Matthews Band, who performed directly after Cowboy Mouth.

Cowboy Mouth also introduced me to one of my favorite humans, KPerks. I was babbling about my love for them on a podcast I used to produce and she was listening. She had also been obsessed with the band for quite some time and the rest is history. She’ll also come into play later.

I’ve been to Warped Tour a few times. And a smattering of other concerts, including Luda multiple times, Watsky even more than that, Mystikal again, and seeing Jack White live with the Raconteurs. That last one happened only because of a dear friend who worked at a radio station and I’ll never stop thanking him.

But something happened when I started learning more about my brain – I have a much more difficult time powering through these situations that make me uncomfortable. It’s like, now that I’ve realized the things that make me twitchy and anxious are valid feelings and not just annoyances that ruined everyone else’s days if I speak out about them like I’d been taught to believe.

It’s hard to protect myself – because of the people pleasing that is so ingrained into my entire being, my default is to always let myself feel uncomfortable rather than let someone down. So I used to power through a lot. And while I would have mostly positive experiences, my insides were a very unquiet storm for quite some time after a big outing like that.

I now know that it is my nervous system being all dysregulated.

As much as I’d love to see the surprise guests and huge art installations at festivals like Coachella, I just don’t see it ever happening. Too many unknowns, too much traffic, too many people. It is too stressful to even think about.

Then one night me and KPerks were traveling somewhere – I think it was Detroit to check out the city before possibly moving here.

Spoiler alert: we both live in the Metro Detroit area now, so we both fell in love with the city, too.

While there, we had our fair share of doinkers and settled in for the evening. It was snowing outside in April, so we were inside.

We put on the TV, fucked around on YouTube and bit, and then saw that Coachella was streaming, so we put it on while we were talking.

It was honestly magical. We got to see bands we already knew performing elaborately. We discovered new bands we’d never even heard of or considered. I think that first year was the year we discovered The Hu.

And I got a little taste of the energy of the crowd and the vibe of the event. It’s such a good way for me to experience something I probably never will have the money or brain capacity to navigate in my life.

I honestly might consider saving up if there were, like, a nuerodivergent lane for people with brains like me. And space to center myself if I need to. As big as live music festivals are – to me, it feels like there is no way to escape.

So watching on TV is perfect – I can switch stages without having to make a trek anywhere. I can eat whatever I want on a table with a plate and fork. I don’t have to spend one million dollars on water.

There are a few different music festivals that do this nowadays: Coachella is the one I seem to catch most frequently, but I’ve also watched Lollapalooza, Bonnaroo, Pitchfork, and more.

Coachella will be broadcasting on YouTube again this upcoming weekend. Just type “Coachella” into YouTube and pick a stage.

Here’s a schedule, in case you need to do some planning, like my brain does. The weekend 2 schedule is out – check it out – we got a late nite Tyler, the Creator performance on deck!

Here are the new (to me) folks I’ve seen and loved already:

  • Clown Core
  • Jungle
  • Barry Can’t Swim

And DJ Snake’s set was top notch, too.

I don’t want a great deal, like, the whole time or anything. It’s mostly late at night.

Do you know any of the bands performing? Who else should I be looking out for?

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