Bonnaroo Gear Basics

So, if I did my job in this post, you're raring to go to a music festival.  The most important step, after buying your ticket, is gathering your gear (if it's a camping festival).  Here is a list of the basics you'll need, plus some optional items and what I'm thinking about adding to my setup this year.


A good tent

DO NOT cheap out on this.  Invest in a good quality tent and take care of it.  I have a Coleman 6 person Instant Tent that cost me about $200.  It is truly instant- you can put it up in minutes. Dealing with poles and such is just a hassle if you're a camping novice.  Also, keep in mind that a 4 person tent will house 2 people comfortably, a 6 person 3, etc (in my opinion.)

Something to sleep on

After the sleeping situation went a bit awry my first year at Bonnaroo, I broke down and bought a camping cot.  Again, this is something that you probably don't want to cheap out on, especially if you're a bigger person, like I happen to be.  I have a very sturdy, surprisingly comfortable cot that I bought on Black Friday from Gander Mountain for around 75 bucks.  Other options are an air mattress or camping pad.  Some people even use portable hammocks.

Something to protect you from the elements

Buy an E-Z UP.  You can usually get a good deal on one, and they're the sturdiest, easiest to assemble shelter you can find.


Your basic camp chairs.  You don't have to spend a lot on these- they sell perfectly good ones at every big box store for like, $8.

 A cooler with a good seal

Very important for keeping your beer cold.  Oh, and perishable foods, I guess.


We've had the same cheapy battery-operated butterfly lights for the past two years.  They're festive and really helpful for locating our tent at night.


Put a tarp under your tent.  Put a tarp over your tent. Put a tarp in front of your tent.  Put a tarp on it.  Any old tarp.

Something to drink water from

Whatever, as long as it isn't glass, which is a no-no.  I've used a foldable water bottle, and a Brita one with a filter in the mouth piece.  Both have done the job. 

Not necessary, but nice to have...

A camping stove

I wouldn't have bought one if it was full price, but I found a Colman propane stove on clearance at KMart for $30 last year.  It was kind of a mess, but it was nice to have a "home cooked" meal one night.

Interlocking foam mats

These make the floor of your tent a bit more comfy.

Battery operated fans

Some may beg to differ that these are optional, but we always bring one but never use it. But it's nice to know we could if we wanted.

Stuff I'm considering this year...

E-Z UP walls

Trying to attach tarps to our shelter is a pain in the ass.  I'll probably just buy walls for it this year.

Pop-up shower/changing room

Trying to get ready in the tent also a pain in the ass...this seems like a possible solution.

A Luggable Loo

I'm still kind of grossed out by the idea of this.  But it might be nice to have in the middle of the night, or when the porta potties are particular nasty.

A camelbak hydration pack

Like I said above, I've used water bottles in the past, and they've worked find.  But this year I'm going to invest in a Camelbak for my hydration needs, even if I do think they look real dorky.

Like I said, these are just the absolute basics.  Click here to see my complete packing list from last year.

Also tune into my podcast at oddgurlsout.podomatic.com to hear me talk a bit more about what to bring to Bonnaroo or any other festival!


6 Reasons to Get Your Ass to a Music Festival

I have music festival fever at the moment.

There are two reasons for this "ailment."  The first is that January and February are when most festivals announce their lineups and start selling tickets.  The second is that Ohio is fucking freezing and all I can think about summer and live music and drinking.

So while the subject is on my brain, I'm going to give you all of the reasons you should go to a music festival.  I'm trying to convert all of you into festival goers, like some hippie evangelist.

1. Bang for your buck

Lets do some math (Bear with me- there's a reason I got an English degree.)

Let's say you end up paying around $300 for a festival ticket.

If you go to a camping festival, this cost includes entertainment and "lodging" (campsite).  So you're looking at $75 a day.  Unless you get a really good deal, you can't even get a hotel room for $75 a night (unless it's a total shithole).

Or look at it this way- your average concert ticket is, say, $30. Headliners are much more (according to Pollstar, the average ticket cost of a Paul McCartney ticket was $128.99 last year). I average about 20 different performances in 4 days at Bonnaroo (most people manage way more).  That would be $600 worth of shows in the real world.

Your first few festivals might cost more, because there are certain things you need to invest in (which I will detail in another post) but once you have your arsenal of festival gear you're all set.

2. Great lineups

A mentioned above that I average about 20 shows in four days at Bonnaroo.  How the fuck else are you going to see that many bands in one (long) weekend? And also, how else are you going to see multiple musical legends, or nearly all of your favorite bands, all at once?

3. Communion

The people are a big part of what makes festivals special.  There is a sense of community that is hard to find elsewhere.  People are generally relaxed, friendly, and ready to help you in any way they can- whether its helping their neighbor set up their tent, giving water to someone in distress or just offering a new friend a beer.


A good time is really your only goal at a music festival.  It's about as worry and responsibility free as you can get.

5. Bragging Rights

You will totally be a cool kid if you go to Bonnaroo (or Coachella, or Lollapalooza, or...)


I've had some of the best experiences of my life at festivals.   They have been big things, like a field with thousands of people singing along to Hey Jude with Paul McCartney while wish lanterns floated overhead, and they have been small things like splashing around in the 'Roo fountain, or laying under a tree, totally blissed out, listening to Battles.

If you don't want to go to a music festival after reading these reasons, then I don't know what to tell you.  You're pretty much hopeless, and will never know true joy (don't give me some crap about the day you got married or giving birth to your children...)


MIND YA BIDNESS and Stop Fucking Size Shaming

Image courtesy of Sattva / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Why do we care so much about other people's bodies?

Why is fat shaming (and, now, skinny shaming) a thing? 

Some people claim they are concerned for the other person's well-being.  They quote a laundry list of reasons why being overweight is unhealthy and urge them, sometimes gently, other times with "tough love", but always with condescension, to turn their life around and lose the weight (I'm going to use fat shaming as my main example, as I am, well, fat.)  I'll admit that in some cases this is okay.  If a beloved family member or dear friend is very dangerously overweight and/or clearly unhappy and doesn't have a good quality of life, then perhaps you should intervene.

But if it's someone like me- someone who is relatively healthy (my cholesterol and blood sugar levels are excellent), pretty active (I go to the gym, hoop, and do various outdoorsy things when the weather isn't garbage) and has a very busy, fun life, then perhaps you should stop making assumptions (appearance ≠ reality) and leave them the fuck be.

On the other hand, you have the people who are just disgusted.  They are repulsed by your fat body and your lack of self respect and willpower.  All I have to say about these people is that it's shocking how much empathy they lack.  Also, how important are you that I need to change the way I look because you are aesthetically displeased?  In the immortal words of the Fresh Prince- Mind. Ya. Bidness.  Just MIND. YA. BIDNESS.

I'm not going to pretend that I'm totally innocent.  In the past I've judged both people bigger than me (because that's the way being fat often works- you're great, but anyone bigger than you isn't) and smaller.  I've been known to call one of my best friends, when she gets very thin, "Skinny Ass Peanut Head."  We both laugh about it, but just because it's funny, doesn't mean it isn't skinny shaming, which is let common, but just as harmful as fat shaming.

So I'm going to make an effort to stop size shaming.  I'm going to mind my own damn business, because I want people to do the same.  And if my judgmental ass can do it, so you can.


How to Be A Woman

As much as I've read in my adult life (not as much as I should have, being a librarian and intellectual snob, but a lot more than most people), I've yet to read a book that has been truly transformative- a book that really changes the way I view some aspect of my life or the world. 

I downloaded the audiobook version of How to Be A Woman by Caitlin Moran because I had nothing else to listen to while waiting for my copy of Chuck Palahniuk's Doomed.  It popped up on a few of those "Books Every Woman in Her 20's Needs to Read" lists, but its main appeal was the knowledge that the author is British, and that I liked her hair on the cover of the book.

I was immediately drawn in by Moran's Birmingham accent (the author also narrates the audiobook), her humor and, of course, her snark.  She animatedly tells the story of growing up poor, the oldest of 8 children, then moving to London, becoming a journalist, getting married, having children...and interweaves all of this with frank looks at masturbation, sexism in the work place, relationships, childbirth, abortion, bras, pubic hair, strip clubs, weight, and Lady Gaga, among other things.

As you probably surmised from the first paragraph, some of the things in How to Be A Woman had a profound effect on how I think about feminism, being a woman, and living in the world in general.  So many times while listening to it I had those great revelatory moments that are the best part of reading any good piece of writing.  She says things that I've felt and known to be true, but not known how to express myself.

First of all, she cuts through the myriad of confusing feminist theories and gets straight to the point.  "Here is the quick way of working out if you're a feminist," Moran begins.  "Put your hand in your pants.  a) Do you have a vagina? and b) Do you want to be in charge of it? If you said 'yes' to both, then congratulations! You're a feminist.”  It's THAT simple.  A concept that I've struggled to define for as long I've been aware of it, and there it is.

While I'm tempted to spend an entire post expounding on every brilliant point Moran makes, I'll give just one more example- the one that resonated the most with me. There is an entire chapter that talks about motherhood, and all of the wondrous things it teaches you.  How it makes you a better person; that mothers can do ANYTHING, so on and so forth.  At this point in the book I nearly bailed.  Yes, moms are awesome.  I get it.  But that's all we ever hear- how women who choose to have children are wonderful and selfless and those of us who a) have yet to have children or b) choose not to have them at all, are selfish spinsters:

But deciding not to have children is a very, very hard decision for a woman to make: the atmosphere is worryingly inconducive to saying, "I choose not to," or "it all sounds a bit vile, tbh." We call these women "selfish" The inference of the word "childless" is negative: one of lack, and loss. We think of non mothers as rangy lone wolves--rattling around, as dangerous as teenage boys or men. We make women feel that their narrative has ground to a halt in their thirties if they don't "finish things" properly and have children.” 
Thankfully, Moran follows with an entire chapter on why you shouldn't have children.  She asserts that all the great shit you learn by being a mother can be learned through other life experiences (reading the 100 greatest books in human history; learning a foreign language well enough to argue in it; climbing hills; loving recklessly; sitting quietly, alone, in the dawn, etc)...that you'll have time to have because you aren't caring for children.  The fact that she includes both arguments, for and against motherhood, back to back, tells me that she really gets it.

And to conclude this rambling ode to Caitlin Moran, I feel as thought it's necessary, as a woman of color, to address claims that she is racist.  It's actually the fourth thing that pops up on Google when you enter her name.  The gist of this claim is that Moran said she likes Lena Dunham, who has been criticized for lack of diversity on her show Girls.  Critics have said that both women have excluded women of color in their discussions of feminism.  I don't really have any opinions concerning Dunham, other than that I think she tries way to hard to seem like she's not trying at all.  As for Moran, her book is largely anecdotal- she's writing about her life and she happens to be a white woman.  So the fact that her book isn't all about women of color doesn't really bother me. *Kanye shrug*

So, go read (or listen) to this book.  Let me know what you think.


Caitlin read this!  And liked it!


I Didn't Ask for Your Life Story: Voodoo Music+Arts Experience 2013

(Written November 2013)

*Note- I'm going to title all of my music festival posts with stupid inside jokes.  Because I'm annoying.

Although I am incredibly Bonnaroo loyal, I've been a little curious about other festivals, particularly "urban" festivals, ones that take place in the middle of a city, as opposed to the middle of fucking nowhere, like 'Roo.  What are the logistics?  What's the vibe like?  Is having a bed, shower and toilet to return to every night all it's cracked up to be?

I decided to satisfy my curiosity and go to Voodoo Experience in New Orleans earlier this month.  The main reason I chose this fest is because my friend Sam said "Hey! We should go to this fest!" But it turned out to be a good choice because it is WAY cheaper than say, Lollapalooza.  Nola is a really affordable city, and we further cut costs by finding lodging through Airbnb instead of staying at a hotel and taking the streetcars as often as we could instead of hiring cabs.

We arrived in New Orleans the day before the festival, which happened to be Halloween.  Halloween in Nola is total shitshow, as you'd probably expect- loads of debaucherous people in costumes flooding Bourbon and Frenchman St, actin' a fool. It was absolutely miserably rainy, but that didn't dampen the party spirit.  We dressed up and went out for a bit, but the rain, combined with an incredibly long day of travel, and not wanting to be too tired to rage the first day of Voodoo meant we called it an early-ish night.

Me and my Voodoo Partner-in-Crime

Voodoo takes place on the festival grounds of the city park of New Orleans, which is sprawling and absolutely beautiful.  This year there were four stages which were (sort of) split up by genre (the main stage for headliners/larger acts, and stages for EDM, rock acts and local/jazz/soul/folk music).  The relatively small size of the grounds, combined with the small number of stages, made for a pretty relaxing experience compared to Bonnaroo, where you're rushing between at least 8 different stages and tents that are somewhat spread out.  But it also made for really shitty sound bleed, which particularly affected acts on the small Carnival and Flambeau stages who played at the same time as headliners and/or EDM acts.

...which was a shame because some of my favorite performances of the weekend took place on these smaller stages.  Flow Tribe, a band local to New Orleans, played the first day of the festival and I swear I've never danced so hard or enthusiastically in my life!  (Before this show, I'd also never seen a dude, dressed like a nun, lift up his habit to reveal holographic skivvies and start twerking, either.  But there's a first time for everything.)  Allen Stone, Moon Taxi and Reignwolf also played on the small stages, and were equally as awesome (except they didn't twerk- could have used more twerking...).

Reignwolf killing it.

Did I mention I met this guy?! (Allen Stone, for the sadly ignorant)

The other performances I loved were Rudimental, Matt and Kim (I cant believe I've passed up so many opportunities to see them!) and Nine Inch Nails, surprisingly.  I didn't think I was a NIN fan.  I scoffed when a festival buddy of mine said he's seen them live 10 times.  Well, I ate crow, because they were AMAZING, and I look forward to seeing them again.

Trent Reznor, my old man crush.

One of the coolest things about Voodoo is that there are a ton of after-shows you can attend if you're not completely exhausted by days end.  We went to shows at the Howlin' Wolf two nights in a row.  They were kind of pricey at $20 a pop, but totally worth it, as we spent two nights dancing our asses off to funk bands.

All-in-all, Voodoo was a great weekend.  I've been in love with New Orleans for as long as I can remember, and this festival is another thing on a very long list of reasons why.   Basically, anything you do in Nola is going to be a fun, memorable experience.  The people are so welcoming, and always ready to have a good time.

...but did I prefer it to Bonnaroo?  No.  It was fun being able to explore the city and showering daily was nice, but Bonnaroo is just special.  Refer to my last post.


Dance with Your Hands, Heathens!: Bonnaroo 2013

(Written June 22, 2013)

I first became aware of Bonnaroo nearly 10 years ago.  A friend and I were driving from northeast Ohio to Alabama to visit my grandparents, and along the way we noticed cars full of what I then deemed dirty hippies on their way to a music festival that I had only heard about in passing.  I was as much of a live music enthusiast at 19 as I am now, but the idea of camping and being hot and dirty for several days, surrounded by people with dreadlocks who smelled of patchouli, played hackey sack and the bongos, was my idea of hell on earth.

Fast forward to the present(ish)- a week ago today I was in Manchester, TN, on "the farm," as it's known, at my second Bonnaroo.

I'm not quite sure when my change of heart occurred- I must be mellowing out in my old age.  But last year, I decided that I'd quite like to camp with hippies for four days in the middle of nowhere and hear amazing music. So I bought a ticket.  And the rest is history.  (I may be snarky, but I'm not above a good cliche.)  I now love everything about 'Roo- the baking hot Tennessee sun, the surprisingly diverse attendees, the positive vibes (even I can't escape them), the food, and of course the music.

This year's lineup was particularly awesome.  I mean, I saw Paul McCartney, Bjork and Tom Petty in one weekend!  Bonnaroo is a great way to see lots of legendary musical acts in one place.  It's also great for discovering new acts (I had no idea who Allen Stone and Lucius were pre-lineup, and now they're among my favorites) and you might also discover that you actually like bands that you previously were "meh" about (like Animal Collective and The National, in my case).

Nighttime is my favorite time at Bonnaroo- it's pretty fucking magical.  There are lights and music everywhere, and because it's no longer as hot as the surface of the sun people are able to let loose without risking heat exhaustion (in case you're wondering about the title of this post, that was one of my friends letting loose during Empire of the Sun's set.  It's a long story.)  People don costumes.  They carry rage sticks with giant cutouts of Nicholas Cage's head on the end.  They send hundreds of wish lanterns into the sky. It's completely crazy, but you're somehow totally unfazed by it all.

Morning isn't that bad either, actually- especially if you start your day with a beer and a giant glazed donut from the Amish Baking Company.  I swear, if you have one of these babies fresh out the fryer, dripping with glaze, your life will be changed.   One of the highlights of this year's trip also happened at the start of the day- the Inforoo brunch.  Inforoo is an online community of people who are passionate about the festival, and they have a brunch each year.  The spread was impressive, especially considering that 'Roo is primitive camping, and everyone was SO friendly and welcoming.  And they have great jello shots.

Anyways, I'll leave you with some pictures from my trip.

The Bonnaroo Ferris Wheel from our campsite

An unintentionally cool picture of Allen Stone

The 'Roo Fountain

I was obsessed with taking crowd panoramas this year...great for capturing the Bonnaroo vibe.

Two words. Amish. Donut.

Another panorama...


What Stage, right before sunset.

'Bama Head, by Codey Richards. http://www.codeyrichards.com/

The Arch!

The clock tower, which we were camped pretty much directly beneath -___-