Meet the Man Devoting His Life to Attending Music Festivals
It was the third day of this past June’s Electric Forest when Tucker Gumber went from being a simple spectator to an outright performer. Pressed up amid a colorful crowd of festivalgoers, he was watching one of his favorite bands, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, play an afternoon set. Suddenly, lead singer Alexander Ebert asked if anyone in the crowd wanted to sing something.
The crowd parted, and fingers pointed to Gumber. A cordless mic was handed down from the stage. And then, with all of the moxie and enthusiasm of a pep squad leader, Gumber sang an ode to the wooded Michigan music fest.
“The place just went fucking bonkers,” Gumber recalls. “It was out of control.”
SEE ALSO: Electric Forest 2015, by the Numbers
Gumber, 31, is just the kind of guy you’d expect to rally the troops during a warm festival afternoon. Dubbed “The Festival Guy,” he’s become a fixture at electronic and indie music festivals across the country during the past four years. This year alone, he’s hit a stunning 14 fests in 15 weeks, including majors like South by Southwest and Coachella, as well as lesser-known events like Treefort Music Fest in Boise, Idaho, and Orange County’s hippie-fied Boogaloo Mountain Jam.
Gumber is impossible to miss. There’s his trademark Burner-esque holsters and fedora, of course, but there’s also his über-positive, almost superhuman high-energy attitude.
“I don’t even have a home base right now,” Gumber says. He’s speaking by phone from San Diego, where he’s taking a break from his hectic festival schedule to touch base with some friends and celebrate the Fourth of July. “I don’t need to pay rent. Fourteen festivals in 15 weeks—that’s four months that I would not have been at my apartment.”
At this point, the Festival Guy has essentially devoted his life to, well, festivals. He’s even invented a verb—“festivaling”—to describe his itinerant lifestyle. He now gets into shows with press, guest or even the coveted all-access artist passes, and though he doesn’t have any interest in starting a festival himself, he says he’s made it his mission is to help improve the festivaling experience. To that end, he fills his website with festival reviews, tip sheets and other articles. He’s also launched a social media app, FestEvo, which keeps track of upcoming fests and lets users RSVP, as well as listen to and rank artists on the lineups.
He’s also working on a book about festivaling, along with a TV show that’s set to debut on Uphoric.TV in September. He’s also become a vocal proponent of keeping things green on festival grounds. In interviews and on his website, he urges festival organizers to cut down on disposable items—trading water bottle sales for water stations, for example—and urges attendees not only to pick up after themselves, but to pick up other people’s trash, too. And he’s never afraid to publicly shame someone if they refuse to dispose of their litter in the proper manner.
“You catch someone in the act? You pick it up, you put a big smile on your face, and you say, ‘Hey, you dropped this!’” he says. “Ninety percent of the time, they’re going to be like, ‘You’re right.’ That other 10 percent, these are like the ones that just throw all their shit on the ground, and what I do is I just put ’em on blast… The person will be like, ‘Bro, I paid $300 to come here; I don’t have to pick up after myself.’ Right. So you take a step back, and you’re like, ‘Hey, everybody! This guy doesn’t think he needs to pick up after himself. Is that OK?’ And everyone’s like, ‘NO!’”
Gumber grew up on the western border of Colorado, in a picturesque vacation town called Grand Junction, where he was reared on the outdoors. Over the years, he developed such a love for diversionary pursuits, like golf and snowboarding, that when he went to get his undergraduate degree at Colorado State University, he decided to major in resort restaurant management.
At the time, his dream was to run a ski resort or golf course, but he quickly lost interest after graduating. He ended up in the L.A. area’s San Fernando Valley, where he got a job at a company specializing in web-based conferencing systems. While he liked his work and cushy salary—which afforded him a four-bedroom house in Van Nuys—he abandoned the less-than-sexy field to pursue the Festival Guy life full-time after experiencing a revelatory one-two-three festival/concert punch in 2011.
You Might Also Like VIEW MOREThis Headliner Has Raved in More Than 45 Countries Interview: Grandma Techno Is a 72-Year-Old Dance Music Badass SingleRavers.com is the Site You’ve Been Waiting For Gods DJs Is Bringing the Love of Jesus to the Dancefloor