Sorry guys, I missed the March installment of Out in the World. But there’s a few good reasons for that! Most of the big events have to do with Mardi Gras and Carnival, which were covered in the February edition of the calendar. The others were all pretty well known – Soundwave and Future in Australia (if you’re going to the Melbourne edition, hit me up and I’ll buy you a beer), Ultra Music Festival in Miami. If you need a random blogger to remind you that St. Patrick’s Day in Dublin is a thing, you probably weren’t gonna go in the first place. Other than that, March is a bit barren, being just after Summer in the South, just before it in the North.
Yep, those are the reasons. It’s definitely not because I spent my birthday month drinking five nights a week with some awesome foreigners who’ve mastered the art of peer pressure. Yep yep yep.
But we’re back on the wagon now, so let’s get into April. We’re still in a bit of Festival limbo, not quite Summer above the equator and not quite Winter below it. It takes a brave organization to put something on now. Luckily, we’ve got Coachella to get things started. A few months ago, we were leaning more towards cultural festivals, weird things where you can bring the family (if you’re one of those backpackers that knocked up a local, I guess). Now, the music is starting to take back the night. If you thought festivals with self-flagellation and animal sacrifice was cool, then sorry. Maybe you can take a break for a bit.
1-2nd – Lollapalooza Argentina (Buenos Aires, Argentina) – If the nonsense word Lollapalooza means anything to you, then you’ve probably heard of the famous Chicago music festival. And sure, Argentina shares basically nothing in common with Chicago outside of occasionally freezing temperatures, but why innovate a new brand for a new culture when you can leech off a past success for all eternity (lookin’ at you, SS Coachella)? Lollapalooza is like that 40-year-old still wearing his high school football championship ring. But hey, he earned that ring by being pretty damn good, and if this analogy holds, that 40 year old can still beat the shit outta you. In another language.
2-7th – The Moody Blues (Miami, Florida) – Just a few days before this festival starts, Miami will have been hit by Ultra, funneling in thousands of preteens on so many drugs they’ll have love affairs with trees. It won’t recover very fast. Anybody coming for a music festival, especially one with a little more class, are gonna want to step over the bodies and get on a boat to get the hell out of dodge. Luckily the Moody Blues cruise is there. It brings in the classical music of the ’60s, like Jimi Hendrix covers, ELO, and all the other music your parents did drugs to. So if you want to feel superior to the kids at Ultra by embracing their culture’s spiritual successor while dropping loads of cash to do it, this is the cruise for you.
3-5th – Estéreo Picnic (Bogotá, Colombia) – I don’t mean to stereotype, but everybody I know that’s been to Colombia talks about, obviously, the cocaine. It’s everywhere. They use it like gum. Personally, I’ve never seen the appeal. It’s like drinking a Red Bull that makes a conversation about haircuts seem like the most important thing that’s ever been discussed. It’s not really a festival drug, in my opinion, but I can see this, the first major music festival (that I’ve heard of) in Colombia, being absolutely lousy with it. But hey, what do I know? I’m not gonna judge it when I’m not going. But if you, the backpackers in Colombia, are hitting it up, just wink and nod. Have fun compulsively checking your phone every five seconds.
4-6th – Snowball (Denver, Colorado) – Colorado has some kind of inferiority complex. They think they’re nothing without images of snow-capped mountains with beautiful people flying down the flatirons. It’s the only explanation I can think of for why they’re holding a snow-themed festival in April. Come on, Colorado, the polar vortex is over (I think, I haven’t been in America in months). But noow that weed’s legal there, all those stoners need something to dwell on besides legalization, so maybe they can think of something clever. But in truth it’ll probably just be the same old stuff as any other music festival.
5th – Naghol Land Diving (Pentecost Island, Vanuatu) – Everybody has a morbid sense of curiosity. It’s why people act all horrified when they see things on the news but then go and watch Bud Dwyer commit suicide on the internet at 2 AM. We’ve all done it. I hope. The Naghol Land Diving festival takes that to it’s extreme, where tourists go to watch natives potentially kill themselves. Land diving is basically improvised bungee jumping, where loincloth-clad tribal guys jump from rickety wooden platforms, falling 100 feet before being stopped by the tree vines wrapped around their ankles. It’s part of their ritual of becoming a man, which makes sense because the g-forces of that vine stop probably makes their balls drop instantaneously. Especially given how huge those balls have to be already to jump in the first place. But don’t worry about anybody finding out about your morbidity… only a few tourists are allowed to go each year.
5-6th – Lollapalooza Brazil (São Paulo, Brazil) – See above
6th – Kanamara Matsuri (Kawasaki, Japan) – Japan is weird. I know that goes without saying when you’re talking about the country that introduced us to tentacle porn and professional reporters going for the upskirt shots, but it does at least give context to this festival. Kanamara Masturi sounds pretty innocent – you might think it’s the new video game all those kids are playing. But in western culture, it’s more known as the Festival of the Steel Penis. Penis foods, penis costumes, penis toys. It’s at the point where you’re not sure if that guy over there is just indulging in the festival or if he’s the town pervert with the perfect cover. So if you’re one of those puritanical backpackers who freaks out when you catch a glimpse of a dude changing in the dorm, maybe try elsewhere. This festival has more cocks than John Wayne’s rifle.
7-12th – Snowbombing (Mayrhofen, Austria) – Apparently April is a pretty dead season for European festivals. Gives South America more time to shine, which, cool, save the rainforest, but there’s gotta be some representation. Austria does it’s share. Snowbombing is like a better version of Snowball, with a full week of partying that actually takes place in the Alps. So the whole “bombing down a mountain sloshed out of your mind” isn’t just an aesthetic the promoters are trying to market with little relevance to the festival itself. You’re gonna be dodging naked guys on skis all over the slopes. Just don’t kill yourself… nothing kills a head buzz like putting an evergreen branch through it.
10-19th – Bisket Jatra (Bhaktapur, Nepal) – Nepal has a pretty good reputation among people who don’t realize they’re actually thinking of Tibet. They think it’s the center of enlightenment where Buddhist monks live lives of chastity and study. They probably don’t realize that a huge institution of their new year celebrations involve a gigantic stone Lingam being stuck on an equally large Yoni. If that sounds like a euphamism for sex, then congrats on your astuteness. It’s exactly what it sounds like. Giant phallus, giant, I don’t know, what’s the polite term for vag? There’s also parades, red powder being tossed around Holi-style, and a tongue piercing ceremony where a villager spends the day with a giant iron spike through his lady-pleaser. I know I said up above that there wouldn’t be any self-mutilation this month. Sorry. Just keeping you on your toes.
11-13th, 18-20th – Coachella (Indio, California) – I’ve mentioned this festival before. I kind of like it. It was the first major festival I ever attended, barring that festival back in 2006 when I was only 16 and thought all those guys laying on the grass and rubbing it against them were just really drunk. Innocent days. This festival comes up in my life so often that any mention of it nowadays earns me an instant Bip Bip Bipping (see: The Inbetweeners), so I won’t try to sell it to you in a short paragraph in the middle of an event calendar. Coachella simply is. And it’s your job to make it to the polo fields this April and see what all the fuss is about. I’ll see you there.
12-13th – Tortuga Music Festival (Ft. Lauderdale, Florida) – Florida is a really weird state – the further South you go, the more Northern it becomes. That’s why Miami can have Ultra and loose morals and tolerance of blacks and gays, and the panhandle gets airboats and rednecks and scared families who dared venture away from Disneyworld. Fort Lauderdale is just north of Miami, but it already starts to see signs of the South. Namely, country music about trucks and unpaved roads and beer. And Tortuga is like it’s home city in festival form. It’s not quite sure whether it wants the hip cats of Miami or the country bumpkins up north, so it tries to lay claim to both, with a lineup of Pop Country and an audience of girls in cowboy boots who couldn’t tell you what a cowboy actually does. It’s Stagecoach for the East Coast, so if that’s your thing and can’t hit both, then by all means. Yee haw.
13-15th – Songkran (Chiang Mai, Thailand) – One of these years, I’m not going to get to go to Coachella. I can’t think of a reason short of an asteroid striking the polo fields, but the day will one day come, and when it does, I’ll be going to Songkran instead. To the Thai people, nothing rings in the New Year with good will and friendship like blasting those friends in the face with a high powered water gun while utterly destroying any electronics they have in their pockets. For three days, it’s a chaotic, country-wide water war with guns, buckets, balloons, and any other way they can ruin a good suit. Sometimes, I actually wonder why I choose Coachella over this. It’s not like I even have an iPhone to ruin anymore. Somebody please break this cycle. I need to go to Songkran.
13-20th – Semana Santa (Antigua, Guatemala / Seville, Spain) – I try to include a fair amount of cultural things in these calendars, because even though backpackers are a pretty rowdy bunch, they still tend to have a fair mind towards the fact that their karma is steadily plummeting towards a black abyss. Everybody’s gotta build that back up before another binge. And if there’s any time to make a phoned-in rebirth analogy, it’s the week leading up to Easter. Semana Santa takes place in the last days of Lent, when everybody’s getting anxious to get back on the drink while staying faithful enough to channel that energy elsewhere. There are two cities that really go all out for it as far as festivals go – Antigua and Seville – and either one would be a great place to feel a little better about yourself while still bursting at the seams to do something crazy, like a little kid about to shit himself.
17-20th – Viva Las Vegas Rockabilly Festival (Las Vegas, Nevada) – Graceland may have been Elvis’ home, but Vegas is where he belongs. So what better way to celebrate his misplaced appropriation of black culture than an entire festival set in the town where many an idiot believes he still lives? The weekend is one giant call back to that classic 50s Vegas – that lovely, romantic period in time when the mob used the casinos to launder money and anybody taking them for a ride wound up in a back alley with broken legs. Good times. Good cars. There’s a car show during the festival with dozens of classic cars from that era, so if that’s the kind of show you’re into, or if you’re an old man who just wants to relive the glory days, then try it out.
17-21st – Byron Bay Bluesfest (Byron Bay, Australia) – When I told everybody that I was going to be home for Coachella, they called me crazy. Maybe it’s true. The alternative they suggested was the Byron Bay Blues Fest. I wasn’t gonna make it up the coast in time in any case, but it does sound like a damn good time. Having been here a while, you start to realize that Australia has a pretty specific music taste, and it’s exactly what you’d expect from a country that never ventures more than 20 miles inland. John Butler might as well be an Aussie for how much they’re obsessed with him here. The Blues Fest is the perfect little ball of that music in a part of the country that I can’t wait to get to. No joke, it’s supposed to be one of the best festivals in the world. If you’re in Australia and can get to Byron Bay, you should hit it up.
19-20th – DGTL 2014 (NDSM-Docklands, Netherlands) – Half a year into these calendars and I’m starting to wonder if the Netherlands listens to any genre of music outside of EDM, or if there’s just an entire population east of England going about their daily lives bouncing around like the grocery store is the hottest new club in town. DGTL is more of the same, so if you’ve seen any of these in the past, then you know what’s the sitch. Not to downplay the significance of the the festival, I’m sure it’s gonna be great fun. But if you’ve ever eaten an entire bowl of Lucky Charms marshmallows to see if it helps your hangover, you know that too much of a good thing makes makes your shit look like a rainbow. Come on Netherlands.
19-May 11th – Feria de San Marcos (Expoplaza, Mexico) – Mexico is a pretty religious state, but people are yo-yos. Fling ’em far enough in one direction and they’ll flip back around just as far to the other. So once the dishes from Easter brunch are cleared, those Lent oaths can get to breaking. Feria Nacional de San Marcos is a giant national fair with seven million people coming and going each year. It used to be about winemaking, but nowadays the bullfights and cockfights take the main stage. That’ll put a bad taste in a lot of people’s mouths, but having been to a cockfight, I’ll tell you that the culture behind it is worth at least experiencing. Just make sure you eat the chicken afterwards so those gladiators don’t die in vain. And while my research hasn’t turned up a concrete answer on the bullfights, there’s a growing trend nowadays where the bulls aren’t killed anyway.
23-27th – Moogfest (Asheville, North Carolina) – If you’re a fan of electronic music (and judging by the google terms that lead you to my site, I’m guess you are – looking at you Mr. “how to have sex at a music festival”), then you owe at least some recognition to Bob Moog. In addition to having a name that already sounds like a nickname bullies give people, Moog invented the synthesizer. So he essentially invented electronic music. He spent the last 30 years of his life in Asheville, so the city holds a festival in his honor. Three days of music spread all throughout town. It’s not limited to electronic music, with everything from post-rock to country thrown in sometimes, but pretty much everybody pays their respects to the dude during the show.
25-26th – Euphoria (Austin, Texas) – Travel is the death of stereotyping, but I maintain that Texas is too proud of its stereotypes for them to be true. I think it’s just because the chest thumpers drown out the rest. But for every “Don’t Mess With Texas” buckaroo, there’s a closet hippy too afraid to come out as Hip to his conservative parents. Euphoria is their escape – a two day camping festival where they can, like, just be themselves man. Although I don’t know if it really counts as camping when you’re just setting the tent up for one night. But hey, any little thing you can get, right? The festival has art and workshops and the kind of thing you’d expect to see at Burning Man, so if you’re in the area and need a break from the trucks and barbecue, then by all means detour through.
25-27th – Stagecoach (Indio, California) – Ah Stagecoach. Otherwise known as Coachella’s afterbirth. The country festival takes place in the rotting corpse of the fields Coachella took place in just a week before, with the grass trampled yellow under the feet of a thousand hippies. The country crowd takes over now. Of course, being Los Angeles, there’s no real Southerners in attendance. Every girl you see is actually a sorority girl who’s never stepped foot in the South but just loves the idea of “save a horse, ride a cowboy.” If a cowboy joined a frat and traded in the romanticized ideal of the outlaw for a 30-rack of shit beer and a plaid shirt from H&M, it would go to Stagecoach. Of course, he would only go to prey on those sorority girls in cowboy boots. There’s a reason Stagecoach has sexual assaults and Coachella doesn’t.
25-May 4th – New Orleans Jazz Festival (New Orleans, Louisiana) – This may be the only music festival I’ve heard of that draws both my 50 year old aunt and my friends half that age. Which either says a lot about the quality of the festival, the coolness of my aunt, or the lameness of my friends. Maybe all three, you decide. New Orleans has a long and rich tradition of jazz and crazy homeless people, and they like to celebrate one of those things. The city only just recovered from the chaos of Mardi Gras, which explains why they feel the need to kick things off again. The city can only go so long without something monumental (in either extreme) happening. Just gotta hope I don’t run into my 50 year old aunt there…
26th – King’s Day (Amsterdam, Netherlands) – A few years ago, my grandparents happened to be in the Netherlands over what used to be called Queen’s Day, before the lady realized that Queen Elizabeth is a nut and let somebody else do the facetime for a change. Now, my grandparents are pretty damn cool (got a nice weed brownie story there), but they’re still, you know, grandparents. The Dutch don’t care. Those pictures are just a mob of orange belligerents hounding two old Americans into drinking beer with them until somebody gets so drunk they call into the canals and get run over by a house. You ask any random American what day President’s Day falls on and I’ll bet less than a quarter could tell you. Compare the two, and you gotta wonder which country has the government thing right.
28-May 4th – AfrikaBurn (Tankwa Karoo National Park, South Africa) – One of the biggest draws of Burning Man in America is the base, tribal aspect. The chance to exist in a closed ecosystem where the weights of modern civilization just doesn’t exist. That kind of logic exists just as much in Africa. I’m not going to pretend I understand the culture but anybody would admit it’s got problems. AfrikaBurn takes the same escape and offers it on another continent. The one in America is in a giant alkaline playa, which is cool, but this is Africa! A giant national park. There’s probably lions and shit. You think lions are fluffy now, imagine what they’re like when you stick a few pills in a steak and get them putting feathers in their manes and wondering why they ever wanted to eat zebras in the first place.
30th – Walpurgisnacht (Gothenburg, Sweden) – How sick is Halloween? One of my favorite holidays. Nowadays we lose too much of the creepy stuff in favor of dressing like sluts and acting the part. We need to get back to the childlike wonder and horror parts. And ideally we should do it more than once a year. Walpurgisnacht means “Witch’s Night” in Swedish, and falls six months from All Hallow’s Eve. It’s got the same mystic charm of Halloween, and people celebrate it by lighting gigantic bonfires. Finish off the month with something good for the soul by celebrating all the monsters in the world that don’t have one. After all these music festivals, you deserve it.
So that’s April! Odd month, as I said. Look forward to May when the northern hemisphere starts to come out to play and things start to get heated. See you next month!