Thursday, June 14th.
Geoff, Juliana, Erin, Ash and I arrived in Manchester at about 8:00 AM to a line that stretched much farther than the eye can see. It was coming the opposite direction on the road we were in, so the cops directed us to go to the end and then turn around. We drove for about five or ten minutes, still not seeing the end of the line, and eventually turned into a gas station and attempted to turn back into the line. Only problem was, the line wasn't moving. We were fortunate enough that we wasked the people right at the entrance to pull back so our two cars could go in front, and they let us. Very kind of them, we were exceptionally thankful. From there we sat in the line for about a good half hour before it even started moving.
Once it did, we arrived at the gates about another half hour to an hour later. We finally got to our campsite and started setting up around 10:30 AM. Our camping spot, although five times farther away than last year, was much better. We actually had enough room for our tent and screen house, and then some. As we were setting up the tent I turned and saw this guy next to me hitting a bowl. And in typical Bonnaroo style, said bowl was offered to me. I took a hit of some marvelous marijuana, and was instantly put in that vibe where I was ready to have an amazing time for the next four days. The shows didn't start until about 8:00, so we didn't have anything to do, so we all sat around until about 5:30.
From there we went into Centeroo, and got food, drinks, etc. I have to give Bonnaroo props for their micro brewery beer selection. Top notch choices. Erin was there to photograph for spin magazine, and she had to photograph The Black Angels
at This Tent. So we chilled out and watched them play a couple of songs. I don't remember having a negative or positive opinion on their performance, I wasn't really paying attention because I met up with Kyle and Harvey and Jamie and was hanging out talking to them and drinking beer.
Right after The Black Angels on This Tent was Mute Math
. I'd never heard them, and only heard of them, but because of the lack of a decent lineup on Thursday I was very excited to see them. And they did not disappoint in the slightest. Their sound was perfect for pumping up the crowd for the start of a fine festival. Highlights included one of the members playing one of those keyboard guitar things. They always make me happy. Also, some "random" naked guy ran out on the stage during their performance and started dancing. Little did I know at the time, but this would seemingly spark a wave of nudity that didn't disappear for the duration of the weekend.
From there we wandered over to That Tent to see [The National], who I had also heard good things about. I have their album on my computer, and I've listened to it once, and never was too impressed with it. I was also not impressed at all with their live show. They were a snoozer. I left a couple times to get food and more beer.
As the crowd cleared out from The National, we waited for our moment to stream our way through the cracks and get up front for Rodrigo y Gabriela
. We got about thirty feet away from the stage, and anticipation built for what felt like ages. I had never heard of them until I was at Coachella, and I missed out on seeing them because Junior Boys
was playing. In retrospect, I made a big mistake. Rodrigo y Gabriela are incredible. Two acoustic guitars coming together to create a perfect sound. Their albums are great, but they truly do not do them justice at all. Their live show is simply remarkable. I stayed for about five or six songs, but I started to get headrushes, and I'd have to sit down in the middle of the crowd. I'd stand back up, and get another one. I left probably halfway through their set, and apparently missed some really good covers. Oh well, there's always the next festival they play at, and I'm most certainly going to see them when and if they play Philadelphia.
Friday, June 15th.
We awoke around 7:00 AM, as is natural when you're camping. We all went into the screen house and just laid there, preparing ourselves for what would undoubtedly be one of, if not the biggest days. About an hour after we woke up, two hippies walked up to our campsite and offered us doses. I jumped out of my chair and said "Hell yeah!". Ash heard this in the tent while he was getting changed, and he popped his head out like "Uh... Can I have some too?". So we ended up buying doses off these two guys, and then they smoked us up out of my new bowl I had just purchased earlier that morning. Feeling fulfilled, I was prepared what I could potentially make the best day ever. We chilled at the campsite until around 11:30, and then started on the half hour walk to Centeroo.
We got into Centeroo, and I was supposed to meet Harvey and Kyle at 12:30. Harvey showed up, Kyle did not. I could go into it, but there's no point. But I basically wasted the first part of the day waiting around for people to meet up at certain times and certain places who failed to show up. That's one thing you NEVER do, is NOT be at a meeting place when you're supposed to be. You're ruining other peoples times. End rant.
I was waiting in my certain place watching Cold War Kids
at That Tent. I was outside of the tent, and I couldn't see the stage at all, but I could hear perfectly fine. And I love Cold War Kids, they were one of the acts I was most excited to see, and although I hung around for their entire set in the blazing sun, I didn't get the full experience since I wasn't able to see them or dance in a crowd, I was just standing against the driver's side door of an 18 wheeler. They sounded awesome, and apparently the drummer broke one of his drums on the first song, and they played right through it. The novice that I am, I didn't notice.
After that we all headed over to This Tent to watch Tortoise
. This was a tough choice for me, because I also wanted to see Brazilian Girls
, a band that I'm half into and half not. I missed them at Coachella, and dismissed it because they were playing here to. I personally think I made the wrong decision, just because our spot for Tortoise was in the field, with the sun practically directly over us and no shade anywhere in sight. Tortoise's sound doesn't adapt well to a live show, namely a festival. I'm sure it'd have sounded great in an intimate environment, but I guess they just don't have the appeal that Explosions in the Sky
has, because they were simply phenomenal at Coachella. Ash, who was excited to see them most, didn't even enjoy their set.
Craving nothing more than shade and not having another show to see for another hour or so, we went to the Disco Arcade tent where people were playing Guitar Hero on a HUGE screen. It was entertaining to say the least, and relieving to say the most.
After that we set out to the sign for This Tent to watch Hot Chip
and wait to meet back up with Harvey and Kyle before we ate those doses. Yet another instance where if I had my way, and wasn't waiting for someone I'd have been up front watching them perform. Even though they disappointed me at Coachella, I love their songs so much that I had to see them. Needless to say, Ash and I had a good time barely dancing under the sign, because it had shade just like the tent did.
After not seeing them meet us by the end of the show, I decided to text them and be a nice guy and wait around for another half hour under the sign for them to show up. We waited that half hour, and they never did. So we started making the walk back to our campsite to chill out for a couple hours before Tool and take those doses. By the time we got back to the campsite a half hour later, I had two text messages from both of them saying that we should meet them at their campsite. Above and beyond sick of attempting to adhere to them, I sent them a nasty text back stating that they've fucked us over enough today, and that if they want these doses, they're coming to our campsite (which truly was as far away as possible.) That was the last we heard of them at Bonnaroo.
We had a couple hours to kill, so we just hung out and waited for Erin to come back at around 7. She got there, and shortly after, Ash and I ate some hits and the three of us began on the trek towards Centeroo. A half hour later, when we walked through the gates, I could feel it creeping up my spine. I got incredibly giddy and excited, like a child in an amusement park. We walked all the way to What Stage, where Tool was playing, and at this point I was definitely starting to feel it. Not wanting to have a crappy spot, Erin and Ash told me to lead the way through a sea of people. This is one of the craziest things I've ever done, because I had to keep looking at the ground because everyone was laying down. I'd walk for what felt like a couple hundred feet, and look up at the stage and we looked just as far away. The acid was definitely working it's way through my blood. Eventually I found us a nice patch of grass to sit on and wait for Tool since we were an hour early. This is when it really started to get insane. People would walk past us, and I would feel a pulling sensation towards the direction they were going. This went on and on and on because people just kept walking by. The visuals weren't there yet, mostly because it was dark and because we were sitting.
The second we sensed that Tool
was about to come on, we stood up. They all came out to a huge eruption, and me and Ash just looked at each other like, "Here we go!" This was the introductory applause to a roller coaster that would absolutely captivate me. I know it was mostly the acid talking, but this was by far the most intense physical, mental, visual and aural experience I've ever had in my life. I say that with the utmost certainty, that I will never experience something more intense. It's hard to describe, but I can the best way to do so would be that I was a Tool of Tool's music. Their music vibrated it's way through my body, causing me to "dance". Although I wasn't dancing at all, I was having involuntary muscle spasms to the music. I must have looked like the worst dancer ever, but I'll reiterate, I was not dancing. Dancing involves conscious thought. There was no thought. I was being forced into moving the way I was, and I could do nothing to resist it. Ash felt the same way. We couldn't discuss it with each other during a song though, because we were slaves to the song. So many times I wanted to turn to him and say something,and I could not do it because music was playing, and it had to project itself through my body. The videos playing on the screen were so perfectly in tune with their set that it was scary. The light show was simply remarkable, they stretched into the sky for what seemed like miles. All three of us needed a drink SO BAD the entire time, and none of us would leave because it was that amazing. I can say that this performance absolutely killed and performance I'd seen before in my life. And like I said, maybe it was just the acid talking, but I've talked to plenty of people who weren't tripping who said that it was just as amazing as I described it. I've since gotten a hold of the mp3's from this set, and it still blows my mind. No lie; I would pay upwards of $1,000 for a DVD quality video of their performance. Anyone?
Tool ended their set and walked off stage around 10:45. It was puzzling, because I knew they were supposed to end at 11:30. In my fucked state I sat there staring at my phone trying to explain to Ash and Erin that they cut away short, but I couldn't find words because my mind was fried because of everything it just had to absorb. We stood there for a few minutes in absolute awe, and eventually made our way towards the This Tent. When we got there, I bought a beer because I needed something to help mellow me out a bit. Mellow me out, it did.
Since Centeroo is entirely empty when a headliner is on, it was very easy for us to walk our way up to the front of This Tent to await the arrival of Aesop Rock
. He was the perfect change of pace from Tool, he had everyone into it. It was great getting to see two artists who I've never seen before, but always dreamed of seeing, back to back. He played a couple new songs, which sounded absolutely awesome. And he continued the blatant trippiness that Tool started, and added sweet vocal effects and lyrics about dosing in his set. I remember him playing a remix of "No Regrets", which was awesome, because a lot of people in the tent knew the words! Ash and I were plagued by awkward looking lesbians standing in front of us the entire time at Tool, and they apparently followed us to Aesop Rock. If you could see the way these girls danced, you'd just sit there in shock, thinking, "Are these bitches for real?". Anyway.
After Aesop's set we were all feeling a bit drained, so we sat down against a tree (Ash's idea), in the middle of an "intersection". Which, of course, subjects you to the gazing eyes of thousands of people while you're coming down on acid. Not exactly the best situation. Ash tired of this after about five minutes, and we wandered around Centeroo. We got the chance to watch "Dazed and Confused" that was played in the SuperJam. It was very sweet. We all wanted to get back to camp though and relax, so we started that dreaded walk back.
I knew I'd be able to trip by myself, or with Ash, and be able to handle myself. But Erin wanted to hang out with us, so we said she could, and that she could be our "trip sitter". She was resourceful while we were in Centeroo, but me and Ash truly owe her our lives for getting us back to our campsite that night. I would have never been able to get us there, as good as I am with directions. The entire time I thought we were going the wrong way, but Erin got us there safe and sound. Thank you, Erin.
When we got back to camp Geoff was awake, and we chilled with him for a little bit. Then Ash and Erin went to bed, and me and Geoff stayed awake and talked for awhile. Then Geoff went to bed, and I still wasn't tired. But not wanting to sit in the cold by myself, I went in the tent and put on M83
. Perfect choice, Sean.
Saturday, June 16th
We awoke at 8:30 (yay, sleeping in!), and went in the screen house. This is apparently when my bronchitis started. Geoff and I hung a tarp over the one side to add more shade, which worked out perfectly. Ash's suitcase was in the screen house from the night before, and it's a very vintage suitcase. It looks like an old relic. Geoff made a joke and called it the "immigrant suitcase", which had everyone laughing their ass off. Eventually, his suitcase became the joke of the morning. We were saying that it was the only lasting piece of wreckage from the Titanic, amongst many other hilarious things. Having seen no shows in the comedy tent, it was definitely the comedic highlight of the weekend. It was situated in between all of us on the tarp on the ground, and we were all putting our drinks, phones, etc. on it, because it functioned sort of as a table. Ash would complain about this, to which Geoff would reply, "If you don't want us putting stuff on it, move it." Ash, being the lazy person he is, wouldn't move it. Instead Ash would say things like "Oh yeah. Well I'm just going to grab your backpack and put stuff on it." Which also had me laughing my ass off. I'm laughing so hard typing this, it was hilarious. Anyways.
The heat was starting to drive us mad, so we went in Geoff's car and sat in the air conditioning for two hours. It was so relaxing. We smoked a bowl, and came up with more suitcase jokes. After that, we left the car to go back to the 95 degree heat, and this instantly made me exhausted, so I laid down on a chair on the screen house and slept for about two hours, knowing I didn't have to be anywhere until 5:30 when Ween came on. I awoke at 4:45, and looked at my phone, and got up almost instantly to leave for Centeroo by myself.
I got to This Tent to watch Ween
a little before they came on. So I went to the beer tent right there and got a couple beers and found a nice spot of semi-shade to stand and watch them. They were slated for 2 and a half hours, and they played the entire time. They played every song I could have requested of them, and I was delighted. They even played "Mister Richard Smoker", which worked it's way into my head for the duration of the day. Watching a band that appeals to hippies is always great because you get to watch the hippies dancing. They are so funny. Thank you, hippies.
After Ween ended I went and met up with everyone and we split ways, Ash, Juliana and Erin went to see The Police
. Me and Geoff said "Fuck that" and decided to just walk around Centeroo. We checked out the Disco Arcade again. I wanted to go in the Silent Disco but the line was way too long. We got food, smoothies, etc. I was sick of laying on the cold, damp grass, so I bought a hippie blanket for $12 to lay on. We went to The Other Tent where Girl Talk was playing, and laid down on the blanket and drank smoothies. Then Geoff spilled his, and got up to buy a new one. I fell asleep on the blanket. He got back and we waited and waited for Girl Talk. (Ween ended at 8, Girl Talk started at 12). Eventually Ash, Erin, and Juliana came back, and all hung out.
The Other Tent started filling up fast, so we claimed our spots about twenty feet from the stage. By the time Girl Talk
came on, the tent was fascinatingly full, and incredibly energetic. He came out and mixed a brilliant set, everyone was going nuts. (I think it's a physical impossibility to not get into a Girl Talk performance). We danced and had a blast the entire hour. Marvelous.
After that ended, Ash, Erin and I wandered over to Which Stage to see The Flaming Lips
. I was excited to see them because I'd heard great things about their live shows. I'll just leave it at this: We watched them for about a half an hour, and they only played two songs: "Yeah Yeah Yeah Song" and "Waiting for Superman". Fortunately for me, they are two of my favorite songs of theirs. But the singer just kept talking. And talking. And talking. Half hour, two songs. It got incredibly boring, so we called it a night and went back to camp. In retrospect, I regret this move, because it was the last real night at Bonnaroo, and I had yet to wander and explore at evening like I had last year. Then again it was much more convenient because of where our campsite was last year. I guess it's not that big of a deal, because Sasha and Digweed are horrible, and they were the late DJ's. But I'd have liked to have gone to the Silent Disco at least once. Wah!
Sunday, June 17th
We woke up at 8:30 again, and almost instantly went into the cars for AC. Ash and I were going to see Demetri Martin at 2, and everyone else wasn't going anywhere until 2:30. But Ash and I had to wait in line, so we left at around 12:30 to get in line for Demetri Martin
. We finally got to Centeroo on the hottest day yet, and the line was so long there was a certainty that we'd not get inside the air conditioned comedy tent to watch them.
We gave up on that thought instantly, and decided to drink. We went to the Broo'ers Festival, where you could buy tickets to taste test beers, or buy full ones. We bought $15 worth of tickets and got drunk, because we were slamming back 3 oz samples like it was our job. I tasted the best beer I've ever had in my life (which is a real stretch if you know me and my relationship with Blue Moon). It was made by a brewery in Georgia called SweetWater. And it was blueberry flavored. Sounds gross, but simply remarkable.
We left there, and dying of heat, we went to This Tent where there was ample shade for us to relax in. There we watched Sonya Kitchell
, who didn't sound half bad at all.
After that, we made our way up front because I wanted to see Elvis Perkins
. He did not disappoint at all. He was absolutely awesome, I adored his entire set. And to make things even better, Alec Ounsworth of Clap Your Hands Say Yeah
came out and played a song with him! It was an awesome performance that was one of my favorites of the festival, and I barely know his music that well. I'm certain I will be listening to him a lot more in weeks to come.
We contemplated between leaving after Elvis to see The Decemberists
, who were playing Which Stage. I wanted to more than anything in the world, but we would have had to stand out in the sun for an hour and a half, and we would have lost our spot in the FRONT ROW for Feist. Staying and watching an act we had no interest in made more sense than leaving, standing in the sun, and coming back to probably have to stand in the sun and watch Feist. Sorry Decemberists. Another band I missed at Coachella with intentions of seeing here. However I've seen them live before, and although they're remarkable, and although they're one of my favorite bands, it wasn't worth what we'd lose to have to see them.Martha Wainwright
played after Elvis Perkins, and she wasn't bad at all. I used this time however to relax and I even dozed off for a little bit. But she didn't disappoint, and it definitely helped make it more worth waiting for.
Finally Geoff and Juliana and Erin came and met up with me and Ash who had been in This Tent the entire day. They admired our spot right up front for Feist
. Feist came out to tremendous applause, and performed brilliantly. This girl can rock out. Her voice is incredible, and her stage presence is awesome. Jumping around, doing crazy things with her guitar, simply splendid. She even cracked some good jokes in between songs. One of the highlights of the weekend, no doubt. Since we were right up front we were right next to the VIP area, and just like at last year's Bonnaroo, I saw Demetri Martin there, and was standing about five feet away from him. Here is Feist's setlist for those interested. Two songs are noted as ??? because I have no idea what they were. If anyone knows, please let me know!!!
When I Was A Young Girl
I Feel It All
My Moon My Man
Limit To Your Love
1 2 3 4
Sea Lion Woman
Let It Die
From there we went to Which Stage to watch The White Stripes
. They weren't bad, but they were far from great. It probably mostly had to do with our anticipation of Bonnaroo ending and us leaving. We stayed for about a half hour of their set, and Ash and I headed back to the campsite to finish packing. But first we walked down Shakedown and were offered everything under the sun for super cheap. I bought pot for my friend Anthony who we were stopping to see in North Carolina on the way back. Because of this being my objective, I turned down anyone who offered me acid. Boy, do I regret that decision, because I could have gotten hits for as little as $4 each.
After everyone gathered back at the campsite we finished packing up and were about to leave when this super-hippie next to us came up and offered us e-pills. This guy was rolling so hard, and it was so evident, Geoff and Juliana bought some, and I bought two for myself because the guy totally sold me. Being a salesperson, I know how it is to put effort into something and get rejected for seemingly no reason. I couldn't reject this guy, he really did a marvelous job selling, especially under the influence of such intense drugs. Yay drugs.
We drove off into the night and stopped at the first motel on the way back for the best shower of our lives, and I proceeded to fall right asleep on the bed in the air conditioned room. We left in the morning for an eight hour drive to North Carolina to see Anthony, where we got dinner and drinks, and went back to his house and chilled all night and ended up sleeping there. Tuesday morning we awoke and drove straight home to Pennsylvania, and got back around 7:30 PM.
Overall, I'd have to say that this Bonnaroo's experience was better than my Coachella experience overall, but I'm still undecided as to whether or not it was better than last year's Bonnaroo. Tool's groundbreaking performance carries a lot of weight in my "better than Coachella" statement. Anyways, I've been typing this for about an hour, so I'm done. Hope you enjoyed. :D.