Monday, June 23, 2008

The End of Bonnaroo

"I walked and walked and walked . . . until I finally came to the end of Bonnaroo. And there were no more tents."

Megan and I overheard these comments while waiting in line to splash ourselves with sulphur-scented spring water before heading out to a day of rocking. The comments were obviously the results of some serious drug. After all, we had been at Bonnaroo just over twelve hours, but we already knew it was all-encompassing. It had no end, only middle places that wrapped you in constant stimulus and unending sensory adventures. And the tents did not end--there were tens of thousands of them. But, as it turns out, Bonnaroo did come to an end, and that gives us the chance to share the experience and hopefully keep it alive, at least a bit, for a while. The pictures tell the story, so I'll keep my commentary to a minimum (Mastodon!).


Our rag-tag crew of Bonnaroo rockers gathered in the Wal-Mart parking lot in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. There we could stock up on last-minute necessities before departing civilization as we knew it.

Our group was a great conglomeration. We had a car full of folks arriving from Austin, some flying in from Austin and Amarillo, a bunch from Dallas, and other drivers arriving from Louisville and Ashville. We had 11 people, and when the weekend began, there was no single person in the group who knew everyone else--the prospect of meeting new folks only added to the excitement. We all arrived planning to make friends, and nothing prompts unity like constant sweat and a shared cooler (or three) of cold beer. With the crew assembled, I turned over the starter on my sweet Kia minivan, and we prepared to rock. Below you can see the eager anticipation of my passengers.


Our early experience with Bonnaroo consisted of lines. Our high speed departure from the Murfreesboro Wal-Mart quickly slowed as we queued in a 13 mile line on the shoulder of I-24. The line took about four-and-a-half hours, but entertainment was plentiful. We had the joys of watching passengers attempt to find secluded spots in which to urinate, and we enjoyed debating the festival schedule while listening to the Bonnaroo radio station.

But lines became a common experience. There were lines for the bathrooms, lines for the drinks, lines to twist one's head underneath a spigot to steal some sulphur-scented water . . . which is the experience captured below. That said, the frigid spring water was delightfully refreshing and allowed us to keep the grime down.


Our campsite was the refuge, stocked with beer, guitars, plenty of snacks, and bountiful shade--I treasured the time hanging around camp. Some images . . . (and yes, that is the incredible Kia Mastodon in the background)


The festival itself was stimulus overload. The music varied from genre to genre, as I found myself listening to bluegrass, rock, heavy metal, hip-hop and country--often within the period of hours. Festivals reward folks who are receptive to new types of music. I enjoyed obvious favorites, like Jack Johnson, Ben Folds, Sigur Ros, and Pearl Jam. But the most surprising joy came from acts I did not even think I would hear: M.I.A., Ghostland Observatory, Gogol Bordello, Ladytron, Abigail Washburn . . . and it goes on. Below, Jeff took particular enjoyment watching Jack Johnson and Eddie Vedder play "Constellations."

Music was a small part of the festival experience. I also enjoyed people-watching and spontaneous naptime. Thus, a people-watching/ naptime montage:

Bonnaroo also presents monumental art as outrageous as the musical acts:

The End of Bonnaroo

Eventually, Preston played taps on the bugle (or kazoogle), and we lowered the Texas flag and Jolly Roger--the flags that allowed us to find home base in the city of tents. We came to the end of Bonnaroo . . . but there were still tents.

(as you may tell from this one, Mark Everett did not wait in line to bathe . . . compare his hair in this photo to his hair in the van on the ride in . . . we're glad he had his own tent)

Monday, June 9, 2008

Countdown to Bonnaroo

I am excited.  Probably more than excited--I'm actually thrilled.  We are now in the countdown to the final days (hours? . . . no, still days) to the Bonnaroo Music Festival.

It is an inaugural visit for Megan and me.  We have loved our Austin City Limits festivals, but those are drastically different.  After all, each night after ACL featured a bed and a shower and a large meal. 
Bonnaroo involves camping, in tents, in the heat.  The showers are hoses, and the food comes from vendors.  The shows do not end promptly at 10:30 PM but instead range through the night.  It is a different sort of experience and one that will likely bring the crowd closer together.
So here we are, on the brink.  We currently have the tent airing out in the media room, clothing piled on the guest bed, snack stuff and various tarps on the dining room table, and a few final supplies on order overnight from REI.  We are darn near ready.  Updates and photos to come . . . . first comes the music.
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