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Same Ole, Same Ole Music Festivals?

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Tired of the same ole same ole?

Outdoor music concerts and festivals are beginning to be a bore. Sure the music’s good, often great, but look what you have to put up with. Stoners OD’ing, then begging, “Hey, man! Got a joint? Acid? X?” Drunks falling on you, throwing up, sometimes on you, a guy on your left, another on your right, one in front and back, all yelling in your ears so loud you can’t hear the music. Don’t forget the mud, the ripoff pricing on everything from water (which you can no longer even bring in!), to $2-3 hot dogs, etc, and the lousy, next county parking (which you also have to pay for). And all that’s before you even have a place to stay, or figure out the best way to get there. And lest we forget, planes get canceled, there’s the government-certified groping, the extra charges for a carry-on bag, extra for a stowed bag, extra for an empty bag, or extra for no bag. It’s a wonder they don’t charge you for the air you’re breathing. And how ‘bout those seats? Very comfortable, if your under five feet tall and weigh less than a hundred pounds.

So how about broadening your horizons? Get outta that rut! Add some adventure to your music festivals. Recently there have been some very interesting concerts going on. Most of them are outside the US, which to many in the US is a non-starter. But if you’re adventurous, get yourself a passport and haul ass. You’ll not be disappointed. And if you’re not adventurous, get a life! As Mark Twain wrote in Innocents Abroad, “Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things can not be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.”

Right now, you could be attending a music festival above the Arctic Circle! If that doesn’t pique your interest, you’re dead, dudes and dudettes. At this festival, sure, there’s plenty of music, but the real headliner is nature. You take a plane to Norway, another to the port city of Bodo, and then ride on a boat for roughly (and sometimes rough; it’s the ocean, remember?) five hours, to an island that has the Arctic Ocean as a backdrop, Traena. Temperature is usually right around 50 degrees day and night this time of year, so it’s not unpleasant. And think of the bragging rights! While your friends are going on and about Bonaroo, or Pukearoo, slip in a subtle, quiet, “Well, I went to a festival in the Arctic!” That’ll shut ‘em up.  Check out Wikipedia and Vodka Soda Magazine for details.

On the other end of the spectrum, you just missed this year’s STARMUS Festival.  And where was that held? In the Canary Islands, just off the North African coast, which is Spanish territory, for you woefully ignorant non-world travelers. Think about it, five days (with a weekend on both ends to stretch it out) of, as the website says, “recreational and informative activities in a popular, appealing and dynamic way.”

Getting to brass tacks, the STARMUS website goes on to say:

Astrophotography, space-art exhibitions, documentaries, star parties, talks and conferences are some the endless activities that will delight music fans and astronomy aficionados alike. A stellar cast of musicians, including the band Tangerine Dream will give a concert at the Magma Arts & Congress Hall. The Festival will be topped by trips to the unforgettable observatories on La Palma and Tenerife.

Man, if all that sun, sand and surf (and Tangerine Dream) doesn’t ring your bell, you ain’t got a bell.

And finally, how about the psychedelic, and American, rock group, The Flaming Lips, headlining a gig at the UK’s largest steerable radio telescope? The giant, satellite-dish-shaped Lovell Telescope is the centerpiece of the Jodrell Bank Centre for Astrophysics in Manchester, England.  In addition, Live From Jodrell Bank was a smashing success.

Doesn’t any one of these just beat the crap out of the mud, the blood and the beer?

When you go, skip the snarling American air carrier desks, with their typical air hostess courtesy where the underlying subtext to every request is, “One more question and I’ll break your fucking neck, sir.” Give British Air, Lufthansa, Swiss Air, or Virgin a try. You’ll get a look at what a pleasant flying experience used to be like in the US.

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About Lou Novacheck