The warm weather means the start of music festival season, where all of your favorite bands play their for throngs of revelers who love them as much as you do. The only downside, of course, are the ticket prices, crowds, noise, and general hassle of going. Here’s how to bring a little of that experience home so you can enjoy it from the comfort of your couch.
Of course, there’s nothing like the thrill of feeling physically moved by walls of speakers and feeling the energy of a great crowd all gathered to hear the same artists you are, but even if you love the music, odds are you can do without the pressing wall of people, expensive refreshments, hot temperatures, awful bathrooms (or worse, port-o-potties), and the hassle of getting there, staying there, and getting home. Luckily, even the most popular music festivals make it easy to experience from afar, especially for those of us who either don’t have the cash or the inclination to plunge in with a few dozen thousand of our like-minded friends.
Check to see if your local festival—or favorite festival—has a YouTube channel, then look back over their uploaded videos for “completed events” or other live streams that have been concluded. You may not be able to watch the stream recordings, but at least you’ll know that they offer live streams. If you don’t see a YouTube channel, you may not be out of luck. Check the festival web site and see if there’s mention of a live stream (you’ll probably have to dig past ticketing and lineup information). For good measure, check out the festival’s Facebook or Twitter accounts as well. Look back over their mentions or posts from the previous year—if there’s an official stream or a way for fans at home to listen in on what’s happening at the show, they’ll mention it.
I was lucky enough to enjoy many of Coachella sets during the live streaming weekend right from the comfort of my couch. However, I was a few weeks late to enjoy any of the live sets at Ultra, so I had to make up for it later on by doing a little digging. If your festival has a YouTube or Vimeo channel, odds are they’ve posted videos of some of the biggest, most interesting sets at the event. How much of the set you’ll be able to watch depends on the festival (and the artist), but you’ll probably be able to check out some of your favorite bands, and explore some musicians you wouldn’t have otherwise listened to. See what’s available to enjoy. You may even be able to go back beyond last year’s festival to previous events and watch recorded sets from years gone by—or even musicians who don’t tour or do live shows anymore.
Official video of live sets is great, but you’ll have much better luck finding the actual music you would have heard at the event over at SoundCloud. Set up an account (if you don’t already have one) and follow your favorite musicians there—or just the ones who performed at the festival you want to recreate. In many cases they’ll post their sets to their SoundCloud page after the show, sometimes within hours. Even if they can’t (due to licensing issues with the festival or the venue, for example) you’ll probably be able to find live sets from other events, or just at-home performances and special mixes for SoundCloud fans and followers to fill in the gap. If you don’t find your favorite artists on SoundCloud, it’s possible they’ve defected due to some tricky business with the music industry. That’s okay—check out these SoundCloud alternatives and see if your favorite musician, DJ, or band has a presence there. SoundCloud is the biggest option, but it’s not the only one, and you’ll find some gems on Mixcloud, Bandcamp, and others you may not hear anywhere else.
Build Your Own Playlists to Match the Set Lists and Stage Lineups
Once you’ve done all of this digging, and have a great list of YouTube channels, SoundCloud profiles, and other sources of music, it’s time to put them together into a playlist so you can have your own little at-home music festival. YouTube and SoundCloud both have tools to make playlists, but if you don’t want to hop around from site to site between songs or sets the same way you’d walk from stage to stage at a festival, there’s a better way. Previously mentionedWhyd can organize songs, sets, and videos from YouTube, Vimeo, SoundCloud, and others into a single seamless playlist (or set of playlists) for safe keeping. Best of all, you can come back to those playlists whenever you want to.
Similarly, Songdrop, another similar service we love, does a great job at this too, and if you’d rather take your music festival with you on your phone, previously mentionedPlaymoss sacrifices broad support for lots of music sites for mobile apps that keep the music going when you’re out and about. Once you have your own perfect setlist or lineup, just let the playlist rip and enjoy your own personal version of that big music festival from the air conditioned comfort your couch, or in your headphones at the office while you work.
If you really like the outdoor music experience, grab a portable Bluetooth speaker, pack a few drinks and a lunch, and head out to a public park or down to the beach with a few friends. Alternatively, you can just commune with the music through your favorite headphones and a comfortable chair. It’s entirely up to you.
Of course, some music festivals are best experienced in person, but if you’re not eager to drop the cash required for some of the most popular ones (we’re looking at you Coachella) or deal with the massive crowds of revelers when you just want to hear some great music and dance, it’s pretty easy to bring the experience home.