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Bonnaroo, a place where the weird wins.
It was Thursday morning, June 7, when I hitchhiked the last part of my trek to the 11th annual Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival. After fighting through a line of fellow impatient, pissed off journalist for my press pass, I was finally able to say that everything was ready for another chapter in my festival experience.
There were no lines waiting on access this year. This was a surprise. Two years ago my compadre and I spent eight hours sitting in line after I had driven the entire 15-hours to get there... But that's a different story for a different day. Mid afternoon, when the music started, was not far away by the time everyone's camp was set up. To my own satisfaction though, I was staying in an RV this year. [You'll hear me mention throughout my Bonnaroo chronicles about lessons I've learned here and there throughout the last two years of attending 'Roo and other festivals. I'll put it this way: staying up all night and camping is not my forte in the early June, Tennessee weather.]
By four that afternoon early sets by The Dirty Guv'nahs, K-Flay, The Lonely Forest, The Cave Singers and Mariachi El Bronx at Bonnaroo's famous This Tent, That Tent and The Other Tent kicked off the weekend. More and more bodies for this vagabond army began to fill "the farm," (as Bonnaroovians call it), while day was brought to a close with Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr., Yelawolf, Moon Taxi, White Denim, Soja, Phantogram and others.
Those familiar hairs ran up my spine when the sun finally set. Reality had become what you would call hypersensitive. What has always stood out most to me about this particular festival is how alive it becomes at night. As if someone grabbed the world, turned it upside down and shook all of the normal out of it, a type of Baptist circus on LSD.
Alabama Shakes, Big Gigantic and Mimosa dropped just shy of midnight. Which naturally, these three shows separated the crowd by stereotype. Those down for the blues made their way to Alabama Shakes, the ones that wanted to find some groove went for Big Gigantic and those already tweaked at that point made a B-line towards Mimosa.
Like clockwork, Bonnaroo and the festival's people were at full momentum again. Each and everyone one painted the sky with good vibrations. For those of us that had made it before, we were home. And those here for their first time, it was like everyone had been waiting on you. For the sake of a good time, the late night acts usually play a considerable time longer than they're scheduled too. I indulged, of course. But I decided to hang up the cleats around 4 that morning and made my way back to the RV site. Which, by the way, you have no idea how much RV's look alike until it's dark as hell outside. I was terrified I was just going to barge into the wrong one. But that's just another mistake narrowly avoided. To be continued.
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