It's Saturday in Piercy, California at Northern Nights Music Festival and Shlomo just wrapped up a memorable set. Klyce, the MC, steps up to the microphone and responds to a friendly challenge by introducing Tucker Gumber to the crowd.
“This is The Festival Guy,” he boasts. “He's been to 84 festivals in the last four years and there's something he's never seen that I think we can do. If everyone can get down and pick up one piece of trash and hold it up, you'll see all the trash we can pick up together.”
Captured in the video below, thousands of fans and volunteers obliged – leaving an unprecedented scene wearing smiles of gratitude. This is just an example of how Gumber, 31, is making a profound impact in our music community. With his affable personality and vintage wardrobe, it's clear before speaking with him that his infectious energy will alter the course of your day.
His job description continues to evolve from the “The Festival Guy” title, reviewing and critiquing festivals, to developing his app “Festevo,” which organizes your festival lineup while also serving as a network reference or music discovery platform.
“You get better at festivals every time you go,” Gumber explained.
Festivals, likewise, are improving as well. This year, Northern Nights had a feature on their website which lists each booked artist alphabetically, ranking and creating a color-coded schedule based on your picks. This is a Festevo concept. We had a chance to catch up with Gumber on Sunday and he gave us a first look at the custom schedule his app has – which creates your ideal lineup (scroll down for a first look).
After attending festivals in 2011, Gumber left a successful sales career and the confines of a predictable lifestyle to pursue a few feasible goals… which turned into a mission.
“I thought if I could find a way to improve festivals, I could create a real career for myself,” Gumber confessed as we reminisced about his early days on the road.
Although he is spending most of the time on this Sunday with a production crew working on his TV travel show (that launches on Uphoric.TV in September), Festevo is the main focus. In the future he wants the festival community to use the app to link friends who need ride shares, give an outlet for posting tickets, and even discover talent.
“My dream scenario is that it becomes something that provides our community with the different products we need to have our best festivals.”
As a former music director at Colorado State and a major in Resort & Restaurant Management, Gumber has a serious knack for bringing people together for a common goal and seizing the day. His passion for electronic music, as well, grew parallel with his journey to becoming “the Festival guy.”
As we're discussing his favorite acts at the moment, Gumber ecstatically announces his intent to see an artist named Dylan Stark as soon as we wrap up the interview (which we started around 1 P.M.). He discovered Stark by streaming his music on his app.
“Have you heard of Dylan Stark?” he beams, starting up an open conversation in the press lounge. “I don't think he's ever played a festival before… all that comes up on his Soundcloud is a radio interview in Portland… but his music is fire!”
After the interview, we venture down to the river to catch the end of Stark's set. Clearly, there is an undiscovered talent here. Fans watch in awe, few drifting their gaze away from the stage.
“If you don't listen to this whole lineup, it's just a bunch of names,” he proposed. “I'm really hoping the app can help the industry be not so top-heavy. Something can be realized by laying out who is playing each festival. We have 10,000 artists who have played a festival in the last two years in the app. Of those, 700 are playing five or more festivals this year. That shows that you have to be in the top seven percent of all musicians to become an established artist. To become a headliner and play ten festivals or more, a group that accounts for 13 pecent of the time slots, you have to be in the top one percent (there's only 120 artists) in the world.”
With so many fresh talents getting booked, Festevo gives fans a new way to discover.
“People think you need that 120 to fill out a lineup. Any of these other artists are just as good, they're just not as known.”
To make his point, Gumber noted that he missed some of his favorite artists at festivals before he knew who they were. His adventure took off in 2011 after the inaugural Snowball Festival.
“Suddenly I got this place where everyone's on vacation and my people were there. Especially at a festival with lots of different stages – anytime you're seeing one of your favorite bands, you're surrounded by people seeing their favorite band. Now you really have something in common. It blew my mind how much fun it was but I was also like, “what are they doing here?”
By the end of 2012 after two years of volunteering, meeting people, and putting out reviews, he started gaining media credentials. The new goal: tackle festival problems. He kept running into the same issues.
“You don't know which of your friends are going to each festival so you end up with unfortunate missed connection,” he said. “Thats how the beginning of my app started. It was going to be a little project that everyone used to RSVP to each festival.”
It's apparent that a subculture has formed. As a fixture at many events, he's become a go-to-guy for artists, fans, or anyone to connect with for ways to improve their festival experience, have more fun, and eliminate some stress.
“We don't want to work to go to a musical festival,” he explained.
Naturally, his platform is beginning to attract a wide audience. His posts on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter often provide another outlet where fans can learn about new products and eavesdrop savvy recommendations.
His challenge to the MC at Northern Nights, proposed a short time earlier in a chance radio interview, is a function of his modified initiative called “leave no trace +1.” This means picking up after yourself and one additional person. If half of the crowd participates in LeaveNoTrace+1, it doesn’t matter what the other half does. The venue would be spotless.
As he explained to Insomniac, confronting someone who dropped trash is something we can all do to help festivals restore to earth's factory settings.
“Ninety percent of the time, they’re going to be like, ‘You’re right,'” he told Insomniac. “That other 10 percent, these are the ones that just throw all their shit on the ground, and what I do is 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!'”
Read more here on his website, follow his adventure on Instagram as he shows you what each festival is like from the fans point of view, and take a first look at Festevo's customized schedule below which helps plan out your next festival. The example here is a preview of his Lollapalooza schedule for next weekend in Chicago.