How Medicine Stone Changed My Opinion of Music Festivals
Medicine Stone changed my perspective on music festivals.
To be fair, the only other multiple day festival I have attended was Country Thunder in Twin Lakes, Wisconsin, which I only attended one time, for 3 of the 4 days. However, I can say that after Country Thunder, I had a sour perspective on the idea of multiple day outdoor festivals and for a number of reasons.
First, I disliked the fact that the artists I enjoyed were early in the day (as the headlining slots were/are usually garbage) and so I felt that good artists did not have long enough to play. Secondly, I did not like the hordes of underage kids who were hammered in the campsites as well as in the venue who were loud, annoying, and had a propensity to rummage through your stuff and steal shit. Finally, and possibly most importantly, I hated how much money and time off from work was required to attend the festival. I skipped the first day and still sunk a pile of money into food/beer/tickets and had to take two days off from work to do it. However, when it comes to Country Thunder there was one thing I did love; the people I camped with.
This brings me to Medicine Stone. Much like Country Thunder, I went into Medicine Stone not planning to know too many people there and hoping to end up finding some new friends. Steve and I were lucky to randomly camp next to a group of Tahlequah residents who had been to Medicine Stone for several years already, and they welcomed us to join them almost immediately. We also found a few friends who we knew prior to the trip at another campsite and were welcomed there as well by those we hadn’t met before. Medicine Stone is also located right on a segment of the Illinois River, so in the 90-degree Oklahoma heat, going into the river was refreshing and something I hadn’t anticipated. So camping at Medicine Stone 2017 was great, to say the least.
As for the three annoyances I mentioned earlier, here’s how Medicine Stone faired in those areas:
First, the issue of good artists not having long enough to play actually still did exist… however it’s because ALL of the artists EACH day were great, and so it’s impossible for a festival to have each of them play for as long as they deserve because it would never end. The only thing about the lineup that I didn’t like was the fact that there were so many acts I wanted to see, that it was impossible to see all of them as some would go on at the same time on different stages. I did get to see essentially everyone that I wanted to see, though, and multiple stages are a necessity at a festival, so I get it.
Second, the issue of inebriated minors/theft... At Medicine Stone there was a constant presence of the Tahlequah sheriffs around the campsites, but not in a big brother way, just more of a patrolling/keeping the peace sort of way. Therefore, I didn’t see any drunk minors (to my knowledge), just plenty of drunk adults, which is fine. I’m not asking for sobriety, I'm just saying just that drunk high schoolers are the fucking worst. You know it’s true.
Thirdly, the time/cost restraint…. Well, to be fair, I had to take more days off from work to go down to Oklahoma than I did for CT, so that’s a thing. However the prices for everything from tickets to food to beers, were so much cheaper than CT I honestly couldn’t believe it. Obviously we had to spend gas money to get there and back, and we opted to split the trips down and back between nights in hotels to ease the travel, but looking over my whole weekend I’m confident I still spent less overall than my 3 days at CT.
The entire atmosphere at Medicine Stone was tremendous – we saw several artists walking around campsites (some of them, like Jamie Lin Wilson, actually camped out too) or walking around the venue, watching other artists perform. We got to hang out with a bunch of people who liked great music and knew all the smaller artists we love. We got to have beers and see live music in a venue that was perfectly sized so that you could see and hear the music even in the back. Turns out music festivals are actually pretty great, but like all things it all comes down to people: both those you camp with as well as those you there to see. I hope to see many of the same faces down there next year as well as to meet many new friends.