Editor's Note: We here at the CityBeat editorial staff
figured it would be an alright idea to allow one of our summer interns,
Bobby Goodwin, to leave his post for a couple days and go out on
assignment to fulfill his life's dream of attending the Bonnaroo Music Festival,
provided he write a highly detailed chronicle of his misadventures in a
series of four blogs. Here's part two of what transpired. (To read part
one, click here.)
I woke up Thursday around 11 a.m. on a mattress in Matt’s living room. Immediately, there was bad news. Riley decided to switch his flight from Louisville to Nashville and to pay something like $80 to take a shuttle from the Nashville airport to Bonnaroo. Essentially, this meant we could’ve left whenever. So I called my contact for Hockey, who was all like, “Don’t stress, dude … Bonnaroo is all about good vibes” … and other assorted bullshit statements to calm down the psycho journalist within me. He also told me to just call him when I got there and we could set something up for Friday or Saturday, since Hockey was planning on hanging out after they played their Thursday night set.
I don’t remember exactly how long it took to get from Matt’s place to Nashville, but around 3:30 p.m., we met the final member of our Bonnaroo group in a K-Mart parking lot, who went by Ford and liked beer and Bruce Springsteen.
Speaking of beer, we stopped at Kroger after picking up Ford (he’s from Nashville) and bought an ungodly amount of alcohol, especially for the middle of the day on a random Thursday. I sorta felt bad. That’s when I got my case of Natty.
Bonnaroo-goers also have to take into account the time it takes to wait in line to get into the campgrounds. P.S.: There are cops everywhere when you’re on your way in. This was at about 6 p.m. Melfi’s stereo was blasting Moe.
After only half an hour -- the guys who had been before were freaking out about how little time it took to get a camping spot -- we set up camp. This involved me watching Chris and Melfi attempt to put together the tent. There would be tent-related problems later in the night. Among the four cars we all took down there, we had six tents to share. So sleeping in a tent didn’t sound all that bad at the time.
The Bonnaroo veterans accompanying me were also super pumped about our port-a-potty and shower/sink situation -- we were a stone’s throw from both.
Then the drinking commenced. Actually, Cody had cracked open a Bud Heavy the second we parked our cars. At 8:15 p.m., half the group, myself included, walked over to see Hockey play. I was excited to catch their show so that I could get a clue of what they sounded like live before I met them.
Centeroo is where everything happens. It’s where you enter to go see all the bands at all the stages and buy overpriced carnival food from sketchy rednecks. The “Who’s On First?”-style stage names are simple. And dumb. This Stage, That Stage, Which Stage: these are all real names of stages there. Kinda cool that they’re not named after some corporate sponsor, but still, it gets confusing. Especially after dark and while on drugs.
As far as I could tell, there were two entrances to Centeroo. The first one, about a five-minute walk from our tent, always had a long line. The second entrance, a little further down the dirt and gravel path, had a much shorter line, so we went there instead. It definitely pays to go with people who have been to Bonnaroo before. It also pays to have a press pass, which allowed Kate and me to enter Centeroo through the exit of either entrance without being frisked and physically violated like our other friends. We ended up having to wait 10 minutes on several occasions for the rest of the group to get through the lines. Every once in a while, though, when the queue got too chaotic, the volunteer workers said fuck it and yelled for everyone to just run through, especially if you “had stuff” in your bags.
Hockey was awesome, even though we only got to see them play a few songs. I liked how the singer rocked hippie-style headbands too.
At about 9:15 p.m., I bought a five-dollar slice of greasy pizza and ate it on our way back to camp to get more messed up before Passion Pit played.
Then it started monsooning. Luckily, Chris had bought enough ponchos for Melfi and me at Wal Mart and gave us each one on the walk back. At 10:20 we left to go see Passion Pit. I was really excited to see them too, since my friend introduced me to them this past spring and I got to interview their keyboard guy.
I must’ve been too drunk to remember to enter through the exit, but this hardass guy wouldn’t let me back in with the butterfly fries I had just bought. Butterfly fries are potatoes sliced super-thin into one long spiral -- and probably not worth however much they cost. So Chris and Melfi leaned over the fence and helped me finish them off.
At 10:30 p.m., we made it to the same stage we were at to see Hockey and started waiting for Passion Pit. About 20 minutes later, instead of seeing normal, I could suddenly see only pink and purple. And then black. I don’t know what did it to me. I could’ve been dehydrated. All I know is that I got dizzy and lightheaded and I couldn’t see anything. I blacked out for 10 minutes, and Tony had to guide me through the mud puddles to sit on the grass. He told me people were getting mildly upset at the mud I was flinging on them accidentally. I almost fell about nine times. It was bad. I lost both my flip-flops in the mud. Tony had to hold on to me so I didn’t fall while retrieving my buried flippy-floppies from the muck. After I sat down, some stranger standing next to Tony took one look at me and gave me his bottle of water and said, “Drink this. Now.”
After about 10 minutes my shit went back to normal and I slowly got up and walked sheepishly back to where our friends were waiting for Passion Pit to take the stage.
They opened with “Better Things” off their EP and also played “The Reeling,” “Sleepyhead,” “Moth’s Wings,” “Smile Upon Me” and a couple others. Overall, it was a great show. However, toward the end, I could tell the singer’s voice was degrading a little with each chorus. That was a little disappointing. Still, they were really good, and they looked confident up there. My friends were all surprised at how many people showed up for their set. I guess Passion Pit’s blowing up.
After they played, there wasn’t much left going on that night, so I walked back to camp at 12:30 a.m. after I rinsed off my gross flip-flops underneath the mushroom fountain in the middle of Centeroo. Now the rain was really coming down. It was unpleasant. It got really windy too, enough to blow the tarp off our tent. With Chris gone and Melfi huddled in Cody’s cozy car without my knowledge, I curled up in the fetal position in our tent and tried to put all our sleeping bags in the driest corner.
It didn’t work.
By the time I discovered Melfi was in a nice, warm car directly across from me and by the time Chris got back to camp, our tent was fucked. It felt like it rained a couple inches over those couple hours. I was hoping the rest of Bonnaroo wouldn’t be as wet. This was getting gross. After surveying the damage, Melfi determined that my sleeping bag was wet beyond repair, so I passed out in the front seat of his car at two in the morning, wet as could be in my muddy jean shorts.
Check back soon for part three.