Big Music Festivals Sure Can Be Creepy Sometimes

This weekend Rocks Off will send another team to the Austin City Limits Music Festival in Zilker Park, three days sure to be full of music, drinking, and the sort of behavior that tends to happen when tens of thousands of scantily clad young people gather to get their buzz on and scope out potential hookups. We can't wait.

This summer an especially egregious example of music-festival public intimacy went viral when a photographer captured a man with his hand down a womans cutoff shorts -- all the way down her shorts -- while the two watched Skrillex's side project Dog Blood at Lollapalooza in Chicago. The image was soon posted on almost every click-hungry blog worth its IP address, and thus burned into the retinas of far too many skeeved-out Internet users.

All it took was searching "Lollapalooza Chicago groping" to call up this Huffington Post article memorializing this new behavioral milestone, which we found still up one click after that. So with that in mind, Rocks Off asked our writers for a moment at one of the fests they'd been to that totally weirded them out.

SXSW 2011, Austin Well, this one time I was sleeping with a corpse on the drug bridge... Okay, okay, for real, here's something that really happened. My friends and I had gone to a house show to see Touche Amore, but the show got shut down by police early on. We all ended up separated and I was wandering away by myself. The house happened to be pretty close to a graveyard, so I cut past it to the highway.

The entire time I was passing by the graves, I could hear a faint whispering calling my name. I swear I saw something dart out of the corner of my eye through the shadows. I made it past unharmed, and later found out that a lot of homeless people sleep in that graveyard at night and were probably just messing with me. But then, how did they know my name? Spooky. COREY DEITERMAN

Bonnarroo 2003, Tennessee I've seen a fair amount of creepy activity at music festivals over the years, but what sticks out most to me is not something I saw, but rather something I overheard. More than a decade ago, at my first Bonnaroo, I was walking with a group of friends through the campsite vending area commonly known as "Shakedown Street," in reference to the Grateful Dead tune of the same name.

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A young female, presumably on psychedelic drugs, was frantically bouncing around yelling "Oh my god, where am I?!" Obviously feeling the effects of a bad trip, her mind was long gone and she was freaking the fuck out. After another few where-am-I's, a 6' 8", built black dude with a voice deeper than James Earl Jones's responded matter-of-factly, "You're in the jungle, baby" as creepily as possible. It might have been the funniest thing I've ever heard in my life. JIM BRICKER

Lollapalooza 2010, Chicago Spotted at Lolla: A reeeeaaaaaallllly older gentleman escorting his "date," who was, I'm guessing, a third of his age at most, wearing enough pancake makeup to star on Broadway, 5-inch spiked stripper heels, and LOTS of Kardashian-esque hair extensions. As if the coupling of the two was not bizarre enough... read: creepy/read: how much are you paying for her company, dude?

Background info for those who have not attended: it may not be Houston, but Chicago is hotter than a damn pistol in August, and insanely humid to boot. The Lolla grounds are covered in dirt and if it rains, mud. So, just, yeah. There are no words. SELENA DIERINGER

Willie Nelson's Fourth of July Picnic 2003, Dripping Springs The creepiest thing I ever saw with my own eyes at a festival was very simple: a man and a woman entered a portable toilet stall together. And yes, you'd better believe the thing started shaking. God damn it. So gross.

I can't even touch a portable toilet stall's door handle without immediately needing to boil the skin off my hand, and these two maniacs are inside procreating. And of course the guy had white-boy dreadlocks. Of course he did. You knew that as soon as you started reading this. JOHN SEABORN GRAY

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Tattoo the Earth Festival 2000, Pasadena The single most indelible music festival image I can recall came during one of my first. I thought I knew what I was in for at this all-day, hard-hitting affair celebrating heavy metal and body art in roughly equal measure. But my teenaged eyes practically bulged out of their sockets when I bumped into a huge, shirtless older guy pounding brews and stumbling alone through the Pasadena Fairgrounds with a giant prison-ink swastika tattooed across his massive, swollen beer belly. It's not often I'm unnerved by a fellow concertgoer, but this guy was somethin' else, folks.

There was no question who he'd paid his money to see, either. I saw him rocking out to Slayer later in the day as if no one else in the universe understood him as thoroughly as four mock Satanists from Los Angeles. NATHAN SMITH

Warped Tour 2006, Houston I don't know if creepy is the right word, but it's definitely something that will always stick with me.

It was at the end of the day when a man with the Hare Krishna approached a girl sitting under a tree next to me. She was all alone and, from what I could tell, was waiting for her parents to come pick her up. I overheard the man try to give her a pamphlet in exchange for a donation, but when she tried to deny him, he got really pushy. She reached into her backpack and pulled out a few bucks and said it was all she had, to which he responded, "Well what about that $5?"

Look, I hate the Summer Fest picketers as much as the next guy, but at least they don't scam the crowd for money while damning them to hell. If you're with an organization and you're going to come to a music festival, at least be respectful enough not to prey on innocent kids. ALYSSA DUPREE

Free Press Summer Fest 2013, Houston While at this year's Free Press Summer Fest, there was a young(ish) girl who appeared to be really out of it. Like, "can't wake her up to walk out of the tent" out of it. She was surrounded by a group of people, all of whom were attempting to sober her up by offering her food, water, or even obnoxious entertainment, but she wouldn't comply.

Eventually most of the friends wandered off, presumably to go catch some more of the festival since this happened pretty early in the day), but one dude stuck around to keep at it. She eventually woke up enough to stumble out of the tent, and I still really hope she knew him outside of the festival. Either way, it was super-creepy. ANGELICA LEICHT


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