Sunday, December 16, 2018

Was Chasing the Festival Crasher Dream Worth it?

Posted by teibs On August - 15 - 2009

festivaldream@ZackTeibloom It all came into perspective last night. Chasing down the Festival Crasher lifestyle without money or a plan for the last few months finally came to the inevitable head everyone but me saw coming. As great as it’s been, I’ve been stranded and I’ve been stuck between rock and a hard place, but I’ve never had the perfect storm like last night. Let me bring you up to speed.

Let’s start in May when I was still riding the gravy train. I was balancing 15 hours a week at College News with a freelance gig and thought I could ride it out all summer. After I experienced the perfect day I wrote about in “A Day in the Life” at Jazzfest, I figured it was all worth it even though my money was running out faster than I originally thought.

It was worth being poor and jobless in exchange for the perfect day. Who cares if I didn’t have anything to come home to? I was chasing my dream. Instead of realizing that I’d soon run out of money and getting a real job, I got a temporary job at my apartment complex so at least I’d have rent covered. My hours at College News got cut back, but I had a decent pay day from a freelance article and figured I could keep stringing it along and making it to festivals.

A month later I’m out of cash, selling my stereo and DVDs to get enough money for gas for Bonnaroo. I had to go. I still thought I could make it to Jason’s wedding and I had to pick @andlaurasays up in Memphis. I had enough money for two tanks of gas. I needed at least four. More if I was going to make it to Indianapolis for the wedding. I should have admitted what a hole I was in and make a plan. Instead, I charged the gas to my dad without asking and continued the adventure. I started regretting it at Bonnaroo.

As much as I loved that festival, it was always in the back of my mind. Even at the apex of a perfect 3-hour Phish show, while @andlaurasays had a clear mind to freak out and exclaim, “this song is about Possums!” I’d think, “My dad is going to be (justifiably) livid at me when I have to come clean about this.”

I got back to Austin absolutely penniless. I had no choice but to abandon my plan of going to Rothbury, Pitchfork and 10KLF. I worked a week at my roommate’s RV stand, cleaning the crap (literally) out of RV’s and hosing them down in 105 degree heat. I stocked up on Ramen and store brand Mac and Cheese.* I sold more DVDs. I got by with a lot of help from my friends.

I blamed the economy when, with the way I was living, I would have been poor no matter what. I wasn’t even trying to make money flow in. Bills piled up, no money was coming in. For two months. Thankfully I found a job I like at Apple and even though I’ll be giving up my Friday and Saturday nights for the foreseeable future, I’ll be able to get by. I’ve continued to think that it was all worth it. I saw some unbelievable music. I have tons of stories to tell. I was living the dream. Then last night happened.

Driving home from my 3 p.m.-midnight shift at Apple, I had decided to forego attempting to crash Los Campesinos! since I’d seen them six days prior and attempted to meet up with friends at karaoke. I’ve been putting gas in my car at $2, $3 and $5 increments lately. It’s all I’ve had. I’ll put $3 in and it’s still on E, but at least the light isn’t on. I’ve been playing that game where you tilt your head so it looks like you have more gas.

12:05 a.m. Last night the gas light hadn’t even come up yet, but it was below the E sign and I knew I had 10 miles or less in the tank. Apple is about a 15 minute drive from the Karaoke place. 3 minutes into the drive, I felt the accelerator unresponsive. I ran out of gas on the highway. I pulled off to the side and luckily there was a gas station nearby. The problem? I hadn’t had a dollar in my pocket for two weeks and Chase won’t let me charge anything anymore.

12:15 a.m. I dart oncoming traffic and run across the highway into the gas station. The can of gas itself costs eight bucks. A gallon of gas is $2.50. I decided no matter how poor I get, I’m not going to sink to the level of begging or stealing. I’m not a bum. I’m not a criminal. Seven people stood around waiting in the gas station as the attendants were on a shift change. I befriended a woman with her daughter whose birthday it was and made small talk, wishing her a happy birthday, discussing the ridiculousness of a caffeine free 5-hour energy drink and casually mentioning my predicament, but never asking for anything.

12:30 a.m. After 10 minutes of shift change banter, she offers me $10. I thank her profusely, and have enough for $1.75 in gas. I’m used to using gallon gas cans to fill a lawn mower, but this one had a little spout you had to push in as you filled it and it baffled me. Desperate to get out of there, I forged ahead and fill the car with about $1.25 of gas and poured about $.50 of gas on my arm.**

12:40 a.m. I knew the $1.25 wouldn’t get me far, but at least I now had a gas can. I turned the key and … the car wouldn’t start. 20 minutes of having my hazard lights on had killed my battery. No worries. I’d just call AAA. Did I mention my phone got turned off yesterday? Yeah. Good timing.

12:45 a.m. I walk a few blocks to a 24-hour IHOP and a friendly waitress with far too much glitter on her face let me use the phone. I called AAA, called my friends to tell them I’d be quite late for Karaoke and decided to see if I could find more change in my car.

1:05 a.m. I scraped together a surprising $2.44 in change from the backseat of my car, put about $2.20 of gas in the car and added about 24 cents of gas more to my arm.

1:40 a.m. The AAA guy shows up, jumps my battery and I’m good to go. Karaoke, here I come!

2:00 a.m. With both of my navigation systems broken, I’m relying on a post-it note I wrote down at work, having to find my way in the dark. Recipe for disaster. I start thinking about writing this post. I think, you know what, as bad as this is. As much as I’ve felt like a drain on my friends, family and society the last few months, it was worth it. It’s another great story. I’m doing what I want to be doing.

2:02 a.m. I realize I’ve probably driven passed my turn to the Karaoke bar and look for a place to turn around. As I tried to read a street sign, an unnecessary concrete strip of median eludes me and I clip it with my front left tire. I hear the familiar thud-thud-thud-thud-thud of a flat tire and know I’m being punished for even thinking it was worth this. I manage to pull off the road into a legal parking spot.

2:05-2:20 a.m. I wander aimlessly looking for an open business so I can … honestly I don’t even know. Can you call AAA twice in one night? Should I just ask my friends for a ride? What about my car?

2:20 a.m. I see a gentleman in socks-but -no-shoes, wearing a wife-beater pacing and spitting and chatting on his cell phone on the porch of the apt. building I happen to be stopped in front of. I decide getting this guy to let me borrow his phone is really my only option at this point. He seems to be making a series of booty calls and talking to his boys. I overhear things like “She still givin’ it to that ni**a?” and feel like interrupting would be rude. After ten minutes of creepily hanging around his porch, waiting him out, I decide I have to make my move and tell him about the flat and ask to borrow his phone.

2:40 a.m. Both friends I call are too busy rocking out at Karaoke and don’t pick up and he offers to help me change the tire. He admits he’s had a few “sandwiches,” but he says he’s changed tires before. After two attempts (where he has the jack upside down,) my friends (who were counting on me to give a few of them a ride home) call me back and decide to take a cab to pick me up.

3:00 a.m. Just as my new friend is finishing up getting the spare on, my friends roll up in a car. I give him a Port-O-Pong for his help*** and we take a $34 cab ride home with a guy who was unintentionally doing a Ranjeet from “How I Met Your Mother” impression and I felt like a fool for needing to depend on friends once again.

That’s when I FINALLY got it. It may have been worth it for me all these times I’ve put my festival crashing ahead of being responsible, but I’ve had to lean on my friends and family and strangers so much, I’m surprised I still have friends and family. Seriously. You guys are too kind to me.

Just last night I needed: the woman in the gas station to give me $10, the waitress at IHOP to let me use her phone, bathroom and ice water, AAA, that dude on his porch and my friends (Especially Candace who got them to come get me and Laura who paid for the cab.)

The last few months I’ve had to lean on people way too much and I’m ashamed of myself for it. I owe you a thank you and an apology.

Laura- Thank you for picking up the cab tab last night. Those 7 singles you gave me before I went to  Lolla was all the money I had. It got me there. You’ve got quite a few beers with your name on them coming.

Blake- Thanks for putting me up in Chicago for Lolla, giving me a few bucks so I could get home and always commenting on metal stories.

Chris and Isaac- Thank you for helping me settle into Austin, giving me so many literal and figurative sandwiches, giving me a couch I can crash on, helping me get a job at Apple and being true friends to me when I didn’t really know anyone in this city. Once I can afford gas and we have the same hours off, we need to make some appointments.

Sami- Thanks for being representing FC so hard in NOLA, letting me stay on your couch for 10 days, hooking me up with a job while I was there and always offering to help in any way you could. You are rock sauce.

Jordy- For letting the couch always be welcome and being my head when I needed one. CUP for life.

Candace- I have no idea what I would have done without you the last month and a half. You’ve made Austin go from a place I live because it’s a cheap, fun place with good live music to my home that I love. It embarrasses me that I have to do a “man impression” because I’ve been such a helpless boy since you’ve known me. I promise I usually space my screw-ups out a lot more than this.

Andy- Thanks for being a rock for Festival Crashers. When you went down with a foot at the beginning of the summer, it seemed like that would be the biggest set-back we’d face this year. You’ve been as productive on one foot as I’ve been on two. Thank you for risking your health to forge on this summer. We would have fallen apart without you.

Dad- I owe you the biggest apology and thank you of all. I’ve been incredibly irresponsible despite you both teaching me (and showing me) how to act like a completely mature adult. Thank you for your unconditional support. Even after I stopped deserving it. You’ve never steered me wrong before. I don’t know why it took me so long to figure this lesson out. I hope I finally have.

As many regrets as I have about the last few months, I don’t want the final lesson to be to not follow your dreams. You should. You have to. But live within your means. Get a job and save some money before you head out on the road. Have a back-up plan. Don’t be a burden. Rock on.

  • *store brand foods are generally OK, but not Mac and Cheese. I think the extra 65 cents goes into making powder cheese not taste like chalk.
  • **I smelled just lovely the rest of the night because of this.
  • ***I tried to give him a best of Eric Clapton CD as well, but he turned it down!

6 Responses

  1. teibs Said,

    Andy just DM’d me asking if I’d quit. I’m not quitting. Please. I’ll be a Festival Crasher until I die. At my work station at Apple right now there’s a picture of Jack White, a Dead Weather poster and two FC stickers. I’m just saying it’s time I grow up a bit and at least save some money before I go on tour.

    Posted on August 15th, 2009 at 9:59 pm

  2. Bennett Said,


    Posted on August 17th, 2009 at 1:32 pm

  3. rob Said,

    You and I have a lot in common. I’ve managed to float along a little easier, but I’ve felt a lot of similar sentiment to what you’ve expressed. I think we met up briefly picking up passes for Bonnaroo.

    Anyhow, try not to feel bad and keep hitting up shows! The difference between being just on the good side versus just the bad side of the edge is not so big a thing.


    Posted on August 17th, 2009 at 1:33 pm

  4. Rob Said,

    I think your problem is with spending money, not saving it. Ride the following websites to freedom:

    For a free place to live for large chunks of your life:

    For much cheaper means of traveling:

    My vote is for continued frivolity.

    Posted on August 17th, 2009 at 1:59 pm

  5. Festival Crashers » Blog Archive » Zack’s favorite Festival Shows of ‘09 Said,

    […] had to take on Rothbury, Pitchfork and 10KLF on without me on a busted ankle because this happened. We met up again for Lolla as I made an uninspired trip back to Chicago for two days with $7 in my […]

    Posted on December 23rd, 2009 at 9:50 pm

  6. Festival Crashers » Blog Archive » Festival Crashers 1,000th Post Said,

    […] Was Chasing the Festival Dream Worth It? It took running out of gas, a dead battery, no phone and a flat tire to get perspective on the hole I put myself in. […]

    Posted on January 20th, 2010 at 11:54 pm

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