Festival Fever

Interview with Olivia Paige: Music Festival Extraordinaire 

MS: I’ve watched my friend Olivia conquer America’s festival scene one concert at a time this spring through various social media platforms, even running into her at Ultra in Miami. She’s explained how much she loves these events and I thought getting an inside look at her experience could be really fun! Below is my interview with Olivia, who I’m willing to bet has the best insight about festivals of any twenty-two year old in the nation! To start, Olivia, tell us a little bit about yourself!

OP: Hi! I'm Olivia, I'm 22, and I'm a senior about to graduate from the University of Southern California! I grew up in Connecticut and Miami and have always been a big fan of music––especially electronic––and going to concerts! I've always loved how artists can express themselves through live performances, and the energy that they bring out on stage to connect with their audience. My first music festival was Ultra Music Festival in Miami when I was 13, and I went with my dad because he wouldn't let me go alone with my older friends. 

MS: Which music festivals have you been to?

OP: I've been to Ultra Music Festival 8 times, Coachella 2 times, Stagecoach once and I tried to go to EZoo once but it was canceled the day I tried to go. Also, I'm currently being slowly convinced to go to EDC Vegas this year, so we'll see if that happens. 

MS: What made you want to go to so many? Was there inspiration besides this decision?

OP: Ultra has sort of become my "thing" since my dad lives in Miami, so I always know that I'm going to go, and then figure out who I'm going with later. I love the music, it's an excuse to go home and see my dad, and I always know that it's going to be a great time. I definitely would go to Coachella every year if I had the money, but since it was my senior year at USC and it was close by, I knew I had to go back again this year no matter the price. Coachella and Ultra are definitely a perfect combination since Ultra is more electronic and music focused and Coachella is more a chill vibe and more about the experience combined with the music. I would love to do both every year if I could, but it's all dependent on if I have the funds. This year I also wound up going to Stagecoach because I won free VIP tickets, so I wasn't about to turn them down! The whole experience of a festival is so fun––kind of like its own world for a few days––and if I had the chance (and energy) to go to more I definitely would!

MS: Which one was your favorite?

OP: It honestly depends on the year and the people. One of my favorites was Ultra in 2013 because I was with one of my best friends and we were front row at the main stage for some of the best sets I've ever seen, including what was, at the time, Swedish House Mafia's last show "ever". On the other hand, Coachella this year absolutely blew away my expectations; I was with such an incredible group of people that the combination of some of my favorite artists and just having a great time with friends made it my favorite.

MS: Which one was your least favorite? 

OP: I think Stagecoach was my least favorite because they had so few stages. I'm into country music and knew a lot of the artists, but I prefer festivals where there's a lot going on and you can hop around to a bunch of different artists and genres each day, instead of being glued to just one artist per time slot with no variation in the music. I definitely still had a great time and loved it, it just wasn't what I was expecting having been to Coachella at the same location just two weeks prior. 

MS: Tell us a little bit about Ultra!

OP: Ultra is really cool because it spans all different genres of electronic music, and is more music-centric than experience-focused. The producers go all out with the Main Stage and smaller stage designs, and there are so many artists to see at all hours of the day. It's pretty small in size compared to other festivals, so it's really easy to go from stage to stage and experience everything that Ultra has to offer! The energy there is also incredible––everyone is constantly hyped up and this is one of the biggest events of the year for electronic music so the artists will always bring out special guests and release new songs. 

MS: And we want to hear all about Coachella, too!

OP: Coachella is so much more than a music festival! There are a bunch of different stages at Coachella with all genres of music, so there's really something for everyone. In addition to that, they bring in so many cool food vendors from around LA and around the country, so the food scene is huge. There are also enormous art installations to explore and a bunch of brand activations, and of course the famous ferris wheel! The location is huge so it's definitely worth it to go early and wander around or explore different places in between sets. It's awesome that you can experience so many different artists across the three days, instead of just one genre. 

MS: And finally, tell us a little about Stagecoach.

OP: Stagecoach is definitely the most laid back out of the three, but the people there definitely know how to party. The camping scene is crazy with RV's, life-size beer pong, slip and slides, and more! People rush in every day to take up the coveted blanket and chair space at the main stage. The Main Stage is set up with a VIP area in the front, and a GA area behind that, so it's not as open as other festivals, where VIP is to the side of the stage. Being in the VIP section definitely made the experience better since we were so close to the stage, but a lot of people are just as happy in GA where they can sit and relax. Like I said, it’s more of a chill scene to begin with, so no one is pushing people around or being aggressive in GA. Stagecoach is also fun because Guy Fieri has an entire barbeque tent, so the food is absolutely incredible. 

MS: After quite the attendance record, what do you think is the most important aspect of a good festival?

OP: I think the most important aspect of a good festival is the people that you go with. I went with three different groups for the three festivals I went to this year and realized how important the right "festival crew" is. At Ultra, I was with my best friend and her boyfriend and we all wanted to see the same people so we had such a great time together and we were all on the same wavelength. At Coachella, I was with a group of about fifteen people, and a lot of us had overlapping music taste so each person always had a few other people to see a set with. The difference with such a huge group is that we always had so much energy bouncing off each other and it was so fun to be like a mob at different sets! At Stagecoach, I was with one of my best friends and two of her friends who had never been to a festival before, so it was a lot more low-key and, in some cases, low-energy, compared to my other friends, who are used to going all-out all the time at other festivals. 

MS: What are the contents of your festival fanny pack?

OP: Phone, portable charger, short iPhone cable, gum, chapstick w sunscreen, tissues, wet wipes, sunglasses, refraction glasses, credit card (ID + other cards in my phone case), the one house key I need, a bandana and some cash.

MS: Now that these are all over for the year, do you regret your decision to attend any of them, and will you be in attendance next year?

OP: No! Though I was definitely exhausted, I don't regret going to any of them. I had such a fun time, and next year I'm definitely going to try my best go back to Ultra and Coachella!