chapter  5
30 Pages

The social life of music festivals

Audiences and atmosphere
WithChris Anderton

This chapter addresses the social life of music festivals, and festivalgoers’ contribution to the atmosphere, image and cyclic place of outdoor events. It draws on a range of academic literature and fieldwork interviews to examine the motivations of festivalgoers. The chapter discusses neo-tribal portrayals of social life at festivals, prior to introducing a new concept of ‘meta-sociality’, which refers to the shared meanings that come to be attributed to cyclically-held events such as music festivals. Generic factors include socialising, family togetherness, group identity, entertainment and hedonism, while event-specific factors include the programme, the uniqueness of the event, and the potential for co-creation of the event by attendees. The types of authenticity discussed differ markedly from the final form to be considered: hedonic consumption. A strong sense of belonging may also develop at events which attract specific audience demographics such as genre enthusiasts.