I normally sleep in a very dark bedroom. While my tent does a good job keeping out the rain, bugs, and apparently any humans of the female persuasion, it doesn't block light very well, so I was up early with the sun. Now as all good physicists know, light is heat, so the inside of my tent began to get warm. Very warm. Fortunately I was able to use my negotiating skills with Sol, and he agreed that if I opened up some vents and rolled over, he wouldn't broil me inside my tent for at least two more hours, so I went back to sleep until about 9.
Now one of the things about camping every year is that you gradually acquire all kinds of camping goodies; In my case, those goodies include a freestanding hot water shower. So after I crawled out of my tent, I proceeded to take a nice Navy style shower, which was kind of weird because here I was nekkid, and there were dozens of people walking by on their way to the venue. Not that I'm shy or anything but I'm not used to carrying on a conversation with folks while I'm showering.. Anyway, the shower went fine until I realized that I'd left my towel in the cab of the truck. I could have just left the tent nekkid and grabbed my towel, but remember yesterday, when I said you should make friends with your camping neighbors?
I don't think they were prepared to let our friendship get quite that close.
Fortunately, Tony, the guy camping right next to me, was nice enough to retrieve my towel, although the ladies across the way were yelling for me to flaunt my inadequacies before the world.
I told them maybe tomorrow.
I got very lucky with my neighbors. Through sheer luck of the draw, 6 of the ten spots around me were filled with people close to my age, and we all talked while we set up our campsites. We quickly formed a little community, which was great, especially on Saturday, when some of my neighbors had to run off a few folks making themselves at home in my camp.
It's kind of a funny place, this place. While I was making my breakfast (Eggs, bacon, and lemonade) a guy came up and tried to place an order. He thought I was a vendor or something I guess. Maybe I should hang out a sign and make some money while I'm here.
Anyway, once I'd finished my morning constitutionals, I looked over the schedule and made sure I knew what my choices for today's music would be, then I packed up the laptop and headed for the venue. Yeah, I brought my laptop; so what? Bonnaroo was providing WiFi hotspots, and I planned on using them. Unfortunately, the bandwidth was severely limited, and I could barely get on the internet to do anything useful. That's why you're reading this late.
When I got to the venue gate, like I mentioned in yesterday's report, I learned that the rules had changed, and security wasn't letting any cameras through whatsoever. Fortunately, I'd left mine back in the truck. However, apparently Bonnaroo hired their security from the same place that the airports hire theirs because there were cameras and camcorders everywhere. I'm wondering what they won't allow tomorrow.
After last night's less than appealing experience, I went looking for some music I knew would satisfy, and I found it. The first show I watched was Uncle Earl, a 4 woman newgrass band that rocked. It helped that they were pretty, too. I'm guessing that this show provided the first of the surprises that Bonnaroo is famous for. John Paul Jones, former bassist for Led Zeppelin, came out and played a few numbers with the band on the bass and the mandolin. It's this kind of flexibility that marks a true musician.
Next up was Alexa Ray Joel, Billy's daughter. It seems she's inherited her father's talent and her mother's looks, a great fortune in both cases. While her skills aren't as polished as her father's, she has a strong bluesy quality and is a pretty good song writer. Once she gets a few more miles under her belt,she might be something special. The last number she did, "Makes No Difference to Me" (title?) rocked the joint. I got to talk to her a little after her set the following day,and she's a very sweet down to earth person.It's early enough in her career that she's still genuinely flattered when people respond to her.
Next on the list was Kings of Leon, the first act on the main stage. Good solid hard rock, but I got there only 10 minutes before the show, so I was way on back in the pasture. I could barely see the stage, but the two gigantic jumbotrons made up for that lack. During the show we actually got a spot of rain that made things a little cooler for about 45 seconds, then just turned to steam. After about 45 minutes, I ventured on to check out some other acts.
From the Nightwatchman, I heard the following speech:
"We're a new territory here and now. We're taking it back from George Bush. We are now the People's Republic of Bonnaroo."
Considering the fate of most People's Republics: bloody purges and disastrous famines, I hope he's wrong.
Michael Frenti made the following musical statement:
"God is too big for just one religion!"
Tell it to the Muslims, pal. They're the ones running around beheading folks for their religion.
That does bring up an important point. Bonnaroo isn't just musical; It's political as well. Or maybe it's political, and they have some music on the side. Over and over I've heard the message that Bonnaroo is a green festival, and the sponsors have gone to great lengths to preach environmentalism, global stewardship, and the like.
Look folks, organizing a music festival to promote environmental responsibility is about as dumb as sponsoring an orgy to promote zero population growth. As I look around the grounds I see a eighty thousand people trampling every living thing into the dust. There's litter everywhere, despite the best efforts of the cleanup crew, and the easy availability of trash receptacles. And let's face it, there's no such thing as a green RV.
Well okay, the color green maybe, but you know what I mean.
But the point I'm trying to make is that if you want to hear some good music, and there's plenty of it here, be prepared to get a heaping side helping of sanctimonious enviro-babble along with a nice desert of liberal guilt.
Making up for this are many wonderful new things to learn and try. Just as an example, I saw a radically new way to prevent sunburn. First, take off all of your clothes. If you're shy, you can leave your pants on. Next, allow a complete stranger to cover your entire body in paint and glitter. Finally, do this in front of a hundred cheering, clapping, horny old farts who are taking your picture to post on the internet as soon as they get home on Monday.
No, you will not see any of those pictures here.
There's a weird sort of thing going on here; I've never seen so many people be so proud to display their body, but at the same time be unhappy with it. Tattoos, piercings, scarifications, brandings, breast and other implants (and no, you'll see no pictures of those either); so many of the people here are desperate to go to any length to feel better about their bodies.
Okay, enough social commentary. Back to the music.
I saw Jennifer Nicely, a girl from my neck of the woods perform. She was thrown off a bit by the noise of another band playing in the background, but she pushed herself through it and did a credible job. She has a jazzy delivery that reminds me of Norah Jones, only not as accomplished.
Next, on my way to hear Nashville band Bang Bang Bang, I got a chance to listen to The Roots. Remember yesterday when I said you should listen to music you normally wouldn't? Well, this was a case of that, and I'm glad it did because I enjoyed the show a lot. They're listed as a hip hop group, but their performance went far beyond any hip hop that I've heard, admittedly not much. If I had to describe them, and since I'm writing this I do, I'd have to say they remind me a little of Blood Sweat and Tears and Earth Wind and Fire all mashed together, plucked out of the seventies and body slammed into the new century.
It sounds strange, but it works. I'd go see them again, and that's saying something.
Next up, Bang Bang Bang.
Loud Loud Loud.
The feature act today was Tool. If you're into anger, rage, and depressingly monotonous bass lines, not to mention Satanic lyrics and imagery, this is the group for you. I went back to my campsite and ate dinner.
The midnight acts included The String Cheese Incident, a bluegrass jazz fusion group that played from midnight until 3AM. I went out to catch the show, only to get caught in a 45 minute line while security performed a very thorough check on everybody. I'm not saying that they went too far, but usually, I have to pay $100 plus tips to be touched like that. I felt like I owed the guy dinner or something.
Day 2 Tips
- Bring a beach chair or something else to sit on. A three hour show feels a lot longer when you're sitting on the hard ground
- Arrive extra early to the venue of your choice. The main stage is surrounded by a huge field, and if you don't get there fairly early for the popular acts, you might be better off just watching MTV from the comfort of your couch at home. The other stages and tents are a little easier, but getting there 15 minutes early makes a huge difference in where you sit.
- Do not expect the rules to remain consistent. Just because you were allowed in one day with a camera, don't assume you will be allowed in the next day. Or the next hour.
- Allow extra time to get into the gates. Sometimes you won't need it, but most times, you will.
- If you're running your campsite off of an inverter wired to your car battery, start your car every couple of hours or so and let it run for 10 minutes.
- The number one tool for Day 2 is patience.