@ZackTeibloom This was everything I ever wanted and everything I always feared when I started calling myself “The Festival Crasher.” In a cocktail party, anecdotal “Oh, wouldn’t that be funny if they were actually looking for me” kind of way, I wanted to be hunted. But when you find yourself cornered by two uniformed cops threatening to tase you as they ask you how your prison lingo is while holding your license, you question why you ever wished this on yourself. I knew what I was getting myself into when I decided to put my full name and picture all over the Internet, and friends would joke about wanted signs with my picture, but I always laughed it off. I knew when C3 blacklisted us back in May, I knew I’d have to be extra careful for Lollapalooza and ACL crashes. Lollapalooza was harder than ever, but Andy and I were confident we could get by again at ACL, which has always been a literal walk in the park, having crashed it easily the last 3 years.
We got to the festival grounds early on Friday. It wasn’t even noon yet, but there were so few people going in at that hour, there was no way to blend into the crowd and the security set-up was air-tight. We started at the main entrance to scope out the situation. To get in, you needed a wristband with an RFID chip in it that went off when you walked through a metal detector like booth. Typically, guards stand off to the side of these booths and half-heartedly watch you go through, but these guards were smartly positioned inside the lane. You would have had to run them over to go through and with a second line of defense right behind them, it wasn’t worth an attempt. I saw some second-line guys with walkie-talkies, but no uniformed cops, so we figured we could try again when it got more crowded. We figured we might as well try the crash that got us in last year. Go to the booth where they help you if your ticket won’t scan, pretend the issue is resolved, pick up a schedule and walk right in. If only it were that simple.
Andy was wearing his Lolla 2011 wristband inside out and I was wearing a Rothbury 2008 wristband, so we at least had a cloth band on. We got by the guy at the opening to that line by asking him if that was the spot for wristbands that didn’t scan. He let us move up to the booth to work out our “problem” and we just stood there, pretending to talk to someone and picked up a schedule. At that point, all we had between us and the fest was a woman who looked to be in her 40s or 50s and she looked semi-distracted. I walked towards her confidently and was two or three steps from freedom, when she took one side step and cornered me, asking for my wristband. I tried to flash it quickly, and keep moving, but she was now firmly between me and the door and apparently if it’s broken, they don’t just let you go, they give you a working one. This wasn’t going to cut it. Also, it’s a pretty small area and everyone around us could tell we didn’t have the right wristband, so we played dumb and retreated. That’s a nice thing about security guards. If it doesn’t work and you haven’t made a grand gesture, you can always just walk away. Their job is to stop you from getting in. They almost never care what you do as long as you walk away and don’t start trouble. Cops are another story, but we’ll get to that.
We had just gotten a text that our friends were on their way to the American Legion party and that Big Boi was DJing at 2, so we figured we’d re-group, have a couple (or five) free drinks and then head back. Of course, Big Boi was actually scheduled for 2:30 and didn’t get to the decks until 3:15 and did almost nothing except text on his phone and repeat a couple lines until he sang “Shutterbug” at the end. That was pretty cool, and I had a solid buzz going and it was good to catch up with friends, but we came to festival. On the way out, we ran into McLovin (Christopher Mintz Plasse) and he looked even scrawnier and more awkward in real life than you’d imagine. We were like 5 feet away from him and looked at each other like “Do we have anything to say to him? Not really. Let’s go.” It didn’t hit me until I saw McLovin again at Bright Eyes that I was becoming him.
1. Self-Appointed Nickname: Like McLovin, I came up with a name for myself and talked myself into believing I could pull it off, while being blatantly obvious about it. I was either going to call myself The Festival Crasher or McLovin … or Seal
2. Blindsided by near success: When we got back to the festival grounds, there still weren’t enough people to blend in with the crowd well, but there was one guard I thought I could get by. He looked like Brian, the nerdy kid from “My So Called Life” with frizzy blonde hair, but more of a stoner. He had 5 people in his line and seemed overwhelmed. I told Andy to follow me and made a bee-line for him. The scanner next to me told me to go to her line, since she had no one waiting, but I insisted on staying. While I was talking to her, I kept moving up in line and was next. I put my Rothbury wristband against the panel and no green ding happened, but I pretended it did and took a few steps into the festival, doing my best “it worked” head nod. As soon as I cleared the metal-detector gate, frizzy Brian started looking around, confused, saying “hey!” and I saw the last thing you want to see. A uniformed cop. Two of them actually. Shit.
3. Fuck My Life: I saw the cops and immediately started backpedaling. Not running, but moving back and stuttering. As Andy tells it, “I saw the cop look up at you, and the look wasn’t just, ‘oh, this guy is crashing’ but a ‘That’s the guy!’ recognition look.” I had about 10-15 feet between myself and the cops and heard them calling “Get back here!” I turned around and saw them walking towards me. “I was just … I’m leaving. OK. I …” “When an officer tells you to do something, you listen! Get over here, now!” If it was a security guard, I would have kept walking, but if I’ve learned anything about cops, it’s that you do exactly what they say. Respectfully. I had to avoid a resisting arrest charge, so I felt obligated to stop and chat. Andy slunk off, knowing we were pretty screwed if this led to me getting arrested on day one of the festival.
4. Old Enough to Party?: Cops have a funny way of talking. And by funny, I mean, they ask a lot of intimidating rhetorical questions and expect you to know how to answer them. “How’s your prison lingo?” the cop who took control of the situation asked me. “I’ve never been to prison, officer.” “Oh yeah? I’m surprised. (Knowing look.) Yeah, I know who you are. You like to crash festival gates, don’t you?” How do you answer that? I gave a sheepish smile and said “Well…I’m not trying to. I just want to go…” “Oh, no. You had your chance to leave like a man…” Since I didn’t know what to say to that, he asked for my license and wrote down my full name and ID #. “If I see you around here, trying to sneak in again, I’ll tase you. I’m serious. I’ll tackle you and I’ll tase you.” “I won’t try. I promise. I. I …” “You better be serious. This is your last warning.” “Thank you, officer. I won’t do it again.”
5. I’m in & Cops Can Have a Fun Time Too (This kid’s fucking crazy)
So they let me off with a warning, but effectively scared me shitless. I’ve been turned away from festivals several times, only to crash later, but I’ll admit it, they scared me straight. Not to mention that Andy didn’t have a ticket either and we were anxious to get in. We ran into a guy selling two wristbands and talked him down from 220 to 180 each. He even followed us to an ATM. I can taste the vomit in my mouth as I type this sentence. It was the first weekend wristband I’ve bought for a festival … ever. God, I hate this. I spent $180 I didn’t budget for a wristband and admitted defeat against my sworn enemy.
It got a bit stranger. I received a tweet from @bignastypigtax saying “@festivalcrasher Zach glad to see u honored ur pledge not to crash anymore. Buying that 3day pass was a great gesture.” That’s odd. I wonder who wrote that. One more tweet “@ZackTeibloom Thx for honoring ur raised hand pledge of no more crashing” Wait, who is this guy? They don’t even have a twitter picture. Let’s see who else they follow: Only @festivalcrasher. And these are their only two tweets ever. What’s even more bizarre is that I couldn’t get service to tweet from @festivalcrasher, so I was tweeting by text from @ZackTeibloom. The only possible explanation is that the cop set-up an account to follow me and was now tweeting me a congratulations…for not crashing. What is this world coming to? I don’t want to be friends with cops that aren’t Andy’s dad. I don’t want this at all.
Yeah, it was kinda cool when McLovin got fake taken away in handcuffs, but is this my life now? Am I done crashing? Am I just done taking risks on crashing events where they clearly have it on lockdown? I’m not ready to make any declarations, but this is a low point in crashing history. I didn’t even jump lines all week. What happened to me? What does this mean going forward? Am I going to have to go legit now?