Tales from the Pit #3

by D.B. Miller

And you, too, can live the dream: Zürich Openair

1. The first step is the purchase of a ZOA ticket. Because there are usually enough to go around, you do not have to worry and can save all of your handwringing for reading the news. 

2. You will want to recruit friends who look forward to the event as much as you. To spark their interest, talk up the bands you are excited about, but not enough to spook them. Do your best to stay positive if they have other plans, tastes or value systems.

3. As the temperature rises, you may start to harbor ZOA fantasies. Most will not involve rain, wasps or sandals with socks. Maybe the band will play that B-side. Or you will muscle your way into getting a set list. Or, if Serge from Kasabian tosses a maraca into the crowd, your close friend will catch it. And though you are the sole reason she has even heard of the band, you will agree that her kindergartner should keep it, at least until she comes to her senses and ships it back to you for Christmas.

4. It is never too early to visualize which of the two stages your favorite acts will be gracing and where you might position yourself to best experience each gig. As the exact stage assignments will only be announced closer to the event, this is a spectacular waste of time. In fact, the world would be a better place if you put even half of that energy into the advancement of universal education and food and water security.

5. As the festival approaches, be sure to check the forecast. In the event of a downpour, running on mud, grass and orange peel is not advised. If you slip and almost step on a waterlogged mouse, do not attempt an artsy contortion. You will pull a muscle in your back. Those two fresh-faced ZOA volunteers are probably laughing at you. At least you will think so until you see them in rubber gloves, collecting sodden napkins and trash, and wonder what you have ever done for rock ’n’ roll.  

6. If the weather is as idyllic as it appears in the luscious ZOA promotional clips, dress for the last hoorah of summer and singalongs with strangers. All of them. Including the guy who tells you he is “very mentally unhealthy right now” while you kill time in the front row. To devise a signature festival look, refer back to the clips of festivals past and then wear whatever you want. Short-shorts, onesie or stained t-shirt from Joe’s Meats: you will probably not make the final cut anyway.

7. Come prepared to enjoy food and drink from around the world. But only when your schedule allows it. If you need to secure a spot at the barrier, grab a crêpe. If you want to fuel up before dancing, go for the made-to-order pizza. If you are prone to spilling the contents of your falafel on your shoes when you realize Peter of Black Rebel Motorcycle Club is doing his own sound check: beer, just beer.  

8. Finally, do not go home without a ZOA memento. You will want to remember the swell of light and sound from every gig, plus the occasional wheezing jet overhead. In all of the excitement, you may miss the merch table and forget to film yourself hopping up and down with friends, or even refuse to, out of principle. While staying in the moment is admirable, consider shooting 10 seconds of a favorite tune and then tucking your phone into your waistband. If the video function somehow re-engages and you end up capturing the entire Foals song through the filter of your gauzy shirt, you will marvel at your good fortune and the aesthetics of the clip itself. Except for that bit near the four-minute mark, when someone very close to you shrieks “Yannis!” This will make you laugh because she sounds just like you, or would if you were the kind of person who screamed a lead singer’s name in a festival-induced delirium. Your friends and family also hear the similarity, or would if you ever got around to showing them. Maybe next year, the footage will be better. Maybe next year, you will try to behave.


Author: D.B. Miller

D.B. Miller is an American writer who has been living in Europe since 1995. As well as being a regular contributor to The Woolf, her essays, short stories and offbeat profiles have appeared in The Weeklings and Split Lip Magazine.

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