Anthea Fahy has seen plenty of music festivals, and as we learn today, plenty of festival goers – you know, the hippy type…or so they think…not according to Anthea though…


In 1958, British artist Gerald Holtom drew a circle with three lines inside it. This image had the initial purpose of symbolising the Direct Action Committee Against Nuclear War. Later, this transformed into being the international symbol for the peace movement.

I wonder if he would have ever thought this symbol would be stuck on the back of thousands of diesel Range Rovers being driven by the youth of today, when they retreat from their upper-middle class homes to embark on music festivals that cost close to half a grand for a ticket. Miraculously and sporadically ditching the bottled water and MacBook Pro for three or so days to arrive at a music festival and transform into a free-loving hippie, donned with ready-made flower power daisy chains and a Jack Kerouac book to read over a spliff.

Hypocritical? It may be, as I have been to many music festivals, but when I last encountered “festival goers” I witnessed a girl immediately put on a hemp beanie and Doc Martins before setting up camp. She wanted to seem like she cared about the environment with her head wear, like she loved music by adhering to the ’90s grunge era with her footwear, all the while in deep discussion about how “vinyl is better” – even though she didn’t own a record player. She then simultaneously threw a bottle of water and a cigarette on the ground whilst mentioning that the youth of today should be more concerned with the environment around them, and signed off our conversation with “peace, love and light to you, you beautiful human.”

I kind of felt like stabbing myself with a wooden fork.

In saying this, while the “hippies” from the mid-’60s were a counter-culture that opposed things like repression and the Vietnam War, surely the ’60s was not as cool and authentic as we think. Some punters of this counter-culture had nine-to-fiver’s and swapped the slacks for bell bottoms on weekends to seem original, just like kids from the shiny north shore ditch the loafers for op-shop gumboots for a festival.

Now it seems that this is a temporary term that is embraced by those who go to Splendour in the Grass for three days – those who are now opposing things like the colour scheme that mum picks for their bedroom.

To obtain the hippy image at music festivals:

  1. close your eyes a lot and pretend like your “blissing out” to the music, from the band you’ve never heard of. This will make you look high and that’s cool, bebbeh.
  2. tell people that you’re not sure how you got there. You were just at the right place at the right time and you got to be at the festival by chance, even though all tickets sold out within 30 seconds. It’ll make you seem like you live in the moment and that’s cool, bebbeh.
  3. rub mud on your boots before you arrive so they seem worn and journeyed.
  4. say “trippy” a lot and say you’re against the establishment of the church, but don’t tell people you go to Sunday service and voted for the Liberals.
  5. mention that you love cats a lot and that you have always wanted to go the Burning Man festival.
  6. never reveal that you are allergic to grass.
  7. take a course in rolling cigarettes. If someone sees you with a tailored pack, you are committing social suicide.
  8. make sure you impress people with a small fact that you know about a band that seems as if you knew it forever, when really, you just Googled it on your smartphone.

What people allude to at music festivals now, the term “hippie,” originally derived from “hipster,” came about in the ’40s. Then, it described “beatnicks” who followed the Beat Generation literary movement in New York and San Francisco, which unearthed the free spirit initiative that was against the oppression of such things as homosexuality. Writer’s like Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg and William S Burroughs were among Beat literature. From this mentality comes the true hippie. The true hippie consisted of those who were dissatisfied with the current stance of life that had been built for them; they sought a new way of life that was about nourishing happiness – regardless of what others thought.

These hippies believed that culture was flawed and wanted to replace it with more of a Utopian existence. They were anti “the man,” “Big Brother” and anti “establishment.” Happiness within themselves was not only important, but also contentment and peace with those around them and the well being of the earth. Hence, vegetarianism and eco-friendliness was introduced and championed by the hippie movement. As was liberation and freedom; sexually, politically and also cognitively, with psychedelic drugs like LSD introduced to expand consciousness and explore the mind.  The “hippie” movement sometimes mirrored that of a cult or a religion with many leaving their suburban homes and joining others in a journey to an alternative lifestyle.

Now it seems that this is a temporary term that is embraced by those who go to Splendour in the Grass for three days – those who are now opposing things like the colour scheme that mum picks for their bedroom.

Being a hippie wasn’t a walk in the park (or an easy piece of carob to chew, if you will) and the movement influenced political decisions that had great impact on society. Being arrested and punished more regularly then than than now also came with the turmoil of the closed doors and repression of the ’60s. Now, some consider themselves a hippie if they purchase a commercialised organic spelt loaf of quinoa bread; if they decide to camp instead of stay in an oversized caravan at music festivals; or because they can roll tobacco into a cigarette. When punters embark to a music festival, they embrace their “inner Woodstock” (someone actually said this), almost yearning to reminisce in the “good old days” (even though people who attended Woodstock currently have cheese in their fridge that is older than them).

Woodstock; the legendary festival that was free and took place in Bethel, New York in the late 60’s with acts such as Hendrix, Joplin, Crosby, The Who, Jefferson Airplane and the like is the festival that people refer to as the best free-loving festival that ever happened. However, the festival was created by four young investors to make more money. One of them was an heir to a pharmaceutical fortune and because the festival was not organised properly, the organisers were forced to let the unforeseen number of half a million people enter the festival for free. Further, is that the “hippie” image bridged the gap between the mainstream culture and the hippies in a bad way. Hippies were seen as drug-crazed and bizarre, and the infamous murder of 18-year-old African American Meredith Hunter, stabbed and killed while The Rolling Stones were playing at the Altamont Free Concert (another famous festival from the 60’s), dampened the initial hippie initiative. However, the everlasting positive stamp that the hippie movement had on today’s mentalities towards music, television, the arts, religion, marriage, sex, the environment, politics etc is undeniable – including festival goers of today.

Don’t get me wrong, cynicism such as mine is not intended to stain the good intentions and initiatives of people who want to be healthier, environmentally friendly, be kinder to people, enjoy themselves, experience good music, do and wear whatever they want and have good old fashioned good times. Nor should negativity dampen rebelling against something you don’t agree with, or fighting for the rights of people. And being judgemental should not be taken as a good thing after reading this article. Rather, perhaps next time you are at Splendour in the Grass, Bluesfest or Peats Ridge, be slightly more genuine. Listen to the bands performing at the festival before you go. Don’t preach about being anti-establishment when you have seven types of Apple products and secretly voted for Tony Abbott – who is pretty much our next Ronald Reagan – and don’t proverbially advocate yourself as a free-loving hippie channelling your inner Woodstock, or a poor wanderer living on the edge…not when you borrowed your parents’ four wheel drive Merc for the trip to the festival, anyway.

Peace Out.



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