As it is festival season and with Glastonbury kicking off next week, I thought I’d reminisce my festival experience from a couple years ago.

The thought of going to a music festival made me shiver to the fact that there are massive crowds, people would probably be or most likely be smashed, high, aggressive and also, the toilet situation, body hygiene… the list goes on. Perhaps I was tunneling my vision of festivals in the UK.

I was proved wrong.

I had a few things on my bucket list of ‘things to do before I was 30 and a couple of these being:

1) Going on holiday alone and 2) Go to a music festival.

In 2014, I was still living in Hong Kong so Japan was close enough to get to for a long weekend away. I chose Summer Sonic Festival mainly because of the lineup and the venue looked relatively easy to get to i.e. near a train station! The festival happens in 2 locations in Japan, one in Osaka and one in Tokyo over a weekend in mid-August and I chose Osaka because I had already been to Tokyo. This was actually my first ever festival and going alone did make me anxious, especially when it was in another country. But after a lot of research, a Japanese SIM card ordered and many maps printed out, I was ready and raring to go!

Day 1: Saturday 16th August

August in Osaka is pretty hot - Clear skies and a nice breeze, lush. I was staying in Shinsaibashi in the Namba area and I made my way to the festival by train from Namba Station. I got off at Sakurajima station and there were signs to shuttle buses that went to Summer Sonic - I was just following the crowd and managed to get chatting to a few English guys which made my day as I was alone!

wristbandsWe arrived at the venue and you have to collect you wrist bands by handing in your printed out ticket details - DON’T forget to print these out before you get to the event!!

I was then separated from my new British friends as I bought 2 separate day tickets rather than the weekend ticket and to collect my wrist band, I had to go to another booth…  somewhere else on site.

Note: Your wristband – DON’T pull the plastic toggle too tight! Once pulled tight, you can’t adjust it and you won’t get a replacement if damaged or lost. (And yes, I was one of those who pulled the toggle too tight and my wrist was a bit uncomfortable for the weekend – high five!).

Once I got myself sorted, bought myself a beer and went to see Ellie Goulding at the Mountain stage. I didn’t listen to her music much prior to this but boy, she is really good live and my love for Ellie grew. It started raining during her set but that didn’t stop me having a [lonely] boogie, beer in hand.

Ellie
I went for a wander and ended up at the Jack Daniels booth and got a JD and ginger beer (different… but tasty) and found a spot outside to sit and people watch. Then, I heard some people speaking English and I turned towards the voices and realised that it was the English boys I met on the bus! We had a catchup and we went towards the Ocean Stage. Avril Lavigne was up next! Avril Lavigne opened up with her latest song ‘Hello Kitty’ and then played some of her classics which me and the boys sang our hearts out to (they had no shame!).

At this point, I needed food and a sit down, my back was aching from standing up straight looking over peoples’ heads all afternoon. I went back to the Jack Daniels booth and grabbed another JD+Ginger beer (I’m not an alcoholic, promise!) and walked around the food booths to see what was on offer.

Food
There was a variety of Asian style snacks and presented in a way to make your eyes water. I was starving and would probably eat anything at this point. As I sipped my JD +Ginger beer whilst browsing the array of snackage, I finally decided on a sausage, yep just the dog, no bread. I searched for a space on the wooden benches under a canopy, and nibbled away.

Jack and saus
Evening was drawing in and most of the crowd was waiting for the next set on the Ocean Stage, Queen + Adam Lambert!!! This is my first ever time seeing Queen (and Adam lambert) and it was one helluva show. It was dark, and it started to rain again. Everyone was singing along and dancing and jumping, the atmosphere was just incredible.

Queen
It was around 9pm and I was seriously getting tired from hours of standing and I also needed the loo. I left the guys and headed to the portaloos – and may I add, that the portoloos at Summer Sonic were the cleanest portaloos I have ever seen. Considering the amount of people were using them, you felt safe using them.

Day 2: Sunday 17th August

For the second day I decided to head to the festival earlier as I desperately wanted to see Krewella and I hadn’t checked out the merchandise area - I needed to get a souvenir tee shirt.

Same deal with collecting my second day wrist band from the Rakuten booth and headed straight over to the Ocean Stage to secure my spot near the front of the stage for Krewella.

These EDM/Rock sisters are so pumped up live, the crowd was going crazy and I sang my heart out to ‘Alive’ (T.U.N.E.). After my freak out dance session I needed a beverage. I went to the trusty JD booth and grabbed my usual and also bought a bottle of water. I sat at the back of the Ocean Stage and watch the 1975 play, these guys are off the roof!

So, I needed to get a souvenir tee shirt at some point and thought now would be a good time to wander over to the merchandise area. I looked and looked and most of the booths were empty or there were the miscellaneous items left like… an XXXL hoodie or the tee shirts that didn’t sell well. In the end, I settled for a Summer Sonic 2014 Towel. Yup, a towel.

Rookie mistake: Don’t go to the merchandise area on Day 2
Lesson learnt: Go first thing when you arrive on Day 1! The choices are endless.

After getting my towel, me and the boys seemed to have formed a group and we explored the other stages together, we checked out the Flower Stage and the band CHTONIC was playing, Sonic stage - Mogwai and Twenty One Pilots, Mountain stage – Babymetal and Megadeth (omg, these guys know how to put on a show).

The main set the crowd were waiting for were The Arctic Monkeys, they were the last set on the Ocean Stage of the evening and we went to get a good spot.

Arctics1
Arctics 2

By the time the Arctic Monkeys were nearing their final song, I was ready to leave and the one of the guys then said ‘Why don’t we go karaoke?’. All of us: YES!

When in Japan...

What to expect at Summer Sonic:

This being my first festival, I’m glad I chose Summer Sonic. If I had to describe the festival in one word, it would be: Civilised. Here’s why:

Crazy behaviour. I didn’t see any. Festivals usually mean, thousands of people congregating  in one area, there is music, food, alcohol which might also mean drunk behaviour. WRONG. I didn’t see any crazy, rude or aggressive behaviour once during the weekend.

Smoking. Of course you see the odd person smoking around the site but there are actual designated smoking areas and people respected these areas. Smokers gathered in and around the designated smoking area where you can buy smokes, smoke with your buddies and make new friends in the ‘smokers area’.

Toilets are CLEAN. The toilet situation was one I was afraid of - not only were they public toilets, but portaloos. But I was mind boggled at how decent the toilets were. The toilets were squatters and didn't have a bad smell coming from the toilet area. But, they always had plenty of toilet paper stocked and a stocked soup dispenser. Wuuut??!

Crowd control. When the crowds were going from stage to stage, people walked in a line in both directions. No pushing, no shoving, it was all just really pleasant getting from point to point. When people were exiting the Ocean Stage area (one of the bigger areas), it was so neat and tidy. Amazing.

Litter. What litter?? People picked up their rubbish and put them into.. wait for it… separating bins!! You don’t see any bottles, food, wrappers etc in sight. So even your shoes are enjoying the festival.

Personal space. Even when you’re near the front, there will be people walking through the crowds, but do so in such a polite way. If you’re dancing away or moshing, you get to keep your personal space, people walk around you and leave you to your creative dancing. Again, no pushing, no shoving. Good times.

Sunset mountain stagePerfect end to a Sunday. Summer Sonic Sunset.

N and boysMe and the Brit boys

I haven’t been to a festival since Summer Sonic but I will be going to Ultra Europe in Croatia this July!

Can. Not. Wait.

Nat xo
(Originally posted on my electricmeows.wordpress.com)

Published by Natalie W