Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Hippies and Music (Bonnaroo 2012)

I'm taking a walk to the porta-potty. A group of twangy youths walking north, stop me, ask "Which way is centeroo?"

I point south toward the archway that marks the front gate. Streets of artists, hustlers, concessions, and tiny little shows, either music or dancing block the view, but music drifts over the stands and camps. "Keep following the road," I say, "until you see the big arch. Just follow the music."

Before I leave, one girl says "Do we keep going?" She gestures north, toward the road and more camps, "Or listen to the guy on acid." She points at me.

I am not on acid. But, shirtless, in flower dotted swim trunks and sandals, wearing bracelets and giant shades, while sporting four inches of chin-beard (I refuse to admit it's a gotee,) and grinning because the shows are good (and maybe I'd been drinking,) I guess I could see how she'd mistake me for one of dozens of tripping hippies.

From June 7th-10th, I lived music in surprisingly cool (record lows,) Manchester, TN at the excellent Bonnaroo festival.

I saw 30+ (out of over 150 possible) shows including Radiohead, Red Hot Chili Peppers, The Beach Boys, Alice Cooper, Skrillex, and Phish.

I missed more than I saw. Critical choices, see? Punch Brothers or Battles? Mogwai or The Roots? The Shins or Fun.?

Like any major event (80,000 campers, plus extra,) it must be seen to be believed.

Example day:
Wake up at 8 am. Tent is a sauna. Unfortunate.
Drink many beers.
Go to shows.
Run back to camp for beer and food.
Go to more shows.
Collapse for sleep by 1 am.

Here's a note from each day!
Leave town by 2 pm, then drive until arrival (18-19 hours.)

Too warm for naps after setting camp, but drink many beers instead.

Danced my legs wobbly at various excellent performances.

Neglect sunscreen, but rain-clouds save me.

Meet first Minnesotan Bonnarooian at gas station on way out of town.

Parting of ways at 12:30 am.

I see I've neglected to mention everything. Porta-potty disasters (try not to think about it) and being offered Molly about 80 times. Lighting displays, meeting about 800 people from Jersey, or arrays of unexpectedly impressive hippy art sold from carnival-like stands along every chalk-dust covered street. People dancing literally all night long or watching people try to shower under waist high faucets while standing in half a foot of mud.

But, like I said, you'd have to be there.

Or ask me about it.

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