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The Summer Festival
Survival Guide

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Festival Veterans Share Advice, Tips And Tricks To Help Eventgoers Enjoy Coachella, San Diego Comic-Con and Other Fan Festivals This Summer

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By Ryan Scott
Modern Times Magazine

April 20, 2016 — It is getting warmer outside (especially for those of us who live in Arizona) and that means that summer is drawing nearer. Summer, that time of year when music festivals and conventions really ramp up and all throughout the country, and fans of all sorts gather by the thousands to appreciate the music, art and other interests they love.

From more localized events like Phoenix Comicon to global monstrosities like San Diego Comic-Con and Coachella, these events all tend to have something in common: they are extremely difficult to navigate, especially for first time goers. That being said there are plenty of things attendees can do to prepare themselves and enhance their experience at upcoming events, be it a comic book convention or a music festival. Afterall, festivals don’t tend to be cheap and the last thing anyone wants is to have their experience ruined, because of unanticipated expenses or challenges.

When it comes to conventions like San Diego Comic-Con specifically, “The Traveling Nerd” Lance Paul has a tremendous amount of experience attending as both a fan and a professional, and, with that, he has had to learn the hard way about how to survive the madness that accompanies the country’s premier comic-related event.

“Even after all these years, cons, and festivals I still love it! But, I will say I have became more savvy when it comes to navigating them,” Paul said. “I remember my first con like it was yesterday. The thirst of your nerddom going crazy, the flourish of con babes dressed to the nines in their best latex cosplay, and even the hope or chance to meet that third colorist on the first X-Men book you read as a kid or that fifth extra once removed that may have played a borg on “Deep Space Nine”. This is what con glory is made of!“

Paul, like many fans, started attending cons in order to gather with likeminded individuals and meet some of his heroes. But now, as an actor and producer, he is seeing these things from a totally different angle. With that, he has a very complete view and has a few tips for less experienced con goers.

“Always bring snacks,” he said. “Food is overpriced and subpar at cons and fests. Always bring a backup dapper nerd shirt. You never know when you may get rallied into a nerd pub crawl that may then become a hot night with a half elf cosplayer.  Actors, Artists and writers are humans just like you and I, so treat them fairly. Also, keep in mind, you may honor them as this mecca of nerd due to that role they played on Buffy [the Vampire Slayer], but they saw that as just a gig and don't know their characters backstory like you do. And finally always have fun! Make friends and buy me a beer if you see The Traveling Nerd.”

A lot of those same concepts apply to any type of big event, but music festivals and things of that sort are a bit of a different beast. For that, Gabe Kubanda is the right kind of guy to give eventgoers advice. Kubanda is a musician and owner of the Epic Proportions Tour, which brings smaller bands to events all around the country, and he has a ton of hands on experience with music festivals going back to his days playing dates on the Vans Warped Tour all the way up to having just played this year’s South by Southwest.

“I'm blessed to be able to do this for a living, and to also have these amazing bands to tour with, and to share these road experiences with,” said Kubanda, who has toured with local talent like Captain Squeegee.

“Attending your first festival can be super fun, but some people just can't hang, and it's almost 100 percent because they didn't use good judgement beforehand,” Kubanda said. “It's usually menial things that turn bad later on, like forgetting your ID, phone, wallet, sunscreen or water, or bringing things you shouldn't like your pocket knife keychain, alcohol, etc., and they make you throw it in the trash.”

Kubanda also warns that a festival should be an experience and that bringing friends who may drink a bit too much or partake in too much of any other mind altering substance should be avoided. They can ruin the experience not only for themselves, but for you as well.

“My go-to tips are, be nice to the front ushers, be nice to the stage security, basically, be nice to everyone. That's how cool stuff happens,” Kubanda said.

Kubanda and Paul both have their own experience that qualifies them to give useful advice for prospective festival goers. As a journalist and fan, I also have some experience and tips to share with you before you head out to your next event.

For one, when it comes to multi-day festivals like Coachella, showers aren’t really going to be an option. So, bringing extra water and deodorant are obviously recommended, but I also suggest packing some baby wipes because they can be a total lifesaver. They will help you freshen up and feel human again as you’re rolling into that third day covered in 72 hours worth of sweat and grime.

That leads me to my next point.

Make sure to research what the accomodations are going to be like for the event. San Diego Comic-Con famously strains the hotel situation in San Diego every year, and Coachella’s camping arrangement is neither cheap nor widely available. So, just make sure you have a place to sleep beforehand, even if you don’t have a place to shower.

Lastly, and this is maybe the most important, research on the event itself. Instead of blindly rolling into a comic book convention that has hundreds of guests and panels all overlapping or a music festival that has multiple stages and hundreds of acts, do yourself a favor and look at the schedule ahead of time, so you aren’t scrambling to see your favorite attractions.

Virtually every major festival will have this information available far in advance, and many often have tools to help you plan things out and make sure you don’t have scheduling conflicts. So, whether you’re going to a local comic book trade show or making the journey to your first Lollapalooza, be sure to have fun and heed the advice of these seasoned veterans and, above all, have a good time.
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