Bonnaroo 2011 – Day 3

Saturday, June 11

                Today was the day. We had to see Old Crow Medicine Show and Mumford & Sons. They were both playing at Which Stage, so our plan was to wait there the whole time. So we left our campsite around11:30or so and waited at the stage. On our way there, we saw a man in a teddy-bear suit. I have no idea why or how he was wearing all of those. Who knows where he was going….maybe to the water slide. It was still morning but it was already incredibly hot. He must’ve been sweating like nobody’s business underneath all of those bears.

 Some people were already there waiting. There was a pit this year, which was annoying. We watched Naomi Shelton & the Gospel Queens’ set (12:30-1:30). Just waiting that long was about enough for us to fry in the sun. My shoes started to get really hot and made my feet burn. There were hardly any clouds out and little breeze so in addition to baking, the sweating would not stop. I drank most of my water by this time, which was hot anyway. Then I started to feel very sleepy about three or four different times, which apparently isn’t good if you’ve been out in the sun for a long period of time.

                 At2:00, Old Crow Medicine Show took the stage. Although I wasn’t in the pit or front row at the barricade behind the pit, I had a really good view of the stage and the jumbo screen. More people started filing in for OCMS but it wasn’t packed, so I had a good view. It was great fun – clapping and singing along. Ketch made me laugh when he said he could see some down-home girls in the crowd who must’ve rolled down the mountain to Bonnaroo. (I wish I could’ve seen them closer or at least a video stream of their performance. Still haven’t found one yet.)

                 OCMS ended at3:15and next up was Alison Krauss & Union Station (4:00-5:30). I think this was around the time a pregnant woman and her husband came. I figured they must’ve come fresh off an RV or somewhere with air conditioning because they looked too clean and put-together. At one point she was eating an apple. God, I’d never wanted a fruit so bad in my life. I imagined it being cold and juicy – you get food and a beverage all in one! Apples became magic, then, and I was fixated on the one this mom-to-be was gobbling down. When I wasn’t eyeing people’s fruit, I was fantasizing about ice cubes. Just to have one settle in my mouth and disappear would have been a blessing.

 Even more people started crowding around the stage, presumably to grab spots for Mumford & Sons since they just stood look like trees while Alison Krauss played. She was very funny and kind, joking around with the audience and poking fun at some of her band mates. Some of the crowd (namely the people around my section) stayed still for most of their set until they played “Man of Constant Sorrow.” During their set I went to check out the line for the pit. Some girl was standing in line and said she was at the end. Then two snotty Mumford & Sons fans (pre- or post-Grammy fans? Not sure) said, “This isn’t the end of the line. It’s way back there.” Then there was just a conversation (or argument) among those three.

“Where’s the end of the line then?”
“It disappeared, like, 45 minutes ago.”
“Well, I’ve been here forever.”
“Really? Have you been in line?”
“Well, we’ve been here for hours.” (I should’ve butted in and said I’d been there before Naomi – nay, before Naomi’s equipment was even on stage! Bu I didn’t.)
“I’ve been here for hours, too.”
“If you’ve been here that long, did you see the woman who came by?” “Yeah, there was a woman that came by earlier and told us something.” “Yeah, what did she tell us?”

They had those dumb smirks plastered across their faces. I just left that one girl standing there. I was a bystander and hadn’t even spoken to her, so I didn’t feel too bad about that. My sister said we should’ve made up something, repeated what everyone there tells you: Drink water; if you feel like you’re going to pass out or see someone about to pass out, tell them so they can get you water; know your neighbor; and stick with your buddy. We could’ve been golden, but we just went back to where we were at earlier. They were the third-best spots we could’ve gotten. Since we were right in front of a barricade, we could lean against it, which I ended up doing most of the time and may have been the cause of some of my toes going numb afterwards.

                 Finally Mumford & Sons came on at6:15. I can’t believe we’d waited that long. So many people came and tried to squeeze into the smallest of spots. I was a bit surprised at where they would try to step to get through. I used to think people would attempt to get passed you if there was even a smidgen of ground showing. I was wrong. People put their feet down on anything that was anywhere near the ground. “Oh, my friend’s just over there.” Yeah, yours and everyone else’s. At first, we were all so close that we couldn’t really move. Then it started to get roomier in the area I was in. People just shoved their way up to the front of the non-pit section. It was nice having the railing to lean on behind us. However, that area housed VIPs. They stood on the barricade bit that sticks out kind of like a chair. The people directly behind us talked the entire time, except when M&S played a single. They talked during the songs and in between. About getting food, the crowd, other acts, and getting caught having sex in the morning. Shut up! I came to see and hear M&S, not listen about to you go on about your embarrassing moments. It was also kind of difficult to get pictures of anything other than people’s hands or huge hats. This was my camera view for some of the time:

                 Regardless of the annoying people behind us, the M&S set was really fun. No one else in our section sang along to every song, and I saw only a few people in the front who sang along to the “new” tracks. I think this was the time I lost my voice. For their last song, they played “Amazing Grace” with members of Old Crow Medicine Show, Apache Relay, and Cadillac Sky. They all seemed to have just as much fun as the crowd, if not more. Then Ben came into the crowd (between the barricades) and stayed under the camera crew set thing. That was the thing within the VIP area and the area right behind us. Of course, we were a bit more centered and could just see him from a slight distance. People squeezed over there to that corner to take pictures and reach out to touch him.

                 Once they finished, we had to wait a while just to get out. Then we went on over to see The Black Keys at What Stage. We saw them briefly the year before when they played a tent, but we couldn’t stay awake and left after a few songs. This year we plopped down on the grass and watched mostly the jumbo screen. Not the same, but it was okay. No matter how far back you are in the audience, it can always become crowded. I didn’t get any fingers stepped on this year, but my brother did get an umbrella to the head.

                 After the Black Keys, we went back to the campsite. We could hear Eminem from there. I remember him singing (uh, rapping) “Slim Shady” and “Cleaning Out My Closet.” I wanted to see Scissor Sisters with my brother and sister at around2 a.m., but I was really tired and getting worse on the illness front. I would cough up mucus in the mornings and my voice would seem to be okay. Then I’d sing and yell, which isn’t good for the voice but very fun, making it worse. And usually by the end of a night my voice would be gone. I heard Scissor Sisters were really fun and had some costume changes. Apparently they encouraged the crowd to take off their clothes and some thought about it but not seeing anyone else around them reach for their shirts, decided (fortunately) to keep their clothes on.

                 I usually have at least one regret each year, and I think not seeing Scissor Sisters was the biggest (not the disrobing in front of them part, mind you). I just imagined how much fun it must’ve been to dance along to “I Don’t Feel Like Dancing,” while I snuggled up to my Kleenex box. (Yes, I really did sleep with it in my tent. What? When you need a tissue, you need a tissue. Am I right?)

More photos here.


Bonnaroo 2011 – Day 2

Friday, June 10

Couldn’t be bothered to leave the camp early enough to see Jessica Lea Mayfield, so we stayed under the shade of the tent with misting fans glued to our faces, as you’d start to sweat if you sat still for more than 2 minutes. Waiting in line to get into Centeroo took ages! The line wouldn’t stop winding.  

We finally left to get a good spot for the Justin Townes Earle set and were able to catch part of Ben Sollee’s set. I shimmied my way up to the front, because I’m short and otherwise wouldn’t be able to see. (Now, normally I’d think I was of average height, but at Bonnaroo there seem to be more people extremely taller or extremely shorter than I am. Don’t know what that’s about.)

While waiting for JTE to take the stage, a group of people behind me couldn’t stop going on about him, particularly the guys. I suspect they had crushes. “He looks smoking hot in that suit,” “Look at him talking out the side of his mouth,” “Oh, he’s got that cigarette hanging out,” “He’s just so cool – the real deal.” Just on and on. Then they spouted everything about him that you’re likely on to find on Wikipedia. JTE was as good as when I saw him play a smaller stage at Bonnaroo in 2009. He played stuff from his last and second albums mostly, which was fun.

Afterwards, I wanted to see Walk the Moon but they were playing all the way on the other side of Centeroo (a long trek if you’re running low on water, the merciless sun is out, and you sweat by just breathing), so we went to see Freelance Whales who were playing a second set at the Sonic Stage, which was closer. Win, win. There was some time to kill, so I decided to go to the bathroom and get more water while I still could. You have to wait in line for the bathroom and you have to wait in line for water. Waiting for water’s probably more stressful. It really does look like a bunch of cattle going after a trough. There’s usually not much of a line at the hand-washing stations, but that water’s got some sulfur in it and has a funny aftertaste. If you’re desperate, it’ll do, which is how we were most of the time. I’d like to think the potable water was just a couple degrees cooler, too, but whatever. I think it took all of 10 or 15 minutes to do this, and when I got back to the Sonic Stage the band before Freelance Whales were winding down their set. I spotted one guy really getting into it, dancing in his skirt like nobody’s business. I think I saw less man-skirts this year…more hipsters than hippies, I guess.

Later we went on over to the On Tap Lounge to stand under the Swiss Cheese and watch Givers. I couldn’t see much because I was sort of in the middle and off to the side. After they finished we moved over to see Florence + the Machine. Tried to get some shade under the few trees available (they really do need to plant more there; there’s room) and saw this guy wearing a black and pink tutu. It looked like he was lost, wandering around by himself, making a beeline through the crowd.

It was getting time for Florence’s set to start, and I made the mistake of actually getting under the tent and into the crowd. It immediately got hot, stuffy, and humid. I think I sweated more in there than I did that entire day. It was instant. Everyone was shoving, even the ones kind of in the back who had pretty much no chance of getting a good view anyway. I had to get out of there before I died. As soon as I made it out of the sardines, the outside air (which practically doesn’t blow whatsoever) felt like a gust of wind. But soon more people started to crowd around the side area where I was at, so I had to move back. Then more people came and I had to move yet again. I finally waited just behind the VIP area (I swear it’s getting bigger) and stood on the tips of my toes to see Florence come on stage in some sheer black thing. As soon as she started her song, I left to snag a spot for The Del McCoury Band and the Preservation Hall Jazz Band.

I wanted to see Ray Lamontagne but just passed by. At the Del and Preservation set, there were some Canadians behind me. Obnoxious and drunk. They kept screaming in my ear, and they talked quite loudly too – even when no music was playing. They also hooted after one of the guys in the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, whom they referred to as the “hot drummer,” though he wasn’t really the drummer. “You think he’s mulatto? Gotta be.” Who says “mulatto” anymore? Anyway, the set was amazing and people (at least in the front) sang along to the songs and really got into it. These guys were probably the most charming I’d seen.

Missed Bobby Long but was able to see Cory Chisel & the Wandering Sons at the On Tap Lounge. They were really good. I stood next to Brendan Benson, who later played with the band. He was smoking and I had a sore throat coated with mucus by that point so it started to bother me after a bit. We’re pretty much BFFs now. I wish I took pictures at this gig but didn’t. Then JEFF the Brotherhood came on, but I started to feel sick and tired. I sat at one of the picnic tables while the jammed and fell asleep a bit. The misting fans weren’t blowing any air; just mist, which just made it more humid. By the end of JEFF the Brotherhood, I and my bag were dewy.

We had planned to see Arcade Fire (just a few songs) and then Lil Wayne, just to go to it. We were too tired and just walked by Arcade Fire (good enough for me. I only like one or two songs from their first album) and skipped out on Lil Wayne altogether.

More photos here.

Bonnaroo 2011 – Day 1

Thursday, June 9

I went with my older brother and younger sister again this year. Bonnaroo opened on Wednesday night (7 p.m.) this year, but we didn’t get there until about 2 a.m. because my brother was working Wednesday night. I was already sick before we packed our stuff up. I’d get so tired after the smallest task and would have to take breaks (packing was a pain). I took a nap before my brother came home, so I was okay by the time we hit the road. The turn to the farm was just as packed at 2 a.m. as it usually is, but it didn’t take as long for traffic to move. Well, maybe it did. I think we sat in traffic for about an hour before we got to the first check point. It might’ve just seemed like less time since the sun wasn’t out.

We (and everyone else around us) set up our tents in the dark with some flashlights. It actually went a whole lot smoother than it normally does. Seriously, there was little to no bickering. It was shocking.

Once Thursday finally rolled around, it felt like we’d been there for four days already. If you’re not up by about 6:30 a.m., you will be because it’s so hot. I don’t see how some people can sleep in until noon out there. You really do start sweating by 7, whether you’re in a tent or not.

Before coming, we (really just my sister and I) screened all of the bands/artists and put them on separate lists. We’re talking specifics. We had them narrowed down to piles like “yes,” “yes, will see depending on the time slot,” “yes, will see just to sit under the shade,” “maybe,” “maybe, depending on time,” “maybe, depending on location” (don’t ask how we were to differentiate between the overlapping lists… it made sense at the time); the “no’s” and “hell no’s” didn’t even make it onto paper.

Now I don’t remember where Uncle Skeleton landed. Couldn’t tell you if it was a yes, maybe, or hell no. I couldn’t even say who was in the band or if any of the members were uncles, skeletons, or both. We just went to see them because they were the very first act. I think I saw all of five minutes, started to get hot and left. This year the Budweiser Troo Music Lounge was changed to Miller Lite’s On Tap Lounge. I’m not sure how these things work, but Miller Lite seems to be cheap. Before, this little stage had at least some shade. It had a stretch of umbrella-like things on the sides and chairs. This year there were scattered picnic tables, misting fans (which just made it more humid), and cheap fabric with already-made holes in it stretching across the top of the stage’s tent to the bar. The thing looked like Swiss cheese. There’s no way you could get shade from that. Let’s say you were one of the lucky souls who did land a semi-shady spot. Just as soon as a slight breeze came, your shade became a hole of sunshine. I think by the second day that “shading area” cloth started to tear.

I decided to just go over to The Other Tent and wait for Hayes Carll to come on stage. A few people came by asking the Bonna-crew who was playing (“I don’t know, Carl Somebody”) or asking directions, confessing they lost their map. How do you lose your booklet the first day?

Hayes Carll came on (I couldn’t really see anything) and sounded good. There were some creepy older guys sitting next to us who loudly talked to some freshmen college girls about Austin, Texas, and their waitress jobs. Annoying. There was also a guy in front of me who looked exactly like David Tennant, except younger. I swear. I wish I snapped a pic but didn’t.

I wanted to see Freelance Whales but they were playing at another tent, so I just stuck around where I was at. I wanted to see if Jack White would play with Karen Elson, who was playing at the same tent Hayes Carll was at. No such luck. I did see him walking backstage, though, with his kids. I guess that was enough. Karen was great and the crowd really got into her set. Next up on my list was Miniboone (I could only vaguely imagine what they sounded like but recognized the name and remembered we’d put it on a “yes” list at some point), The Drums, Sleigh Bells (not my personal choice but more of a tag-along thing), Deerhunter, and The Band of Heathens. My feet were hurting and I was tired, though, so we just went back to the camp super early and called it a night at around 8 o’clock. Out of that list, I wish I saw The Drums and The Band of Heathens. I could’ve rested and gone back at 1 a.m. to see the latter, but sleep was all too important. Since I was sick, I wanted to make sure I was rested up for the next day, so I just downed some NyQuil and hit the lumpy Manchester farmland beneath me.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

             The only thing I was looking forward to on the last day was Phoenix. But that wasn’t until 7:15 p.m. So, in the meantime, we went to Troo Music Lounge and watched Caitlin Rose. Several people in the audience just pulled up plastic chairs to watch and chain-smoke.

             After her set, which ended at 2:10 p.m., we went to wait for Blues Traveler, who’s set started at 3. Loads of people were already there. There wasn’t any room under the tent, so we sat near the trees. We figured the sun would soon go behind the tree and we’d have shade. It took much, much longer. We sat in the sun for what seemed an eternity. My skin was boiling. I had two umbrellas. I tried to keep one on my stuff and one on me. But I’d have to either sit cross-legged, sweat, and have my feet fall asleep, or have my legs and feet bake for a while. I think at this point we were running out of water and needed to refill our bottles. But we weren’t going to do that until after the BT set.

             When I said that every day felt the hottest, this one definitely did. Although, I don’t remember seeing anyone pass out on this day. Several people passed out in the crowd on the first two days, and they had to be carried away to the medical tents. But this day was just super-duper-hot. Some people with a misting bottle were kind enough to spray those around them. For some reason, a misting bottle (and ear plugs) is something I always mean to bring but never do. Anyway, there are usually several people who will let you use their bottles.

             Blues Traveler finally came on. Everyone was really into it. “Runaround” was their last song, and as soon as they finished we went over to refill our bottles. Whenever I’d refill mine, I’d fill the empty bottle of water and drink it right there, and then fill it again. Some people go for the filtered water station, which is always crowded. Tap’s fine with me, and I didn’t really taste much of a difference between that and the filtered, except maybe the filtered was a bit cooler. Water’s water.

             I wanted to catch Against Me! and Dropkick Murphys but at the last minute said, Pshaw! We’re waiting for Phoenix. Last year I saw Phoenix, but barely. We were watching Justin Townes Earle at Troo and had only a few minutes to get to the tent to see Phoenix. This year Phoenix played not a tent, but Which Stage. I knew there’d be more people, including those who came just because they heard them on a commercial or something. I wanted to actually see them and be up front this time, so I waited. I waited from 4 p.m. to 7:15, when Phoenix’s set was to start.

             Until then, though, Ween was playing. And the sun was still out. I think I sweated more on this day than the other three. I would literally wipe the sweat off of my face and it would come pouring down again. It was horrible. And it seemed like Ween wouldn’t stop playing. We were semi-front during Ween and were going to make our way up there toward the end of their set. We were trying to ration our water. If we left, we were likely to lose our spot. Around 5:45 we started moving up front and got there. The closest we were was second row, but I could touch the barricade and see since the girl in front of me was about a head shorter than I am.

             From then on, we stood waiting in the sun, no umbrella to shield us from Apollo’s mercilessness. People were packing in, too, trying to get up front. Some of the people who were front row said they were there since noon. Our area smelled like armpits and feet. Way too much sweat. We started running out of water, but you couldn’t not drink it. It was too damn hot.

             Phoenix finally came on, and people started bouncing and flailing. Their set was beyond words. I couldn’t stop smiling (and sweating). It was just so much fun to sing along and be immediately around other people who liked them, as opposed to last year. A couple of times the security guys on the other side of the barricade gave us chunks of ice. I got a couple of handfuls, and that ice was like heaven. It was sooooo good. On a technical note, the lighting wasn’t so great on stage. Well, for most of the time there was no lighting, but the sun was going down. Occasionally there’d be some red and blue lights in the background, and then a couple times I saw a faint spotlight. I got some video of their songs, but the people in front of me kept swaying their arms, so I had to hold the camera above my head, and so a lot of the shots are just of Phoenix’s feet or security people. Sorry. And I swore (still to this day) that I recorded “1901,” but I couldn’t find it. Maybe it was accidentally deleted. I have no idea what happened to it. But they played it last and then crowd surfed.

            After that, we went to see the Dave Matthews Band. I was about the same distance from the stage as I was for Dead Weather. We stayed for several songs and left. My feet and legs were hurting, and my bags were getting heavier. And of course, when we got back to camp we saw that we were blocked in. The New York neighbors pulled their cars in front of our tent so we couldn’t get out. Everyone else around us had left, and then they block us in. They had their trash on our side of the camp as well. And one person (not of the NY bunch) who borrowed a stake from us didn’t give it back. Whatever. We threw the NY trash and belongings back under their tent (which was this huge circus tent, no joke) and just went around them, hoping not to land in the pond. We made it out, though, and had a nice time finally feeling AC. Then we a nice late dinner at the Waffle House. Everyone in there had come from Bonnaroo, too. We all looked like unwashed, tie-dyed zombies with the same wrist bands. It was fun.

More photos here, and videos here.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

             This morning we woke up to our neighbors talking about how awesome Kings of Lay-own were last night and who was going to see Gwar (and trying to explain what Gwar was).

             I always dread the mornings because that’s when everyone rushes to the toilets. It doesn’t matter how early you think you’ve woken up, there will be a line. Although, I heard that around 4 or 5 a.m. is pretty good.

             On the very first day, while we were still in line on the highway to get into Bonnaroo, some guy handed out these pieces of paper that said “The End of Bonnaroo.” It had stuff about earthquakes, tsunamis, curses, different supernatural signs that explain this, Jesus Christ, “the escape from the 2nd death and ticket into the Everlasting Bonnaroo!” and the matrix. It reminded me of an author I had interviewed about a year ago who said he saw supernatural beings and received messages from signs, including some “hidden” ones in the Bible. It quite possibly could have been that guy.

             Anyway, when we were walking to Centeroo on Saturday, we passed a group of guys near our camp who were holding crosses, passing out Bibles, and spreading the good word. (Several police (those on and off horses) were standing across the road from them.) They were telling people they needed to be saved and let Jesus into their hearts. One cross said “Psalm 9:17 The wicked shall be turned into HELL.” And another said “Jim Morrison, John Lennon & Jerry Garcia Are: Burning in HELL! And YOU could be Next! Got JESUS?” No, thanks. OK Go saved me yesterday.

             It was probably 10 a.m. when we were walking, and it was already hot. We wanted to see Conan O’Brien at the Comedy Tent because 1) It’s Conan, and 2) there’s air conditioning in the Comedy Tent. But we soon found out that they were doing “something new” this year. You have to come early to the tent and get a pass. Well, everyone had already gotten their passes early, early that morning. Pshaw! So we ended up just waiting at This Tent, listening to Circa Survive. I did want to see The Postelles because I missed them when I was watching Fanfarlo, but I didn’t want to go to the Sonic Stage. It was too hot. Waiting for Circa Survive (who’s set started at 2 p.m.) to play and to finish was such a long wait. The waters we had were starting to get warm, and the sun kept creeping under the tent. While we were waiting, though, I did get to see the premiere of OK Go’s “End Love” video at the Lunar Stage, which was next to This Tent.

             Before Circa Survive finished, we went on over to That Tent to see the end of Brandi Carlile’s set so we could get a good spot for the Dave Rawlings Machine. And we did. Well, pretty good. I was one person behind the gate. If the people to the right of me would’ve moved over just a bit, I would’ve been able to see a lot better. The guy in front of me was about my height, but he was wearing this big, white, safari-type hat. I could not see anyone. There were five musicians on stage and I couldn’t see a single one of them. I saw the cameraman who was next to the speakers, but that was it. After maybe one or two songs, I asked him if he could take his hat off because I couldn’t see. He did, which was nice. DRM were amazing. I really like watching them play their instruments, and they looked like they were having lots of fun. They ended up playing with two other acts that day, but I missed them.

             Toward the end of the DRM set, I could see, in the crowd, people from the sides starting to close in. As soon as the last note was hit, people just bull-rushed the center of the crowd, trying to get in front for the next band, Mumford & Sons. This mammoth of a woman just pounced at my spot. People were pushing and shoving. Normally, people aren’t that close during the gigs. You may brush up against someone, but you’re not always on top of one another throughout the whole thing. There are always gaps between everyone. When people started piling in, you couldn’t move. At. All. I thought I was going to end up like that one Hispanic woman in the movie Selena, where she’s at the front near the chain-link fence. People start pushing toward the front to get closer to Selenas (that’s how they say it. Okay, so two guys (maybe just one) says it like that in the movie, but I like to say it like that because of it). Anyway, people start pushing, and that woman up front gets her face plastered to the fence and pushed down, nearly getting trampled. But I digress. These people wanted their Mumford, and they wanted their Sons, too. A few people made it out of the crowd. I was trying to stay behind them and get out too, but it seemed like every time a person squeezed through the crowd, it closed up. It was like trying to make your way through two rolling pins pressed against each other. One girl next to me was trying to get out as well. And just like in the movies, a hand came out and grabbed hers, pulling her to safety. My party had already made it out. I was stuck. I started pushing my way out. People were squishing my camera bag and my backpack. They wouldn’t let me leave. I was like, guys, I’m just trying to leave. They just stared, with irritated and sweaty faces. I finally made it out. But I think I nearly died. I was thisclose to being that Selenas fan.

In hindsight, I wish we just stayed for Mumford & Sons. We would’ve been up front and seen a lot more than when we went to Which Stage.

             Next up was The Avett Brothers. DRM ended at 4:30 and TAB started at 4:45. There was no way we’d actually get good spots, so we settled for a spot in the back. For some reason people weren’t allowed to sit on the bleachers. Maybe because it was lightning? We stayed for a good while and then left to see The Dead Weather. We got a pretty good spot – closer than we were to KOL. I could actually see real people on stage. They were fantastic and cool, all dressed in black. I wanted Alison’s Gretsch guitar. Oh, but in the audience, a few people in front of me was none other than the Dancing Woman! She wasn’t alone this time. She was with a shirtless man with dreadlocks. Dancing Woman was shirtless, too. She had different tie-dyed pants on (no hole), and she was still swinging her braids around. Her dancing was almost fluid-like. It didn’t matter what she was dancing to (Hot Rize to Dead Weather, I think she does it all), when a song ended, she’d do the same move. She’d raise her hands above her head, allowing people to see her fuzzy armpit hair, and then slowly lower them to her sides while doing spirit fingers.

More photos here, and videos here.

Friday, June, 11, 2010 

             The first show of the day was Punch Brothers. We got there early and had a spot up front.  The show was recorded for a radio station. They played some covers, including The Strokes, Radiohead, and The White Stripes (which Chris Thile referred to as the band Jack White had with his then sister-wife).

             Afterwards, I had wanted to see a little of Tokyo Police Club, but just skipped on over to see The Young Veins. They played a smaller tent, so we had to weasel our way toward the front. There were some obvious super-fans (quite possibly Panic! fans) who clung to the barricade. I could see, and that’s all that mattered. Well, that and I was under the tent, in the shade. TYV were better than I had anticipated. Someone in the crowd asked them to play “Behind the Sea,” and Ryan said they would if he remembered it. Their set was good and fun, though, despite it being hot (even in the shade, under the tent).

             We then went to see Hot Rize, a bluegrass band, and wait in the shade. We did. And there was when I saw Bonnaroo Dancing Woman. There was some space toward the front in the crowd, and this woman decided to dance around there. She had two braids that went past her hips, which she used like nun chucks whilst dancing. She had tie-dye pants on (that were too long and kept dragging in the sand). Unfortunately, her pants had a huge (and I mean huge) hole in the crotch, which she would periodically “check” and resituate. I don’t know why. But that hole did not get in the way of her dancing and swaying. There was another woman who danced next to her, but where the Dancing Woman swayed and twirled, this woman stomped and tried to two-step solo. She eventually left, probably admitting her defeat.

            We left early from Hot Rize to grab a spot up front to see OK Go. I was determined. I had to be up front. Dr. Dog was playing before them, so we caught some of their set. That’s the time to start infiltrating. And I did. I got a spot up front, sort of, kind of near the speakers, but not directly in front of the speakers. This one woman kept pushing me toward the speakers, away from the center of the stage, which didn’t make any sense. I just pushed her back and tried to take up as much barricade space as possible. OK Go finally came on, and they were uh-may-zing, of course. The woman next to me, though, was a flailer. Every song was her song. She had to do the fist-pumps and hip-hop-hand-bounce-thing for every one of them, even the slower songs. Her elbows kept getting in my and my lens’s line of vision. I was a little taller than she was, so it wasn’t as bad. OK Go played some of my favorites. They did “Last Leaf,” and as usual, Damian went into the crowd to play that one, but it wasn’t on my side. Damian called us “a bunch of dirty sinners,” and then OK Go saved us by playing the hand bells for “What To Do.” We were washed clean. Oh, and we also got confettied.

             Up next was Kings of Leon. We went straight from OK Go, which ended at 7 p.m., to KOL, which started at 9:30 p.m. Quite a wait, but there were already loads of people there. Tenacious D was still playing when we arrived. We got a spot right of center, not-so-near-the-front. I could tell that there were people on stage, but I couldn’t have definitely said they were the Followills if you had put look-alikes up there. When I’m that far away, I like to try to balance the time I look at the jumbo screen and the actual people. For some reason, to me, looking at the actual people makes it “real” and the screen, although is the same thing I’d be seeing if I were at home, allows me to actually see. I do have to say, the lighting on stage wasn’t all too great. It was red, blue, or just dark. Occasionally I remember seeing spotlights, but not necessarily when they were playing – more like when Caleb was asking for a drink or drinking. There was a huge honeycomb-like thing of lights in the backdrop, which looked really cool when they lit up, but that didn’t help me see anyone on stage. Regardless of the lights, they had an amazing set. They played “Trani”! I think that was their last one. Caleb mentioned how they hadn’t played that in so long, because the last time they played it was so good he didn’t think they could play it like that again. Then he said that being able to play the tiny tents, to the bigger tents, then a smaller stage, to the big stage was great, and that that was one of the few things that made him proud of the band.

            After KOL, we went to see The Black Keys. A bunch of people were already there, so we were toward the back and to the side. I could still see, though, which was all that mattered. I got incredibly tired before they even came on (it started at 12 a.m. and lasted until 1:30). We stayed for just a couple of songs and then bailed.

            We were going to see Royal Bangs after The Black Keys, but I couldn’t make it. At the end of every day, it felt like our camp was all the way in Canada. It seemed like it took for-ev-er for us to get back. My feet would hurt from stepping on rocks and pebbles, and my calves would hurt from standing on the tips of my toes, trying to get a glimpse of the stages. They had golf carts as shuttles, but who would shell out $5 for a ride every day? I guess if you were that close to the highway, you probably would. And once we got back to camp, our lovely New York neighbors would be there. I swear, every single day they played that god-awful Jay-Z/Alicia Keys song about New York, and they would have it on repeat. So, as the dew settled on the grass and our skin stuck to our sleeping bags, the sound of New Yaaaaahhhhhkkk, New Yaaaaaaaahhhhhhkkk lulled us to sleep.

More photos here, and videos here.

Bonnaroo 2010 – Day 1

Thursday, June 10, 2010

After four days at Bonnaroo, I got 24 mosquito bites, felt like I had emphysema and was probably a few tangles away from having dreadlocks. I have no desire to be out in the sun for about a month. Despite the weather, neighbors, and the whole no-running-water thing, it was lots of fun. So here it goes.

             Had we been two cars late, we would have parked in the same area we were at last year, which was so good – next to the Porta-Potties and just down the road from Centeroo. But we weren’t. We were right next to the road leading to the interstate. It took forever to get back to camp from Centeroo. But it could’ve been worse, so I shan’t complain too much.

             Our camp was at the very end, near the pond. Like, right up on the pond. Little white things that looked a bit like dandelions (except there were no visible dandelions in the area) kept floating around. Mosquitoes only came out one night and weren’t much of a problem.

             Some of our neighbors were pretty cool and kept to themselves. But one group from New York that was directly next to us was so loud. There were maybe 15 of them, and their tents all surrounded ours. It seemed like they never went to a show until the wee hours of morning, like they never left camp. They were there all morning and there all evening. They’d yell and tell the same unfunny jokes over and over. They’d also walk right through our camp – when we were sitting there! They’d leave trash, tarps, bottles, hair (yeah, a wad of hair from where they showered) next to our vehicle and campsite.

             Aaaanyway, I was already sweating profusely after our camp was set up. Just like the feeling of pain, you forget some of the not-so-good (okay, downright bad) parts of an experience sometimes. I remembered it was uncomfortably hot last year – hot enough to make you sick – but I underestimated that. I remember it being humid, but I didn’t remember the feeling. Every day felt like it was the hottest. I think the heat index was supposedly 100 degrees. There was little breeze, and when it came it was fleeting. You could immediately feel your skin burning as you stepped into the sun. (By the way, there were loads of people who did not put on sunscreen and turned completely red as a result.)

             The first show we went to was Fanfarlo. They were amazing and energetic. I was by the speakers and saw this one guy in the backstage area who was air-drumming throughout their whole set. He had a Beatles hairdo and was dressed in a long-sleeve shirt and tie. I saw him at other stages and tents throughout the festival and was never sure what he actually did.

             Next up was Elizabeth Cook. She was performing at the Troo Music Lounge, which is a smaller, more intimate stage. I think lots of people were sitting down throughout the set. She was okay. The microphone was turned up too loud, making her voice sound piercing. It was fun, though. The songs were good and Elizabeth tap danced a little.

            After Elizabeth Cook, we made our way to see Manchester Orchestra and got a spot in the front. The guy standing next to me kept looking my way, which was awkward since he was significantly taller than I am. Each time he turned he’d get in my way. No matter. He ended up leaving afterwards. Up next was NeedToBreathe, and I squeeze my way more to the center. NTB was uh-may-zing. They didn’t play “Hurricane,” but it was fun singing along to the other songs.

             I thought about going to see Blitzen Trapper afterwards, but just went on to see some of Frank Turner at Troo. He was pretty entertaining. If I remember correctly, he had someone from the audience come on stage and play the harmonica.

             That Thursday was a good start to the festival. The highlight for me was NeedToBreathe, but Friday was going to be my main day.

More photos here and videos here.