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How to survive a summer music festival

Bang your head

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Whether you're staying around the Q.C. for Ozzfest or the Vans Warped Tour, or heading west for Tennessee's Bonnaroo, you should always be prepared to make the most of a summer music festival. From staying hydrated to looking the part, here's a quick guide of what you should or shouldn't do:

• Tickets -- It's obviously a good idea to have tickets for the event before you get there. After all, if it's sold out, you'll just wind up sitting around the parking lot listening to your favorite bands from far away. If you wanted to do that, you could blast some music in your house and sit on the front lawn (see "How to Turn Your Pad Into Paradise" p. 30). You're there to see the bands live, so get your hands on some tickets -- buy them online, go to the venue or, if you're desperate, steal 'em from your friends. (If you stole your tickets from your friend, it's probably not a good idea to ask them to go with you ... or for them to drive.) NPE (Note from Personal Experience): Check and make sure you have the tickets before leaving the driveway.

• Tailgating -- Think about what you want to eat before or after the show. Food and drinks inside can cost more than the ticket, so plan accordingly. A small grill is a great way to cook out, but don't set it up too close to the car. NPE: Adding more lighter fluid to a grill doesn't help when it's windy -- it only helps make the meat taste like lighter fluid.

• What to wear -- Jeremy Piven's character said it best in the movie PCU: "You're wearing the shirt of the band that you're going to see. Don't be that guy." People will know you like the band, after all, you're at their concert. It's summer, so it's going to be hot. Dress comfortably. This doesn't mean you should spend an hour in the bathroom putting on eyeliner and hair gel and making sure your outfit matches the band that will be on stage. That goes for you, too, ladies! NPE: Sturdy shoes work best in the pit.

• Stay hydrated -- Before you drink all the beer that's sold at the venue, remember that it's hot and you need to stay hydrated. The occasional bottle of water won't make you look like a wuss. It's also not a bad idea to buy one and have it ready should you get thirsty, want to avoid a hangover or need to clean your friend's vomit off your shoes. NPE: If everything starts going black and you're having trouble standing, you probably need water.

• Souvenirs -- It'll probably cost as much for a T-shirt as it did for your ticket. You can always scout the parking lots for a $10 bootlegged shirt, but you never know if the ink will fade or the cops will cuff you as you buy it. In some ways, your ringing ears and ticket stub will always be a reminder.

• Getting home -- It's best to establish a meeting place with your friends. As you're herded toward the parking lot like cattle through a meat-packing plant, it's best if you have a pre-determined meeting place set up. This way, your friends can carry your drunk, over-heated body back to the car, or your mom will know where you and your friends will be. NPE: It's always fun to "Mooooo!" as you walk through the crowd towards the exit. 

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