1. Go to a crazy fun, multi-day music festival (Bonnaroo, 6/2011)
So I’ve marked it off my “30-before-30” list!
When a friend last year raved about this amazing experience on 700 acres in Manchester, TN (aka: the middle of no where) full of incredible music, camping, comedy and 80,000 people I decided that THIS may be something I should do. And if I’m going to do it, it needs to be SOONER, than later.
This winter, I called my bestie in KY and pitched the idea. She loved it and immediately agreed. We decided we were going, regardless of who comes with and bought the tickets.
From there it was a mission of planning and in hindsight, we were perhaps too prepared. But, in the end, you can NEVER be too prepared for BONNAROO.
The morning of Bonnaroo– a disaster awaits. A large tub of camping gear full of everything I
The Crew: Me, Maggie, Kaylan and Ashley (missing from photo: Steve!)
needed and a massive cooler. The cooler packed was so heavy I may have thrown out my back if I tried to carry it. Luckily, it had wheels. Unlucky for me, only 1 elevator was working. Finally, after a 20 minutes wait, I decided to go UP and then ride it down. Halfway down, the elevator alarm went off saying we must evacuate immediately due to technical errors. With all elevators down, I had no choice (Bonnaroo or BUST) to pull the large tub down 11 flights of stairs and then (finally) to my car. Massive hurdles, but perseverance paid off and I managed to stay on schedule.
The crew was myself & Maggie, my great friend since early middle school who later became known as the “mist princess” to strangers at Bonnaroo. I’ll explain why later; and Ashley: my co-worker with such a fun free spirit and a blast of energy; and Kaylan: we worked together and we both knew we would have a great time. And Steve (Kaylan’s fiance) was eventually labeled the “Dad” of the crew since he looked out for us all.
So It Begins. We met Maggie in Chattanooga and headed to Manchester. Back roads helped us miss the dreadful traffic we had prepared for. I don’t think our car sat still at all. Success.
Ushered into a parking spot, the pretty patch of grass and dirt behind out cars became our new home for the next 4 days. We set up shop, relaxed and met our neighbors.
Day 1: A Taste As we walked towards “Centeroo” (where everything was located) I realized how massive this event really was. Only tents, cars & RVs as far as you could see. Dirt and gravel roads. Porta potties everywhere. And graffiti walls full of current and iconic past performers to lead you to the entrance (including: Stevie Wonder, Pearl Jam, Dave Matthews Band, Nine Inch Nails, Tom Petty, Jay-Z, etc).
There weren’t any big headliners to see the first night. But I surprised myself. I LOVED Civil Twilight. I’ve seen live music in small venues, but this was so intimate and they were AMAZING. It was a night of wondering and exploring. But we needed our rest. Tomorrow was a LONG day!
Day 2: 20 hours of Bonnaroo
It’s 7:00 am. The scorching heat of June in TN was our alarm clock. We were tired, but hot. And excited for the day. Note: Brushing your teeth is really difficult without a sink & running water.
We walked an empty Bonnaroo, familiarizing ourselves with the odd layout and the complications that came with stages named: What Stage, Which State, This Tent, That Tent, and The Other Tent.
Maggie: “What stage is Eminem playing on?”
Maggie: “I said, ‘What stage is Eminem playing?”
Me: “This stage.”
Maggie: “This Stage?”
Me: “No, What Stage.”
Maggie: “Oh. I see. The WHAT Stage! Not the THIS stage!”
These conversations left us laughing constantly.
We spent the morning doing Yoga (yes, believe it) with hundreds of other flexible folk. Then we waited in line for over an hour to snag a ticket for a free hair wash and style (thank you Garnier Fructis!).
Next, we went to the Comedy Tent to grab a free ticket to the Comedy Blaze set. We had no idea
what to expect. The show was actually taped for Comedy Central. I was thrilled to see Jay Pharoah! I’ve seen him on Saturday Night Live several times (watch him perform on SNL his impersonation of Will Smith). Ralphie May was hilarious as well. We LOVED the Comedy Tent! We laughed to tears and enjoyed some much needed air conditioning and shade.
Speaking of conditioning, as soon as we left we walked over to the Garnier Fructis tent and 4.5 hours after getting our tickets, we saw they were calling the number that was 2 tickets before ours. Impeccable timing! We walked right in and I’ve never enjoyed a free hair wash more 🙂
Florence + The Machine
A brief nap, a stop at a couple of food trucks for dinner and we were ready for the first big show of the trip: Florence + the Machine. She has such a unique voice – and an amazing performer. One of my favorites of the weekend.
Right before Florence, Maggie and I split up momentarily and I nearly lost it when I couldn’t find her. People were crowding in from everywhere, it was getting dark, I was panicking. Thankfully we had a back up plan for our back up plan, so when I eventually saw her I practically burst into tears because I thought she would be scared. Nope. Not the slightest. Smiling, she was just enjoying Florence without a care in the world. What. A. RELIEF. We never split up again.
Next on to My Morning Jacket, the Arcade Fire. These weren’t the highlights of my weekend. Good, but not my favorite.
Finally, my finale of the day…Lil Wayne. His show didn’t start until 1:30 am. Maggie and I shuffled our way up to the front row (as far up as you could get). Maggie’s new strategy was to excuse herself through the crowd by sharing her spray fan and mist on people as she scurried through (hence the “Mist Princess”). It worked! Even though it we were as far to the stage as we could get, we still had at least an hour and a half (maybe it was 2) to wait for the show to start. And we had NO room. Not even to sit down.
It was a long night, a looong night, but seeing Lil Wayne at 1:30 in the morning is a memory I won’t forget. Neither one of us yawned. We were tired, but we were enjoying the moment. Even though I’ve seen him before (confession – this was my 3rd time) it was more amazing because we were soo close. We would have had to pay hundreds of $$ to be that close at Phillips Arena! A great end to Day 2….next up is Black Keys and Eminem. 🙂
Since there’s too much to share in one post…..TO BE CONTINUED….