I need to write these Bonnaroo recaps faster because I keep forgetting what happened each day! Now we’re up to Sunday, the last day of the festival. Like Saturday, Sunday is pretty fun because everyone knows Bonnaroo without needing to pull out their map, they’re dirty and smelly and tired but having a great time. Sad because they see the end of the fest, but happy because they have conquered Bonnaroo and can now just have a blast. Sunday during the day is pretty awesome because everyone is out, there’s no real Late Night so the party is while the sun is still up.
Sunday outfit: Pink floral cotton dress from H&M (sleeveless, surplice neckline, smocked waist, flared skirt), DUO “Bern” boots, gold aviators (from LOFT), cowboy hat, silver hoops, wrist of bracelets
We headed to Centeroo early – saw the last bit of The Head and the Heart (cute though not terribly memorable), then headed to the VIP lounge area near the Which Stage to hit the bathrooms, get some fruit. We overheard G. Love on the Which Stage, but I have seen him perform times before and I find his set to be pretty much the same every time. So we went back to The Other Tent and saw Nicole Atkins and the Black Sea. I liked Nicole Atkins – great voice, great banter between songs, great choice for a lazy Sunday morning.
After Nicole Atkins’ set, we headed over to the What Stage where there are tons of food vendors (and an easy exit back to camp). I got an amazing salad of field greens, gorgonzola, grape tomatoes and candied walnuts and washed it down with something called Black Lemonade. They took in-season berries, crushed them to a pulp and added them to lemonade for a really tasty treat. We headed to the VIP Hill to enjoy our meal and the sunshine.
Up on the What Stage was Galactic. We saw Galactic last year at Bonnaroo during late night and their show was crucial – one of my favorite memories on the Farm. Saw them again at the 9:30 Club with Lionize and again had a blast. Even one of Emerson’s favorite CDs in the car is from Galactic! The show this year was great, but more chill than an evening set (obviously). Corey Glover from the band Living Colour was the singer and he was great (he is touring with Galactic through the end of this month).
We left Galactic early to see one of my “must-see” acts of the weekend – Robyn. I have liked her since “Show Me Love” (yes you young whippersnappers, this is the same woman! Does anyone else remember her being on Beverly Hills 90210 performing at The Peach Pit After Dark? I can't find any proof online, though am entertained by the fact that the Flaming Lips performed on it!), and knew she would put on a great show.
Even though we got there relatively early, the tent was packed. The crowd seemed to mainly be college-aged kids, and it seemed as though many of them were partaking in alcohol and illegal substances prior to the set. At first I felt a bit wigged out, thinking I was old enough to be these folks’ mom but soon got over it. We were able to wiggle ourselves into the tent to the right front, right near the steel cables that make and “X” to hold the pillars up. I could only see part of the time, but Robyn's energy was amazing. The crowd’s energy was amazing too, it felt like Late Night with everyone focused on the stage, dancing, reacting to the music in a positive way. On top of it, it was Robyn's birthday! I have to say this was my favorite show of the entire weekend.
I felt old at a different part of this show, but in a different way. Next to me were two guys, maybe 18 years old. I could just tell this was their first Bonnaroo, their first time ever attending a music festival or event of this type. One was in a brand spanking new Girl Talk tee shirt and chino shorts a tad too short, the other was in some sort of goofy safari hat, a striped tee and some shorts you would find at REI. They were totally rocking out to Robyn and having the time of their lives. Suddenly the guy in the Girl Talk tee shirt gets inspired and all Gymkana on us and shimmies up the cables and sits at the X part of them, high above the rest of us. You can see the excitement in his face, and he pumps his fists in the air screaming, “Yeaaaahhhhhh!” His friend is below, cheesing hard and checking out the crowd who is checking out his friend. I felt as though I was watching one of these coming-of-age films like Superbad or Road Trip where the dorks have an amazing experience, almost get arrested, get the girl, lose their virginity, and live happily ever after. The boy’s flip flop fell off and all these girls were clamoring to put it back on his foot, he looked down and was in heaven with all this attention. Before he could get in trouble, he did a graceful dismount and returned to the crowd. The two guys were on such a high from that event and all I could think was, “Awww, they are having so much fun!” Now not only was I old enough to be these folks’ mom, I was thinking like a mom! However, I was the mom who was thrilled they were having a blast, not freaking out that they were climbing cables and probably dropping acid. It was a moment where I thought… I may be older than these people, but I am not too old to enjoy Bonnaroo.
Once reason I didn’t want to return to Bonnaroo was because it made me feel old and tired in '10. All these young, energized folks in slips of clothing running around and here I was in a plus-sized maxi dress sweating gallons by the minute, aching feet in big puffy Crocs, feeling like a tourist. This year though, I just didn’t care and it made the experience amazing. I went to sleep when I was tired, I saw the shows I wanted to see and not what sounded “cool”, I wore what felt good, and didn’t give a damn about anyone else’s opinion. I felt as though I matured over the year, accepted my age and body, and because of it had a much better time.
It’s easy to say you’re okay with your age, or your weight, or whatever. It’s harder to truly accept it. It was liberating to come to that point, and to realize it while the beats of Robyn are in the background. I couldn’t help it, I just started dancing like a crazy woman, so excited about this realization. I looked up and my husband was having an equally amazing time. He looked at me, we cheesed at each other and kissed. And that’s when I knew I would be willing to return to Bonnaroo.
After Robyn we were a bit exhausted and in need of water. We decided to head back to camp and went back through the What Stage. Robert Plant was performing at that time. My husband’s favorite band of all time is Led Zeppelin; we saw Robert Plant perform with Alison Krauss at Bonnaroo before and it was… fine. He wasn’t looking forward to seeing Plant, feeling as though it could ruin his happy memories. But Plant and The Band of Joy (hello Patty Griffin!) were sounding pretty good… and then they started playing some Zeppelin tunes. So we decided to get a beer and hang out for a bit.
My sister texted my husband (since my phone was dead all weekend), letting us know she was already on the VIP bleachers waiting for The Strokes. We had yet to see a show from the bleachers so was excited to experience it and we both like the band. We headed over… and the bleachers were full. The field was full. It wasn’t Mumford & Sons in being full, but it was still pretty ridiculous and we knew we wouldn’t be able to see a darn thing or hear very well so we went back to see Robert Plant.
And I lost another pocket of time. All I recall is at some point being back at camp, hanging with our neighbors and Sarah, grabbing a shirt for the evening, and removing my boot's insoles. My feet weren't killing me that weekend, but the center of each heel had a tender point and my toes felt smushed even though the boots are roomy. I realized my crappy insoles kept shoving up to the front of the boot, leaving the lip right under the middle of my heel. Pulled them out, added some Gold Bond and was a MUCH happier camper.
I do know we saw Widespread Panic. I had yet to see WSP before – no one I knew loved them, I had heard some of their music, and I couldn’t understand why they were headliners so many times at Bonnaroo. Well after seeing them, I now do. Holy light show, Batman! I was wondering if the lights were affecting flight traffic, there were crazy white lasers shooting all over the sky, really intense colors, and the sound was phenomenal. WSP isn’t a radio band, but like most great jam bands they totally bring it when performing live.
Sunday evening outfit: Same, but added chambray shirt from Target
We stayed at Widespread Panic for an hour or two, and then headed back to camp. Our neighbors were packing up to head home – they only live in Nashville so they had a short drive and there wasn’t any point in staying the night. We were glad to be able to see them off. We could see the light show and clearly hear the music from our campsite, some of our neighbors got on top of their vehicles to have a better view.
After they left, my husband and I pulled our camp chairs out to their space and drank beers and watched the show; a very chill way to end our Bonnaroo experience.
I never ended up telling the story of our famous camping neighbor. So all weekend we knew it was this guy and five gals – one was his wife, and one seemed to be someone's step-mom Amy. The rest were friends. My husband made a joke to him that they two were at Roo with their harem (we had three women and one man in our party) and this guy joked back that they would have to run off and talk football or something manly. We got to know them, chatted, shared snacks. I kept looking at “Step-mom Amy” and felt she looked familiar but couldn’t place it. We were then talking about getting electrocuted; the guy in the group said he had a relative who had been electrocuted several times. Amy mentioned how she had a herd of a rare breed of cows in her pasture during one thunderstorm. They went under a tree to be shielded and there was a puddle under the tree they stood in. The tree was hit by lightening, the lightening traveled through the puddle and killed all the cows. Hrm, lives in Nashville, has expensive cows, looks familiar, her name is Amy… I think at the same exact time my husband also figured out who she was because he joked back, “Man what a story. Amy, you should write a song about that.” She perked up realizing we knew who she was, we all laughed and went back to storytelling.
The next day wasn’t too exciting – we woke up, packed up, headed out. Stopped at Cracker Barrel (a tradition) and drove straight home and was back to our house before 10pm. All in all, an amazing experience.
If you think you’re too old, too fat, too weak, too uncool for Bonnaroo – you’re not. Yes, GA camping is a beast and can wear you out fast, but if you plan well it can be great. And if you can afford it, VIP can make it even better. Access Camping is still GA, but right near an entrance to Centeroo and available for those with disabilities. Family Camping is also close to Centeroo, and geared towards being quiet for families. Both special campings I have heard provide a bit more space for your tent setup too. RVs can be rented on-site (though I have heard they aren’t that well maintained and are pricey); you can plan well and drive to Tennessee and rent an RV there or take one from home to have creature comforts like your own bathroom, a real mattress and air conditioning. Some folks buy day passes and stay in a nearby hotel – we met two guys who did this and loved this feature because they had shuttle service to Centeroo and got good sleep and hot showers every night.
The beauty of Bonnaroo is the crowd is so large you can’t help but find a kindred spirit. There are others there who deal with the same demons, have the same issues, love the same music, have the same passions.
Bonnaroo is also not the only music festival on this planet. We go to Bonnaroo because it’s not terribly far from home, always has a lineup we like, and it was the first one of its kind I had heard of. We are considering All Good in the future because it’s even closer to home, not as hot, and a smaller crowd. There are some pretty phenomenal festivals on the West Coast that I would love to attend, and many different types for all genres of music all over this country this summer.
Never let your body hold you back from doing what you want to do. Festivals are usually set up to make them accessible to all, to ensure everyone is safe and having fun. And that is what you deserve. If you love music, you may love a music festival. This year I felt Bonnaroo was like a second honeymoon for us – I came home more relaxed than when I left, and felt closer to my husband. We shared a common interest, dealt with frustrations, overcame challenges, battled Mother Nature and were stronger because of it.
If you want any more information about Bonnaroo, do not hesitate to contact me. I will be doing a post specifically on VIP, but it may not be for a while. Gotta get back to the fashion!