Phew! I am alive and only mildly damaged after my journey to Tennessee last week, where I went to my first ever Bonnaroo! This music festival was much more commercialized than any of the festivals I have been to before (they had a tent where people from Garnier Fructis wash your hair fo’ free!), and instead of solely crunchy-faced hippies, it was also packed with hipsters stuffed into skinny jeans, fanny packs and pleather despite the soaring Tennessee temperatures. There were also tons of country-folk, quite a few carnies, and this really terrifying dude on stilts.
We left for Tennessee at 8 pm on Tuesday and after 13 plus hours arrived in Nashville around 11 am—surprise!—just in time for the Country Music Awards, which we didn’t know were happening when we planned that pit stop. I’m not a big country girl but it was fun nonetheless. I tried tracking down a local vegan restaurant, Fiddlecakes, only to find when I got there it was closed. Bummersauce.
We spent (no sleep, mind you) the day in Nashville and then continued on to Chattanooga, where we set up camp and passed the eff out before four days of debauchery.
The music, which went from noon to 3 or 4 am depending on the night, seriously fucked me sideways. Some of my fav performers? Santigold, the Roots, the Shins, Foster the People, Young the Giant, Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr., Moon Taxi (so good! I had never heard of them before!), Soja, the Kooks, Alabama Shakes, Alice Cooper, the Avett Brothers, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Ben Folds, and more and more and more! Groupelove, who I am a fan of normally, weren’t as great as I would have liked, and Ludacris blew—mostly because there was a serious lack of bass. Really? Get with it, Luda.
Also I surprised myself and got all hopped up and raved to Skrillex until 3 am on Saturday, along with a dude wearing a unicorn hat and a lot of other really terrifying neon-flinging freaksters. I’ve always been of the “pfft it’s just a dude pushing buttons” mindset when it comes to electronic shows like this, but it was a pretty awesome experience. To quote my friend Colleen, it was “like a robot f*cking a fax machine.” Or maybe it was just all the acid. Ah!! Jokes! There wasn’t really that much acid.
Remember how I was excited to see Tune Yards? Oh, wait, I mean tUnE-yArDs. Well I caught their show, which was ahhhhh ahhh ahhmazing, and then later while wandering around actually stumbled into Merrill Garbus! I mentioned in my pre Roo post that I knew Merrill (the face behind the sound) when we were kiddies. She told me I looked the same as I did when I was 7 (awk) and I told her I recognized her because of her signature hair (more awk). Later in the day they provided their signature score to a few of Buster Keaton’s short films. Swoonable tunes!
As for eating, there were TONS of vegan options, from Thai to Indian to fried avocado to salads and sandwiches and everything in between. Unfortunately the food there costs an absurd amount of money so while I did eat inside centeroo sometimes (best curry ever!) I mostly ate lots and lots of peanut butter at my camp site.
My friends and I had a blast, and I met up with my ladylove Sarah from www.Sarahonthego.com for some festi-festivities, too.
We did the drive home Sunday evening after a 4 hour Phish set. My eyeballs are bleeding a bit. Upon arrival home I realized I had never been so dirty in my life. It had been over a week since I showered. At one point I realized if I rubbed my fingers together, little beads of sweat and dirt would crumble off. “Finger flavor” was what I called it, and pretended to sprinkle it over food. Mmmm.
Are you Bonnaroo bound next year? Or another festival, perhaps? I head to Delaware in 6 weeks for Firefly festival! Here are a few of my take-away festival tips:
1. Bring baby wipes. Shower lines are long, and the actual showers are pretty filthy by the time you’re up, so baby wipes are your best friend.
2. Bring snack foods for bringing into the festival so you don’t have to buy food when away from your camp site. I basically travelled with a bag of nuts in my bag at all times. Also plastic sandwich baggies for peanut butter banana sandwiches. I ate these babies thrice daily for a week. We also invented the peanut butter, jelly and Fruit Loop sandwich, which we named “goop loop.”
3. Sleep when you get there, or as soon as possible. Don’t try to pop a few ritalin you snagged from your friend with ADD and power through the first few days. If you do, you will probably fall asleep in your tent and miss a headliner. No, I don’t want to talk about Radiohead.
4. COFFEE. If you’re a coffee drinker and you don’t plan on bringing a burner (you have to have a fire extinguisher if you do!) then do what we did: make up a few gallons of cold coffee and stick it in your cooler to drink over ice throughout. Saved my mornings!
5. Closed toed shoes. I didn’t do this; I only brought flip flops. Not only were my feet filthy, but they hurt! I saw a ton of people wearing Vibrams, and maybe I will invest in a pair before my next festival.
6. Live loose. So many people create a really tight schedule before these festivals, and I get that–there are so many great artists you want to see. But if you’re rushing from one place to the next all the time, you’re not really relaxing, getting into the music or soaking up the atmosphere, which is what these festivals are all about! So surely come up with a list of Must Sees, but other than that, live loose! Go with the flow.
Okay tell me your crazy festival stories, please! I stumbled into a 1 am burlesque show where a woman beat herself with a paddle and a man juggled while riding a 6 foot (!!!) unicycle. I also got corralled into the center of a gong ringing ceremony by a handful of little people. Is that the PC term?