Hi! My name is America Maples, and I am currently a California living and 2-year raving communication student studying at California State University of Fullerton. I was hired as an intern for The Festival Voice this past week and I figured the best way to put myself out there for you readers is to write my first piece about my own EDM raving/ festival attending experience, especially about my first-ever festival. That way, once I begin writing more pieces for The Festival Voice, you can get an idea of my personality and how far I have come within two years of attending raves and festivals. Within my time here at The Festival Voice, I will share the development in my music taste, kandi skills, rave mom personality, and what other strengths I bring to the festival scene. So, with this all being said, let me begin with my first-ever festival perspective!
In the summer of 2021, I moved to Cupertino, California, which is a very tech-busy city that brings in a lot of visitors. At that time, I was a 20-year-old student serving at a local (and quite popular) restaurant which surrounded me with coworkers within the same age range as myself. I was asked by a coworker of mine if I wanted to buy a ticket from them to a festival called “Second Sky” in Oakland, California. I had never attended a festival before so I was skeptical of the fun I would have. However, as I was considering this another coworker of mine, Maya (whom I developed a friendship with weeks prior), convinced me to buy one of the two tickets and she and I would go together. So, near the soda station in the kitchen, I ended up buying my first festival ticket despite not knowing who any of the performers were.
The day of the festival rolled around not too shortly after I purchased the ticket and we began the thirty-minute drive up to Oakland. Not knowing how to look up a lineup for the festival, we spent the whole thirty minutes listening to the headliner’s music only, which I later figured out was Porter Robinson. As we parked in the lot, some conversation about needing our ID in order to get in was brought up to which I responded, “ID? I was supposed to bring my ID?”. Maya looked at me, raised her voice, and began laughing while saying, “WHY WOULD YOU NOT NEED TO BRING YOUR ID?!” which led to us driving back to my house to grab said ID. That was the first sign that I was not in the slightest prepared for a music festival, though, I’ll brace you, Maya wasn’t prepared either.
We finally enter the arena and I take my first festival picture not knowing what I was getting myself into. Looking back now, I like to think of this as a magical first-ever event because we both struggled, and because of that struggle, she and I discovered the wonders of “PLUR”. We got to the GA part of the stage and were standing there in the same spot from about 2 p.m. until the end at 10 p.m. because we had no idea what to do. Maya brought one Minecraft backpack that was probably for the size of a 5-year-old child, which fit nothing but her wallet and my jacket before it looked like the zipper was ready to burst. This being said, the summer heat was beating down on us and it wasn’t long until we both began to feel dehydrated. I was staring at the stage watching the performers, and I turned around to see my friend Maya making conversation with two guys that were standing behind us. I ended up turning around at the right time because one of them asked us a question saying, “You two have no idea what you are doing, huh?” to which we both replied, “NO, NOT ONE BIT”. After a bit of laughter at our rookie mistakes of not bringing a hydration pack, forgetting my ID, not wearing sunscreen, and having no food they became our guides for the night. One of the two guys we met, Daniel, was actually living in southern California, and drove out to Oakland because he is a HUGE Porter Robinson fan. Eventually, he shows his Porter Robinson t-shirt and the Porter Robinson hydration pack he had. This was my first realization that there are people who truly like music producers and that this festival wasn’t just full of newbies like Maya and me, but actually had a developed community within it. Porter Robinson came on and I watched people scream and jump up and down to certain songs which made me smile and jump up and down with them because seeing true joy like that made me realize there was so much more I had to learn.
The festival ended, we said our goodbyes to Daniel and his friend and drove back home. Immediately the next morning when I got into the car, I opened my music app, searched Porter Robinson, and liked all of his most popular songs. Thus began my search for more EDM festivals, and music to listen to in the car. It wasn’t too long after this festival and my dive into Porter Robinson’s that I went into a frozen yogurt shop and heard one of his songs, “Sad Machine” playing on their speakers. I smiled, my jaw dropped and I thought to myself, “Oh my word, I know who this is!!!”. A month later, another set of coworkers invited me to a festival called, Audiotistic, which I invited Maya to, and we had the best time of our lives, this time, way more prepared. I will say from that point on, Maya and I have developed our own personalities within the rave scene because we have learned about how much of a safe space it is for people. We share ourselves with the rave community in different ways and we support each other through our journey as students, workers, and ravers.
To conclude this, I’d like to give a special thanks to Ethan who was the person to sell me his ticket to Second Sky, if he hadn’t offered those tickets to us, I’m certain our lives wouldn’t be where they are now. Secondly to Maya for her spunky energy that persuaded me into saying yes to this ticket despite it being a risk, I am so glad I decided to take it. Third, to Daniel, he bonded and stayed friends with us on Instagram, I now live in southern California almost two years after having met him and we are still raving together to this day. He introduced me to his rave family and we were even able to meet up at Bass Canyon 2023. Lastly, a warm thank you to The Festival Voice for hiring me on as an intern and allowing me to write a piece such as this, and I look forward to sharing more stories and opinions from so many ravers as time goes on.