When I saw that Lizzo is playing the Capitol Hill Block Party, I squealed and twirled for an amount of time I'd prefer not to disclose. I never wanted to be a groupie, but after my sixth Lizzo concert, I had to come to terms with the fact that I was more than an average fan. Lizzo does this to a lot of people. The Minneapolis-based hiphop artist is known for her body-positive tracks and killer live shows. Even Prince was among her devotees. Maybe that explains why I keep schlepping my body across the country to see her shows. My love for Lizzo has taken me to all kinds of music festivals, from grimy city streets to forested campgrounds. In the course of those adventures, I've become something of an expert on festing, and so I've gathered some tips to help you make the most of your summer music experiences. And each piece of advice comes with a Lizzo anecdote. I told you I'm obsessed!
Wear Something That Makes You Feel Fabulous but Jesus Christ Make Sure It's a Fabric That Can Breathe
Thrift and resale shops are the best places to find breezy, colorful clothes perfect for sweating in front of a crowd while still looking gorgeous. Sure, roll your eyes. I don't care how I look when I'm festin', you're thinking. But here's the thing, bro: Sometime next February, on that miserable 90th consecutive day without sun, you'll scroll through your Instagram and look for a #TBT summer moment to pump you with vitamin D and nostalgia. Will you see yourself in a suffocating cotton polo from Gap or a sheer statement piece that turns your sweat into an effervescent glisten? It's your choice, but I suggest supporting a local resale shop and getting an airy something that makes you feel beautiful. Also, screw beauty: Fanny packs are your fest friends. They're more than an accessory for a mom in the 1980s or that ironic barista you hesitantly admire. A fanny pack is where you store your cash, vitamins, portable charger, and illicit baggies.
Related Lizzo anecdote: Her show outfits circa 2015 were mostly purchased from B. Resale, a shop in Minneapolis, where fans could usually find her hanging out with a friend near the register, blessing common folk by complimenting their clothing choices. Once, on a warm day in July, she looked at my floral blouse and olive-green short shorts and said, "Nice."
I Hate to Break It to You, but You Won't Thrive on a Diet of Rainier and Fast Food
I won't tell you what you can and can't put inside your body, but of all the things you shove inside yourself, make sure some of it is food. (Edibles don't count.) Most festivals don't allow bringing in your own food, but if a festival does, take them up on the offer. You can't always rely on fest fries or a performer throwing you a free burger from the stage.
But that's the kind of thing Lizzo does for her fans. Around the time of her first album, Lizzobangers, it seemed she ended every concert by throwing trays of warm cookies into the crowd (the album's popular single is "Batches & Cookies"). It was clever branding, and also a much-needed snack. Once, after a rambunctious gig, Lizzo chucked something like 40 White Castle sliders out into her audience. One hit me in the face before landing on the floor. I ate it, obviously.
It's Okay to Leave a Show to Hook Up with a Stranger
Yeah, yeah, we all know peer pressure is stupid and you don't need to take acid just because your friends take acid. But if you opt out of your group's decision to do drugs, you should replace the adventure with something you find equivalently satisfying.
Once, during a festival where Lizzo was performing, my friends decided it would be a great idea to see the Indigo Girls while tripping balls. I chose to forego the tripping, instead pursuing a different sort of balls: a pair attached to a festival organizer from Baltimore. After realizing a Porta-Potty wasn't the best place to hook up, he took me to a room he'd rented out at a Motel 6. Festivals require endurance, and sometimes self-care is making a stranger call you dirty names while you use them for their motel shower.
Ignore the Cool Kids: You Don't Need to Camp to Truly Fest
There are a bunch of Northwest festivals where you can camp (with names like Timber!, Sasquatch!, Cascadia, and Chinook). But that doesn't mean you should camp. You don't have to. Camping can get wild real quick. I will never forget the inaugural night of the Eaux Claires music fest in Wisconsin, when Lizzo sent out a tweet around 1 a.m. asking if anyone had seen her bandmate Sophia Eris. A nasty cluster of tornadoes was cutting through the fest's campgrounds, and Eris was missing. Through choppy reception, I was checking my phone. I read the tweet while huddled in a friend's car. We thought we were more likely to survive a twister in a Subaru than a tent. "I hope Sophia Eris isn't dead," said my friend. "If she is," I responded, "she better rap for us in heaven." We then watched a twister form over the lake beside our tent. I contemplated the afterlife and realized the 35-year-old who'd earlier told us, "You dumb twentysomethings, there's nothing wrong with a hotel bed," was right. Screw campgrounds. Four walls, a roof, and a shower is sometimes better than roughing it. (Sophia Eris, by the way, is alive and well.)
It's 100 Times Better to See a Show Alone Than Not to See It at All
There comes a time during every festival when you'll need to choose between your friends and a band. Maybe your friends will reveal they all love some teenybopper-beloved songstress like Meghan Trainor, and you'll try to replace your sudden urge to vomit with a suggestion: "What if we see M. Ward or Shamir?" But no, they'll insist Trainor or Betty Who or some indie Katy Perry look-alike is the show you shouldn't miss, and you'll have to choose between tagging along with your friends and seeing your preferred show alone. You should always, always choose to see your preferred show, even if that means going solo.
My most cherished musical memory was once watching Lizzo and Justin Vernon sing with a very pregnant Channy Leaneagh during a Poliça set, something I only experienced because I was okay with seeing a show by myself. Friends are lovely, but they're secondary to the performers. And much like hunting for the right lover or pair of jeans, you're more likely to find a perfect fit when you're seeking it out on your own. So be bold, festies, because the most rewarding intoxication you can find at a music festival is discovering you're someone's fan.