Music festivals are a popular part of the summer experience and can often last days at a time. As the seasons change and real life comes crashing back, however, some people find themselves feeling depressed after leaving their favorite festival atmospheres. Vice’s Noisey talked to Lindfield College’s Rob Gardner, a sociologist who has studied music concerts, festivals, and traveling fans extensively, about why post-festival blues are not an simply an individual phenomenon, but a social one.
As Gardner describes, music festivals are about more than simply the music or the atmosphere — they provide a sense of community for a lot of people from different walks of life. Gardner says,
“We may be incredibly connected to people via social media, but there’s something missing there. That intimate, visceral experience of sharing the same physical space with another human being, or thousands of human beings is something that’s missing from our daily lives … I think that there’s something that people are trying to get back in touch to, whether consciously or unconsciously, through that festival experience.”
These spaces provide a unique opportunity for individualism, expression, and freedom from mundane, everyday life. So, when someone leaves the festival environment and returns to constraints such as work, school, and family, it’s unsurprising that they hit a low note. Gardner notes,
“I think it has a lot to do with the structure of these events. Because festivals create this temporary community that is physically, socially, and experientially separate from our daily lives, when we enter them they allow us to do things and meet people we wouldn’t otherwise encounter. When we leave and re-enter our normal lives, it throws certain features of our lives into relief.”
Be sure to check out the full interview in which Dr. Gardner discusses other aspects of festival-going, including drugs, crowd dynamics, and partying on ships!