If you only make it to one concert a year, do yourself a favor and check out a festival. Seriously. It’s not all mudwrestling and drugs. Although I wish I could build a time machine just to watch Hendrix set fire to that guitar, you know? But I’m getting off track.

Festivals. Go. It’s that simple.

First of all, when you go to a regular concert, you’re usually seeing a band you know and love, and sometimes the opening act is someone you’ve heard of and they’re good and sometimes they just suck. But at a festival, there is usually a mix of the popular and familiar and new and potentially interesting. Some festivals will have more than one stage set up. There will be headliners in one place and more up and coming artists on a second, smaller stage. You can divide your time between the two and really get exposed to some great stuff. Then you’ll get to be that guy who says, “Oh, them? I totally saw them when they were still a second stage act with an hour long set. Got their first concert tour shirt, too. It’s going for $400 on eBay now, man.”Yeah. Really. You don’t believe me? Temple of the Dog played thesecond stage at Lollapalooza. Muse played the emerging artist state at the Woodstock reboot in ’99. Flogging Molly and Cage the Elephant both did the NME stage at Reading/Leeds instead of the main stage. So it is worth it to walk over and check out.

Secondly, and this is huge for me: you’re around like minded people who want to listen to music all day. Sometimes for several days.  Lots of food, drinking, camping, meeting lots of new people, and tunes. So many good tunes. It is like heaven for concert goers. A regular concert you hear an opening act, sometimes two (and if there’s two, you are guaranteed never to have heard of one of them and they likely suck), maybe two hours of the headliner, a fifteen-minute intermission, the encore, and then you’re herded out like cattle. Boom, it’s over. Not if I’m at a festival, dude! It’s music til I can’t take it anymore!

And lastly, there is the cost. I can see the WARPED tour for about $40, and there are over 50 bands on that list. For $45, I could see Cage the Elephant and their two opening acts. AT THE SAME VENUE. Which one is a better deal? I guess it depends on whether you’re a fan of music or a specific group. But I’ll take the festival any day. Some festivals are more expensive and they get some really amazing headliners. The Reading Festival this year has the Chili Peppers and Imagine Dragons on the main stage on the same day, and it would cost about $96 a ticket, which is less than you’d pay if they were playing separately. Meaning festivals are excellent value for those of us who like music but don’t have a lot of money.

No brainer, isn’t it?