Music/My Culture/Teen Culture Festival Season by Kiernan Doyle Front Row and Center Somehow, I always end up in the front row of music festivals. For example, one time I saw Mumford and Sons, my favorite band of all time, at a baseball field in New Orleans. It was a general admission show and the plan was to open all of the gates around the field at the same time and let everyone pour in from all sides. Long story short, the guy at our gate missed the memo and let us in a good 2 minutes before everyone else. My friends and I wandered in, super confused as to why no one was around us. Just as we began to realize we were let in early, a ginormous crowd of people emerged from under the stadium and came running — and screaming — toward us. We sprinted as fast as we could to the stage and ended up front and center to see what became, hands down, one of the best concert experiences of my life. Why I love Music Festivals I love music festivals! They’re places of freedom and exhilaration, places where we aren’t afraid to jam out to our favorite bands who we’ve waited our whole lives to see perform! Whenever I get tickets to a festival, I spend the next few weeks counting down until I get to go and have the time of my life at a place where people come together, regardless of their backgrounds, for something they love. Ultimately, they all come to celebrate good art. We are drawn to art and how it portrays authentic beauty. The beauty that is good music has the potential to strike us at our core. It evokes something inside of us and in that stirring of our hearts, we are reminded that we were made for something bigger. Good art is an encounter with God the creator, who made us with the capacity to create as well as encounter Him in beauty. Festivals are great because they can be a celebration of truth, beauty, and goodness. What I’ve Noticed at Festivals Still, like anything in the world, we need to be aware of some aspects of festival life that are not good. If you’re about festival life too, I want to challenge you to consider the ways we, as Christians, should stand out in festival culture and where we might be tempted to blend into the crowd. The Stand Out In a sea of hyper-trendy people, it’s easy to give in to the desire to be noticed — to do something different that brings attention to ourselves and sets us apart from the rest. I think we see this in a lot of the fashion statements made at festivals. The temptation to dress immodestly for the sake of being seen is intense in festival culture. There’s definitely an increased desire for attention and to be noticed by others, to make eyes peer and heads turn, but this kind of attention isn’t going to satisfy our longing to really be seen. When dealing with this desire to stand out, we should remind ourselves why we go to festivals in the first place. We go to have fun, be with our friends, and hear the music we love. If our desire to have the most attention-grabbing outfit, the most-liked IG photo, or turn the most heads becomes our priority, we can miss out on a great experience. Truthfully, we aren’t free in the moment anymore. Blending In A crowd is a place where we might feel a level of anonymity or think we have the ability to go unnoticed and not be held responsible for our actions. We can also be tempted to believe that, in the middle of a mass of people, we are no longer responsible for our actions or no one will notice what we are doing. This is where the false freedom that makes festivals a place where casual drugs and drunkenness are such a readily and available temptation has arisen. We are told that these things enhance our experience, that they take our concert experience to the next level. God made us, not only who we are but how we are — and we are good how we are. When we desire to leave our state of being for whatever reason — to escape, to forget, or to loosen up — we are rejecting our very being, a gift we’ve been given by God Himself. Anything that we “need” or become dependent on apart from God isn’t a thing of freedom. The most freeing thing that we are invited and encouraged to do is to be who God created us to be, to have fun and bask in the awesomeness of our favorite bands and musicians! The Christian Life The Christian life challenges us to be true to who we are and who God created us to be, no matter where we are or what we are doing. Our faith isn’t something we take a break from or “turn off” for a few days. True and authentic Christian living, full of grace and led by the Spirit, invites us to engage with the world, discern the good and the bad, and share the goodness we’ve found in the Gospel with it. It gives us the freedom to live a life of fullness rather than be chained down by insecurities or dependencies. We should approach our festival experiences as opportunities to encounter Christ in joy, art, and beauty, but also as opportunities to share Him with a world that is longing for His love. If you’re looking for the best way to get the most out of a music festival this summer, trust your conscience and fully embrace the wonderful, free person God created you to be. And don’t be afraid to scream sing your favorite songs.