Please be seated.
I have reached a finding on the grave matter that rests before me. I want the prosecution, defense, and, most especially, the defendant to know that I have not come to this conclusion lightly.
This is my sentence.
I find you guilty of all charges. By the power vested in me, you are hereby ordered to attend a large music festival this summer.
Order in the court!
I can see that you are all upset. The crying, wailing, and the gentleman who is burning his suit in effigy in the northwest corner of the courtroom make it readily apparent. But I render the harshest possible punishment because of the nature of the defendant’s crime.
The festival will probably be in a Chicago park in August, where everybody has already taken up all the shady spots under trees. Or in Britain when it’s raining to a degree that even the British complain. Or in a desert in California. A real desert!
Still, my opinion stands. You, sir, will wait in a line of fourteen people for a $14 beer. And when you turn your head to try to catch a glimpse of a reformed mid-‘90s emo band that you didn’t even like in the mid-‘90s, you will turn back around to see that each of the fourteen people in front of you has been joined by fourteen of their line-cutting friends. That’s right: two hundred and ten people now stand between you and an $18 beer. The price went up when they took out a bunch of Sharpies and crossed out most of the stuff you wanted.
Bailiff, pick up the defendant’s aunt who has fainted.
There will be college-aged women wearing floral wreaths taking selfies and posting said photographs with a dozen hashtags. There will be mud that’s mostly urine, so maybe it skirts the definition of what mud is. There will be frisbees hurtling towards your head when you walk in this “mud.” And there will be Port-O-Let lines that are so long that they join forces with the 210-person beer line, which has somehow merged with the crowd that is watching a DJ who is just playing songs off of his phone.
Silence! I cannot hear myself think with all of the sobbing.
I deliver this punishment with a heavy heart. I could have gone with a lighter sentence, yes, like six months in a supermax prison.
You have violated the law and thus have a price to pay. That price is a three-day VIP pass, and not at an early-bird rate. You may wonder if it’s the VIP tier with an open bar. No, it is not. This one just gets you a slightly better view from some bleachers for nine times the price of general admission.
And you will attend all three days, sir. Three days of food trucks mashing up sushi with Bangladeshi cuisine and rolled ice cream. Three days of guys wearing Teva sandals with socks who hound you to sign up for some sort of vague, pea juice-based sustainability campaign. And three days of walking miles back to your tent where you’ll find a Rush-themed drum circle has broken out at three in the morning.
Also, one night when you’re standing so far back from the stage that you won’t even know who is playing, the temperature will dive to 40 degrees, and you’ll be forced to buy a $125 sweatshirt from the merch stand.
I know this is especially difficult considering you are over twenty-four years of age. And because you’ll inevitably encounter a lineup that is mostly EDM plus a few jam bands that aren’t even Phish and, probably, Perry Farrell’s latest project performing on something called the “Wazzup Stage.” Plus, the National will be there.
May God—and U-God, who will be performing solo and not with any Wu-Tang members you can name—have mercy on your soul.