FPSF 2015 Aftermath: Emptying Out the Backpack & Dispensing Wisdom
I’m still recovering from this past weekend’s absolutely insane Free Press Summer Festival 2015 — and yes, it’s going to be a long recovery, ’cause dammit, I’m old — but in the meantime I thought it might be enlightening to dump out the trusty old backpack and see what the hell’s in there. I figure that, hey, I do alright at this “festival” thing, so you might get some enlightment from the unpacking process. Learn from me, my children, and be wise. Or something.
Anyway, here’s what I found in there; see the picture for the numbers to see what’s what:
- Relatively new New Balance sneakers with Memory Foam insoles: Holy shit, am I glad I wore these. In years past, I’ve always worn beat-up, nasty old sneakers I didn’t give a damn about to FPSF, figuring that, hell, they’re just going to end up covered in mud anyway. This year, though, I reasoned that less grass=less mud, and my feet hurt anyway because I’m decrepit, so why not take the risk and wear my new, comfy, squishy-feeling New Balance 510v2s? So, so, so happy I did. Despite hiking and standing around all day on hard concrete, my feet felt tons better than they have at past festivals. I don’t get how you crazy kids can run around like that for eight-to-ten hours each day in freaking sandals.
- The neverending water bottle: I bring this one pretty much every year, and on Sunday, at least, it felt like it was magically bottomless. Still had water in it this AM.
- Freebie seating pad: I have no clue where I got this — I’ve certainly never been to an actual NCAA Final Four game — but I found this thick foam seating pad in my garage and decided at the last minute to bring it. And it was awesomely useful, whether I was sitting on hard ground in a Fancy Pants Tent or hiding from the sun under a Kroger tractor trailer. Because again, I’m old. That sitting-on-the-ground shit is played out.
- Mophie Juice Pack Powerstation Mini: Oh, man. This thing right here was worth its weight in gold this weekend. Apparently Mophie doesn’t make this model any more (there’s a new version, the Powerstation Plus), but their classic Powerstation battery/charger let me keep my iPhone charged to at least 30% for the entire festival, and that’s with a whole lot of picture-taking, messaging, posting, FPSF app-checking, and emailing. It’s the size of a small deck of cards but had a big enough charge to keep me going for a whole damn day at a time; I only had to recharge it when I got home at night.
- METRORail ticket: This is the one-way ticket I bought to ride the METRORail from the Fannin South Park & Ride lot up to the NRG Park stop on Saturday, banking on the FPSF organizers’ assurances that the new festival location would be “right on the light rail line”. Um, not quite. I didn’t even need a ticket on the way back, as it turned out — there were so many people on the platform there was a giant line to get a ticket from the one working kiosk, so the friendly METRO cops nearby told everybody not to worry about it & just to jump on.
- Fannin South Park & Ride parking receipt: Did you know that of all the Park & Ride lots in the city, the only one that charges for parking is the Fannin South lot? I was not aware of that until I’d parked, got my shit together, hiked across the lot from the shady spot I’d staked out, and boarded the train. I then had to run back to see what number stall I was in, sprint back to the platform, pay my $3, and watch sadly as the train I’d been sitting on left the station. Oh, well. $3 for parking definitely beats $20 for parking, at least.
- NRG Park parking ticket: And this was what Jason Smith and I opted to do for Day 2, spending $6 apiece to park about 100 feet from the entrance. Holy freaking hell, why did I not do that on Saturday?
- Canon Powershot A1000IS: My sturdy, no-frills, seven-year-old camera, which I’ve brought to every FPSF so far. Jason likes to make fun of me for using it, but hell, I’m no photographer. All I know is this thing’s survived torrential rain and crippling heat for six years running. Plus, I like it’s faux-high speed film feature, which lets me occasionally get a cool action shot I couldn’t get otherwise. Sadly, because my phone now takes relatively-decent photos, I found myself using the Canon a whole lot less this time around.
- Sunscreen: I swear to God, I used copious amounts of this both days, and it did no good whatsoever. Or, wait, maybe it did help, and I’d look more like a char-broiled chicken right now than a lobster if I hadn’t been putting it on. Damn you, you pitiless nuclear reactor in the sky…
- Printed map of FPSF grounds showing Media Tent: And once again, I never did find the Media Tent, although this time I had an actual printed map, so it’s less that it’s some mythical, Brigadoon-esque place and more that I just never had the time or opportunity to try to find it. Apparently it was over near the Mars Stage somewhere, and I probably walked right by the entrance multiple times on my way to one stage or another.
- Printed FPSF schedule: Jason had gotten a meticulously-assembled schedule from Jay Dryden, in PDF form, and sent it to me so I could use it, too. With the FPSF app, though, I ended up looking at it maybe twice. Still a very nicely-done spreadsheet, though…
- Dry bag & poncho: And speaking of things I never used, I brought my waterproof dry bag like I always do; it’s saved my ass on multiple occasions when the rain has cut loose on FPSF. Same goes for the poncho, which is peeking out from underneath. This year, they only left my backpack at the gate when the lady made me empty my entire bag out on the table and shake it all out.
- My daughter’s SeaWorld water bottle: The first day, my wife suggested bringing this, because it’s got a central core you stick in the freezer, and I turned up my nose at it, in part because it belongs to the 11-year-old. The second morning, I stuck it in my backpack first thing, because while all water is good for hydration, it sure feels better to drink water that isn’t warm-to-hot.
- SMOOSH business card: I can now say I’ve eaten the best damn ice cream sandwich of my life, thanks to the SMOOSH truck I stopped by at the festival. Granted, it was also the most expensive ice cream sandwich I’ve ever eaten — $6, I think? — but you get what you pay for. Plus, I like their little beaver mascot guy. (Note: the sandwiches are not actually made by teams of highly-trained beavers who use their tails to smush it all together. I’m very sorry.)
- Fossil sunglasses: I can’t count the number of people I saw out there at FPSF without sunglasses on, and I cannot fucking comprehend that. I barely ever took my Fossils off. If you go to an outdoor festival in the summer without sunglasses, how do your eyeballs not bleed by the end of the day? How do you not pull a facial muscle from the constant squinting? Are you a robot or something? Jesus.
- Disposable wipe wrapper: The lady at Once Upon A Cone gave me this disposable wipe because I put a dollar in their tip jar, or so she told me. I guess non-tippers get sticky, ice cream-covered fingers.
- Random plastic bags: Yes, this may make me seem homeless, to be roaming around with a bunch of plastic grocery bags in my backpack, but again, they come in handy when it rains and everything won’t fit in the dry bag, or when I buy something and don’t want it to accidentally get wet from the water bottle or something.
- Official FPSF schedule/map: Never even opened this. All it did was sit in my backpack and get my fingers black with newsprint when I stuck my hand in there to fish something else out.
- Flyer for some massive EDM fest in El Paso: Got this stuck into my hand on the way out by a gang of guys strategically positioned by the exit. It’s called Sun City Music Festival, and I have to hand it to the organizers, because if there’s a time and place for a two-day music festival that’s likely to be more heatstroke-inducing, it’s freaking El Paso in September. Shine on, you crazy-ass West Texas diamonds.
- Empty water bottle: Even with my neverending water bottle, above, it’s still nice to buy a bottle of ice cold water.
- Second-tier iPhone headphones: I brought my ratty old headphones to use in case I had a few minutes to kill, but that only really happened once, while waiting for Belle and Sebastian to start, and I decided not to listen to anything because I didn’t want to be caught off-guard when the band started. Read a Jack Reacher book on the Kindle app, instead, and tried to tune out the madness for a few minutes.
Things not pictured:
- My nearly-new iPhone 6, which took the picture and which freaking overheated repeatedly during the festival, forcing me to take it out of its Otterbox case and let cool in the open air. Damn, that was scary. For a while there, the damn thing would only display an emergency call screen; I was afraid it was toast for good…
- AA batteries, which I brought for my camera but didn’t end up using.
- My beat-to-crap London Olympics baseball cap, which has seen at least two (possibly three) FPSFs so far, and which I’ve already stowed in the garage where it can’t hurt anyone.
- My 2015 Press wristband, which I ripped off upon getting home and which somehow got stuck to the bottom of my backpack, so I didn’t see it ’til after. It occurs to me now, six years in, that I really, really should’ve been saving these things for when I really can’t do this crap anymore and am waxing nostalgic. Dammit.
- The pair of leather Rasta bracelets I bought for my kids, from the Inca Wasi store; I gave ’em to them this morning.
- The once-beloved old-school Solio Hybrid solar charger I used to use for FPSF, which I discovered this year no longer holds a charge. sigh.
- Bug spray, because the one upside to having not much greenery nearby is apparently no insects — I didn’t get a single mosquito bite, which makes an FPSF first for me.
There you go; now you know definitively what you should (and shouldn’t) bring to next year’s FPSF. Or, hell, just show up wearing nothing but a Speedo and buy a misting bottle, like several people I saw this year. Your call.