Four years ago, I attended my first music festival: Music Midtown. I arrived early Saturday afternoon alongside my best friend, and both of us were eager to experience the thrill of our favorite bands in the big city. Throughout the day, we wedged ourselves between thousands of strangers all with the same goal: to share our love of the art form.
Just like kids in a candy shop, we spent the entire day in awe, senses overwhelmed, by all that we had experienced. That night, we left the city dreaming of raging guitars and the hot lead singers glistening in the center stage, counting down the days until next year.
Three hundred sixty-five days later, I arrived at the same entrance into Piedmont Park, once again eager to embark on another musical journey, this time accompanied not by my high school best friend, but by my college roommates.
The experience was already different. Before even making it to the park, we had all gathered and already spent approximately an hour getting ready and listening to the music that we were about to hear live later that afternoon. Gossip was even exchanged about what cute boys from our dorms would be in attendance and what we would do about those encounters.
The music was still at the top of our lists, but now it became more about the experience than the music itself. We leisurely strolled through the park that day, caring more about hanging out with each other and embarking on our first year adventures in Atlanta, than about fully embracing the melodies.
With each passing year, a similar pattern developed. Each time I arrived at the entrance of Piedmont Park, I was accompanied by new friends and cared more about the experience than each progressing music lineup.
Especially during the last few festivals, I became more aware of my surroundings, and as a 3rd year college student, my priorities had changed from that star-struck kid of 4 years ago.
This time when I committed to the festival that was now a tradition, I was incredibly conscious of the price to pay for this musical experience. In order to even attend this 2-day festival, I had to shell out approximately $200 up front. Even as a broke college student, the price for the tickets was always worth the experience, and that’s all that used to matter.
Now, the entry fee barely scratches the surface. As the festival became more about the experience, other amenities, such as food and drinks, started to rise in priority. I clearly remember the first time I attended Music Midtown shortly after my 21st birthday, and quickly became aware that the cost of a cheap beer quadrupled as soon as I entered the park limits.
Realizations such as this instance occurred throughout the duration of the festival. Thirsty? Water is around $4 a bottle. Hungry? The average cheap, usually fried meal costs around 8 or 10 dollars.
The joy surrounding the experience was quickly becoming overshadowed by the price of the experience itself.
Music festivals are not the only proponents of extreme price inflation. Ballparks and any sporting event, for that matter, are equally liable for outlandish raises in price for not only attendance, but also food and beverages.
A sad truth is becoming more evident every day: the costs of attending fun events such as these are becoming greater than the joy one may feel for actually being there.
Will there ever be a cap when this inflation of prices levels out? Will the people who organize these events start to lower prices after realizing the financial effects on its attendees?
One thing I know for sure is that after the almost childlike awe fades and the consciousness of adulthood sets in, festivals and events become a price-sensitive choice rather than an incredible opportunity.