Sometimes it’s hard to reconcile the life I used to live with the life I live now. Today, at the age of 40, I coach my kid’s soccer team, drive a minivan and trade crock pot recipes with the moms at the playground. It’s a good life, particularly when you consider that my “young adult” years were spent getting kicked out of bars for taking my pants off and weekends often ended with me “taking a nap” in some stranger’s yard.
I imagine a lot of adults have trouble coming to grips with their irresponsible past. I think that’s why a lot of dudes suffer the mid-life crisis. They get nostalgic about their dirt bag years and start longing for the days they slept in a van sandwiched between two girls named Candy and Brandy. I’m not feeling nostalgic at all. I’ll take the life I live now over my youth any day. Not waking up in your neighbor’s yard in a pool of vomit is awesome. Because the best-case scenario in that situation, is that it’s your vomit.
That’s one of the reasons why I stopped going to music festivals several years ago. Being a huge fan of Southern rock and jam bands in the ‘90s meant I spent a lot of time at multi-day events making questionable decisions. I’m not proud of my behavior in those days. I did the majority of my drinking in porta-potties, sipping from small, cheap bottles of bourbon that I hid in the crotch of my shorts. If I did buy booze from the festival, it was the cheapest thing I could find. And lots of it. By mid-day, I had usually lost my shirt and had completely forgotten the band I was there to see in the first place (chances are, it was the Allman Brothers).
It seemed like the smart bet was to skip these kinds of festivals all together. So for the most part, I did. I’ve taken an eight-year hiatus from events with massive band lists, partly because I have eight-year-old twins and raising twins is exhausting so the only extracurricular activities I’ve done have centered around napping. Also, my patience for festival culture has waned as I’ve aged. I can only look at so many Cross Fit fanatics with American eagles tattooed across their chest. I’ve lost my zeal for porta-potty drinking.
But then the High Water Festival popped up—in beautiful Charleston with a lineup of every single band I’m into right now. Also, the festival had an emphasis on craft beer and good food. Maybe I could attend a multi-day shindig and not revert to my Neanderthal ways. I am an adult now; A husband, a father, an elementary school volunteer…Maybe I could tackle a festival with a bit more maturity and not “take a nap” in a porta-potty? I could even write an essay about how great festivals are as an adult!
I wouldn’t drink warm PBR and eat funnel cakes for dinner before losing a tooth in the mosh pit! I’d eat oyster po’boys and drink saisons and spread out a blanket on the grass after applying copious amounts of sunscreen! This would be pinkies up kind of shit. I might even take a nap between sets.
The Miller High Life Spiral
And things started out well enough. I spent the first portion of the festival drinking Moscow Mules out of a hipster mug that we bought because it would look good on our fireplace mantle at home. Plus, we could pass it off as a souvenir for our kids. It was a win/win. Then I hit the Porch, a craft beer pavilion with eight local breweries pouring everything from ginger-infused pale ales to robust, roasted porters. I spent a lot of time there. Too much time? Maybe. But I kept it together long enough to catch Margo Price and the Shrimp Records Family Band.
The problem came when the beer lines got so long that I started missing entire sets waiting for a Lagunitas IPA on draft. It was simply more efficient to buy two tall boy cans at a time. They had Modelo in big cans. It wasn’t craft, but it would do. When in Rome, right?
Then I noticed that Miller High Life cans were a dollar cheaper. I did the math and felt obligated to order three at a time and save $3 every time I stood in line. It’s simple economics; I have kids to put through college.
It all spiraled downhill from there. At one point during the weekend, I searched pointlessly for a liquor store where I could buy a small bottle of bourbon to stuff in my shorts so I could take sips in the porta-potty. The festival ended with me diving a bucket of cold lomein and warm Miller High Life. I use the word “diving” metaphorically here, not literally. Regardless, it was hardly adult behavior. But I didn’t lose a tooth and never once camped out in a porta-potty, so I’ll call it a moral victory for adulthood. Check out the gallery to see some of the highlights from the High Water Festival.