Tales from Bonnaroo Pt 5
When I got back from the Flaming Lips Saturday night/Sunday morning, one of my neighbors let me know that she and her husband had chased some folks out of my campsite. They had been using my grill to cook up something that wasn't food. I was pretty sure after that that I was done, and when the kids across the street started playing an extended disco dance mix of Pink Floyd's Have a Cigar at 5:30AM I was completely sure. I was on the road by 7:30AM, which actually worked out kind of nice since there was absolutely no traffic. As I drove back towards Kodak, I thought about why I decided to leave early. There were a lot of reasons, but they boiled down to two big ones.
First, and most importantly, I wasn't in the right place to begin with. Everywhere I looked, I didn't see people enjoying themselves; I saw miserable people trying to substitute frantic activity for true pleasure. I looked through the pictures I'd been taking and I realized that almost no-one was smiling. I was surrounded by people who felt that the epitome of a good time was to drink or dope themselves to the point of insensibility then stumble around in a near coma until they fell unconscious in the middle of a street or field, wherever they happened to be. And if they weren't fogging their brains into oblivion, they were busy spouting the most insane political propaganda imaginable. I had a guy tell me that Bonnaroo was a racist event because they didn't invite black groups to play, which was ironic because we were listening to Ziggy Marley at the time.
It wasn't just the people; it was the music. When I was kid, music was about optimism; it's goal was to make you feel good. That's no longer the case. Today, a lot of music is about anger and frustration, and Bonnaroo reflects that. Sitting in my campsite, all I could here in some cases were the drumbeats and the bass lines,and you could literally feel the menace and the anger they conveyed. And the mood was contagious.
There's enough anger in the world without amplifying it.
The second factor was the organization of the festival itself, or rather, the lack of organization. It seemed like the purpose of the sponsors was to interfere with any chance of people actually enjoying themselves. It was strange to read in the guide that Bonnaroo was against drug use, yet see vendors lining the streets selling pipes, bongs, and other accessories while the police looked on blandly. The hypocrisy rankled, particularly when they were so concerned over whether my camera was "professional" or not.
In short, the good music and enjoyable portions of the festival were far outweighed by the aggravations that went with it. I got up Sunday morning and decided I'd rather spend Father's Day at home with my family.
So I left.
As I look back, I'm glad I went, and there were parts of it I really enjoyed, but I will never do it again. I will find other music festivals to attend, though, because I still like the idea of enjoying a weekend of really good music with a lot of other people; maybe I can find a festival with Meatloaf, Styx, Sister Hazel, and Simon and Garfunkel.
I'll buy tickets for that show tomorrow.
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