April 26, 2011

Ask a Metalhead: What to Wear at Metal Festivals

Tr00 Metal Life

Hey Steff

I feel like a poser asking this, but I’m stuck. I am heading to Indio CA for the Big 4 with my man. I have never been to a daytime, hotass weather, outdoor metal show before and have no idea what to wear to be able to not die from th 90+ heat, while still being able to get down and in it. I am 5′ 10″ and 173, so not a tiny skinny chick. I don’t want to look super out of place OR like a fatass. My usual style is girly, kind of eclectic. Any suggestions?! I’m thinking skinny jeans and black tank, but, feel like I could do more …

Any ideas would be sick.


Anyone going to the Big Four is totally not a poser, and damned lucky, in my opinion!

Every year in New Zealand we have a 1-day festival called the Big Day Out. It occurs in late Jan, the height of our summer, and it is a boiling, seething mass of 40 000 people. Sometimes they have decent bands, including Metallica, Nick Cave, Iggy and the Stooges – so I’ve been three times. I’ve also been to outdoor festivals in Europe in summer, but the thing about festivals stretching over several days is that if there’s a lull in the bands you can go back to your camper and sleep/cook sausages/drink beer in the shade.

Here are some of my suggestions for outfits for summer outdoor Gigs and Festivals

Since it’s a metal festival, you’re probably going to want a black t-shirt or tank. This is pretty standard fare, and ensures you’re not going to look out of place. I would choose the most comfortable shirt you own – but one you don’t find if it gets a little wrecked (if you’re planning to go in the pit. I was in the mosh pit at Metallica in 2004 and I came out with holes in my shirt and a good leather studded belt torn into three separate pieces. I suspect the Big Four crowds will be similarly brutal.

Remember the rule about not wearing the shirt of the band you’re going to see? There’s probably an exception at this show for classic shirts from one of the bands – Metallica, Megadeth, Slayer or Anthrax. But I suspect you’ll see a lot of thrash shirts from bands like Exodus, Testament, Kreator, Anvil and Accept.


A group of us at Wacken, 2009

Once you’ve chosen your shirt, I’d start thinking about bottoms. Peruse your wardrobe or your favorite local store for something comfortable to match. My concert-going clothes of choice are shorts – usually just-below-the-knee for me, but that’s what suits me best – I have long, skinny legs. Lots of girls love cargo-style shorts with big pockets for wallets and cameras and such – these can even button or zip u to keep items secure. I think shorts look great with a t-shirt, won’t get torn off in the pit, and can be more comfortable in the heat than jeans.

Skinny jeans are a good staple as well, but in that heat, girl, you’re gonna roast! If you’ve got an old pair, cut them off and make some dark denim shorts.

Don’t forget a hat or some kind. This will keep the top of your head from getting burned, and some will keep the sun off your face, as well. A lot of metalheads like baseball caps, and some wear cowboy hats, as well. I have a British military beret I wear everywhere. At festivals, your choice of hat can be your chance to show off your awesome fashion sense – so choose something feminine and eclectic.

Sunglasses are essential, also, and slather on the sunscreen. There’s nothing less attractive than a lobster in the mosh-pit.


Chilling out at Wacken


BFF Linley and I

I don’t know about over your way, but in New Zealand, people going to Summer festivals like to dress a bit crazy – either by wearing a costume or decorating their outfit in crazy accessories. I love to buy lots of cheap, colorful ribbons from a haberdashery store and tie them in my hair and to my belt – they usually come off by the end of the day, but it doesn’t matter. I always wear bright-coloured socks, too. Friends wear things like fairy wings, cat ears, top-hats, and anything silly they find at the local costume shop.


A typical, comfy festival outfit

Shoes – I favor sturdy, steel-cap boots, but for 1-day shows (especially if the pit is not in the mud) sneakers should be fine.

Feel free to accessorize more than usual with cuffs, studs and spikes – just remember not to jab anyone in the face! I don’t wear any neck jewelry to gigs – in case I lose something.

I pack all my essentials into my over-the-shoulder red velvet drawstring bag – I like drawstrings as they keep everything secure. I can throw the bag around as much as I like and, if I’ve done it up right, nothing comes undone. I used to use an old discman bag – sturdy with thick straps and double-zips. You don’t want something too large, but you’ll need to carry money, keys, cellphone, camera, water, a snack and maybe something to cover up with if the weather drops later in the evening. I usually carry 1-2 light layers, like the shirt I’m wearing in these pictures (but then, I get cold easily). You’ll probably see lots of baggy grunge-style shirts and patch vests and jackets.

Apart from that, I can’t think of any more advice, except to have an awesome time and don’t worry so much! You’re with your people – no one cares what you look like as long as you’re not showing your wrist spikes through someone’s eye and you’re enjoying the music.

Fellow metalheads, what tips do you have on what to wear to outdoor summer concerts?

8 Comments on “Ask a Metalhead: What to Wear at Metal Festivals

May 24, 2013 at 5:30 am

When in doubt check Tumblr. Surely someone there put some effort into their looks for music festivals.

May 7, 2011 at 9:27 pm

u r fuking awesome

May 22, 2011 at 9:49 pm

Thank you :)

May 7, 2011 at 2:50 pm

A DIY corset or D-ring tank crafted from a vintage band t-shirt, low rise cargo pants or low rise flared seventies style jeans always works for me. Similarly, a DIY black mini dress crafted from a band shirt with black leggings has also been a reliable pairing for me at outdoor festivals in warmish climes. Black platform sandals (simple design, minimal studding) give shorter girls-like me- a lift and are comfortable and safe for walking about (though I would not advise wearing them in the pit). A cropped hoodie or leather jacket works well to keep warm at outdoor late summer/early autumn festivals in the nordic countries, e.g. Jalometalli in Oulu, Finland.

Jen @ hell razor
April 27, 2011 at 3:35 pm

Crossbody purse = essential, to keep both hands free.
Keep a giant hair clip on the strap of the purse, or a band around your wrist for pulling up your hair. I hate when my hair sticks to the back of my neck and I’m hot and sweaty!

Have a light layer, like a sweatshirt or windbreaker that you can tie to your purse/on your waist if you gotta take it off and still keep your hands free.

Have fun!

Emily Bleak
April 27, 2011 at 6:17 am

A black wifebeater with a sports bra under! (Guys are so lucky, getting to take off their shirts without getting arrested!) Fishtail braids and little pompadours are pretty awesome looking and keep your hair off of your neck.

I always carry a huge crossbody bag to shows, it holds a billion water bottles – because fuck paying $4 for a bottle in the fest – lighters, trail mix, the shirts I buy, a camera, a notebook to get new friends’ contact info, and the monster bottle of spray SPF60 I carry everywhere. (Spraying it on is so much faster, and it’s less sketchy when some stranger asks you to get their back.)

April 27, 2011 at 5:33 am

One thing I would add is that you should wear good socks! You can’t image how socks can influence everything. I think you should dress as if you were going to hike. Just in black ;-).

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