Interview With A Festival-Loving Gen Z Baby

I had the opportunity to interview dear friend of mine and avid festival goer, Sophie Cohen, who, like me, is a Gen Z baby. I had a quick phone call with her to get some of her perspective on the lens of a Gen Zer in the festival space.

– Rachel 

Hey girl. 

Sophie: Hey girl. 

You already know what’s up. Thanks for chatting. 

Sophie: Of course, hit me with it. 

So, before we get into the music, I think it’s important we address the big topic. Generation Z. Generation, we are obviously the target. I know there’s so much that we’re doing that hasn’t happened and needs to, but I sometimes feel embarrassed because there is a lot of judgement with our social media lives and the way pop culture has taken a big shift. That’s just me though. How do you feel about it all? 

Sophie: Not at all. I feel like millennials get the most flack. I feel so disconnected in terms of what is in. A millennials Instagram is completely different from how I view the world and capture the world online. But I say “no, not at all” because, the past four years I’ve lived with people that are all exclusively Gen Z. 

Yeah, true. What about with music? Do you feel a big generational divide? 

Sophie: I feel like I don’t know about the breakdown of age groups in terms of music, because my parents have passed down so much of my music influence. It’s always been a trickle down and collaborative thing at home, so I’ve never thought an artist is for “this group” or “that group”. 

I mean there is definitely a cultural barrier between us and millennials with our pop sensations. But then there’s those artists that we all share. Do you notice any differences in the younger crowds at festivals? I think of Kendrick, for example. When I look to my right, I see a bunch of older fellas that have been with Kendrick since Section 8.0 dropped, and then there’s kids in front of my that are absolutely moshing to “The Hillbillies”, and I need to take a few steps back. So, what have you noticed, and how does it make you feel being in it or just witnessing it all? 

Sophie: I love going to a show where it’s a complete mix of ages. Because I’ll go to a lot of shows with my younger brother, who just started listening to classic hip hop and rap, and has started getting into some house music. It’s so exciting to see how much energy and how incredible it is to see this person for the first time, whereas the person to my right, let’s say they’re older, you can tell they’re from the beginning of Kendrick and they’ve seen him a few times, and there’s more of an expectation in growth. Like, “Oh wow look at him, now he’s a headliner. I remember when he was the 5pm act.” 

Yeah, I feel like I’ve been on both ends of the spectrum. But that’s maybe because I’m on the cusp of the two groups. 

Sophie: Festivals are the most uniting thing among ages. I feel completely equal with the people that are 30 years older than me, and equally have the same excitement for the people that are five years younger than me. I don’t think about age groups at a festival. It’s just incredible that we all came to this one location and we spent money and got dressed up and we’re all ready to have the dance and have a whole day, and be surrounded by artists that we love. 

You’re so in your own world. It’s so joyful that I’m not looking around and judging the people around me. 

How are you gravitating towards a certain group of people at a festival? 

Sophie: It’s interesting because I feel like I haven’t gone to a show in a while alone where I’m not with at least two other people that I’m sharing the experience with. There’s definitely a community sense though, where I feel like I’m not drawn to a certain person. It’s so serendipitous of who is standing in my area. Like, does a girl need a hair tie from me? And then we start talking. It’s way more spontaneous than “ooh, they look cool”. And it’s such a fight or flight to navigate what festival you’re at. It’s so overstimulating that it’s really a stripped-down human experience in that sense. Like we’re all walking towards the same set in a herd, or we’re all going to fill our water up. There’s just a sense of community when moving in a group. 

I know you’ve gone to Gov Ball, Coachella, OSL… What do you notice in the differences of dynamic between your younger and older self? I bring these particular festivals up because I know there’s a younger crowd for sure. What do you notice between age groups actually being there? Because a festival could either strictly be about seeing the artists, or it could be about the different activations, art, food, multi-faceted and multi-cultural programming that happens. 

Sophie: I feel like in high school when I would go to festivals, there was such a pressure to camp out for your favorite artist on Day 3 and push to the front or be in the center of all the energy. I feel like you slowly, with time, kind of realize that half of your experience at a show is bracing for your life. The anxiety can be taken away. It took me until senior year of high school to realize that “Oh, I don’t have to be a little bit worried that I’m never going to see my friend again if we were at the Migos set” if we’re only a few yards back instead of the barricade. That aspect of being younger and having bragging rights, I feel like wears off. Now, I’m so much more comfortable being in the middle or standing in the back. I never was that girl and I didn’t get it. Coachella was the first time where I was like, Boygenius is really lovely from the back in my own area and it’s a much more intimate setting. Then there’s a part of me that wants to be in the energy for certain sets. Shared experiences. It depends on the artist. 


Sophie: I go to festivals to see the artist, but I’ve only gone as a paying customer, so checking out the art and more that is available is more in touch with having disposable income. I want to see this person, this person, and this person, to make the most of my day. Coachella was so much more about the artist than being in the desert and getting an $18 açaí bowl and going to walk around the area which so many older people did. I feel like with older festival goers, festivals are more about the experience then, let’s pack as many artists in as we can in a six-hour period which is kind of how I’ve attacked it. 

The more times you got to a festival, the less pressure there is to pack a thousand things in a day. There’s that veteran aspect of it. 

What makes one festival more appealing than the other? 

Sophie: The organization. There’s some festivals where I know exactly where the entrance is, I know exactly where the bathrooms are. The organization of the grounds. How much thought there was into the user’s experience of going. I think about the sound quality a lot. I think about the type of crowd the festival draws in. The Made in America festival that I would go to every year in high school and that was such a “let’s get super drunk” and it was aggressive. And that was kind of the vibe of Lollapalooza too. Like there’s a lot of high schoolers here, this is their party of the summer. I think about that, whereas Outside Lands seems a lot more relaxed in terms of alcohol consumption which is interesting. The most interesting thing between the younger festival experience and being older is how many people would drink. I would roll out and there would be girls on stretchers already. It completely shifted for me. 

There’s such different energies between festivals. A lot of that is the area it’s in, how expensive tickets are, are there a lot of giveaways, etc. 

Well thanks man. I want to be respectful of your time. This girl is working with Sony Music Publishing at the moment, super dope. Get back to work. Love you. 

Sophie: Love you solider. 

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