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Festival Water... WTF?

Article by: Corey Fox


Photo Credit: Insomniac / pnw.beyondwonderland.com

Water. H20. Agua refrescante. I drink it, you drink it, we all drink it. In antediluvian times they called it “Adam’s Ale” and today, we call it the byproduct of a capitalistic economy.


This is a society however, so naturally we don’t capture air in a plastic ziplock bag and charge you to breathe it, but somehow we’ve managed to create an industry that revolves entirely around bottling water for profit. Which is fine and all, but I’m beginning to think that oxygen is one of the last remaining frontiers of an untapped market.


I just have so many questions. Is festival water a taboo topic? Let's talk about it for a moment, shall we?


The dreaded three day festival weekend -- we’ve all been there. The back pain, the muscle cramps; the perpetual embrace of a midsummer’s day sunlight eroding away the layers of our epidermis. Our collectively depleted energies basking in a doomsday afterglow. Parched voices hollering, nay, echoing throughout the desert oasis. Phrases like, “meet us at the giant avocado dude!” and other unique non-sequiturs that one could only hear at a rave.


Arm-to-shoulder trains voyaging through the crowds like an army of exhausted minutemen and minutewomen; slogging across the hazy marsh of a concrete wonderland. Our pilgrimage through the indifference-laden drudgery of a torrential work week has all led up to this. A destination event somewhere in a remote location, taking refuge among the palatial spreads of a main stage decadence.


There is clearly something spiritual that occurs in the middle of nowhere, as we rain dance our worries away in unison. Communally forming a sine wave of positive singularity; radiating with excitement to the point of metaphysical expulsion. We have endured an entire pandemic to experience this. So why does the “free” filtered festival water that accompanies our expensive escapades taste like Shrek’s bath water?


Photo Credit: Dreamworks Animation

They call us “Headliners.” Supposedly, the most important element of the Insomniac festival experience. Sure, I see the world a little differently. Hell, I also see beauty and inspiration everywhere I look. But, I also love to drink refreshing water as my face is melting off the bone. Recently, while attending Hard Summer at the NoS Center in San Bernadino, CA, I was confronted with exactly five stages of festival water grief, which consequently led to an epiphany I’d closely describe as a surrendered moment of forced acceptance.


The 5 Stages of Festival Water Grief

  • Denial.

Filtered water can’t possibly taste this bad…

  • Anger.

You have got to be kidding me!

  • Bargaining.

Forget it, I’ll buy a Gatorade.

  • Depression.

I JUST SPENT $600 ON GATORADE WTF?!

  • Acceptance.

You know, this actually doesn’t taste too bad.


Look, I know what you’re probably saying to yourself: “Methinks the bro doth protest too much about thine H20,” but I assure you the concern is a genuine one. We all know the prices of festival tickets are mooning past the rate of inflation, with some fares accosting our wallets for nearly twice the amount paid for plane tickets, or even hotel reservations for that matter. A hydro-pack bladder full of Poland Springs or Crystal Geyser would make the experience that much better, wouldn’t it?


Photo Credit: https://www.insomniac.com/

Ultimately, we’ve reached a point where a specialist is required onsite. We need to call in a hydration-audible. The dugout phone is ringing and a pinch hitter has entered the chat. In the same spirit as Disinfecto, who was fearlessly protecting us from Covid germs, we need a waterboy to patrol the filtered water tents as a quality control consultant. An ‘aqua-pura-aficionado’ whose primary objective is to ensure that PH levels have been meticulously curated for consumption to complement our aching backs and shuffling feet.


I mean, do they even test the water before it’s dispersed? Each sip brings me closer to the realization that we may need to boil it before we ingest it. I almost need a can of “Liquid Death” as a chaser just to get it down the hatch.


What exactly is Liquid Death, you say? Well, I’m glad you asked. Liquid Death is the canned spring water sensation currently sweeping the nation -- and the party circuit for that matter. You can typically find these ironic cans of hyperbolic satisfaction at the many food & liquor tents located sporadically around the festival grounds.


With an advertising initiative that is hard to compete with and an ever-revolving, too-cool-for-school celebrity endorsement campaign, they seem to have discovered a niche market that’s bussin’ respectfully. Especially since the crux of its success hinges upon how beneficial it is to recycle an aluminum can as opposed to a plastic bottle. Recycling is certainly a movement we can all get behind, but at $5 a can, I’d also like to see the organizers provide free water that is both tasty and refreshing.


Photo Credit: https://liquiddeath.com/

So can the powers that be, at the very least, examine or investigate the current status quo of the festival water situation? I understand that we’ve come a long way since Woodstock ‘99, but it sure would be nice to see some advancements in the hydration department. Due to venue policies and restrictions, we cannot bring in our own supply of water through the front gates -- which leaves us with two options: buy “Liquid Death” or suffer a slow death by liquid. I myself (a man of culture) chug LA tap water on a daily basis and it’s somehow more enjoyable than what's provided to us throughout an entire weekend of stage hopping. Where is Bobby Boucher when you need him?


Photo Edited by: Corey Fox (Insomniac / Touchstone Pictures)