USA Standoff: West Coast vs East Coast Music Festivals

Festivals, festivals everywhere! With over a 100 festivals happening yearly in just the US, it can get pretty difficult to choose your must-sees for the season. But have no fear, Festival Squad is here to help! In hopes to narrow things down a bit, let’s take a peek into two contrasting, premier US festival experiences- both magical in their own ways:

The West Coast Festival

Photo by SageTee Photography

It’s 6am, the sun is just starting to peak over the mountainside, and it’s a scorching 90 degrees already. You can barely breathe in your stuffy 8’ X 8’ tent that you borrowed from a coworker, so you decide to get an early start on the first day of your west coast festival because sleeping in is never an option when you are baking under the desert sun. Once you’re awake, it’s time to start the pregame festivities. You meet your campsite neighbors, since everyone is in pretty close quarters, and then get started on that first game of beer pong that you’ve been so looking forward to. After a few hours, you wipe the sweat off your face, decide to embrace the heat (because what would a west coast festival be without some perspiration and BO, am I right?), and head into the festival.

Walking through the festival you notice the remarkable, stylish outfits and beautiful, smiling faces. The sun is shining as the temperature climbs to triple digits by noon. As you walk from stage to stage through the desert dust, you make sure to have your handkerchief handy because without that you will be coughing up black dust balls for days after the festival.

The stages themselves are enormous and you try your hardest to get to the front, but you’d rather be able to feel a slight, warm, desert breeze then to be slammed against the rail. As the sun goes down, the temperature follows suit and you head back to your campsite to change into some warm clothes and try to get some sleep while it’s not 104 degrees out.

You repeat these steps for the remaining days of the festival and the last morning arrives. You wake up feeling the exhaustion hit and the sun burn kicking in. The clean-up and four-hour drive home blows, but you don’t mind since this weekend was incredible and left you feeling like you were in Rufus Du Sol’s music video for Desert Nights.

5 Must-Attend West Coast Festivals:

Burning Man, Black Rock City, NV

Lightning in a Bottle, Bradley, CA

Symbiosis Gathering, Oakdale, CA

Dirtybird Campout, Oak Canyon Park, CA

Outside Lands, San Francisco, CA

The East Coast Festival

Photo by Don Idio

It’s 6am, rainy, and a humid 85 degrees. Your tent is filled with a small rain puddle because you didn’t zip it all the way up last night. You decide to fall back asleep for a couple hours because cleaning up that mess is a hassle. 8:30 am rolls around and you wake up your festie crew to start your day with some breakfast and mimosas. Your neighbors are close, but not on top of you since the camping grounds are a little more spread out. It’s still hot and sticky, but the rain has died off by now, so you declare a victory and start to prepare for an epic festival weekend.

Frolicking through the festival, you recognize the diversity and decorative P.L.U.R. outfits. The humidity is high and your feet are sweating, because of the boots you wore in case of rain and mud. As you glide over the mud, you notice that you can’t see the stages from one to another and the stages are quite far apart. You make it to the stage before the performances begin and you finally make your way to the front of the stage. It may be humid, but the drizzle of the rain on your face feels good enough to let you be upfront with 500 other sweaty humans.

As the night slowly comes to an end, your legs are covered in mud and your hair is a huge ball of frizz. You change into some dry clothes and get some sleep before the next day arrives.

Fast forward to the final morning. Your body is aching, but luckily the rain has subsided by now, making the clean-up go a lot smoother. Since the drive is only two hours, you decide to push through and not switch with your co-pilot halfway through. The weekend was one for the books and yet another reminder that we do it for the love.  

5 Must-Attend East Coast Festivals: 

Camp Bisco, Scranton, PA

Electric Zoo, New York City, NY

Firefly, Dover, DE

Electric Forest, Grant Township, MI – (not completely east coast, but it deserves to be on the list!)

Hangout Fest, Gulf Shores, AL

No matter which side you choose, west coast or east coast, you won’t be disappointed. Just make sure you bring your spray fan to the West and your rain boots to the East!

We’ll see you at the next festival!


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