There used to be a time when you spent summer weekends at festivals. Just for fun, just to have a great time with your mates. Today, things are a little different: There’s a moral superstructure for every festival trip, a higher purpose. Peace, healing, and a better world in general – those are the most common buzzwords. And sustainability, of course. I spent a Sunday afternoon at the camping area of a big festival, asking myself: How sustainable is the scene?
First I ran across a technicoloured camper van, the letters on its license plate an ironic reference to a mind-altering chemical. Just above that license plate, there’s a huge sticker: “Fuck Fracking!” Because it’s seriously fucked-up what they are doing to Mother Nature, as the owner of this camper van proclaims in the most passionate way. This summer he’s travelling all around Europe: From Hungary to Portugal, and back to France and Germany. Living the dream, one festival after the other. And because it’s not only eco, but also much cheaper, the camper van of this fellow is running on gas instead of petrol.
At the tent next door I encounter bug-eyed euphoria about the festival: That laser show last night really killed it – they say it took 7 trucks and trailers to get this spectacular visual installation out here. Didn’t that whole show just explode when that dude played his exclusive gig, that guy they flew in from the other side of the planet? And then there is that phalanx of 5kW projectors which they use to turn the forest into a mind-expanding vortex of fractal patterns at night – absolutely stunning! Last but not least: Isn’t it great that you can have an ice-cold beer at literally any time of the day? However, the most mind-bending thing is how they manage to do all of this in the most sustainable way, with all those compost toilets, and the recycling bins, and all that.
A foreign language is spoken in the camp next doors. “Sure, we speak a different language – but in the the end we are all one… and the music on the dance floor connects us on a profound, spiritual level!“ These guys are seriously stoked about the real-life utopia out here at the festival: Love, peace, unity… and sustainability, of course. For some days we prove those inconvenient truths of everyday life to be avoidable, we live an alternative reality. Turns out these boys and girls arrived from a faraway country, just for this experience. After all, there’s so many budget airlines these days.
P.S.: I frequently fly budget airlines, I love orgiastic light installations at festivals, and I surely enjoy an ice cold beer at any time of the day. There’s only one thing I really don’t like, and that’s double standards.