This isn’t a rant from a wook who dropped some brown acid and “had a bad time.” This is a rant from a head who’s been going to music festivals for 20 years and has a clue what a well-managed festival looks like. Lockn’ aint it. It’s…
Lockn’ – A Tsunami Shitstorm
Yes, I said it. Lockn’ 2015 was a Tsunami of the shitstorm variety – not because there was a devastating storm that occurred on the Wednesday before opening night causing Thursday to be cancelled. No. That was a problem, sure, that trickled down into the rest of the festival, but that isn’t why I say Lockn’ was a tsunami shitstorm. There are plenty of other reasons that I’ll cover below.
But first, a little about me. I’ve been attending festivals for about 20 years – from the Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park (Wannee, Mag Fest, Hulaween), to Bonnaroo, to Mountain Jam, to Jerry’s Birthday Bash (a super great event with RatDog btw). I’ve been a head since the mid-90s.
My girlfriend and I were excited to go to Lockn’. The lineup for 2015 was killer. Phil & Friends with Santana, The Mule, Billy & The Kids, Mickey Hart. It looked like an amazing time. She’s new to the scene but had been to a few shows and was starting to vibe it. Lockn’ was her second festival, the first being the oh-so-amazing (and well-run) Dark Star Jubilee.
We were obviously disappointed to learn that the treacherous weather had caused the Lockn’ management to cancel the first day but were optimistic for the festival. Hey, shit happens, right? Nature is as nature does.
(Let’s revisit why no refunds were offered for this canceled first day later in “A Final Point” below.) Unfortunately, problems with very basic things like restroom facilities, lack of water, and no event staff caused us to leave on Saturday.
The Entry: A Shitstorm Was Brewing
The first thing that made the festival incredibly frustrating was the entry. We arrived at 5:50 am on Friday morning and proceeded almost directly into a staging area, only to have to sit and wait for 8 hours. Clearly, the fact that no one was allowed on the premises the first day added to the crowd arriving early on Friday. However, I don’t accept this as an excuse. Why only have one two lane entry? Why not have a second entry?
There were only a few event workers directing traffic. Needless to say, cars were not staying in their designated lanes. In fact, those designated lanes were completely ignored and new lanes were formed with late arrivals simply driving past the rest of us schlubs who were too cucked (or respectful of our fellow human beings) to do the same. Where were the event staff? Why weren’t the lanes more clearly marked?
We were originally diverted into a lane that had no obvious direct entry. We had to merge into another TWO lanes. So our lane moved at 1/3 the speed of the others, which was already incredibly slow. This was inept management at its finest.
There are so many improvements that could be made here. So let’s just name a few.
First, get some staff out there. Train them. Spend more than the absolute minimum on making sure that they know what the hell to do.
Second, increase the size of the entry road or allow for alternate entry roads into the GA camping area. It is simply inconceivable that there would only be one, 2 lane entrance into the festival grounds. 8 hours is a long time for anyone (especially children!) to wait for entry into a festival. My suggestion is to either expand the size of the lanes into the festival to accommodate more cars, or open up a 2nd staging area and entrance on 653 (the exit location).
Third, plan for the unthinkable. Consider what to do in the event that there’s a giant storm the night before the event. This is why you event organizers make the big bucks.
Security: The Shitstorm Had Arrived
Welcome to the next bottleneck. Security. Let me at this moment throw Lockn’ a bone. The security I interacted with were decent folks. It was handled pretty well. However, there needed to be double the number of personnel. Imagine what 2016 is going to be like with Phish on the ticket? Get more people over there doing that job. But then, you’re going to need to make the road after security even bigger to handle more cars.
H2O: This Shitstorm has No Water
Or, “Why isn’t there a single source of non-potable water anywhere in this whole goddamn place?”
There needs to be non-potable water all over the festival grounds. Period. Especially in the giant water tank right next to the camping area!
Port-O-Lets: Tales from the Shitstorm front lines
I just can’t do it daddy, it’s too gross in there…
Just let that sink in a little bit. Marinate on it for a while.
This isn’t a spunyun at 2 am complaining that the Port-O-Potty smells like phish lot after-show. No. This is a little girl that could not pee when she woke up because the toilet was overflowing with human feces – a LITERAL SHIT TSUNAMI.
This little girl could not go to the bathroom because the port-o-lets hadn’t been cleaned since the festival began. What was that, 24 hours? 30? Christ.
I’m going to try to describe this situation so that this sinks in. It’s going to sound disgusting but I think everyone really need to understand what everyone at lucky car camping lots 6 – 9 went through on Friday morning and why we left the festival grounds a day early.
The port-o-lets were filled to the fucking RIM with urine and feces. Filled to the rim! You could not physically sit on the toilet because if you did, your ass would come into contact with feces, urine, blood and paper.
My girlfriend actually stepped in a bloody mess because women could not fit their tampons in the toilets. They were leaving them rolled up in little toilet-paper balls on the floor. It was incredibly unsanitary.
I tried to find someone – anyone, that worked for Lockn’ to point out the problem, but couldn’t find a single person. I tried to email the festival but couldn’t find any way to do so other the email from the website – info@… I tweeted about it hoping that someone from Lockn’ management would see the tweet and respond. Do you think anyone did?
NOPE. THERE WAS NO REPLY.
That was the last straw for my girlfriend and I. We packed our shit up and we left. I sure as hell wasn’t going to miss Phil and Friends that night, so we booked the only hotel we could find (to the tune of $150), an hour away, and spent the rest of the day there.
Event Management: How NOT to manage a Tsunami Shitstorm
The aforementioned point brings me to the next. Apart from the info@… email address or walking all the way to the entrance, there was no easy way to contact anyone that could do anything about these issues. I stopped parking attendants (“Sorry, I only work for the parking company…”), people on golf carts with walkie-talkies (“Sorry, we don’t know anything about that issue, we work for a company that provides transportation for V.I.P.s – and you ain’t one…”), etc. There was no one around that could offer any help. Why the hell didn’t these people with walkie-talkies try to contact management?
There should be employees scattered throughout the festival to provide some kind of help to people. Even if just to radio someone that can actually help. There should be one or two in every camp section.
VIP: Shit Raining from VIP Section
Alternatively: ” ‘Hello!’ Backs of the Heads of the VIP Section!”
This point pales in comparison to the others but it is important. The raised VIP section in front of the state made it incredibly difficult for us plebs to see anything on the stage. Thankfully there were monitors. However, this just seemed like an extra “kick in the balls,” and something I could have done without. There are plenty of festivals where the VIP area is off to the side (Hulaween, Wannee) and where the “rail” isn’t reserved for the VIPers. I choose to give my $$ to those festivals.
Conclusion: A Shitty End
As it currently stands, I won’t be going back to Lockn’ and I’ll shout the reasons why from the rooftops (this blog). I certainly wouldn’t recommend it to anyone, regardless of the lineup. There are far too many other options for festivals that are better managed which just as good of music. My girlfriend and I wasted $550 of our hard-earned money for tickets, two nights of hotels because Thursday night was canceled and then we got the hotel on Saturday night.
Lockn’s Shitty Response
After a few days, I felt I needed to contact Lockn’s management. I sent an email to the info@ email address and they put me in contact with a very nice guy named Del. Del was incredibly understanding and appreciated the suggestions that I had.
In the end, however, Del was only able to offer me $80 back for the car camping. That’s probably more than most of the poor, hapless souls received. But I’m still not satisfied.
A Final, Shitty, Point
This leads me to a final point. Lockn’ CANCELLED Thursday night. Why the hell weren’t we offered a refund? Why didn’t we get our money back for that night?
Some of you might answer: “Rain or Shine!” I don’t believe “rain or shine” applies in this case. “Rain or shine” is for when the show goes on even though it rained. In this case, the show was cancelled. Lockn’ should have given everyone their money back for that night. Would that have been a pain in the ass for Lockn’? YES. But that’s tough. That’s how business works. Surely they had insurance for something like this. If they didn’t, that’s tough shit. They should have.
To see this point even more clear, imagine if there was a hurricane that hit Virginia the week of Lockn’, cancelling the entire event. Everybody would surly get their money back. Lockn’ has to have insurance for this kind of situation. If they don’t, they are shittier event managers than I thought.
The fact is that we paid for a day and didn’t get it. The weather was shitty but Lockn’ chose to pocket the money and kick us in the nuts.
Did the artists get paid? Did the vendors get their money back or did Lockn’ kick them in the balls too?
I’d like to know. Leave your shitty experiences in the comments below!