5 Things I Learned From Pilgrimage Festival 2017

September 27
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Making the pilgrimage two years in a row has taught me a few things about music festivals as well as myself. After reflecting on my weekend of music, community, and dabbing sweat from places sweat shouldn’t be, it’s safe to say that Pilgrimage Festival 2017 won’t be my last weekend spent waiting 30 minutes in line for a margarita at Harlinsdale Farm. Because dammit, it’s worth it.

Never underestimate the power of taking in music with tens of thousands of strangers (upwards of 25,000 wristband-wearers according to The Tennesseean). The magic that crackles through the air when a swaying sea of heads are singing in unison under the night sky is a special brand of alchemy that affirms my enthusiasm for the human experience. It’s like butterflies in your stomach multiplied by the urge to high-five anyone within 10 feet of you to the exponent of three. And I promise this is not just my contact high from the concert crowd talking. Because if that was the case I couldn’t have just laid down that serious math equation/metaphor type magical wordsmithing. But this isn’t about math, this is about music — most importantly, my top takeaways from Pilgrimage 2017.

The Music Makes You Friends

I lost count of how many times someone asked me, “Do you live here?” Folks traveled from far and wide to attend this music festival and it was really cool to learn where they were from. I met three pretty young things from Ohio who chose to #makethepilgrimage in lieu of the tradish downtown Nashville bachelorette party scene. (Although they did admit to waiting in line almost two hours at Biscuit Love, but who can blame a sister?) I enjoyed dancing to Justin Timberlake’s set with them so much, that when the show was over I slipped some cash in the bride-to-be’s hand and told her to buy herself a drink on me. I didn’t ever catch her name, but I caught her spirit and I could dig it.

Adult Diapers Could Be A Game Changer

To be fair, the Porta Potty village at Pilgrimage is in better condition than most. It wasn’t until deep into Sunday that the water and soap from every plastic sink stand was completely empty. All that being said, I am considering taking matters into my own pants next year and stepping into freedom with an adult diaper. (Finding an outfit to accommodate both this as well as the Satan’s armpit level temperatures is TBD.) Think about it: you don’t risk missing your favorite song because your bladder is going to burst from your overachieving attempt to stay hydrated. No holding your breath while you power pee into an unflushable pit of human waste. No trying to time out your trek to the designated toilet area. Just sweet freedom with a touch of soggy bottom.

If You Go Just One Day, Blow It Out

When you buy the two day band you’re making a commitment to pace yourself. This goes for alcohol, sun exposure, and orders of cheese fries. But if constraints of money, time, or lineup allows you only one day at Pilgrimage, feel free to go balls to the wall. In fact, I beg of you to do so. This is your one day to really blow it out and make an epic showing. If possible, spring for VIP and bounce around the tent-covered village lit by paper lanterns like the bougie MF’er you’ve become for the day.

This Is No Place For Natural Deodorant

In my regular life I wear all natural deodorant with hippie fervor. Pilgrimage is not regular life. Somehow, the event producers managed to reproduce the feeling of being on the surface of the sun for two days. Add to this hundreds of other 98.6 degree bodies within spitting distance and you have yourself an antiperspirant dilemma. Which is why I busted out my emergency Lady Speed Stick 24 hour protection and layered it on as if my very life depended on it. This change in personal hygiene protocol was not adopted by all festival goers, so I am just putting it out there that one or two days of chemical-laden D.O. probably won’t kill you.

Seeing Your Friend There Is The Most Exciting

Since I live in Franklin where Pilgrimage Festival is held, I had a long list of friends that were planning to attend. I knew I’d run into some and I planned to meet up with a few. But something about seeing my friends at this chilled out, open air concert made me straight up giddy. It was like I was seeing them for the first time after they had overcome an incredible hardship. They seemed to be a happier than usual while lost in the rhythm of guitar riffs.

Yes, it was hot as Hades. True, you were required to wait in two separate 20 minute lines for ordering and actually putting your hungry mouth on a soft pretzel. But such things do not discourage music fans. Music fans are the people who save up so they can experience Ryan Adams singing an impromptu song about the guy shooting video on a crane. They plan out their stage hopping and get henna tattoos painted on their hand while catching some shade. They force cash on random bachelorettes. Music fans come to hear the beats that make them shake their ass and croon along to the lyrics that stir their soul. Pilgrimage creates a feeling of, “we’re all in this together.” You make new friends, jump up and down when you see old ones, and start counting the days to next year’s show.

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  1. Lisa Gilliam

    September 27

    True on all accounts! Wish I had run into you so we could have both been giddy!

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