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.|
|What Stage, right before sunset.|
|'Bama Head, by Codey Richards. http://www.codeyrichards.com/|
|The clock tower, which we were camped pretty much directly beneath -___-|