Thursday, June 14, 2012

Bonnaroo 2012

Bonnaroo was amazing.

I left on Monday, June 4 and spent two nights in Virginia before leaving with a group of four friends to drive
to Manchester, Tennessee. After much traffic and many jokes about The South, we arrived in Bonnaroo
traffic and entered the festival grounds without (much) hassle. We set up camp alongside forty other people
in our "groop," toured some of the grounds with our veteran leader, and waited for the music to begin.

On Thursday, nine of us set out to venture into Centeroo, where we got lunch and soon got separated. Some
of us took a nap. I'm not sure what others did. After some independent exploring, I went to see EMA. After
EMA, I went to see Mariachi El Bronx. The members of this band had a previous band, The Bronx, before
they decided to start a mariachi band "as a joke." Their mariachi band is now more popular than the original.
Next, I went to see Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr., stuck around for a bit of White Denim, and then went to see
Marina Orchestra. Marina Orchestra was probably my favorite set of Thursday. They're within the "world"
genre, but I don't know what that means, so I would classify them as folk+dance+fun and say they're a bit
similar to Sixpence None the Richer, as far as style/sound. I then saw a bit of Phantogram and stuck around
for MiMosa - an EDM/dubstep group with a good light show, but not much else.

On Friday, the same group of nine made a more distinct effort to have a meeting plan throughout the day.
I went off on my own early in the day because I wanted to see Katie Herzig (look up her song, Hologram),
who did a performance/interview on the tiny little Solar Stage within Planet Roo. After that, I went to catch
the end of Tune-Yards and stuck around for Two Door Cinema Club, which was one of the bands I was
most excited to see. I then headed to the main stage to meet back up with the group and see The Avett
Brothers, Rodrigo y Gabriela and C.U.B.A, and Radiohead. In doing so, I missed seeing Key and Peele,
as well as Ludacris, but being close to the front for these three acts was well worth it. The Avett Brothers
were good, but a little rough, probably because they were most likely hung over from the CMAs in
Nashville that had taken place a day or two earlier. Rodrigo y Gabriela were AMAZING. And Radiohead
was so much more mind-blowing than I ever could have expected. Afterwards, most of us headed to see
Major Lazer and Flying Lotus, but I ended up going back early to go to sleep.

On Saturday, I headed out to see Das Racist, who were not very good live. After, instead of going to see
Blind Pilot, I stuck around to see Battles, which was a terrific decision. Battles is tied with Radiohead as my
favorite set of Bonnaroo 2012. Afterwards, I explored a bit until going to see half of Childish Gambino's
set, before going to see all of Mogwai's set. During this time, a older hippie gentleman noticed my pins on
my camera case strap and gave me one from his box of buttons to add to my collection. On it, it says:
"The United States of Bonnaroo." Mogwai announced that they would be doing signings after their
performance, so I stuck around for that. Two boys and I were the first people to find guitarist, Stuart
Braithwaite, and I provided my sharpie for Stuart's signings. After he signed my bandanna, I followed him
to see if he would be joined by his band members (and because he still had my sharpie). After waiting for
a bit, I decided I wanted to head to Red Hot Chili Peppers, so I got his attention and told him that he could
keep my sharpie if I could get a picture with him. He agreed to the picture, but told me that he did not want
my pen to do signings. I was hesitant, but left. Two seconds later, he caught up with me and admitted that
he did need my sharpie because he was getting mobbed and no one had a pen. As I handed it to him, I said
I told him so and he gave me a hug in thanks. On the way to RHCC, I saw a bit of Dispatch. I got close
enough to RHCC to take a few pictures, but was exhausted, so I walked through the crowd to find a place
to sit. I sat next to a hippie woman, who also noticed my pins and asked if we could trade one. She had
many Mumford & Sons pins and gave me her favorite. I told her about Frankie Muniz and gave her my
Kingsfoil pin. We also talked about the older hippie gentleman with the box of pins, who she had met last
year. After getting trampled on too much during RHCC, I found a safe place to sit and passed out until I was
woken by the sounds of 80,000 people stampeding out of the main stage area after RHCC's set. Later, I
met up with what was left of the group. We tried to see Superjam, but could not get close enough for it to
be worth it, especially once Skrillex started. I watched a bit of Skrillex's set, but was too far away and
amongst not enough people to truly appreciate it, so I walked back to our campsite and went to sleep to the
soothing sounds of dubstep after I spent ten minutes killing the colony of ants that decided to enter my tent.

On Sunday, I woke up in puddles. Annoyed, I spread out a plastic tablecloth under one of our canopies,
dragged out my mostly-dry sleeping bag, and tried to sleep more. On Sunday, I took it easy because I knew
I wanted to be awake enough to appreciate Phish in their fullest. The first set I saw was Stooges Brass Band,
followed by half of War on Drug's set and half of The Antlers' set. On my way to see one of Kenny Rogers'
songs, I cut through Planet Roo and passed the Solar Stage, where I ran into one of my good friends and
watched a bit of Blind Pilot with him. After being unsuccessful at meeting up with him all weekend, it was a
delightful surprise. I then stopped by to see Kenny Rogers and walked by Ben Folds Five on my way to get
a good spot for Bon Iver and Phish. Bon Iver was incredible and Justin Vernon repeatedly mentioned how
in awe he was of having the opportunity to open for Phish. Phish was also great, although their set was slightly
heavy for my tastes, especially in comparison to the lighter set of fun songs they performed in Hershey.
My favorite part of Phish was how clear it was that Trey Anastasio was having a great deal of fun and that
he was amazed how passionately the Bonnaroo crowd cheered for them. After Phish, I exited Centeroo
through the main entrance so that I could walk under the Bonnaroo arch for the first time. Back at the
campsite, four of us reflected upon all of this great music and spent some quality time together. I then went
to sleep in one of our cars, as my slightly damp sleeping bag had since turned into my very saturated sleeping

On Monday, we packed up the rest of our campsite, did a bit of sanctioned looting, and headed back to
Virginia. In Chattanooga, we stopped at Bojangle's for lunch and made even more jokes about The South.
At Bojangle's, I ran into another friend from back home in Pennsylvania, which was likewise astounding.
Although it seemed like we were making good time at first, it ended up taking us FOREVER to get back to
Virginia, where I was greeted by being yelled at to immediately take a shower.

1 comment:

Katie Whitesell said...

Sounds like so much fun! But you 'walked by Ben Folds Five?' Really? I'm not sure I could have done that! He's genius! That band is great! I saw them in 1997 when they opened for Beck--they were so much better than Beck, which is saying a lot! So jealous about Radiohead, and even RHCC--I want to see pictures!