Five Reasons Why the Monterey Jazz Festival Might Be the Best Music Festival in the World

Cole Thompson

The 56th annual Monterey Jazz Festival takes place this weekend at the Monterey County Fairgrounds. Organizers bill the event as the "long running jazz festival in the world." What they fail to mention, however, is that it might also be the best music festival in the world. Here are five reasons why.

1. Seating
You know you're no longer in the Coachella demographic when proper seating at a music festival is a make-or-break issue for you. Thankfully, the Monterey Jazz Festival has seating and plenty of it. Young people might snicker at the idea of staying home because you don't want to be on your feet for more than 20 minutes, but what the hell do young people know? Nothing, that's what. So bring a cushion, grab a seat at one of the many stages, and enjoy the artists without fear of losing your Ray-Bans to a crowdsurfer.

2. Bathrooms
Sure, there's a men's bathroom that used to -- and probably still does -- have one of those troughs where dudes can stand next to each other, unzip, and unleash. Other than this completely uncomfortable urinating experience, the rest of the bathrooms at the Monterey County Fairgrounds are clean. The lines move quickly, there's no vomit on the floor, no one's fucking in the handicapped stall, and guys in beards ain't snorting lines while you're holding your crotch.

3. Real Jazz
Monterey Jazz Festival is a dying breed in that it's a massive jazz event that doesn't cater to the smooth jazz crowd. Seriously, who likes that shit? Not the people who attend Monterey, that's who. This is awesome, because Joe Lovano plays real jazz. So does Wayne Shorter. And Ravi Coltrane. And the Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra. As a bonus, Buena Vista Social club plays Cuban jazz. And they're all playing this year.


4. The Weed Area
There's no music more suited for weed than jazz, but like 'Nam and bowling, there are rules at the Monterey Jazz Festival, and one of those rules (okay, laws) says that you can't just walk around smoking doobs like your middle name is "Indica." That said, there is a secret spot at the fairgrounds where stoners can get wastey that, from what we've, uh, seen, no one seems to patrol. And by "no one," we mean cops. Or maybe they don't care. Either way, it's a win-win. Are we going to tell you where that spot is? No, because we're not narcs. But if you happen to overhear some coughing in that tiny area between the bathrooms and the chain-link fence ... well, let's just say it's not an asthma convention.

5. Fire!
You know that famous image of Jimi Hendrix lighting his guitar on fire during "Wild Thing?" Yeah, well, that happened at the Monterey County Fairgrounds, which just so happens to be where the Monterey Jazz Festival takes place. So, find the secret weed area, stumble to your seat for the Wayne Shorter Quartet's 7 p.m. performance Sunday, and trip out not only on how the 80-year-old Shorter is way cooler than you (and me) but that he's in the same spot where the greatest guitar player ever made history.

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