Swamp Talk: Fest 12 Survival Guide

By Mike Llerena

After all of the trick-or-treaters have had their fill of teeth-rotting confections, post-Halloween weekend in Gainesville carries two important traditions: Florida-Georgia weekend and The Fest.

All of the Gator football fans migrate to Jacksonville for the showdown against the Bulldogs and punk rockers from across the globe flock to Gainesville for three (now four as of this year) days of unadulterated rock and roll ecstasy.

While the point of The Fest is to have a good time, it is also important to remember to be safe. The shows are long. You will be covered in sweat (whether it’s yours or someone else’s) and your shoes will look like you just got off the field of battle.  And you will be tired. Very tired. In order to help alleviate some of the potential “Festigue” you may face at the shows this year, here is a short list of essentials you should consider when preparing for this weekend.

1. Water

This one is just plain common sense. Stay hydrated in between your copious servings of PBR and avoid a very unpleasant post-Fest hangover.

2. Comfortable Clothing

The last thing you want to worry about at a show is scuffing your new shoes or spilling something on your $40 pants. T-shirts, shorts and ratty sneakers are your outfit of choice when you’re going to Fest.

3. Cash

Between merch, drinks and snacks, Fest is a financial investment even after you’ve paid for tickets. You may decide to buy a CD from that new band you saw at 8 Seconds. You may feel a compulsive urge to buy yet another T-shirt from your favorite band’s merch guy. Or you’ll get hungry. Trust me, one of these things will happen. Bring extra cash.

4. Earplugs

Fest features hundreds of bands performing all day across a four-day span. Most of these bands play incredibly loud. Do yourself (and your ears) a favor and invest in some earplugs.  I’ve even seen some of the participating venues sell them at shows.  Seriously, get some earplugs.

5. Your Fest schedule 

This magical guide can mean the difference between unexpectedly catching an awesome band and missing your favorite group that you came to see. Consult your schedule before starting your day at Fest. You’ll be more prepared should you need to hop across different venues in between bands’ sets. Who says there’s no room for organization in punk rock?

6. Fest Pass and a Photo ID

You can’t get into any show at Fest without these.  Walk-up ticket sales are available for individual shows. However, make sure to arrive early as walk-up sales are limited.

Check out The Fest 12’s official website for more information.

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