Two years of the Covid-19 pandemic have done their damage, as health care workers are burnt out, the economy has taken a hard hit, and the mask-wearing and people-fearing are slowly disappearing.
But while festivals are taking place after a two-year hiatus, not everyone feels the same about being in big crowds with loud music and lots of impulses as they did before the pandemic, De Morgen reports.
Did the two years leave a mark on how much we can handle, or have we simply gotten old?
“I think I’ll be home at half-past nine tonight,” said Lennert (26). “It’s confronting, man: those two years really caused damage. I work in the music sector, I am surrounded by music every day, in 2019 I even slept at the campsite. Now I come home after a festival day and have to listen to a film soundtrack to de-stimulate.”
Belgium’s festival summer kicked off with Rock Werchter, with three days and four stages of music for everyone who wants to hear it.
But it’s a lot, even psychologists warn. Now that we are allowed to party again, we should take it easy, they suggest, by ensuring we don’t drive too many stimuli through our eardrums, eyeballs and nostrils at the same time.
But music festivals are all about the experience. The Werchter festival has therefore set up a real chill and relax zone, with hammocks, shade and the grace of the bass drum.
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“Hopefully I can take a nap here,” says Nicole (28) from the comfort of a hammock. “When I’m watching a performance, it doesn't bother me that much, but as soon as I have to move around and be among the crowd, it hits me: people. Everywhere.”
Ahe was a real festival animal before corona, who would only avoid moshpits because she would break bones, and the swirling mass was usually what gave her energy. “Meanwhile, I have recovered. People are terrible,” she laughs. “But I’m also almost thirty, of course.
Maybe that’s it.”
Heart vs back
Davey (34) is facing the same struggle. “Normally I would come here, take off my shirt and spend a whole day hoisting pints in my bare skin, without a care in the world. Now I think: it’s almost four o’clock, where am I going to find water and maybe a piece of fruit?”
“I used to think it was necessary to be as close as possible to the stage for my favourite bands, but this is actually fine,” Charlotte (38) says from the picnic blanket that she has spread several hundred meters from the main stage.
“You’re out of the crowd, you have a permanent place to find each other and at least you don’t have to stand on your feet all day anymore – my heart is still young, but my lower back doesn’t agree.”
But not everyone feels the same way. “Too old for music festivals?” laughs Patrick (62). “That’s crap. I’ve been going to almost every festival since I was 15, and I’m not afraid to go abroad for that.”
“I saw everything there was to see: Zappa, Pink Floyd, Lou Reed... I only missed Nirvana at Pukkelpop, because I was grabbing pints at the time.”
The sixty-year-old has already spent three days at Werchter and plans to visit Cactus festival and Pukkelpop this summer. The secret is remembering why you’re doing it.
“I get up and I put on music. That's the first thing I do, before the coffee. That charges you, that makes the blood flow. I also keep discovering new music, so I also find my way at the festivals.”
“Are you going to see Kenny Hoopla later?” Patrick asks. “You have to go. If I have one tip for the thirties: don’t lock yourself up. Don’t sit in your chair – that’s how you get old.”