“What were your three most perfect days this year?”
It was December 2012, and my dear friend, Jacob, was indulging my love of end-of-the-year-reflection. Our big take-away from the conversation was that the day we spent together at the Firefly music festival in Dover, Delaware last July was on the list.
It had been my first festival experience and the amazing cross section of music lovers of all ages, all dressed like dirty teenagers, dancing their faces off together in a state of ecstatic dehydration, made me fall in love instantly.
Fast-forward to February 2013, and the announcement of the Firefly lineup, which included this rapper you may have heard of – Kendrick Lamar. This is relevant because it was Jacob who first introduced me to Lamar and the track “Backseat Freestyle,” which has made it onto every pump-up, workout, and get-drunk playlist I’ve made in the past six months.
I was stoked for about five minutes. Then, I realized that my tip money was not going to stretch far enough to get me even a one-day ticket, and that Jacob wasn’t willing to come home from school to go with me anyway.
But isn’t this the story of how I did get to go to Firefly?
Yes. Cue, miracle. Enter, Mom.
Last week, I got to meet Helen Leicht because a spot on Philly Local was one of the prizes for my mom’s non-profit’s annual songwriting contest. Another one of the prizes was a set at Firefly. Because I know how to set up the PSP banner stand, I got hooked up with one of the 3-day, all-access, Artist wristbands allocated to the team.
Stoked once again, everything was sunshine and daisies until the morning of the festival. As I was pre-gaming in the car I realized that I was about to go to a festival with my mom. I started to panic and feel sorry for myself for being alone. Even though I knew I was super fortunate to be there at all. Even though nobody cared or noticed that I was by myself. Even though all the social interaction at shows consists of picking at grass and complaining about the heat anyway.
I texted my friend.
“I am officially drunk, alone, at a festival”
To which she replied, “Make the most of the environment and experience rather than focusing on what is missing for you.”
Suddenly, my anxiety deflated. I was there to get sunburned and dance myself stupid, and nothing was going to get in the way of that. So I focused on enjoying myself and saw some phenomenal acts including Django Django, ZZ Ward, Michael Bernard Fitzgerald, and, of course, Kendrick Lamar.
On a whim, I decided to wait for the full hour between ZZ Ward’s show and Kendrick Lamar’s so I could get as close to the stage as possible. What I didn’t realize was that this was a decision to sacrifice any attachment to personal space.
Even though he wasn’t scheduled to perform until 4 p.m., by 3:15 p.m. I was squished between sociable-drunk-girl and bros-covered-in-glitter-and-body paint, with my scalp frying under a blazing sun and breezeless sky. Meanwhile, my mom was hanging out in the VIP tent drinking bottled water and texting me that I was insane.
By 3:20 p.m., I felt insane.
At 3:30 p.m., sociable-drunk-girl had turned into that-girl-trying-to-fight-a-security-guard, which provided momentary entertainment and some bystander bonding.
By 3:45 p.m., one of the bros had chivalrously distracted her from finger pointing and fighting with authority figures by sticking his tongue down her throat.
When Kendrick finally appeared at 4 p.m., I had migrated ahead of the sloppy drunk people to be with the fun drunk people. Together, we let out all of the boredom and frustration that had been building up throughout a painfully long 60 minutes by dancing and cheering and singing along.
And yes, I freaked out when he did “Backseat Freestyle”. It was extremely gratifying.
My mom and I decided to call it a day after Lamar so we started walking back through the super secret, gated, backstage maze, to the artist compound where our car was parked. I knew it would be my last chance to spot famous people, so even though I’m usually shy and awkward around celebrities, I kept an eye out.
Right before we got to the parking lot, we had to stop for a truck passing through. It moved aside and revealed none other than Kendrick Lamar, casually sitting on a golf cart, three yards away from me.
I had a brief moment of hesitation. I generally think it’s weird to objectify famous people and invade their personal space for no reason. But this was Lamar, so I told my conscience to shut up and get a photo with him. Trying not to look too eager, I kind of sped-walked/hopped up to the cart.
“Your show was really great!” I said in an extremely forced version of my normal voice as we shook hands. “Could I get a picture?” As soon as he said yes, I wildly gestured to my mom, feeling more like a toddler getting a photo with Princess Jasmine than a 21-year-old meeting a rapper.
I tried not to skip back to the car as I sent the picture to Jacob. Full circles sure are fun.
Victoria Marchiony can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.[juicebox gallery_id=”114″]