“Are you excited to see The Obesity Clinic play?”

Flower headbands, Indian headdresses, body paint, and glowing hula-hoops. What do all of these things have in common? As interest in music festivals has skyrocketed over the last decade, these are some of the common stereotypical trends that now characterize music festival culture. Every year people from all over the world will travel hundreds to thousands of miles just for the chance to listen to good music, make new friends and create life-long memories. This phenomenon can be described through the exploration of the Communication Accommodation Theory.

Coachella_outfits_web_t540Fifty years ago the world became consumed with the ideas of free love, peace, and the common bond over music. Woodstock redefined the way we looked at social interaction and the evolution of trends. As the desire for individuality and self-expression has moved to the forefront on modern day culture, festivalgoers have now been defined as modern day hippies. According to Howard Giles’ Communication Accommodation Theory, “people in intercultural encounters who see themselves as unique individuals will adjust their speech style and content to mesh with others whose approval they seek. People who want to reinforce a strong group identification will interact with those outside the group in a way that accentuates their differences”. While many people who attend music festivals are actual “die-hard” fans, others seem only to join the masses for the sheer desire of experiencing the culture. The communication accommodation theory is evident in these interactions and is accentuated through media portrayals of the stereotypical pseudo-fan like in the video below.

Video clips such as this show how the communication accommodation theory is so heavily applied in the music festival culture today. When people attend music festivals they want to integrate themselves in the modern day culture, whether this remains in line with their true individual identities, or not. While the Woodstock generation came together through music festival culture as a united front to fight undesirable political tastes and symbolized freedom and idealism, music festivals today have become the runway for fashion statements, social inclusion and non-conformist attitudes. The unfortunate reality of identifying music festival culture through the communication accommodation theory is that this once safe-haven for eccentric outfits, unconventional personalities, and atypical tastes in music, has become a popular breeding ground for socialites looking for the opportunity to convert themselves into modern day hippies, even if just for one weekend. So are you excited to see the Obesity Clinic?


-Angelica DiPaolo, Morganne McIntyre, Anderson McNaull, Madeline O’Connor, Rachel White

25 thoughts on ““Are you excited to see The Obesity Clinic play?”

  1. This blog post reminded me of an article I read in Rolling Stone a few months ago about the reemergence in popularity of these music festivals. The Rolling Stone article mentioned that the popularity of festivals like Bonnaroo and Coachella are actually “revamping” the music industry and re-igniting the careers of artists that were considered “defunct.” Whether you go to hear your favorite band, to dress like a hippie, or just to hang out, you’re sure to have a good time at any music festival you choose. I better jump on this bandwagon too…”where’s my floral head band and fringe boots?!”

  2. McKenzie,

    We are happy that our blog post made a connection with you! Rolling Stone is right, music festivals have definitely become a major opportunity for the music industry to “revamp” and “re-ignite” artists’ popularity. Hopefully you’ll have the opportunity to experience the modern day festival culture soon! Thanks for commenting.


  3. I thought this post was very interesting and relevant in today’s culture. I love going to music festivals, it is a great place to hear new music and make memories with my friends. I thought the connection to Giles’ theory clearly related to present day festival goers who seek acceptance. By listening to the same artists and dressing in a pre meditated way, attendees show they want to belong to the group. It was also a great idea to add information about music festival culture of the past. Great job!

    • Morgan,
      So glad you enjoyed our post! We felt like Giles’s Communication Accommodation Theory helped to better explain the idea of conformity within the modern-day music festival culture. Thank you for commenting!

  4. I’ve seen the Jimmy Kimmel video clip you guys posted with this article and it never fails at making me laugh. True conformity at its finest. Naomi Klein wrote a book called “No Logo” where she touches on a topic about complexity versus conformity and how the latter is a harmful form of branding. I think it’s really important to encourage different kinds of thinkers in our evolving world, otherwise how will we keep evolving? Don’t get me wrong music festivals are one of my favorite things to do, but the organizers know that although the bands raise the awareness, the desire for the experience and the culture is what gets them sales.

    • Olivia,
      It was definitely hard for us to keep from playing that video over and over again while writing our post! It’s great that you were able to make a connection to something you’d read prior to our blog post. You make a wonderful point about the hidden motives of the organizers of these popular festivals. What are some ways that the organizers could use IMC to overcome these undesirable, and potentially destructive, stigmas as they work to promote and market their music festivals?

  5. That was an awesome read because I find it so true and didn’t know how exactly to see it. There’s so many people from high school and even some of my friends here at UNCW that I see attending these events. Some of them it’s understandable. It fits them and that has always been type of their music and they have no other reason to act the way they do other than the fact that it’s just who they are. The other group, however, seems to be a bunch of imposter hippies that are trying so hard to fit in with the others just to be apart of th “free” and “flower child” mentality. I see girls who listen to Taylor Swift and Big Sean getting way too done up and spending way too much money on these music festivals that aren’t even truly into it; they just like being in the spectacle.

  6. I really enjoyed reading your article. I was just discussing this trend with a friend not long ago in reference to the most recent music festival, Tomorrow World. We discussed how all of these people are working so hard to be different and stand out from a crowd while still working very hard to fit in and belong. I thought that the video was hilarious. These people are so obsessed with looking like they know things that are not main stream that they will lie in order to fit in.

    • Grace and Griffin,
      One of the most interesting aspects of this newfound obsession with “music festival trends” was the overwhelming effort people put towards standing-out and being different from everyone else, and yet they’re all buying the same flower headbands, crop tops and Indian headdresses. We are so happy to have written a post that connects to conversations you’ve had and observations you’ve made recently. Join us every weekday to follow each new weekly theme!

  7. I enjoyed this article and found the connection between music festivals and the communication accommodation theory very interesting. I recently went to a music festival called Music Midtown in Atlanta. After arriving, we weren’t sure if we were going the right way on the train, until a huge crowd of girls wearing high waisted shorts, crop tops and flower crowns hopped on the train. I noticed that the majority of the girls looked ridiculously similar to one another. The music festival culture is a perfect example of people attempting to “stand out” while simultaneously seeking acceptance from others by dressing in a way that they believe music festival goers should dress.

    • Juliane,

      Thanks for your comment! One of our group members also attending Music Midtown and shared similar views about her outfit choices. It is interesting how in an atmosphere of many trying to be different, outfits are relatively the same. Did you see anything that stood out to you while attending the festival?

      – Rachel

  8. I think this article is very accurate. I know a lot of people who go to music festivals. They all love to partake in the culture surrounding the festival itself; they love the drugs, the music, and the idea that they are being “different”. A select group of my friends who go to music festivals find it odd that I have never been to one. I think that the people who went to Woodstock differ greatly from the modern day “hippies” that go to music festivals now. There was much more meaning behind Woodstock, not just the drugs or crazy outfits. It was a political movement, and unlike today, people attended for deeper reasons. I think our generation needs to remember that the people who went to Woodstock were not the majority; they were a truly different group of people breaking away from societies norms. It’s easy to throw on a flower head band, drive to Electric Forest, binge out on electronic music and claim to be a rebel to society. What are the reasons behind this? Why is our generation so obsessed with these festivals? I don’t know because I’ve never been to one, but I can tell you my friends aren’t attending these festivals to prove a point or start some sort of revolution. Maybe our generation just likes drugs, music, and the thought that twirling around a light up hula-hoop makes them unique.

    • Abigail,

      Our group also believed that the meaning behind Woodstock is what drove people to attend the festival, not the Instagram likes, fun outfits, or “individuality” modern day festivals promote. I believe as society has become more mainstream on many avenues (think Top 40 music, reality TV, etc;) people are looking for a way to branch out and create a new brand for themselves. However, as this has happened music festivals have become just another mainstream theme in culture. Thanks for your comment! You posed some great questions.

      – Rachel

  9. I myself enjoy live music and have been to Bonnaroo and countless bluegrass festivals. I grew up in the mountains where looking like a “dirty hippie” was the norm, but after attending Bonnaroo and looking through Pinterest, fashion blogs, and boutiques, I have realized that people are actually spending hundreds of dollars to look like a “dirty hippie”. I find it extremely amusing that these music festivals are for people to be themselves and “get weird”, except many of these festival-goers are actually grasping for a sense of belonging and conforming to this new style. I have met countless girls around me who are the epitome of an extreme paradox – preaching about peace, love, and simplicity while wearing tie dye, yet they drive a jeep and buy these concert tickets with their daddy’s credit card. I really enjoyed this article because it sheds some light on how far people will actually go to feel as if they fit in.

    • Abigail,

      I love the point you made of how people are now paying hundreds of dollars to look like “dirty hippies”. Walk into Urban Outfitters or open the Free People catalog and this is evident. Why do you believe this phenomenon is taking place? As a routine festival-goer, how do you differentiate yourself from the others?

      – Rachel

  10. I thought this post was great. I think that relating festival goers to the Communication Accommodation Theory really put things into perspective. Much of the youth in today’s society struggle to find a culture in which they desire to fit in. What better culture than festival culture, right? However, I feel like this kills a majority of the credibility music festivals have simply because people who want nothing to do with the music are attending these festivals just to say that they were in attendance. For me, someone who genuinely loves the art of music, I look at these people and ask myself “Why are you here?” It is not my place to judge, but I feel that you should not try faking who you are just to fit in with others who might simply be doing the same.

    • Jake,

      Thanks for commenting! I think the Jimmy Kimmel video in our post correlates directly with what you are talking about. As those in the video are saying they “can’t wait” to see bands that don’t exist, I’m sure it makes people attending the festival for the music alone wonder why their counterparts are in attendance. Are their other cultures that you see people in the 21st century trying to associate themselves with?

      – Rachel

  11. I saw that Jimmy Kimmel video a few months ago and thought it was hilarious, but playing devil’s advocate, I think that the situation set the “interviewees” in the video up for it. I went to Firefly, which is a much smaller music festival in Delaware with some of the same artists. Most people were drinking (and other things) all day and on such a high from the environment (and other things) that they were in too good of a mood to really care what they were doing, or saying for that matter. Either way, the video is good for a laugh.

    • Molly,

      The “highs” that festival-goers are on all day contribute to their attitudes and answers I am sure! Although I’ve never been to a festival myself, I believe this poses a larger question: Are people going to these festivals just as an excuse to “get high” and pretend to be part of a culture they aren’t 100% familiar with? As a festival-goer yourself, I’m sure you have some awesome opinions about this! Thanks for the comment!

      – Rachel

  12. This post addressed a topic that is very prevalent today, especially as college students. I have noticed this trend occurring at festivals across the country – more and more of my friends are attending festivals and buying into the image that is “required” to attend. Even more so, some of these fads can be found in the “real world” and on college campuses. Putting flowers in your hair, wearing fake glasses, and donning high-waisted shorts is appearing to be more normal in everyday life. Especially at a time when college students are still being influenced by their surroundings and peers, it comes as no surprise that people who would not normal subscribe to these trends are because they are “trendy”.

    • Esme,

      I completely agree! Walk into your nearest Forever 21 and you see all the trends that would be seen at a music festival. In addition I’ve seen these trends on campus more and more in the past semester. As festivals become more and more prevalent in today’s society, what implications do you believe will come to fruition? Thanks for commenting!

      – Rachel

  13. I found this post hilarious, because in society today people are trying to be so different all while trying to fit in at the same time. So hipsters are no longer unique, or looked at as different from society. When an entire stores like Urban Outfitters, or Forever 21 base their image of what “hipsters” look like. At music concerts when people are trying to be “hippie” only for the weekend, and stress the ideas of peace, love, happiness, so is every other flower crown wearing tween. No to hate on their passion, but it seems like a weird front just for instagram likes.

    • Cole,

      Thanks for your comment! Our group thought the music festival stereotype would be a great topic to discuss. If hipsters are no longer seen as unique in today’s society, what “stereotype” do you believe is being pushed to the forefront of edginess?

      – Rachel

  14. I really enjoyed reading this article and could definitely see how it related to communication accommodation theory. I recently went to my first music festival a couple weeks ago and it was evident that some people were there truly for the music and some were there for the overall experience of being at a music festival. The overall experience of being at a festival for many people is more important than the actual music or performers, which is sad. I personally enjoy both aspects of festivals, the experience wouldn’t be the same without the culture, but the music should be what makes the festival great.

    • Morgan,

      How could you tell this difference between those attending the festival for fun and those attending for the music? Were they dressed differently? Did they act differently? As a festival-goer I’m sure you saw some great examples. Thanks for the comment!

      – Rachel

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