last but certainly not least: Bonnaroo 2003 in Manchester Tennessee - an
amazing 5-day festival. Company: Christy, Ben, and Mike - one of my
coolest experiences EVER. I caught performances from The Roots, Neil Young,
Jack Johnson, Ben Kweller, Lucinda Williams, Joshua Redman, Ben Harper,
Nickel Creek, Bela Fleck, Widespread Panic, John Cleary, The Flaming Lips,
Josh Wink, O.A.R., G. Love, moe., and The Dead. Awesome. "
Musings on my life-changing weekend in Manchester, Tennessee
Wednesday, June 11, 2003
Having planned extremely little, except that we were to drive a mammoth Ford Explorer to Manchester, Ben, Christy, and I got together to plan meals for our trip. Ben hopes for carefully executed stews and other fancy camping dishes, while Christy anticipates us eating mainly nuts, berries, beer, and other treats we found along the way. We find a happy medium: preparing some and keeping treats like pop tarts and delicious oatmeal-raising-chocolate-chip-walnut cookies which Ben and Christy prepare. Wednesday night we also call Mike (who almost can’t come on our trip, but in the end finds time off from work) and confirm times with him. Our plan is to leave at 8 a.m. and arrive at his house at 10 a.m., from which we will commence our trip down South. After packing food into boxes, etc., I go to sleep around midnight. Christy and Ben fall asleep in the living room around 2 a.m.
Thursday, June 12, 2003
6:30 a.m. – I wake up. Hoping not to disturb Christy and Ben, who are asleep in the living room testing out their air mattress, I tiptoe around the house preparing coolers and getting things piled up in the living room. Soon enough Christy and Ben wake up, hop into their clothes while I’m taking a bath, and begin to pack the car. At 9 a.m. we leave for Dillsburg, PA, where Mike lives.
11:00 a.m. – Still en route to Dillsburg, we miss our exit and take a scenic detour and reach Mike’s at 11:30.
12:00 p.m. – after emptying a radio and a roll-out mattress from the car, the four of us are ready to leave, trail mix and ramen (a la Mike) in tow. We depart for BONNAROO!
The Drive: I artistically design (scribble) two signs on notebook paper. The first: “we’re not from FL” with an arrow pointing to a shabbily drawn Florida – this because our rental license plate says we are from Florida. The second: “Bonnaroo or Bust.” For the most part, our drive is cheerful. We are comfortable in our Explorer, which is so packed that we use the rearview mirror to look at one another, as it offers no view of the cars behind us. We pass the time reading, napping, eating those delicious cookies, and switching CDs every 20 minutes.
We make stops in Virginia and finally in Knoxville, Tennessee (where the liquor laws allow stores to stay open past 9:00 p.m.) and purchase gin from a seedy shop and lots of beer from the local Kroger supermarket. Sweet.
12:00 a.m. – we arrive on highway 24, just north of Chattanooga. 30 miles from Bonnaroo. We make a bathroom break at a gas station, and the gas station attendants tell us to go around back for a toilet. We circle the station and realize that we are to use the grassy knoll behind the station as our toilet. We commence public urination. At this stop we meet friendly teepee-dwelling Bonnaroo attendees from Florida.
12:20 a.m. –Traffic is backed up for a few miles before the Bonnaroo stop. The rain is POURING and we expect a very, very wet and gross and muddy trip. We talk on the cell with Ben’s cousin, who is also driving to Bonnaroo, and he tells us a rumor that traffic is backed up for hours and that, because of the rain, we will have to park our cars in a lot and walk our camping gear to our sites. Ouch.
12:30 a.m. – in line for Bonnaroo, and only a few miles from our exit, we hop in the left lane and bypass a mile of traffic. We promptly change to the right lane and take the Bonnaroo-only exit, built specifically for our weekend of fun. We’ve made it! Inside, we see that everything is organized well and traffic is flowing. Some women in a car laugh at us. Ben responds: “Hey! Stop laughing at us!” Their laughing persists. Ultimately, they seem friendly. While in the car line, Mike, Christy, and I hang out the car windows and look out at all the other partygoers. We hand in the stubs from our huge blue and silver tickets in exchange for sparkling silver wristbands, program guides, maps, and complimentary CDs. Volunteers lead us to our campsite – a patch of good grass amid rows, rows, and rows of cars, and we start to unload during the drizzle.
2:00 a.m. – our campsite is set up and we start to wander. We try to figure out where we are, but we can’t tell where we are in relation to to “West Broadway and Eighth Avenue” and disagree whether we are in Camp Bowlet, Camp Skullet, Camp Euromullet, or Camp Mississippi Grapevine (to be continued). On our tour we find tons of cool people, zillions of cars, rows and rows of currently clean portapotties (soon to be disgusting), and potable water. p We notice that we have missed the performances held that night, but we are okay with it. A few of us drink beers, and Christy and I set up her canopy with finesse while Ben and Mike go to the bathroom. All around us people are talking, chatting, setting off fireworks (purchased legally in Tennessee – YEAH!), playing music, and having a jolly old time. The Bonnaroo scene is amazing: Hippies, college-y kids, dreadheaded oldies; I comment on how I'm the token non-white person, and we decide that the biggest conglomeration of non-white people will probably be onstage at the Roots concert. Mike plays his guitar a little and we go to sleep.
Friday, June 13, 2003 - Day 1 of Bonnaroo Festival!!!
8 a.m. – After an evening of intermittent rain, a blistering-hot sun heats our tent to 1 million degrees and I hop out of bed and walk through rows of cars to the porta-potties – where I wash my face and go to the bathroom. I return with a jug of potable water and brush my teeth with Dr. Bronner’s gross magic soap. With my contact lenses in and some fresh henna painted on my arm, I try to nap under the canopy, where it is breezy and, thankfully, shady. Mike and Christy follow soon after. Ben describes how the heat from the tent forced him out seconds after he woke up. And now we have to buy ice. The ice line is long, in fact, all lines have become very long, and the wait time for sink space is about 30 minutes by the time 9:30 rolls around.
10:30 a.m. – With nicely burned oatmeal in our bellies, we pile up our pots and dishes and get to drinking. Our drinks of choice for the weekend are Buds, Coronas, Gin and Tonics, and Bloody Marys with unnaturally long sticks of celery. We read that alcohol and drugs are not allowed at Bonnaroo. We test this rule.
11:00 a.m. – We explore the microcosmic world which we have chosen to inhabit. Planet Bonnaroo is populated by hippies, with an unnatural amount of herbs present in the air, and RVs, cars, and tents parked closer together than hamburgers on a charcoal grill. People are everywhere constantly, but interestingly enough, they are peaceful and organized. And as newspapers will prove three days later, only about 30 arrests will be made throughout the weekend – at this festival with 80,000 people present.
After about a 10 minute walk past various salesmen and kids inhaling nitrous oxide, we arrive at Centeroo – the home of Bonnaroo attractions and concerts. Birkenstock has a tent, there’s a place to check your e-mail, there’s a fountain you can play in, tons of shops, food, an arcade, a movie theater, muddy pits to jump in, and MUSIC AREAS! In the fashion of what the New York Times described as an “Abbot and Costello routine,” the areas for listening to music are called (in order of biggest to smallest stage): What Stage, Which Stage, This Tent, That Tent and The Other Tent. The joke persists for the duration of Bonnaroo, and long after.
More to come
Saturday, June 14, 2003
More to come
Sunday, June 15, 2003
More to come
Monday, June 16, 2003
More to come
Tuesday, June 17, 2003
More to come