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What Is a Custie?

In festival and jam band culture, where music, camaraderie, and an array of colorful expressions unite, there lies a term both peculiar and ubiquitous: “Custie”. Short for “customer”, this term, often used by drug dealers within the scene, paints a vivid picture of a particular breed of music enthusiast.

But who exactly is a Custie, and why has this term become a lens through which certain dynamics of the music scene are viewed?

The Custie: A Sketch

A Custie, in the most general sense, is a festival or jam band fan who, often unaware of the nuances of the scene, is willing to spend exorbitant prices on subpar quality drugs (ice cold fatties?), merchandise, and tickets. This phenomenon has led to what many describe as the gentrification of the music scene.

They are the financial lifeline for the more experienced, seasoned fans – often referred to as ‘wooks’ – who have mastered the art of thriving (‘wookery’) in this unique ecosystem.

Characteristics and Behaviors

Custies are typically easy to spot. They are the ones invariably donning a crispy, official band T-shirt from the most recent tour, seemingly a uniform of their kind.

Their presence is especially pronounced during late-night sets, where they often morph into a ‘spunion’ – a term denoting someone overwhelmed by the experience, sometimes to the point of physical incapacity.

There’s a saying that encapsulates this transformation: a Custie might “shit themselves during drums>space and cross over into true wookdom.”

The Glorification and Misunderstanding

A notable aspect of the Custie persona is the glorification of ‘wook’ culture, coupled with a general lack of knowledge or understanding of the scene’s deeper ethos. This naïveté makes them a target of mild ridicule by more seasoned fans, who view Custies as a symbol of change – and not necessarily for the better.

Nostalgia and Critique

The culture of poking fun at Custies, though seemingly harsh, is rooted in a deeper desire among veteran fans: a yearning for the “good old days.”

There’s a nostalgic reminiscence of times when the scene was less commercial, more underground – when one could follow a band like Phish for a four-night stretch, without the need for societal norms like showers or leaving the parking lot.

These were the days viewed as the scene’s golden era, now seemingly diluted by the influx of Custies.

A Sympathetic View

Despite the criticism, there’s an underlying sense of sympathy for Custies. They are, after all, new entrants to a complex, layered world, often unaware of the unwritten codes and customs. As one seasoned fan might put it, “I feel so bad for these new Custies, they just don’t get it.”

The Merch Table: A Microcosm

A quintessential Custie moment is the visit to the merch table – a venture often undertaken with a blend of excitement and obliviousness.

It’s here that the Custie’s enthusiasm, lack of discernment, and willingness to spend come into full play, further cementing their role in the ecosystem.


The term ‘Custie’ thus serves as a window into the evolving dynamics of the festival and jam band scene. It highlights the tension between nostalgia and change, between the underground ethos and the inevitable commercialization.

While it’s easy to view Custies through a lens of critique, their presence is a reminder of the scene’s growing appeal and the inevitable evolution of any cultural movement. As the music plays on and the scene continues to evolve, so too will the role and perception of the Custie.