I have never participated in a proper music festival. Sure, I’ve attended a single day of live concerts outdoors, but nothing that approaches them like Glastonbury or Shambhala. According to friends, the “real experience” of the festival is a completely different matter from what I have attended. Their tales depict a weekend of debauchery, live music and (most likely) rain – as well as some dirty bath options.
But, thanks to my anxiety, the prospect of committing to it for a weekend – in a field of thousands – is a nightmare. What would I do if I had an anxiety attack? How can I get home? What if I lose? These compelling and always annoying questions take me away whenever I optimistically hover over the “buy now” button for festival tickets, ultimately winning and leaving me with the determination to one day I will shut them up and go. And I finally found that courage, only for the ongoing pandemic to close my search once again.
So when EA Maxis announced that Sims 4 would host an in-game music festival called Sims Session, I was thrilled. The Sims Session was set to marry two of my favorites: The Sims and live music (albeit in its own way similar to Sim). And while the Sims Session was ultimately a disaster, it finally allowed me to attend a music festival – despite my anxiety.
Capturing the “festival experience”
Anyone who owns The Sims 4 can attend the Sims Session music festival from June 29 to July 7. You just have to cross the Magnolia Flower Park in the Willow Creek neighborhood. A ticket that appeared in my Sims inventory told me the festival was going to take place on Sunday (at Sims time) between noon and midnight, so I had Sim, April Jones, upset and make its way to the finish.
Here I have fallen into what seems to be the first issue of continuing the festival: finding the festival site. The ticket said the site would be “downstream,” so I searched across the country (for what I assumed it would be) for a great place for the ol festival. So imagine my disappointment when I found the place, only to find that it was a small part of the park with a low-key stage, three tents, a craft table, a trading stand, some toilets and a food stand. It was not exactly what I imagined – the kind of things that could be placed in your digital backyard for some Simoleons, apparently.
What I assumed the Sims Session would include was a whole new piece that would be available for the Sims to visit constantly during the festival period – or even just a weekend – with acts they perform at certain times, but otherwise allowing players to enter the life of the festival. It was like going back to a party and realizing that only you and Drew from accounting are presented, you are not for a good time and it is too late to come out.
In an attempt to get the “festival experience”, I bought an umbrella from the trade stall and placed it informally in front of the stage, which a colleague pointed out to be a “novice mistake”. “You don’t want to be so close to the music, and the drunks stepping on your tent at the end of the day,” he advised. The lack of a current campsite made the setting non-negotiable and I pushed into the back of my mind why they were selling out of place tents – I also bought a campfire and a pop-up bench, where the hell would it go? Maybe near the bins in my back garden. lovely
The experience may leave much to be desired, but the main attraction of the Sims Session was meant to be the lineup. The festival featured music performances by real life artists (in the form of Sims) Bebe Rexha, Glass Animals and Joy Oladokun. What happened to Katy Perry? I will be honest: I had no idea who these artists were. But that didn’t stop me from taking their t-shirts to the trade booth and turning to … their ballads?
Yes, while all three performed one song each beautifully in Simlish – the festival contained only three songs – each was a piano-accompanied ballad: Joy Oladokun performed Breathe Again, Glass Animals (well, lead singer) performed Heat Waves and Baby with Sabotage belts. Not exactly the best for moving and / or looking for noise, but it was good. What made them all somewhat anti-climatic was the fact that only as many as 10 Sims were present, including April Jones.
To be honest, I started tuning in halfway through the shows and started attending some other festival activities that I heard were “essential”. I paid for an overpriced slice of pizza, got some garbage I didn’t need, used the temporary baths (no queue required) and tried to talk to another festival friend. The pursuit of this romance at the festival was also spotted by a guy who literally stood between April Jones and Zoe – whatever her name is – and tried to talk to my temporary beauty. But I saw the last laugh as I tried to lure him back into my badly placed tent, only to see that you can not do wrong on the festival grounds. Which apparently is very different from real festivals (though probably advisable).
The whole event lasted only 12 hours and as I was back in my tent (alone), all the configuration disappeared from around me, with my Sim unofficially rising from the site as soon as she woke up. From what I have gathered, this is a much worse issue when you suffer from last night’s activities.
On my terms
The Sims Session was a bit disappointing, and a bit more like the Fyre Festival than Glastonbury, but it was still my first festival experience. Sure, it’s not even close to being like a real music festival, but, to be honest, it’s unlikely that any game could capture that magic.
One day I will finally know what that real experience is like. I will know how it feels to be knee-deep in mud, getting frustrated in tents, strapping my lungs to my favorite hymns, and having debts for dry shampoo.
Until then, The Sims 4 let me attend a music festival on my own terms – and I could leave at any time I wanted.