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I love Saturdays at Bonnaroo. Everyone has gotten their sea legs and feels comfortable on the Farm. Everyone is slightly disheveled, dusty, sweaty and they don’t care anymore. People are more willing to dance alone in a field, chat up a stranger, share with their neighbors. I think the artists feel this because the performances on Saturday are usually more intense and fun as well.
Saturday Morning Outfit: Black knit roll-waist skirt worn as strapless top, cropped lightweight camo pants, black Reef flip flops, aviator sunglasses, beige small cotton crossbody bag from Target.
Now I would have loved to see Black Joe Lewis and the Honeybears again – they were a blast at Black Cat a couple months ago and I know they would be a blast at Bonnaroo. However their set was at 12:30pm which in Bonnaroo Time is like 8am. We instead headed to the VIP lounge area in the campgrounds to check it out and chill. They have these big sailcloth awnings and Adirondack chairs underneath where you can relax, and we let our phones charge in the air-conditioned tent. While there, we saw a “Lost” ad where a woman was looking for her two green glass necklaces… the ones we had been wearing since the previous morning. We called the number on the sign and she was actually only a few feet from us. Come to find out they are African prayer necklaces that she got on a trip and was very grateful for their return. We missed the necklaces but were happy to give them back to their rightful owner!
We then headed to Centeroo and… well again I lost a pocket of time. I can’t really recall why we went to Centeroo that early and what to see. I do know around 3:00pm we were in the VIP tent near the Which Stage, which had A/C blasting, air conditioned toilets, fresh fruit, and a TV where you could see the performance on the Which Stage, and Old Crow Medicine Show was on. I do know I changed my clothes because I didn’t expect to be in Centeroo and wasn’t dressed for the heat.
Saturday Afternoon Outfit: White floral sleeveless cotton dress from H&M with empire waist, DUO “Bern” boots, cowboy hat, aviator sunglasses
We walked over to What Stage, and I can recall walking across that field during Black Uhuru’s set thinking, “This is pretty awesome.” The weather was fantastic, the beats from the stage made for perfect walking music. It was a great Bonnaroo experience… and then Black Uhuru decided to kiss the ass of the crowd he was stereotyping. Next thing I know he’s doing a reggae version of “Take Me Home, Country Roads” which was corny yet acceptable at that time of day and on that stage. Black Uhuru then decided to up the stereotyping of his crowd and started singing about smoking weed every day, and asking the crowd to chant various phrases about marijuana.
Come on man, you are talented enough to be scheduled to the biggest stage at Bonnaroo on Saturday afternoon, do you really need to get all cheesy and play to the lowest common denominator? Our plan was to hang out there and enjoy the tunes but I just couldn’t support such a craptastic performance.
And so I lost another pocket of time. I do know at this time we did stop by the Brooer's Tent; one of my husband's favorite parts of Bonnaroo. It's a tent where there are a good dozen or more beer vendors set up. You purchase tickets which you can use for a small tasting of the beers, or to purchase an actual cup of brew. It's a popular place to get some shade; I can recall taking a nap in there a previous year. The ground is sand so it's not too glamorous, but it gets you out of the sun.
We went to see Devotchka because many friends begged me to see them and a guy at the VIP lounge area told us we MUST see the show. We arrived, slipped under the tent, saw the show… and were semi-underwhelmed. It was a good show, it just wasn’t mind-blowing or life-changing. I think it may have been better later in the day. We then headed over to This Tent to see Man Man, a show that both my husband and I were looking forward to. The vibe was far better and we had a really good time dancing and enjoying the energy of the crowd.
We thought we would then catch the rest of Mumford & Sons… we were not expecting such a crowd. Mumford & Sons should have been scheduled to be on the What Stage (the big stage) but instead were on the Which Stage (a smaller stage that doesn’t have as much room for crowds). The crowd was INSANE. It reminded me of Bonnaroo ’10 at that stage for the Flaming Lips’ performance of Dark Side of the Moon where the crowds were pressed against the Troo Music Lounge and the Brooers tent (see map above) . There were folks climbing on ATM machines and porta-potties to try to get a view of the stage and at the same time the porta-potty trucks are arriving to clean them out, honking and forcing the crowd the move. It was a total cluster and it took us forever just to wade through the packed crowd just to get to the What Stage. My sister said she saw my husband and I weaving through the throng of people but figured there was no point in calling out to say hi because there was no way we could stop, we’d be blocking someone’s view or stepping on a person to do so.
So no Mumford & Sons for us, though they sounded great as we passed by…
We decided to head to the VIP hill and check out Wiz Khalifa. We waded through the crod, and then waded through the river that had appeared in a gully between the two stages (they put down wooden pallets but it was still a mess) and came across a pretty empty field at What Stage, and what sounded like a pretty good show. I’ll be honest, I had no clue who Wiz Khalifa was until he started performing “Black and Yellow” but I thought it was a chill and entertaining afternoon set. We sat on the Hill sipping beers, eating our late lunch, relaxing and it was good. I have read online that many people didn’t like Khalifa’s set; maybe I did because I had a couple too many beers?
By time Wiz Khalifa was finished the crowd was really filling up for The Black Keys, who were on in an hour. We decided to stay put since we had a spot right at the tip of the first mound of the Hill. We snagged two seats for Sarah and my sister who soon joined us.
Crowd watching before The Black Keys was awesome because they were a very popular band at the big stage, and a very heavily populated show. And as mentioned at the top of this post, Saturdays are fun because everyone is so comfortable, relaxed, dirty, and not caring. While People Watching, I saw this teeny tiny blonde and her posse of hipsters slouch into the crowd, drop a blanket and take a seat. Everyone who was walking by would stop, stare, a couple stopped to say hello. One guy who seemed pretty messed up decided to sit down with the group (you can see him in the pic above under the arrow) who was obviously not with them. After a few minutes another guy (part of the group) gently escorted him away. At the time I thought it was an Olsen (she was wearing a white or ivory peasant-style dress), but I never saw her face and was very far away. Any takers on who this chick is?
The Black Keys ROCKED! But really, would you expect otherwise? Amazing how two guys, two instruments can completely fill a ginormous stage and even more ginormous crowd of folks. An awesome show, I felt honored to be there and experience it.
Being on the Hill we had a better view of the crowd and saw there was no way in heck we would be able to get to Buffalo Springfield at the Which Stage in time to get a decent seat. I feared it would be just like Mumford & Sons so decided to stay put to see Eminem. From what I heard, that was a good decision because the audio at Buffalo Springfield was low and it was hard to see if you weren’t up close and center. So we stayed put.
Between The Black Keys and Eminem a storm started brewing. You could feel the change in the air, the wind picked up and there was crazy lightening all over the sky. We kept trying to decide – should we run back to camp and get our ponchos or stay? We decided to stay, fearing we would end up missing the beginning of Eminem’s set. The storm ended up passing, only a couple drops fell so it was a wise decision.
Again, my opinion seems to differ from many reviews I have read… I loved Eminem. I thought the performance was really intense and crisp. Many say he was lip-synching but he was actually rapping over a track, which was set so low it wasn’t expected to replace his voice. From where I was sitting, I couldn’t even tell this was taking place, I just know I found the performance powerful.
However the 5-Hour Energy was NOT cutting it. It may have been because I had to take a Benadryl because my seasonal allergies were so bad I could hardly breathe or see. The dust was insane at Bonnaroo this year – even with a bandanna over my face when walking around in Centeroo I was still having a really rough go at it and it was wearing me down and attacking my immune system. Even though I was loving Eminem I could hardly keep my eyes open.
After Eminem we headed back to camp and I tried really hard to revive myself. I could hear the Scissor Sisters performance clearly from our campsite and it sounded like the best party. I also wanted to see Gogol Bordello – I have seen them perform a couple times before but never for Late Night. And then I knew Girl Talk would be a great show just for the People Watching alone. However yet again I disappointed myself and crashed before Late Night. I know… lame…
Big thanks to my sister for many of these photos… you can hear about her Bonnaroo adventures at her Bonnaroo blog, Debbieroo!