I’ve been back from Bonnaroo for just about 48 hours and I have two questions: Why can’t Bonnaroo be all the time? And why can’t I live there?
Bonnaroo is a little magical musical Utopia that I enjoyed far more than I was ever expecting to. It’s hippie heaven. It is, for those of us who were never too enthused by Disney, the happiest place on earth. I love living in New York City but if I could go back to dancing in a field in Tennessee 24/7 with body paint and good beer I would.
Coming back to real life left me feeling torn. I love Brooklyn and NYC and its strategically placed, perfectly manicured “nature.” I love my job and my life here. But on the other hand I have never felt more alive/happy than I did those four days at Bonnaroo. I didn’t care what I looked like. The girls skinnier than me didn’t bother me. I wasn’t self-conscious for the first time…EVER. I was just totally myself.
There’s something about no pressure, no worries and 80,000 people all just hanging out that you just can’t find anywhere else, not even in a city as big as New York. I will be returning ASAP.
And now, mostly for my own benefit (hence the list-like nature. I’m still really tired), here’s a day-by-day recap of what went down in Manchester, TN and thus the various reasons why real life doesn’t quite measure up, and probably never will.
This is the brief (trust me) and semi-coherent version of what went down. I’m still a little ‘Roo hungover and it’s worth it.
Thursday, June 7
After getting to the camp site at 4am and putting up the tent (which I, Miss Brooklyn, figured out how to do myself) we passed out for a few hours then woke up with the sun to walk around the festival site. Turns out we were camped a little over a mile from the festival entrance, but it wasn’t that bad of a walk. Conveniently located near the sinks and porta-potties. Turns out Crif Dogs (a NYC staple) and Brooklyn Brewery went to ‘Roo too! And the Ben & Jerry’s staff were from the Saratoga, NY store.
Who I saw:
The Dirty Guv’nahs
Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr.
Friday, June 8
Woke up with the sun again and my friend said, “Wow, you look tan.” One swipe of a baby wipe later and it turns out my “tan” was in fact dirt otherwise known as Bonnaroo pixie dust. When we went into the festival we discovered Dave’s Mini Donuts and awesome coffee and awesome-er grilled cheese. Then we encountered two boys who couldn’t have been more than 18 years old. They didn’t understand the concept of a subway…one thought I drove a subway to work. We met a ‘Roo volunteer from Georgia named Ellis. Avett rocked as per usual. We met our camping neighbors. They were from Kentucky and didn’t quite understand where New York was. Not kidding. During Radiohead some guy kept yelling “Bonnarooooooooo!” so I turned to him and said, “Is that where we are? What year is it? Who’s president??” He looked at me like I blew his fucking mind. It was hilarious.
Who I saw:
The Avett Brothers
Radiohead–who blew my mind just like they did in 2008 in Montreal.
Saturday, June 9
The long day because Skrillex was on into the wee hours in the morning, so we napped in the tent for a while skipping Das Racist and Flogging Molly shows (I had seen them both a few times before). Spoke French with a guy from Montreal while waiting for a porta-potty. Dispatch rocked it. Great, great, great reunion. Red Hot Chili Peppers had a diverse, great set and Flea was adorable talking about peace, love and supporting live music. Unfortunately they left the tube socks only on their feet. On the way out of RHCP there was a huge traffic jam of people and the whole crowd started chanting “Move, bitch. Get out the way”–Luda would have been proud. Met a dude named Taragon. The Superjam, usually a mind blowing experience, was just D’Angelo and ?uestlove…so because I’m not too into R&B I didn’t dig it so much. Skrillex owned it as usual but I much prefer seeing him in a smaller venue, though I fear those days may be almost over. We made it back to the tent and all had to cram in the car and sleep because it rained a bit and the tent flooded. It didn’t rain too badly, just enough to be annoying. We also started making remarks about the “clean” porta-potties which is how you know we’ve been exposed to the sun for too long.
Who I saw:
(A little bit of) The Roots
Red Hot Chili Peppers
Sunday, June 10
Woke up and coined the term “Festival Fuckers,” otherwise known as the people (specifically girls) who on day 4 of a camping festival look clean and Adonis-like. After we packed up the car and camp site so we could leave early we headed into the festival for the last time (tear!!!) for some amazing shows. In the line on the way in everyone was high-fiving and saying “good game” and this one dude goes, “Think of all the germs that are, like totally, cross-pollinating right now.” Hilarious. Saw the Beach Boys who sounded great and were a surprising highlight of the festival. Alas, no John Stamos. Ben Folds Five performed together and it was mind-blowing. The Civil Wars played their last show before Joy has her baby. Young the Giant was a minor let down, they sounded better the first time I saw them. The Shins ROCKED IT. And perhaps another unexpected highlight was Fun. who broke into “We Are Young” while we were walking by. Literally the whole place was singing along. There’s something about 80,000 attendees, all the vendors and staff singing “We Are Young” after a long weekend of magic that just kind of sends chills down your spine…and this is coming from someone who really kind of hates that song. We then skipped Phish (most of us had seen them many times before and the others just didn’t care) in favor of driving to Murfreesboro, TN to stay at a hotel, shower and see our friend who had moved there. The shower was a fabulous idea because at that point my hair was almost dreadlock status.
Who I saw:
The Beach Boys
Ben Folds Five
Bon Iver (made me want to nap, I stayed for 3 minutes. He’s so boring live.)
The Civil Wars
Young the Giant
Other stand out acts that I can’t remember what day they played and I’m too tired to look it up: Santigold, St. Vincent, Dawes, Gary Clark Jr., Big Gigantic, Kenny Rogers’ duet with Lionel Richie on “All Night Long.”
The yoga classes are WAY too early after a full night of music. Don’t even try.
Trying to get your hair washed in the Garnier tent is like trying to get a Cabbage Patch Kid in the ’80s. Don’t.
Just braid your hair and “baby wipe shower” there aren’t showers in every camp pod and it’s not worth it trying to use the tiny sink.
We got lucky with weather. It was breezy and not too hot…though still really hot.
Some dude asked our friend Cara for a “plethora of moon rocks.” Vocabulary matters when trying to locate drugs.
“YULE BALL” and “BATTLE FOR GONDOR” are acceptable retorts to someone yelling “BONNAROOOOOOOOO!”
A woman at the Nashville airport on Monday found a heads up penny and gave it to me.
I would do it again in a second.
I didn’t want to go home.
It turns out that I, Caitlin Tremblay, can and will camp if it’s in the name of awesome music…but that’s probably the only reason. I never even missed my hair straightener or a shower until I got back to the hotel.
Bonnaroo 2012: Did I really have to go home?