October 30, 2015 | by Kate Whittle

They say money can’t buy happiness, but money can buy a ticket to Fest, which is about the same thing. The times I’ve been to Fest have been some of the best experiences that I’ll never be able to coherently recall. But since I’m a sellout who has to pay for things like rent and my cat’s cocaine habit, I will be missing out on Fest once again this year. It’s okay, because I’ve learned the art of replicating almost all of the joys right here at home, and without shelling out the cost of a cross-country flight.

First, set the scene by transforming your apartment into a seedy Gainesville hotel. Turn on a humidifier in your bedroom, sprinkle brown rice around the mattress to mimic bedbugs (bonus points if you already have bedbugs in your apartment) and skip showering for three days. Invite several friends and random street people to crash on the floor. Forget where your toothbrush is.

Next, relive the bonding experience of standing in line for your Fest wristband by going to the grocery store and finding the longest line at the checkout. Sip a beer out of a paper bag while you ask other people in line about their purchases. If you and the person behind you share some totally arbitrary thing in common, like a preference for gala apples or possession of a Lawrence Arms record, decide that they are your new best friend, get their number and try to make out with them later.

Rather than blowing a bunch of cash at the merch tables by the Fest check-in booth, just order a Black Flag parody shirt off the Internet and be disappointed when it elicits a mere chuckle from your buddies.

Play the hypothetical game of Fuck, Marry, Kill, starting with Brendan Kelly, Paddy Costello and Mikey Erg.

In lieu of Five Star pizza, just drink 12 beers before stumbling to your town’s cheapest pizza joint and eat an entire pie while sitting on the curb. Realize the next day that you burned the shit out of your mouth. (Five Star pizza is still open, right? I’m terrified to Google it and find out it’s not.)

Clear out all the furniture from your living room, lay down a tarp, invite friends over, and put on Dear Landlord’s Dream Homes on repeat. Light some clove cigarettes to really create that “only in Florida” scent. Chest-bump your friends and shake beer over each other’s head. Shout gibberish while trying to sing along to the record. Stay up until 3 a.m.

Experience that weird blurry period of late Saturday afternoon at Fest, when the sleep deprivation has really set in and nothing makes sense anymore, by constructing a pyramid out of empty PBR cans at your favorite local dive bar. Play “Sink, Florida, Sink” on the jukebox 20 times in a row. Wear a horse-head mask. Get lost in a weird corner of your own town.

Corner a local musician in a bathroom and tell them, “I just think you’re really great, man. Just great. I loved your last record. You wanna come to our afterparty?” Take an awkward selfie with them. Avoid mentioning that you downloaded their last record illegally.

Before going home and passing out for several days, text your friends who weren’t around that “really, Awesome Fest is better anyway.”
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