I Hate Crowd Surfers // The Belated Firefly 2k16 Post

Let me tell you the really cool thing about adventures. Adventures start the moment you tell yourself that you’re going to “do the thing.” The moment you let the thought enter your mind and let it manifest into action. The planning, the journey, the begging of other broke millennials to accompany you. It’s all the adventure.

This particular adventure began while I was mindlessly scrolling through my Twitter feed one night in early February. It was the dead of winter, and lineups for festivals were being released left and right, promising plenty of live music, the return of sweat running from every pore, and over priced margaritas. If we are going to be honest about what caught my eye of this particular lineup were the three words that were typed across the top of the page. Kings of Leon. Then Florence and the Machine. Then…Delaware. Minor detail? I would be lying if I said I didn’t ask almost everyone I knew if they wanted to go on this cross country road trip with me, hoping to gather a tribe that would not only make gas cheaper, but share the excitement of a nearly perfect lineup in nearly perfect weather. In the end it ended up being a cozy tribe of three, myself, Piper (very festival experienced, introvert, soul sister), and Jacob (everyone’s friend, extrovert, resilient).

Even though this trip was planned pretty far in advance, it didn’t seem real until a few days before we left. Piper and I were sitting in the floor of her living room, making friendship bracelets to hand out to our future festival friends. We talked about the types of people we would give certain bracelets to, and how much we would cry as our favorite artists played. From there on, the excitement just kept building.

Delaware is really far away. Roughly 1,300 miles away, in fact. While that leaves a lot of space for adventures, I would be lying if I didn’t admit that I slept at least 50% of the way there. (And 60% of it back?) This is the part where I will give a major shout out to Jacob. He drove hour after hour and drank cup after cup of coffee that he probably deserves his own award.

(Slight side note: The strangest feeling is waking up at 5 am (after pulling over to sleep at 2 am), driving for a bit, pulling over at a Hardee’s, and having to ask a random pedestrian what state you are currently in. I will never forget the look on the man’s face as he grinned, obviously amused, and then apologetically replied with “Virginia.” I swear we were in Virginia for 90% of the drive. In summary- I would be an awful truck driver.)

I know in my first post I bragged on myself for driving through Dallas’s insane traffic with ease, claiming to have earned my For Real Adult (or something to that degree) title. Well, a month and a half later and I am scoffing at the ignorant claims of this past Aubrey. I thought Dallas was a trip… Maryland gave Dallas a run for its money. Try 6 lanes of traffic, even scarier drivers, and The Bay Bridge (4.3 miles of bridge- which doesn’t seem like a big deal until you are actually driving across it and people are passing you because you are the only one following the speed limit). Jacob confirmed that I am officially expert level on driving, so NOW I am A For Real Adult- someone pass the black coffee and tax forms.

Although the drive seems slightly hell-ish, (it was, don’t get me wrong) it takes a special group of people to make that 20 hour drive across the country to camp around complete strangers in an unfamiliar and tiny state to see a handful of artists perform in potentially uncomfortable weather. I just want to take another second to acknowledge my little tribe that made the trip so fun and easy going. I couldn’t have picked a better set of people to experience sleep depravity and wonderful music with.

A big concern that I had for myself, and I know many had for me as well, was how I would survive three nights of camping. I am not going to sit here and say I enjoyed it, and I am not going to sit here and say it was easy (the man in the tent next to us snored louder than I realized was humanly possible, and the tent reached approximately 110 degrees by 7:00 every morning–ALSO I DIDN’T TAKE AN ACTUAL SHOWER FOR 6 DAYS) but I will sit here and say I survived and THAT is truly all that should matter. Even if survival was only achieved by trekking to the Home Depot across the street from the site to use the bathroom and take baby wipe baths and sitting in the air conditioned car for three hours before walking to the festival every afternoon.

One of the best things about Firefly was the vast array of acts featured there. About a month before we left, I found a complete playlist of all the artists that would be there and I quickly found two that won my heart. Boy and Bear is an Australian band that I actually ended up being able to meet because I purchased one of their vinyls! They signed the sleeve of it, I died, they were chatty and told me they liked my sunbeams that I had painted on my face, I died, asked where I was from, I died, and one of them even PUT HIS ARM AROUND ME in the picture. DEAD. Can you tell I am/was/will forever be fangirling about this entire situation?? Another new artist that was introduced to me by Firefly is named Jeremy Loops, and he is golden man-bun wearing South African with a voice and smile that will melt you into a puddle. He was at a stage called the Treehouse, and it was perfect because it was  was super small and designed for interaction between the artists and the fans. Jeremy was a DOLL and would talk to the crowd, take phones from people and do group selfies with everyone behind him, and I kid you not he took a bracelet out of my outstretched hand and put it on his wrist. Yes, we are in love, thank you for asking.

For those of you who read my post about the Lumineers show, or even saw a post on my Instagram, you would know that I got right to the front of the Lumineers show (*hair flip*) so my expectations for the festival shows were incredibly too high. Lucky for me, one of my best gal pals and an actual literal concert pro, Piper, was by my side through it all. She actually sat out in the hot Dallas sun for about three hours before running with me to the front of the stage at the Bomb Factory. She’s been prancing around festivals since infancy so she is a concert/festival saving grace. What I am trying to explain is she gets it. Tip- surround yourself with people who are willing to stand with for hours-HOURS- on end, bodies pressed against one another-and a thousand other people- Now, Kings of Leon is a little bit of a different situation than Lumineers. This show at Firefly was their first show of any kind in 6 months, and they were one of the big headliners for the entire festival. An estimated 50k of people standing shoulder to shoulder to watch these Oklahoma boys sing their hearts out (and play guitar with their tongue SWOON) My little tribe started making our way to the front of the stage during the middle of Fitz and the Tantrums (very fun, very fab), scooted our way between teenyboppers during Ellie Goulding, and eventually charmed our way up/pushed our way up to the third row of Kings of Leon. Out of almost 50,000 people? You know I am not complaining.

There were a lot of tears on this adventure. Some were due to watching the love(s) of my life playing in front of me, and some were due to the raw, oozing blisters that were formed from the single pair of Chacos that I brought along for the trip. It has beena month since Firefly and I have not dared to slip those demon sandals back on to my tootsies. Call it want you want: trust issues, dramatics, simply overly pampered feet- I DON’T CARE. Those Chacos are going to have to win my love and trust back and it is not going to be easy. I actually ended up wearing thick mix matched socks and tied down the front strap of the Chacos the last day I was there just so I could hobble over to the single stage where I would be standing in front of for 4 hours. If we are being honest, I thought I was going to die in front of that stage. It was the hottest day of the festival, my feet were bleeding and oozing from underneath my Pacsun socks, I hadn’t showered in five days at this point, and we were smack dab in the middle of a rowdy bunch of 90’s kids who were eager to see Blink 182. A recipe for certain death.

Before I go into greater detail of what this final Firefly episode entailed let me tell you this: I would do it all over again because this was my lovely Piper’s dream. That angel got right to the front of the barricade and sang every word to every song and cried actual tears and that is all I ever wanted for her. So. All worth it.

Okay, so let’s set the scene. Two sunburnt chicas. One sunburnt Jacob. Four blistered feet covered in knit socks and bandages. One top knot so huge and red it could be seen from outer space (Piper’s). The lineup at the Firefly Stage went: Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats, Grouplove, and then Blink-182 (followed by Mumford and Sons who we weren’t staying for but a lot of people were waiting exclusively for). We caught the last half hour or so of Nathaniel Rateliff and used about half of that time marching through the crowd, trying to get as close as we could. There was an hour and fifteen minutes between each set, so we spent an abundance of that time discreetly pushing through the crowd. Then we stopped. Complete stand still. At this point we lost Jacob (or he had retreated to get a better view of The 1975-understandable) so it was just Pipes and I standing in the tightest, hottest, (like heat hot, not attractive hot unfortunately) most uncomfortable positions imaginable. I honestly thought we would be stuck there until Blink. I know that is very unfaithful of me, but seriously NO ONE was moving. After standing in the same spot for about 45 minutes, something amazing happened. Someone moved. When that one person moved, the crowd shifted and opened up just enough for Piper to turn around, grab my hand, and pull me through the dazed crowd. Let me just tell you, we covered serious ground on this shuffle to the front and before we realized it we were about five rows back from that magical barricade. By this time GroupLove had made their way on to the stage and people were going wild. By a quick assessment I could tell that about half of the people in front of us were there just for GroupLove, meaning we could haul our sun burnt tootsies straight to the front if we were lucky and HUSTLED. It was all fun and dandy for a hot minute. Lots of singing. Lots of Dancing. Lots of crowd surfing. That’s when it stopped being fun for tiny lil sunburnt Aubs. Even though Piper and I weren’t at the front row for Grouplove, we were center stage. If you have ever been to a show with crowd surfing you’ll understand what this means. Crowd Surfing Central. Honestly the rest is a blur with lots of kicking and butt cheeks.There was a beat with no crowd surfing hooligans, but before I knew it, Christian Zucconi- the lead singer, was surfing through the crowd himself. I was significantly less upset about this. I even touched his Converse.

Grouplove ended. Piper and I hustled. We found ourselves second row to the barricade. Thirty minutes pass. Piper has her hands on the barricade and I am smooshed right behind her and there are lots of happy tears. More waiting. The bouncers were actually really kind and kept throwing open bottles of water out into the crowd, providing brief showers of refreshment and a community drinking supply. Lucky for me, Piper looks like an actual walking Irish angel so the bouncers repeatedly would give her her own bottle, which she would pass back to me, which I would pass back to one of the thousands behind me. While passing one of the many water bottles back, it dawned on me that we still had a hefty amount of bracelets left to hand out to festival friends.As I handed off a bottle to a friendly set of girls from California I casually held out a couple bracelets to them and asked if they would like one. The reaction I got was completely unexpected. They were thrilled. They took the bracelets and were making such a fuss about them that a dude next to them looked at me and asked if he could have one, too. Before I knew it, I was throwing these suckers into the faceless mass of hands sticking out of the intimidatingly huge crowd behind me. I kid you not, the crowd started chanting, “BRACELET GIRL! BRACELET GIRL! BRACELET GIRL!” and then after one of the California girls asked my name, “AUBREY! AUBREY! AUBREY!” Honestly, I am still in shock. I managed to snag a quick SnapChat video of my moment of fame, and I would be lying if I said I didn’t go back and watch that video when I am feeling blah.

The concert started and it was wonderful. Everyone was screaming the words at the top of their lungs and there was a lot of jumping and pushing and it was just fab. And then. It happened. The crowd surfers started coming…one after the other…the bouncers barely had time to grab them. I was getting stepped on, kicked, fallen upon. Luckily I was surrounded by generally nice guys that would step around me accordingly to save me from being crushed. I am eternally grateful for a guy not much bigger than me, wearing an open Hawaiian shirt, singing every word while simultaneously saving me from a crowd surfer MUCH too big to be relying on sun dazed millennials to carry him. He would occasionally look at me, ask if I was okay, and then continue to rock his skinny heart out. bless. Piper would turn around and apologize like it was HER fault I was getting kicked in the face because she’s too sweet. This went on and on, and the crowd got more and more wild and I was so smooshed I couldn’t move my arms, and I looked up at the bouncer and could distinctly see three people being crowd surfed coming right behind me in the reflection his glasses, and just as if he was reading my mind he shouted “You guys should just keep your hands up, they just keep coming and coming!” As the surfers kept coming (and oh, it was relentless) the crowd pushed harder and I was legitimately picked up by the crowd every few minutes and carried further to the left. I would kick and elbow the faceless mass that shifted me against my will, and I distinctly remember screaming in frustration twice. By the end of the show, I was pushed against the far left barricade and was trapped with my arms in the air because there was literally nowhere for me to put them down. An older looking man saw me, and I’m sure I looked horrified, because he looked over at me and yelled, “Are you trying to get out?” He ended up going back and forth with one of the bouncers, trying to get him to pull me out of the crowd like they had been with people earlier. Apparently his boss told them they had to stop because people weren’t moving out like the were supposed to, but this man was not going to take no for an answer. “Look how small she is! She can’t move and she is all alone!” True. I couldn’t say much, but I locked eyes with this bouncer, who shot a look at his boss over to the side, who shot a look back at me, and nodded his shiny bald head. The bounder reached over, pulled me straight out of the crowd like he was picking up a baby from the ground, and sat me down. I honestly would have given him a hug but a woman over to the right shouted at me to move it along.

As I walked to the open  area behind the stage, I became extremely aware of how soaking wet I was (90% of this was other people’s sweat- I SWEAR) and how I was plastered in pink confetti. After a long game of phone tag, Piper and I reunited at Pole 4. The top knot that had been on her head had completely disappeared and her cheeks were pink from I’m guessing all the tears, screaming, and heat. “I look lost.” were the first words that came out of her mouth, followed by delirious laughter/crying. We were messes. But we were alive and Piper had been just mere feet from the men of her dreams. Worth it.

After this near death- but actually extremely fulfilling- experience, Piper and I hobbled over to The 1975, watched as Matthew Healy smoked a cigarette as he sang into the mic, and then we took a final trip to our campsite where everything was packed and ready for us to start our 1,3oo mile trip back home.

I think I’ll take this moment to apologize for this delayed post, also for how insanely long this is. Props to you for making it to the end, and I am so incredibly happy I could share this little adventure with you guys. Here’s to many more. xx

Aubrey

 

On The Road, Again. 

I’m writing this post sprawled out in the back of a car, watching the gigantic Virginia clouds drift through the clear sky.(I’ll add a picture to share the beauty!) I currently have a perfect view of every truck driver we pass. I’m enjoying noting what each are doing as they drive along on this beautiful day. Some have long cigarettes hanging from their mouths, some sing, some contently grin, and some peer over back at me, I guess also playing their own game of on the road people watching.

We’re about six hours away from Dover, and I’m so happy that the sun is bright and the sky is clear because we will be passing through states I’ve never been to and I just want to soak up all the newness.
Honestly, I’m just trying to stay caught up with the states that we pass through. This morning we stopped at a Hardee’s and I looked over at my friend and co-festival attender, Jacob, and asked him what state we were in. After realizing that none of us were quite sure where we were, Jacob turned to a delivery man and asked. (It was Virginia)
It’s crazy to think that the last three months have been building up to this. Planning has been exhausting but now that I can see the light the end of the tunnel it’s all coming together and the excitement is very present.
I’m honestly just so excited to see what the atmosphere will be like, hopefully meet some new beautiful souls, and dance to some swell music.
Always thankful for positive thoughts and prayers. Love to you all!
Aubrey

582 Miles Later

Let me just start out this post by saying I am a changed woman.

This adventure begins with a jumbo sized bag of Sour Punch Straws, a handful of killer playlists, and three messy haired twenty year girls. We piled into my trusty PT cruiser, bellies full of Mare’s homemade cinnamon rolls and headed for Dallas. There is something about having no actual plans exceeding “getting there” and simply driving on a beautiful day in May.

As if I wasn’t happy enough cruising through Oklahoma without a care in the world, lunchtime rolled around and we rolled into the parking lot of Angel’s Diner.

In case you weren’t aware, there are two things that Aubrey Sneed is excessively fond of in this world: 1. Elvis Presley, 2. Chicken Fried Steak.Angel’s Diner was all of this and more. Pink walls. Elvis everywhere. Sassy waitress that calls you “sissy” (unless you are Piper who ordered a grilled cheese with jalapenos earning the nickname “weird grilled cheese”). A menu that had things like, “The King’s Chicken Fried Steak”, “Lug Nuts” (fried okra), “Blue Suede Shoestring Fries”. HEAVEN.

If I hadn’t earned my title of “Actual For Real Adult”over the last year or so, I feel like 2 minutes into driving in Dallas traffic I definitely leveled up. Four lanes of traffic going 80 MPH…parking garages that couldn’t have been more than 4 feet tall per story…DOWNTOWN DALLAS WEEKEND TRAFFIC…need I say more? I am not sure I have ever been more happy to park my car in my life as I did when we made it to Hotel Indigo. (Unfortunately I lost my hotel key and the piece of paper that had our room number written on it five minutes after checking in so I had to run back down and have them tell me again. “Actual For Real Adult” card revoked.)

Have you ever had to do one of those obstacle course “team building”activities where one person is allowed to talk but has to wear a blindfold, and the other person isn’t blindfolded but is not allowed to talk? Well. Even if you haven’t, I’m sure you get the picture. It’s hard. As an onlooker you feel bad for the people wandering around trying to find their way. They trip a lot. Anguished cries are let out. That was Tulsa, Piper, and I trying to find our way around Downtown Dallas.  I am being a tad dramatic and it sounds a lot worse than it really was- our aimless wandering allowed us to pass things that we wouldn’t have if we had simply (been able to) follow the map! In the midst of walking around in utter confusion, we had a delicious meal of Pho, passed a giant eyeball that is under construction, and passed Neiman Marcus approximately 748 times. Ironically enough, the cupcake bakery that we saw on Yelp! and managed to hunt down (It took us about an hour to find this place, even though our maps told us it was a 4-6 minute walk) had the wrong hours listed online, so it was closed. C’est la vie.

If I am going to be honest, the second day was a sort of blur up until 4:15 when we left to wait in line for the show. We all slept in, got up, got ready, aimlessly wandered around for a few hours, ate some bomb diggity Italian food, and then went back to Hotel Indigo for some downtime before the show. When our Uber pulled up to The Bomb Factory there was already a short but substantial line of people chilling next to the side of the venue. We were three hours early. We made small talk with the people around us for a while, I sat there, legs crossed, grinning like a crazy person, thinking about how perfect the weather was, wondering what songs they would play, when my thoughts were interrupted by Piper next to me saying, “Do you hear that??!!??” I looked up at her and saw her pressing her ear against the door we had our backs to. The song Charlie Boy was pouring through the cracks in the door and I involuntarily let out a small shriek. Hearing Wesley Schultz sing less than 20 feet (pure approximation) was truly too much for my little heart. We got a sneak peek of the line up, hearing little pieces of Flapper Girl and Cleopatra. As if I wasn’t smiling like a crazy person before, now I was like a happy yellow balloon about to burst. In between listening through the wall and checking the time, we people watched and discussed the importance of men’s shoes and haircuts and laughed as people around us got pizzas delivered to them as they waited in line.

The three hours in line FLEW by and before we knew it we were standing up to file into the building. We had our game plan down pat. After a quick evaluation of the people in front of us we knew at least half of them would be making a pit stop at the bar first. The plan was simple: B-Line around the alcohol babies headed to the bar, don’t even peek at the merch table, and run like the whistle has blown at the beginning of the Hunger Games straight to the stage. And that is how we ended up at the very. front. row. I would be lying if I said I didn’t cry a little. Birthday miracle #1.

There were two opening acts before The Lumineers. The Sleepwalkers and Soak. Both were amazing and unique, and I loved every moment that they were on stage. That being said, I have no words to describe the pure happiness when I saw the entire band stroll onto the stage. If you’ve ever been to a concert for a band that you love, you’ll know the exact feeling I am talking about. Heart pounding, involuntary shrieks streaming from your mouth, the excited bouncing on the balls of your feet.

I sang every song, every word, at the top of my lungs. I cried a lot. I danced a lot.  I couldn’t take my eyes off of them. Wesley’s marching in place, Jeremiah’s tambourine banging, and Neyla’s graceful cello playing. Just beautiful. Each song was a work of art in itself- but the stand out one for me was the sixth song they played. Dead Sea. My favorite song in the entire world. The first chords led to an instant three minute bout of tears. And it was glorious.

The show ended well before I was ready, even though they played every song I could have asked for. I found myself standing in front of the stage after the band was long gone and the roadies were clearing off the stage, just staring and absorbing what I had just experienced.

Right after the show, various band members had passed out the set lists that had been taped to the stage and even left a few behind, which left the rest of us stragglers begging the roadies and security guys to pass them over . I was aware of this going on, but it wasn’t until Piper looked at me and headed off towards the nearest guard to beg for the set list that everyone else was also begging for that I realized I needed that set list. The security guard curtly told everyone he wasn’t allowed to touch it and let us know that we needed to leave so they could finish cleaning up.This gruff voiced message cleared about half of the crowd up, but Piper and I held strong. We even had another stranger go up and talk to one of the guys with a walkie talkie, trying to get my spoiled birthday girl booty that set list. It was between myself and a guy who seemed about 16. We made a deal that whoever got the dang piece of paper would rip it in half and share it with the other.

Well. I don’t know what ended up making it happen, Piper pleading with the lady in the sparkly backpack who was packing up equipment on stage, the stranger who went and talked to the man with the walkie talkie, or my shameless puppy eyes at anyone who passed by. I had just about given up hope, and was turning around to head to the merch table and meet up with Tulsa, when I heard a “Hey!”, and an intake of breath from Piper. I turned around to see a bearded man holding out a set list and one of their personalized Cleopatra guitar picks. I probably looked like a psycho, throwing my hand over my mouth and tears ONCE AGAIN forming in my eyes. I stared in disbelief, abruptly yelled “thank you” and staggered away, clutching this piece of paper and piece of plastic that could now be qualified as my most valuable possessions.

I didn’t make it very far until that 16 year old spotted me clutching the piece of paper, and we quickly sparked up a deal where he got the encore set in exchange for snapping a picture of Pipes and I holding the treasured piece of paper.

The night ended with me crawling into bed with a belly full of Waffle House, the most comfortable band tee I have ever owned, and an expectation for future concerts that may never be reached. What an immaculate way to bring in my 21st year on Earth.

I honestly couldn’t have picked better people to go to the show with me. Experiencing the music with people who can sing every word along with you, know when to hold your hand, and which lines to scream at the top of your lungs with makes all the difference. Even if we had been stuck in the back row, it would have still been a beautiful experience simply because of the beautiful company.

Here is a link for a little compilation video of our Dallas adventures made by my beautiful and talented sidekick, Tulsa House. I have probably watched it 100 times over the last three days, so it would be an injustice to society if I didn’t share it with you. Enjoy, lovelies!

Until next time, Aubrey.

 

 

 

Finding Happiness.

“Do More of What Makes You Happy”

I feel like I see this simple phrase written out about fifty times a day. It only took me a few thousand times seeing it sprawled across trendy graphic tees, etched across Pinterest-esque coffee mugs, or hanging from colorful car air fresheners (guilty- I actually own one of these- $8 and only kept the scent for an afternoon) for it to finally click.

I can’t tell you when exactly this ever present idea of “doing more that makes ME happy” finally sunk in, but I can give you a good estimate. February 12th, 2016. 10:15 am. Give or take. (I should have been in my History and Development of the English Language class, but I wasn’t). Coincidentally enough this was the exact moment I got a confirmation email for my Ticketfly order to see my all time  favorite band, The Lumineers, at The Bomb Factory in Dallas on May 22nd (one day before my twenty-first birthday). Looking at this email, scanning all the numbers and absorbing all the small details, I realized that I was making a choice to do something that made me happy. Plain and simple. Let me just say, it hasn’t stopped there.

In the days between February 12th and today, May 20th, I have continued to do more of “what makes me happy.” I’ve bought more concert tickets (18 hour road trip to Dover, DE anyone?), made my cat-eye a little bigger, let my hair be a little messier, adopted the most perfect kitten alive, and the list could certainly go on.

So this is where I am in life: 72 hours away from being twenty-one, a senior in college, a cat mom, doing more of what makes me happy. Sitting with my computer in my lap, Normandy playing peek-a-boo and pouncing at my hand as I type this first post out on the blog that I plan to record my oh-so-lovely life’s highlights in. I want to share my happiness and adventures with you all, maybe encouraging some of you to do a little more of what makes you happy. I’ll be honest and admit that this blog is partially for myself too. Having a space to record the little things that bring me joy is personally a great reminder that life is pretty amazing, even when it seems like it isn’t.

Without rambling on any further, I would love to invite you to join me on this “Journey to Happiness” of sorts that simply involves making an effort everyday to do at least one thing that makes you happy. Life is too short to forget to love yourself.

This feels like the beginning of an adventure, doesn’t it?

Aubrey

Follow me around between posts! Twitter/Instagram: AubreySneed