I close my eyes. Breathe in. I am walking up to a large grassy field. The hum of music playing in the distance makes the air feel electrified. All around me are hundreds of people in rubber boots, carrying crates of beer, laughing and talking in different languages. The sun is hiding behind a veil of clouds—it might rain later, with a 60% chance of getting a mysterious sunburn right on the nose. There is still a couple hours until the first truly exciting name on the lineup, so now is a good time to wander around and discover something new. I open the festival app that should bring me up to date with the schedule, but, in the style of festival apps, it crashes. Or is the phone signal just weak? Is it really that hard to provide decent Wi-Fi coverage? I toss the phone back in my tote bag and start walking towards the nearest stage.
I open my eyes. Breathe out. The humming of music and giddy chitchat dissolve into the sound of a ticking wall-clock and passing cars outside my window. Selfishly, I find comfort in the fact that this year’s festivals are cancelled. It would be a torture to watch them through my friends’ Instagram stories while stuck behind closed borders with grounded planes. And yet, my mind keeps slipping into a parallel universe where there is no pandemic. Where Roskilde Festival doesn’t attempt to keep its spirit alive by encouraging people to camp in their own backyards. Instead, we are there, debating whether Taylor Swift is amazing or average, but looking forward to seeing her headline the night nevertheless.
Footage from past festivals barely seems real in current circumstances. Thousands of people dancing together, holding hands and sharing drinks. Not a single glimpse of fear on their faces, but if there is, it is because they touched their pocket and couldn’t immediately locate their phone. Not because of the risk of a highly contagious disease. I miss festivals a lot. In times when live music lies dormant, I find myself nostalgic even for the annoying things. Like the lack of signal, entailing that if you have lost your friend in the crowd, you are on your own. Or the people who wouldn’t stop talking throughout the show. Or the loved-up couple I am cursed to always get stuck behind.
Even more than I miss chilling at music festivals, I miss working at them. A strange sensation of impostor syndrome mixed with pride and excitement followed me into every press area. In a wave of nostalgia, it is not the big things I reminisce about—like photographing the headliner or interviewing a favourite band. I miss the little things that happened in between. There was always something magical about being escorted into the photo pit, especially at Roskilde. I would often recognise other journalists but feel too shy to say hi to them because they are so much cooler than me. I miss the roar of the crowd. I miss collapsing from exhaustion at an Airbnb just to do it all over again the next day.
Eventually, hopefully next summer, we will meet on the dusty grassy field again. There will be some anxious, cautious looks. The conversations in foreign languages will inevitably discuss the year when music stopped. A band will come on stage. The singer will make a speech about how nice it is to be back. The roar of the crowd will thunder louder than ever before. It won’t be an end, and it won’t be a beginning. It will be simply a moment suspended in time. And we will be there.