What you'll need to throw your own music festival this summer | Summer Survival Guide | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

What you'll need to throw your own music festival this summer

click to enlarge The makings for an at-home festival - CP PHOTO: JORDAN SNOWDEN
CP photo: Jordan Snowden
The makings for an at-home festival
What was the point at the start of the pandemic when you had that, “Oh snap, this is serious!” realization? For me, it was when South by Southwest was canceled, the first major festival in the U.S. to do so because of coronavirus concerns.

CP illustration: Abbie Adams
It was the first time in SXSW’s 34 years of existence that the sprawling festival would not be happening and, in general, it was unheard of for such a huge event to be flat-out canceled. Other festivals, concerts, and tours followed SXSW’s lead soon after, seemingly paving the way for a summer without music festivals. But with a little creativity, elbow grease, and social distancing, that doesn’t have to be the case.

Below, you will find a detailed list on how to create your own at-home music festival. Even though you may not be seeing your favorite artists live, it’s offset by being able to use your own bathroom (bye-bye porta-potties!) and not having some drunk stranger invade your personal space.

At-Home Music Festival Checklist:

Key Items:


Find a location that you’ll be comfortable spending a few hours in with room to dance, lay out, and/or relax. A yard or park space would be preferable, but this can also be done in an inside space like a living room.

CP illustration: Abbie Adams
The more sound the better! If you can feel the bass in your chest, you’re doing it right (but please be considerate of neighbors). If you don’t have a sound system you like, you can amplify by placing your phone speaker-down in a bowl or cup.

Create a playlist in advance so you aren’t worrying about picking the right song every few minutes. Take it a step farther by planning your festival around a livestream performance or search YouTube for past festival sets.

Prepare food in advance or treat yourself and order takeout. Water is important for hydration, but feel free to add alcohol to your list.

Because music just sounds better with others around.


A theme

Tropical, outer space, etc. You’re only limited by your imagination!

Fun outfits
Figuring out personal aesthetic is high on the list of “festival prepping” tasks.

Implement your theme! Items like blankets, fanny packs, and sunglasses really add that festival feel.

The screen can be a computer, TV, phone, or even a projector on a sheet. Musicians usually have some sort of projection behind them, so put on a visualizer to get the effect at home.

Flow Toys
Flow toys are used in flow arts, which is the blanket term used to describe “the intersection of a variety of movement-based disciplines including dance, juggling, fire-spinning, and object manipulation.” There are many flow art toys like poi, levi wands, whips, and hula hoops. Hula hooping is one of the biggest festival flow art activities, and it’s one I’ve practiced for years. Want to learn how to be a trick/dance hooper? See “Hula Hooping 101” at pghcitypaper.com where I’ve detailed everything from how to waist hoop to buying the right hoop and more.

Put these all together and BAM: You’ve created your own personal music festival.

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