Belgium is known for its beer, fries, waffles and chocolate. However, from April until September each city is overrun by music lovers, who gather on a field or city square and enjoy live music at one of our famous Summer Festivals! With over three hundred festivals each year in Belgium alone, our tiny country is one of the international leaders of summertime entertainment.
For the past seven years my summer weekends have been busy shooting artists from the frontstage of many of these festivals, having photographed over five hundred artists. In these seven years I have seen the fall of paper schedules in lieu of a more digital solution. Our first ‘hack’ was screenshotting the website and putting it as our wallpaper on the iPhone lock screen. The next artist was just a glimpse away. Apps came and went, but none of those apps gave that simplicity, until now. Past weekend I’ve been shooting several events like Genk On Stage and Rock Herk that offers multiple stages and a plethora of artists. How could we keep up with a schedule this big? Enter the Apple Watch, the new personal accessory from Apple.
After manually adding the entire schedule of the festival in my calendar, including the names of the stage the artist was playing on, they showed up on my watch as well with the Calendar Complication.
Here is the Apple Watch in action at Rock Herk.
At first I was afraid how it would look with all those different names overlapping. The Watch only shows two events. Here are the things I learned.
- With overlapping event, the Watch will show a small exclamation mark.
- With overlapping events, the Watch will show two listed.
- With more than one overlapping event, it will show just the first and link to the other two.
- When a current event is active, and one other is scheduled, the upcoming one will become the main one ten minutes before the event. Ten minutes is enough time to switch stages on most festivals, so all great.
When you want to see the upcoming schedule, you only have to tap the calendar to see the full event list. With watchOS 2 coming out in the fall, an even more useful function will be added called Time Travel, where just a swirl of the Digital Crown will show you future and past events.
When getting messages or calls during the festival I often only notice it whenever I check my phone after shooting the first three songs. Loud music and big pockets aren’t a good combination for getting those notifications. With the Watch I received quite a lot of messages, and was able to act upon them as soon as possible. Even when I got a call in the photo pit I answered on my Watch and told them I would call them back. (not that I was able to hear their reply with The Hickey Underworld giving their best three feet away).
Remember all that panic and articles about the Watch battery life? A complete non-issue. Since I’ve opened the carefully crafted box and attached the Watch to my wrist, I have yet to see the batter level dip below 25%. This including quite long days, demo’s and workouts. Yesterday I took a 12km walk as a workout, and the Watch still had 50% battery left when I went to sleep.
If you sleep in a tent, any USB battery that will charge your phone will also charge your Watch. So, no surprises there.
Dirt & Damage
Festivals aren’t by any definition “clean”, with the only pink and fluffy things being the cotton candy being stuffed in a five year old’s mouth. Dirt, metal structures, beer, rain and more are the norm here. Over the past weekend, my green fluoroelastomer sports band received a very thin layer of dirt, with the new 7000 Series aluminum being still clean as before the festival (with perhaps a small accumulation of dirt around the Digital Crown. Curious to see where else we are going to see this aluminium in the future.
The Ion-X glass is strong, as it should, even after getting a few accidental nicks it shows no scratches or dents. And just wiping it over a shirt makes it as clean as it can be.
The Apple Watch is a solid festival companion. It’s much tougher than we think it to be, and it will be there for you all day and night. Tapping and drawing is another fun way of communicating with your friends, with nearly unlimited possibilities. Four taps for four beers? Done! M for Main Stage, a flower for a bathroom break? Go wild!
Keeping your phone safely inside your pockets also isn’t a bad idea at a huge festival, where pickpockets lust after anything valuable that they can get their grabby hands on. And with the Watch you act on anything incoming, and done. Nothing to hide, and nothing to fear. Unless you plan on showing off your Apple Watch Edition at a festival (I’m looking at you Beyoncé!) of course.
So, with all the features the Apple Watch has and can provide, we can wholeheartedly recommend bringing your Apple Watch to a music festival!
Leading image by Kris Van de Sande, additional photography by Marke tentster. Video by Timo Vandiest