Sure, BIGSOUND might be one of the highlights of the music industry calendar, but for the unprepared it can also be a non-stop barrage of showcases, meet-ups and run-ins that quite quickly overwhelms. After all, the event unfolds over a mere weekend, and it would take levels of organisational prowess that the human race has yet to tap into in order to see everything.
To that end, we have drafted up our six tips for making it through BIGSOUND with your brain intact. This list has been written with newcomers in mind, but even if you’re an industry veteran it probably wouldn’t hurt to flick on through – after all, the festival has been known to break even the most experienced music biz hounds out there.
Write Up A Schedule
It was the Scottish writer Robert Burns who once memorably wrote that the best laid plans of mice and men aft gang agley, and though we can’t confirm nor deny that he had music festivals in mind while penning the lines, unless you’re ready to tackle BIGSOUND with an itemised schedule in hand, you’ll find your plans get agley’d to shit. There’s just too much to do and too many places to do it in, so it’s a good idea to do your research before the weekend begins and draft yourself a list of what you want to see in advance. However, that said…
Be Ready To Go With The Flow
You never know what’s going to go down at BIGSOUND – not even the organisers of the weekend really know. The festival thrives on chaos and change, so there’s no point walking into the event expecting that everything will unfurl exactly as you want it to. You’ll miss some acts that you desperately wanted to see, bump into people and have drinks you didn’t account for, and generally find that you leap off script at every available moment.
The key to enjoying BIGSOUND, however, is making sure that you strike a balance between keeping an eye on what’s going down and making sure you don’t get so obsessed with a schedule that you stop yourself from having fun. Sure, that might be tricky, but nail the balance and you’ll have an unbeatable time.
Don’t Drink Too Much
I mean, this is probably a good lesson for life in general, but it really, really will be to your advantage to stagger your drinking at BIGSOUND. Just remember – literally everyone you bump into will ask you to go for a bevvy, so make sure you are breaking up your beers with glasses of water, and never drink more than one Schooner an hour. Trust us, there is nothing worse than realising you’ll have to write an entire evening of showcase-watching off because you accidentally got munted via impromptu meetings conducted in a bar – particularly not given that if you’re the kind of person who embarrasses yourself when a little sloshed, there will be lots of opportunities to do so at BIGSOUND. Like, lots.
Don’t Only Check Out The Bands That You’ve Already Heard Of
Chances are you’ll know a few of the names on the BIGSOUND lineup going into the fest, but make sure those aren’t the only bands that you seek out. In fact, try to avoid catching up on any acts that you’ve already seen once, or heard on record. The real breakthroughs of BIGSOUND are always the artists that nobody has ever heard of before, so unless you want to miss out on catching a fantastic set by an unknown band, make sure you head along to showcases by acts you’ve never heard of in your life.
Don’t Be Afraid Of Networking
You know it and I know it: there’s something pretty cringey about networking. It’s just horrible to feel like you’re only launching into a conversation in the hope that you get something out of it at the end, and people don’t particularly like being treated like springboards rather than real flesh and blood human beings.
Or, hang on, let’s clarify that: people don’t like being treated like springboards unless they’re at BIGSOUND, mostly because they’re treating everyone else there like springboards as well. People come to BIGSOUND to network, so you shouldn’t feel cringey about having to dive into awkward conversations conducted for the sole purpose of putting a face to an email address. The moment you stop feeling awkward about it is the moment you notice everyone else seems considerably less awkward too.
Stick With A Buddy
Finally, BIGSOUND can suck if you have to go it alone. Awkward conversations feel more awkward, great band sets feel slightly less great, and the whole weekend generally just shines that little bit less brightly. After all, you’ve got no-one to compare notes with, and you get kind of trapped in your own way of thinking rather than seeking the opportunity to expand your horizons and see the music scene in a whole new light. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
Either you can head into BIGSOUND with a friend in tow, or, if worst comes to worst, you can find yourself a buddy in the sea of fresh faces that you will encounter. If you take the latter option, don’t worry about feeling awkward either: your new BIGSOUND mate will be more than happy to be spared trawling BIGSOUND alone, trust us. And who knows? Maybe you’ll be able to meet up with your new BIGSOUND bud next year too.