July 2014

18 Ways Music Fans Can Survive Summer Festivals

When you’ve gone to as many music and art festivals as me, you develop sometimes unconventional tricks to make sure you’re always prepared regardless of weather, cell phone networks or lack of decent food.  This way you and all your festival friends will have a good time around you.

  1. Check to see if there’s in/out privileges for the festival site. Normally this will be on the ticket-stub itself and/or on the receipt if it was an online purchase. The last thing you want to do is to go retrieve a friend and not be able to get back in after spending so much.
  2. Be prepared that wifi and cell phone networks may be jammed. Most festivals nowadays are sponsored by mobile companies with charging stations but even then, it’s a great idea to conserve your battery on “airplane mode”- this way it turns off sending/receiving but you can still 1. Take photos and videos, 2. Check time and the festival app
  3. Pack re-chargeable battery packs for your phone. You used to be able to pick these up at the dollar store (I’ve got a stash) but nowadays you can even buy them at your local convenience store.
  4. Set a meeting point. Message friends in advance of a meeting point. If there’s a favourite band you want to see together and you know that Virgin is the title sponsor say to meet at the Virgin tent (tee-hee) or at the Merch booth.
  5. Wear a bright colour. Don’t be an idiot with a dancing flamingo pole up front. It’s easy to spot a friend in a yellow band tshirt. It doesn’t have to be fancy.
  6. My rule of thumb is I always pack a scarf I don’t care too much about getting dirty. It can become a cover up, a blanket for friends to sit on and a towel for when you’re soaked or just need to wipe off dirt. Even if they’re not fashionistas guys can do this too with a bandana even.
  7. Festivals are expensive. Bring cash for that $9 hotdog. Don’t wait in line at an ATM. You’re going to want to buy that extra beer when the beer gal goes by, so don’t miss a cool band by pretending to be frugal. You’ll want that cool band tshirt too after a few.
  8. Check the weather network to the exact hour. It seems like a given but Canadian festivals are unpredictable. If you know you’re going to be by water, it’ll be windy.
  9. If it’s going to rain, don’t wear flip flops unless you want to slip in mud. In fact on rainy days, boots with grip are your friend. Pack a raincoat even if it’s dorky. When the rain starts to pour, you’ll be so happy to be dry and comfy.
  10. Stash some hand sanitizer in your purse or clip it onto your keychain, gentlemen. Your immune system will thank you on Day 3 when you’ve avoided a festival cold.
  11. If you’re traveling to a festival site, leave your car at home if you can. Public transportation regardless of city when they know thousands of concert goers will be headed the same way are usually contacted way in advance to be able to accommodate numbers.  This goes for Greyhound and training to the festival if you’re from another city. (I’ve definitely wound up on the “party bus” a.k.a. Greyhound to Osheaga before. Train is a less-rowdy option.)
  12. Ladies: bring a cross-over side bag you can throw a snack and water bottle into.  This way it can still be close while you’re crushed up front to see your fav band but your belongings are still safe.  Guys: pockets that don’t have holes and can possible fit a snack (I’m talking to you skin-tight jeans wearers!)
  13. For that matter- don’t bring expensive or important things to a festival. There’s a hilarious lost and found post here on what people lost at Coachella. (Here’s a hint: car keys were the most popular item but all phones were recovered.)
  14. If it says don’t bring your DSLR camera, don’t. You can probably junk a go-pro in your pants, however huge lenses if you’re an amateur is a waste of everyone’s time. Pay the extra money and see that band in a small club show where you don’t have 30 feet between you and the stage even at the security barrier.
  15. If you’re gluten-free, vegetarian or vegan, make sure to do some research in advance of getting to the festival site. Don’t just eat French fries.
  16. Pack snacks. I once got stuck in a festival parking lot trying to leave for over 3 hours after being on site for over 10.  We were starving and DUMB. Don’t get hangry. Granola bars are your friends.
  17. The basics like sunscreen, hats, and water are a given.  Don’t be the person that passes out from sunstroke. If you’re feeling weak, seek shade.
  18. One of my ultimate secrets to hydration is to eat popsicles. They’re not super healthy but this way you’re not in the queue for the portapotty the whole time. They’re also way cheaper than any other food on site most of the time.  If you spent the last of your money on a scalped ticket and only have $5 for the rest of the day, this tip will SAVE you. Another less classy option: flirt with the loud Europeans that have flown in for the fest and free drinks will flow.

and most importantly…

Me at Field Trip Festival this past June 2014.

Me at Field Trip Festival this past June 2014.

*List inspired by prepping for Osheaga Festival this weekend in Montreal. Follow adventures via Twitter @Urockred

Band Apps: 4 Apps that will get your indie band more money

Instead of just texting the girlfriend you miss back home or playing Angry Birds, get together with your bandmates to be proactive about how you make money. These are 4 apps that can change your band’s financial career with the swipe of a thumb.

If you’re already addicted to your smart phone, these apps will become second nature. (If you’re just a freelancer in the arts, these apps come in real handy too.)


This is my new favourite thing. Take a photo of a receipt once you receive it and select whether or not it is deductable, reimburseable or “not sure.” It then gets filed into an online secure database according to category. It allows you to make notes on it, e.g. Subway restaurant March 23 for 4 band members = deductable expense as artist per diem (If you’re a Factor-funded artist, this little gem will SAVE your life when you’re partially or fully-audited).  It’s not just for bands though; you can use it as an individual say if you purchase a new Korg keyboard and you deduct a taxes from your job as a musician- your writeoffs are there for you super easy! The best thing is that if you make a habit of using it whenever you purchase something, you’re done.  You can even send email invoices directly to them to file into the same account (so eco-folks, no paper is necessary.) BONUS:  You make more money because you have everything accounted for!


At the bar people want to spend their cash impressing their friends or last $10 on a cab ride home. Don’t lose out on potential gas money because you don’t have a credit card swiper tool called Square. They charge 2.75 % a swipe but the App AND device are FREE when you sign up and there’s no contract.  Everything gets deposited into your account in 1-2 business days. Come on.  If you’re traveling internationally without reliable wifi or don’t want to use the Square brand you can find others under $15 on Ebay and very easy to use (like Roam Pay).

Fresh Books

Ever forget when you have a bill coming up?  Need to build a budget for the band? Fresh Books sends reminders and lets you know how much money you have left to go towards gas or an automatic withdrawal for your jam space so not to spend that extra $20 in your pocket (so go beg for more extra beer tickets).  BONUS:  If you’re self-representing you can send invoices in seconds from your phone to get paid from promoters or agents.

Mail Chimp

If you don’t already have a newsletter sign-up, get thee to Mail Chimp! All major publicity firms and promoters use this free service because you can send out thousands of emails in gorgeous and easy to format set ups that allow you to embed photos, music videos, links AND be able to tell who has opened your emails. It might seem like an out of date way to reaching bands but unlike Facebook or Twitter, if a cool band’s newsletter pops up in someone’s personal account, chances are they’ll be opened. People are bored on the train ride home or killing time between meetings. Give them an excuse to care about your band. You can get them to sign up at your merch table through their mobile app or get them to scribble down their contact info the old fashioned way and input it on the long drive between Quebec City and Ottawa.


Please note: this post is geared towards people who use Iphone and Android mobiles. If you still have a flip-phone, get the band member who DOES have a smart phone to download them.  If unlimited wifi is too expensive for you as a band, select one member’s phone to use and chip in to cover that mobile phone package when he’s on tour.

Concert Photography: Bluesfest 2014 Childish Gambino, Blondie, Slash…

I just got home from shooting non-moving, non-rock stars, for a magazine and couldn’t be happier. The last 10 days of Ottawa Bluesfest threw me into the deep end of live concert photography like no other.  My confidence is back in shooting too since I don’t do daily news fill-ins like I used to for Metro.  Technically I’ve had loads of photos published from covers of magazines and newspapers to just web blogs from my punk rock days but now that I’ve got the right equipment (Canon EOS600 that I purchased almost 2 years ago), I’ve no excuse to not get killer shots.

It was a pleasure shooting for Canadian Musician Magazine.  Links to official reviews and photos here: Queens of the Stoneage, Brody Dalle and Tokyo Police Club.

Full review of Blondie, Awolnation, Bob Saget, Sam Roberts, July Talk, USS, Slash, and Childish Gambino HERE.

Here’s some favourites.  Also shooting this much has inspired me to put together a gallery for future commercial and artistic work of my past photography from editorial to live.


Mac DeMarco


July Talk


July Talk








Childish Gambino


Brody Dalle



Bluesfest Photos 2014 – Tegan and Sara- July 3, 2014

I’m swamped right now with deadlines and covering Bluesfest for Canadian Musician Magazine so today’s blog post will just be photos of Tegan and Sara from July 3, 2014 at Bluesfest Ottawa.

You can read the full review I did here.

All shot on CANON EOS60 by me.

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