I have been going to concerts and festival for ten years. Over the 50 plus gigs I have been to, I have been to two concerts on my own, been lost in the crowd and separated from friends and have been left in the middle of a set in a club. Short gigs on small venues are alright; after all, I am there for the music anyways. But the thought of attending a music festival on my own seemed daunting and ridiculous. Music festivals are magnified concerts filled with not only fellow music lovers but pretentious hipsters who try super hard not to fit in while fitting in. It may seem okay for a lot of people but for an ambivert or an outgoing introvert like me, it's a pretty big thing.
The issue with me is I am, in fact, a very shy person. I am outgoing and have my moments of crazy. I am totally okay posting my collection of Dubsmash videoes online for people on my Facebook list to see. I can be loud and gregarious within familiar environments but to be thrown into a social situation where I have to introduce myself to a bunch of strangers? I get all anxious and awkward. No thank you.
Fast forward to 2015. When Neon Lights was announced, I was very excited. I've gone to three Laneways and a bunch of one-hit wonder festivals here in Singapore but have not heard of a two-day family-oriented Arts and Music festival. I was interested to see how a festival was going to pan out.
As usual, I announced the event among my circle of friends. I have a few friends who are my usual concert buddies to these events and they seemed to be very keen, but at the same time apprehensive of the price. Festivals are known for their ridiculously overpriced tickets, not to mention ridiculously overpriced food, beverage and merch.
I decided to take action and get myself early bird tickets. They were $189 for two days. Way cheaper than regular $240. Meanwhile some friends promised to buy their tickets on their pay day. As the days passed, people who mentioned they'd be interested to go decided to pass up on attending the festival. I thought about selling my ticket and not going. I have never been to a festival on my own and never really intended to be on my own.
To be alone is scary and makes you feel incredibly vulnerable. But I decided to push through anyway because I love it. I love the music. I love seeing the artist perform the songs I only hear on my phone while I'm in transit. It makes me feel like I'm hearing it for the very first time. I love how the music makes me feel. I love it so much that it doesn't matter whether I am by myself and vulnerable.
If you google "attending music festivals alone" you'll be given a plethora of articles and reasons why you should attend one. Among the reasons given was that you'll meet new friends. While that is ideal, that never happened to me. Sure, occasionally, I found myself turning my head to my left or right to acknowledge whoever was beside me, to apologize most of the time for bumping or elbowing them. And I helped a bunch of people when they needed to get their photo taken but for the most part, I kept to myself. I was wallflower idly wandering around Fort Canning Park in between sets. You may or may not make new friends... and that's okay. Life does not end when you spend time on your own--unless you're a spineless idiot who relies on other people to survive.
Being on my own gave me the freedom to make my own decisions. Festivals need a lot of mental planning and strategizing whether which acts to see and which ones to let go of, where to position myself to get the best view. I had no other person to think about and it was liberating.
Would I ever attend a music festival on my own again? Absolutely, because music above all else always prevails.
Oh hey, I Snapchatted my Neon Lights experience!