Rock Festival Survival Guide

It’s outdoor concert season, when music lovers endure hour after hour of ear-splitting sound while standing on tiptoe, elbow to elbow under the pitiless sun. You can’t beat it! If, that is, you take these simple precautions.

The Starting Line perform at Bamboozle 2007.
Photo: Mark R. Sullivan

LIQUIDS: Drink water. And plenty of it. Wearing your lucky beer hat won’t do you any good. Alcohol consumption speeds fluid loss and impairs your ability to sense warning signs of dehydration such as dizziness, dry mouth, and heart palpitations.

FOOD: If you’re tailgating, pack the cooler with enough ice to keep meat from defrosting. When grilling, use a meat thermometer to make sure internal temperatures reach 165 degrees Fahrenheit. To cut calories, use whole-wheat buns and rolls, and maybe throw on a veggie burger or two. Lay off the potato chips and dip, which can get funky in the heat. Instead, pack seasonal summer fruits such as blueberries, peaches, plums, and cherries to get your daily dose of fiber, antioxidants, and vitamins.

No coolers or Hibachis allowed? Think nonperishable. Peanut butter and jelly is an easy fail-safe. Replace white bread for whole wheat, substitute sliced fruit, such as a banana or strawberries, for jelly, and grab peanut butter to prevent a sugar crash. Protein from the peanut butter and carbohydrates from the fruit break down slowly and provide a steady stream of energy. Make a trail mix (sans melty chocolate chips). Carbs from dried fruit mingled with protein and fat from nuts will keep you fist pumping encore after encore. Tuck protein- and carbohydrate-packed energy bars into your tote for a quick, no mess pick-me-up between songs. Clif Bar & Company’s oatmeal-raisin-walnut bar contains 10 grams of protein and a whopping 43 grams of carbs.

SUN PROTECTION: Apply 45 minutes before sun exposure and reapply every two to three hours. A sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 blocks 97 percent of sunburn-inducing UVB rays. “You’re never going to get 100 percent protection from UVB,” says West Long Branch dermatologist Dr. William Orsini. “Once you get beyond SPF 30, you’re not going to get significantly greater protection.”
Ordinary sunscreens don’t block UVA rays, which damage collagen and elastin and result in wrinkles. Look for a sunscreen containing Helioplex, a formulation of UVA-absorber avobenzone and UVB-absorber oxybenzone that protects against the full UVA/UVB spectrum. Orsini recommends Neutrogena UltraSheer sunblock.

EAR GEAR: “If you’re at a rock concert, get out of there for fifteen minutes every hour to give yourself relief from the sound,” says Cranbury audiologist Dr. Karen Herring. Ear plugs made of squeezable foam are cheap, effective, and available in any drugstore. That ringing in your ears could become permanent if you routinely expose yourself to pounding decibels without protection.

CLOTHING: Loose and comfortable is the way to go. Light colors reflect light and keep core body temperature down. Wear supportive shoes such as sneakers to keep feet protected from rogue crowd surfers and mosh pits, but bring a pair of sturdy flip flops to give your feet a break pre- and post-concert.

DON’T FORGET TO BRING: Toilet paper, bug spray, hand sanitizer, folding chairs, plastic cups and utensils, napkins, trash bags, blankets, aspirin, rain gear.

CHECK IF OKAY TO BRING: Glass bottles, cans, cameras, alcohol, coolers, grills. Go to the festival or venue website for rules and regulations.


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