Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Thursday @ Bonnaroo

After making the 180 mile trek into Manchester, our convoy arrived, complete with two RVs, five or six cars, and more beer than we could drink, courtesy of Budweiser's sponsorship of our trip (Thanks). Once we set up the compound up in the Guest lot (Thanks to AC Entertainment, too), we all set out to explore. I think only two or three of our group of 23 had ever been before to the 'Roo, so we were all anxious to see what was in store for us.

The first band I remember seeing, at least for a second, was Knoxville's darlings Superdrag. I didn't stay for more than a few minutes since they are not new to me, but I did happen upon them right at their calling card song: Sucked Out. The next few hours are hazy and the next thing that I remember is The Sword. Whoa. Mix equal parts Zeppelin, Maiden, early Metallica and a ship of Vikings together, and we get the Sword. Their assault on Manchester was inexplicable, as were the hippy girls "noodling" (dancing) to metal. Although they only played for an hour, that was all the time they needed to dismantle the That Tent, then pillage and destroy all those in their path.

After The Sword, we hustled over to This Tent to catch the blogger and media hype machine that is Vampire Weekend. Now, don't get me wrong, it's catchy. It's poppy. Hell, it's fun. I enjoy their record and think they have a unique sound...compared to other contemporaries (Paul Simon called, by the way). However, I just don't really get it. Maybe I'm not buying into it. So be it. Everyone else can.

We ended up not staying too long, as we wanted to get back to That Tent for Lez Zeppelin, the all female Zep tribute band. Word is they are all lesbians, so I guess it's not just a clever name. I have heard and read about this band for some time now, and wanted to make sure that I checked them out...

Eh. They were ok, I guess. The singer's vocals were strong, but she has a lower voice than Robert Plant does. Zeppelin just doesn't work in a lower register and octave- it's not Zeppelin like that. However, points to the band for pretty much nailing Zep musically. Bonus points to the drummer, as she actually looks like John Bonham.

After about half the show, we were Lez'ed out, so we took it back to the compound and passed on the Dark Star Orchestra show, despite being parked right next to their management group that drove down from the north in a rented RV. We didn't want to over do it the first night, and I sure didn't want to take a chance on not being up to par for the Drive-By Truckers on Friday morning/early afternoon.

Upon returning back to our banging spot in Guest parking, the booze started flowing again, much to out chagrin, but what are you gonna do? Next thing we know, another group of up and coming darlings of Knoxville happened upon our camp: The American Plague. Check them out here and here if you don't know about them. Extra points to you if you can name the truck driver in the video. They were there to play on Friday night in the Blue Room Cafe. After some elbow-bendin' with The Plague (drankin'), they informed us that Metallica had played a secret show that night in Nashville at The Basement for 125 people apparently. Oh well. I'm still trying hard to not like Metallica or, at this point, get excited for their show on Friday night.

Completely drained after a few hours of imbibing camaraderie, and completely out of cold beer (temporarily), we called it a night and they headed back to their camp, and I headed for the Master Suite in Ste. Genevieve, one of the RVs in our fleet.

Day one of the 'Roo down. Points to me, as I won the first round in the epic Battle of Bonnaroo: the struggle of man vs. the elements...and music...and booze...and chemicals...and oh yeah- 100,000 people.

Thanks to C$ for his Sword and Vampire Weekend pictures!

Bonna-Shew-weeeee 2008! (finally, I know...)

After my inaugural trip to Bonnaroo this year, I have come to know certain things. Some for the better, some for the worse. And some things just are what they are.

The Better:
  • 158 Bands/4 Days/reasonable $$. Holy shit, are you kidding me?! I knew that it would be ridiculously awesome, unbelievable and exhausting, but the 'Roo was incredible. I am in love with it. I have found my yearly trip and destination in Manchester, Tennessee, just a mere 180 miles from Knox-hell...Well, the 'Roo and Talladega, of course.

  • The Atmosphere. Yes, there are hippies there. And "dirties". Hipsters. Cool kids. Punkers. Headbangers too (thanks Metallica, Sword and Mastodon). Old Folks. Young Folks. Regular Folks. ...and everyone minded their own business. I didn't hear of any fights, trouble or griping, except for Kanye (more to come on him, I assure you). Everyone was laid back, real cool and for the most part nice. Not overly nice, but nice enough to where it wasn't annoying.

  • Eye Candy. There are all kinds of folks to watch, and they are almost as entertaining as the bands. They are actually probably more entertaining from a ratio perspective of "unique" individuals to bands that you actually see.

The Worse.

  • The Traffic. Yea, you're gonna wait in traffic. Both in and out. For a while. Get used to it. Get to know it. Embrace it. You ain't gotta like it, but you gotta respect it. No other options, unless you're in a helicopter. If you can love it, I would advise to do so.

  • The Lines. See above.

  • Kanye. I wouldn't expect to see ol' Kanye around the farm again anytime in the near future. A close source of the festival told me he was being very rude, obnoxious and that he was a, well, he wasn't very nice about the whole "Pearl Jam went late and pushed my show back..." He's a pompous prima donna, and I can't believe he pitched a fit about his stage set and everything, especially after Bonnaroo moved his set back to late night to accommodate his glow show. (**side note: I read somewhere on the net that KW was actually in Atlanta doing a late night club show on Saturday night and wasn't even in Manchester til late, and that's why he came on almost 2 hours later...I'll see if I can find that link). More to come on Kanye...

It Is What It Is:

  • Exhausting. Very. much. so. I'm a trooper, but even I was getting worn down by the end of each night, especially by 2 or 3 in the morning. Add in the hard Tennessee summer sun, 19 hours non stop of beers, then a water, more beers, another water, maybe a sandwich, more beer, etc... I was told to carry two gallon jugs of water with me and drink them during the course of the day. Ha, I scoffed. And I didn't. Too bulky. Instead I opted for the user-friendly, multiple backpacked sized water bottles, and they did just fine. Again, I'm a trooper. And consequently, a dehydrated, sunburned and tired sumbitch.

  • "The Rub". Guys, be prepared. Lots of you were Boy Scouts. You know what you have to do, so just do it. Ladies, I don't know how y'all handle it, but be prepared too.

  • Comfortable Attire. Especially shoes. This is not the weekend to try out those new kicks you just got at the Manchester Mall (is there one?) or the Mid-Tennessee Shoe Carnival. Trust me. Your feet will thank you and they will walk you around for longer and let you stand on your tip toes because you can't see Rilo Kiley from the back of This Tent.

Enough for the Dad talk, you get the picture. Now on to the good stuff...