When I was 19, I walked on stage during a music festival and watched Baths’ set from behind him. I was not supposed to be on stage. I did not realize this and only figured it out later. No one stopped me. No one told me to leave.
I had been backstage during his set at Fun Fun Fun Fest in Austin in 2011, where I was supposed to be, because of the press badge I had gotten through my job at my college’s paper, The Daily Texan. I saw people who didn’t look like artists walking up and down the staircase that led from behind the stage onto it. They didn’t look like artists because they were friends and family of the artists, who along with some artists and festival staff, where the only other people allowed to be there. I didn’t know what the protocol of the situation was, but I kind of intuitively figured that I probably wasn’t a part of the group the people who had access to being on stage, but I decided to go for it anyway. I guess I looked like I could have been friends with Baths because the security didn’t stop me as I tried my best to not look like a scared little wimpy boi as I walked by him and up the stairs.
My friends who were in the crowd were even more stoked and confused than me and yelled my name, which is the opposite of what you want when you’re somewhere you probably shouldn't be. I just nodded and texted them back furtively and left after couple of songs.
Sneaking into music festivals, or sneaking into places you shouldn’t be in music festivals is something that I think everyone should try. It’s gut-wrenchingly terrifying in the moment, but the adrenaline rush is deep and unparalleled.
There’s a couple of ways to do it. It can be simple; one of my brothers has gotten into at least one festival by carrying several stacks of water bottle cases through a back entrance for artists and festival staff. “No one is going to check for a wristband if you’re carrying heavy water bottles, and they’re going to assume that someone needs the water,” he told me at the time. Honestly, it’s genius.
You can also take an aggressive, elaborate approach, which can be harder but will usually be a better story. At Austin City Limits the year before my Baths stunt, my friend Kevin dealt not having bought a ticket to the festival by walking into a parking lot, scaling a fence and then scaling another fence. He had made it to behind the stage where a band called Rebelution was playing but was stuck in an area that you needed to be credentialed to get out of because the space before the exit to the main festival required a backstage pass. He tried to level with the woman guarding the seeming impasse, who kindly said he couldn’t get by. Stumped, he started smoking a cigarette because, as he explained to us later, smoking cigarettes makes it seem like you’re supposed to be there. Nervous people don’t idly smoke cigarettes in spaces they’re trespassing in. As he thought and kept taking drags, he noticed that maintenance workers were crawling under the stage, moving wires and other things around, and no one was stopping them from doing this. He stamped his cigarette out immediately, hopped under the stage and came out on the other side, and then disappeared into the crowd without anyone ever stopping him.
James Marcus Haney made an entire film and video career out of sneaking into festivals and backstage where’s he’s somehow befriended Mumford and Sons and made other connections that accelerated his career, so sometimes there’s more upside than just cool stories.
Back to Baths though, it’s one of two projects by Will Wiesenfeld. The other is called Geotic. I’m really sure what the difference is. Music he puts out under both names often sounds pretty similar. It’s a lot of pleasant and soothing synth melodies over interestingly layered beats. I guess the music he puts out under Baths seems like he cares less about how the listener will interpret it. His Geotic music is a bit smoother and more accessible.