Return to We Fest

I survived my second We Fest! Last year was a blast, and while I was initially less enthusiastic about this year’s lineup, I was super impressed by most of the acts. This year was a little different because instead of camping at Oatfield with a small group of friends, I went with my cousin Jodi, her husband, Rob, and at least twenty of their friends. I’m pretty introverted and was definitely outside of my comfort zone-spending five days with a huge group of strangers, despite having met a few of them briefly last year, was a little overwhelming- but I still had a fantastic time. I met some great new people and got to reconnect with some of the ones I met last year. Everyone was so friendly and welcoming and didn’t give me much crap about sitting alone and reading for stretches of time, which was definitely appreciated. Like last year, I took some notes about the experience and compiled them into a brief-ish account of the week. Enjoy!

Wednesday, August 5
3:00 PM: Time to set up camp!
3:05 PM: I have no idea where these tent poles go.
3:10 PM: Okay, I have plenty of confidence in my reading comprehension skills but this instruction booklet makes no fucking sense.
3:15 PM: Done, thanks to Christine’s help! “One-minute pop-up tent” my ass.
3:20 PM: This guy with the surfer hair seems nice. He kind of looks like that Jamie guy Jodi brought to Christmas like six years ago…no way is it the same guy, though.
3:21 PM: “Hi! I’m Laura!” “Hi, I’m Jamie!”
3:22 PM: Aaaaand now I feel like an asshole.
3:23 PM: To be fair, I only met him the one time.
3:24 PM: He hasn’t acknowledged that we’ve ever met so I’m just going to assume he doesn’t remember me.
3:25 PM: Between the tent struggles, heat, and probably undiagnosed mild social anxiety disorder, I need a beer like twenty minutes ago.
4:00 PM: To pay back Charlie for the miscellaneous ticket processing fees, Callie and Todd have invented a game where you try to slip money into Charlie’s pocket.
4:05 PM: I can’t remember which of them suggested naming the game “Get Into Charlie’s Pants,” but I think it’ll be a lot more entertaining if we don’t include any context.
7:30 PM: Update: Todd successfully got into Charlie’s pants. It was glorious.
10:15 PM: Heading to a smaller opening act, a local band called “Maiden Dixie,” at The Saloon stage.
10:30 PM: There are a surprising amount of hipsters here. Not the type you’d expect at a predominantly pop country event.
10:35 PM: Maybe Coachella was too expensive and this was the next-best opportunity to wear lots of flannel and floral headbands to an outdoor music festival.
11:00 PM: This band doesn’t completely suck, but I can barely hear the vocals over the bass.

Thursday, August 6
7:00 AM: Not many people seem to be up yet. I’ll sit outside and read for a while…because nothing says “drunken country music festival” like a nerd sitting alone with her nose in a collection of David Sedaris short stories.
8:00 AM: I’m bored, no one else is awake, and this is the only book I brought. I’m going to take a walk.
8:15 AM: Some of these RV’s are amazing. Pretty sure the one I just walked past is bigger than my apartment.
8:16 AM: When I’m earning more money and no longer in crippling student debt I’m totally going to buy an enormous RV.
8:17 AM: Although buying one of these would probably put me in MORE crippling debt.
8:18 AM: So I should just buy one now since I’m already in crippling debt anyway.
8:45 AM: Just walked past a campsite where an older gentleman whose attire and personal hygiene screams “I chew disgusting amounts of tobacco and have a bald eagle decal on the back of my huge pickup truck that is probably overcompensating for something” stumbled toward me with his arms outstretched and slurred “Hey, honey! How about a We Fest hug!?” HOW ABOUT NO.
8:46 AM: I just muttered something along the lines of “No, thanks. I’m not a hugger” and walked past quickly. It’s too early and I’m too sober to have strangers invading my personal space.
12:30 PM: Playing Cards Against Humanity with the group. Nothing breaks the ice quite like “a big, black dick.”
2:00 PM: At Power Hour: a We Fest tradition where you take a drink every minute for an hour, noted by a whistle or an air horn. They have a dare wheel set up at an area of Lake Sallie called Camp Papa Smurf. Some of the dares are “take a mystery shot” or “social drink.” Those seem pretty tame.
2:01 PM: And some of them are “remove an article of clothing” or “body shot.” Oh, boy.
2:15 PM: A guy in a t-shirt that says “boobies make me smile,” a Canadian flag tied around his neck like a cape, and flip-flops drawn on his feet spun the wheel and landed on “remove an article of clothing.”
2:16 PM: At least he has the cape, so this should be pretty easy-
2:17 PM: Or he could just take off his shorts. Not the obvious choice in this situation, but okay.
5:30 PM: Big & Rich is starting in forty-five minutes but I’m going to skip it. I only know “Save a Horse, Ride a Cowboy” and I didn’t even know that was an actual song until college; before that, I just thought it was a stupid phrase to print on t-shirts at Spencer’s.
6:30 PM: Relaxing in my tent. It’s really peaceful at the campsite with everyone down at the concert. It’s quiet, there’s a bit of a breeze-
6:31 PM: And there’s an insect the length of my thumb with what looks like a fish hook on the end of it on my tent roof.
6:32 PM: And now it’s been joined by an enormous daddy long leg. NEAT.
8:40 PM Heading down to the concert bowl to see Hank Williams Jr. I don’t know why, because I only know that one football song, and he’s seemed like kind of a douchebag in the interviews I’ve seen him in, but maybe he’ll put on a good show.

we fest4

8:50 PM: As we walk to our seats, a few guys holding strands of plastic beads shout “boobs for beads!” Rob proudly lifts his shirt to reveal his moobs and is rewarded with a string of shiny red beads around his neck.
9:00 PM: It’s hilarious to hear a guy who has made homophobic comments in the past sing “I really, really, really, really, really, really like girls” because it just makes it sound like he’s in the closet.
9:15 PM: Is it just me or is Hank’s singing really off-key?
9:16 PM: His guitar is out of tune too.
9:30 PM: Now he’s punctuating his poorly-performed songs with incoherent rambling. Time to go.
9:35 PM: Nearly ran into a guy wearing a stars-and-stripes speedo and a pith helmet.
9:36 PM: Seriously? This is the second year I’ve seen someone here in a red, white, and blue speedo.
9:37 PM: I understand patriotism is a big theme in country music, but there has to be a better way of showing that you love your country than squeezing your genitals into a tiny swimsuit.
10:00 PM: Hanging out at a campsite across from ours and it is downpouring. Rascal Flatts goes on in forty-five minutes. Swell.
10:30 PM: Not going to the concert. I don’t feel like dealing with the rain, and the only song I care about is “Life is a Highway” because we sang it as the opening number in my high school variety show (because when you think country music, you think of jazz hands and step-ball-changes).
11:30 PM: The rain is finally letting up so now a few of us are sitting at a picnic table. I just apologized to Jamie for not realizing we’d met before and he said he didn’t remember me either, so I feel like significantly less of a tool now.

Friday, August 7
9:00 AM: Okay, I brought ONE dress with me and I kind of feel like looking cute today.
9:05 AM: Aaaand I just got toothpaste all over the neckline.
9:06 AM: Just tried wiping it off and made it worse…oh, God. That does not look like toothpaste.
9:08 AM: I just wanted to look nice once this week, dammit! JUST ONCE!
9:09 AM: Back to grungy camp chic, I guess.
10:00 AM: Jodi is teaching Chad, Trish, and I how to play Golf (the card game, not the heinously boring sport).
10:30 AM: To probably no one’s surprise, I’m not very good at a game that requires basic math skills.
3:00 PM: So this guy just ran past our campsite:

we fest3

4:00 PM: Holy shit. Someone in the group brought a mobile bar.
4:01 PM: You know that scene in the fourth Harry Potter movie where Harry walks into this shabby little tent that looks like this huge elaborate house on the inside and is like “I love magic!”? That’s how I feel right now.
8:30 PM: On our way to the Dierks Bentley concert. Can’t miss a chance to see one of my several celebrity husbands (for anyone interested, my celebrity husbands are a handful of country singers, most of the cast of The Avengers movies, and three guys from this Mexican soap opera my friends and I watched religiously sophomore year of college).
9:00 PM: This song is great and Dierks is killing it and everything, but there’s this big fiery red circle graphic on the screen behind him and all I can think is “WATCH OUT FOR SAURON!”
9:01 PM: I think I might be too geeky for this event.
11:00 PM: Just got back to the concert bowl for Miranda Lambert.
11:10 PM: Tabloid drama aside, this woman amazing. She’s an even more incredible singer live.
11:15 PM: It’s a little heartbreaking, because you can tell by the look on her face that she’s going through a lot, but she’s clearly channeling that emotion into her music.
12:00 PM: She’s only addressed the issue once: “I wish I could have been drinking all day. I just got divorced!” She’s greeted with an enormous cheer from the crowd.

Saturday, August 8
2:00 PM: Last Power Hour of the week. I’ve been taking it easy these past few days but considering this is going to be my last night here, it wouldn’t hurt to loosen up a little. Time to make a dent in that Costco-sized bottle of Jack Daniels.
2:30 PM: Seriously!? ANOTHER guy in a red, white, and blue speedo? Is this just the We Fest douchebag uniform or something?
2:31 PM: At least the pink fanny pack complements it nicely.
2:45 PM: Aw, man, we’re out of Coke and I didn’t bring any other mixers.
2:46 PM: Joe was nice enough to let me use his ginger ale but there’s not much left and I don’t want to waste all of his pop.
2:47 PM: This is basically a big mug of Jack with a couple shots of ginger ale in it.
2:48 PM: Oh, well. Time to enjoy the camp bar!
3:00 PM: I’m not one hundred percent sure what’s in this shot Trisha made me, but it’s red and blue and sugary.
3:10 PM: I’m drunk and swapping sci fi book recommendations with Matt. I can’t go one day without nerding out here, can I?
3:45 PM: Why, yes, taking multiple Fireball shots does seem like an excellent idea.
4:00 PM: Does Jack taste good with lemonade? I don’t know, but I’m going to find out. FOR SCIENCE.
4:10 PM: Uh-oh.
4:11 PM: Oh, no.
4:12 PM: Too far.
4:30 PM: I just puked behind my tent and asked Todd (resident creeper of the Lake Sallie group) for guy advice. I’m not drinking again for the rest of my twenties.
4:35 PM: I’m just going to try and sleep this off before the Jake Owen concert.
8:30 PM: Jodi just woke me up for the concert and I legitimately forgot what day it was for the first few minutes I was awake. Then I remembered the last few hours. Ugh.
9:00 PM: At the Jake Owen concert. Feeling a little shaky but not nearly as bad as earlier.
9:10 PM: Jodi and Ashley want to check out the vendors rather than go right to our seats, but I’m not a huge Jake Owen fan so I’m okay with-
9:11 PM: OH, GOD, I forgot how much I love “Alone with You.”
9:12 PM: And I forgot about his sexy new haircut. BE STILL, MY HEART.
9:13 PM: New addition to the celebrity husband list.
10:00 PM: Back at camp, sitting at the bar and sipping Gatorade.
10:05 PM: Apparently my drunken plea for guy advice struck a chord with Todd (or it’s just the liquid inspiration from whatever’s in his Mountain Dew bottle) because he’s decided I’m his “intern” now.
10:10 PM: Lesson one: “Guys look for two things in a girl: a sense of humor-” Wow, that’s actually a good-
10:11 PM “And blow-” NOPE, the rest of that sentence isn’t going into my blog. My parents read this. Gotta draw the line somewhere.
10:12 PM: Now he’s encouraging me to chat up the cute guy in the cowboy hat who just walked up to the bar. I guess I have nothing to lose. I think my dignity is lying in a pile of vomit by my tent anyway.
10:13 PM: Me: “…Hi…” Guy: (dismissively as he tries to hit on another girl) “Hi.”
10:14 PM: Wow. Who could have predicted the dude would completely ignore the awkward girl in glasses and a t-shirt with a glass of wine, a book, and the words “well red” bedazzled across the chest?
10:15 PM: Eh. I tried.
10:45 PM: Okay, as much as I’m “learning” from Todd, it’s time for Blake Shelton!
11:00 PM: This guy is a spectacular performer. Besides being a ridiculously talented musician, he’s funny and engaging and just has a great stage presence overall.
11:15 PM: Hearing “Sangria” live cemented its position as one of my favorite new country songs. So pretty.
11:45 PM: HA. Hearing Blake call Adam Levine a douche gives me life.
12:45 PM: I’m going straight to bed since we’re heading home tomorrow and being hungover in a car for four hours sounds like torture.

Sunday, August 9
10:00 AM: The car is packed, we’ve said our goodbyes, and we’re on our way out.
10:05 AM: Jodi asks me if I remember that I started speaking Spanish yesterday when I was drunk. I do not.
10:10 AM: If the worst things I did were switch to a different language and go to a dubious resource for romantic advice, I’d say I made it out of We Fest pretty much unscathed.
10:15 AM: I’m exhausted, grimy, bruised, and mildly embarrassed. Will do it all again next year?
10:16 AM: Probably.


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