Hurple Hoopla

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

My 2010 Bonnaroo Adventure - Part 2

No hippies were harmed in the typing of that last blog entry. Two were this time. Sorry guys, but you had it coming.

On day two, my lovely wife and I awoke promptly at 9:00 a.m. in a 1,000,564,665 degree oven. What type of odd phenomenon is it that causes tents in Tennessee to suddenly heat to unbearable levels promptly at 9:00 a.m. in the summer? It must be tent-heating fairies, or something. We stumbled out of our tent and into the nuclear wasteland that used to be civilization. All around us were the mutant dregs of a once thriving society. Oh, wait, no. That’s not right. That’s another something I am writing about.

Ahem, so we get up and head outside. The heat is already bad… and it’s just 9:00 a.m.! At about 9:30 my cell phone buzzes. It’s a text from the liaison from Wired. He’s at the Holiday Inn and wants us to stop in to pick up our media credentials, and the video camera that I also won. Sure thing! We jump in the van and head on out. On the way, we pass by the shower area, and the line to get in is 34,403,234,223 people long. Well, maybe not, but it sure looked like it. And, most of the people in the line were standing ankle deep in mud, as the leaky showers were still leaking and slowly creating the 2010 version of Lake Guest Camping.

As we passed through the final checkpoint out of Bonnaroo, which we were already familiar with since we’d been through it once already on the previous day… grumble, mutter, gripe… my phone buzzed again. It was my liaison, again, asking us to wait an hour or so before coming to get the stuff. So, now we’re ass-end out of Bonnaroo and the reason we left is saying to stay put for awhile. Typical. I asked Melissa if she’d like to run by my parent’s and get a real shower, during that hour. Her response was interesting, she pulled out a knife, held it to my throat and said, with menace, “I’ll cut you.” Oh, no, wait, wait… Actually, she jumped at the suggestion so strongly that I am still surprised she wasn’t out the door running ahead of the van.

We get to my parent’s house and go in. My mom is there, watching TV in the kitchen (yeah, they have a TV in the kitchen, deal with it) and asks what’s up. We explain that we have an hour to kill, and a multi-hour wait in line, in mud, for showers at the site and thought we’d stop by and use theirs. Oh, and we wanted to use a real toilet, instead of the already mostly full porta-potties that were on-site. And, that’s what we did, finishing just in time for a wonderful home-cooked breakfast that filled us nicely and probably saved me $50 in food costs at Bonnaroo that day.

Then, we went to the Holiday Inn and picked up the rest of my winnings. Yay!

We got back to the campsite, parked, packed a day bag, and got away from there just in time to make it to That Tent to catch the last 15 minutes, or so, of the Punch Brothers. Man, those guys can PLAY! Wish we’d seen the whole set, now, but, oh well, we were getting media passes instead.

We were there, actually, to see The Carolina Chocolate Drops. Thanks to the audience changeover after the Punch Brothers, we got to get right up close and personal to the stage for the CCD. What a GREAT performance from a GREAT band. Buy their stuff! You know you want to.

After that, we got a bit of a break prior to the next act we wanted to see. Actually, it was the next THREE acts we wanted to see, as they were all scheduled to overlap horribly. ARGH! To pass the time, we went and hung out in the Guest Area where there are shady spots, and chairs, and, sometimes, celebrities! Oh, and they have video feeds from all the stages set up and running. Sweet. It was during this time that I finally found the media compound and stumbled into a press conference. (And, just to be snarky, the Rolling Stone Magazine wrap-up of Bonnaroo has quotes taken from this press conference.)

So, the next three acts we want to catch are The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, at 5:30, on That Stage; Tenacious D at 6:30 on What Stage, and Steve Martin at 7:30 back on That Stage. Believe it or not, we caught all three! Thank you guest pass and media credentials and you magical abilities to move in the “back” areas and access to “private” seating! We started with the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band and stuck with them until the magic words, “We’ve got a new album,” and the information that they were going to “play a few numbers from it right now.” Thank you for a natural, “Let’s get out of here,” point in the show, guys. (I kid, I kid, I’m sure the new stuff is great, but we were just there because they’re LEGENDS, and it’s not because of their new stuff.)

We fleet-footed it over, backstage, to the What Stage area, and got some of the last open seats in the guest bleachers, just in time to catch Conan O’Brien introducing Tenacious D, as only Conan can. (That sounds like a song. Get writing it, Jack Black!)

We left there, and again fleet footed it through the backstage area, just in time to catch the beginning of Steve Martin’s set. He’s a great banjo player, and the band he had with him was amazing, but all the amazing levels charisma he has as a stand-up comedian and actor is exactly how much he does NOT have as a musical performer. The music was GREAT! And, it was Steve FUCKING Martin, LEGEND! But, wow, the man has no presence as a musician, without the jokes. What I mean by that, is, oddly, when they fired up the “Atheist Hymn” or a bluegrass version of “King Tut,” suddenly Martin had that amazing charismatic presence about him, again. I guess it’s just a sign of how uncomfortable he is as a musician, and how comfortable he is as a comedian.

Here’s a personal not for Mr. Steve Martin, should he read this: Dear Mr. Martin, you are a fabulous musician. I mean anybody who can stand toe-to-toe in a “banjo duel” with Earl Scruggs can’t be a slouch. Not at all. So, you have no reason to be so insecure onstage. None. Don’t let it happen again. Thank You. (Oh, and thanks for the “Wild And Crazy Guy” sketches on SNL. I love those!)

After Steve Martin closed out his set with “King Tut,” we grabbed some food, went back to the Guest Hospitality area, and hung out and rested for awhile. We had absolutely ZERO interest in Kings of Leon. None. Nada. Ziltch.

About 10:30 p.m. we walked back out into Centeroo and over to the Which Stage to grab a seat in the Guest stands for the Flaming Lips performance that would be starting at midnight. It’s a good thing we went out there that early and grabbed a spot, because the Which Stage area was already starting to get busy, and the steady stream of people leaving the Kings of Leon show to stake a claim for a spot for the Flaming Lips show was growing by the minute. Seriously, the growing stream of people leaving Kings of Leon was impressive. I’m sure it would have been harder to navigate through than the little trickle of people going into the venue that we had to navigate after Steve Martin’s set. By the time 11:15 rolled around, in fact, the Which Stage area was absolutely packed, and even more people were trying to roll in. I wonder if Kings of Leon ended their set with more than 50 people in their audience. Seriously. It was that bad.

It was at that point I turned to my wife and remarked, “I think they got these guys on the wrong stage,” and was answered by a chorus of “You got that right” from the other patrons sitting around us in the stands.

The performance started at midnight, and was a mind-blowing experience. In hindsight we should have braved the crowd and set down roots for the show up close to the stage. It was a very fun and entertaining way to spend a few hours. I would recommend anyone reading this to rush out and see the Flaming Lips, if they ever get the opportunity.

We couldn’t think of a better way to end the night, so we didn’t try, and just went back to our tent and fell asleep. And, I can’t think of a better way to end part two…

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

My 2010 Bonnaroo Adventure - Part 1

Well, I said that I'd write about this, and here it is. You've been warned!

I’ll begin the great Bonnaroo 2010 saga where most stories begin, at the beginning. Duh!

I saw an interesting headline in one of my RSS feeds a couple of months ago. It was from and was simply, “Bonnaroo Needs You: Win 2 Tickets to Music Fest.I followed the link and read the article. The contest winner would get two tickets to the festival, and a Flip Ultra video camera and was supposed to get some footage for the website while attending the festival. To enter all one had to do was leave a comment explaining why you should win. So, I did. To sum up what I wrote, it was, “I was born and raised in that town, and have had broadcasting experience.”

I don’t know how I was chosen, but I was. A few days after the end of the entry period, I received an email from congratulating me. I read it a few times, and, honestly, thought it was some kind of phishing scam sent out to people who left comments for that article at Wired (it did ask for some of my personal info, after all, and there ain’t no way anybody in my household when win something that cool, our luck just doesn’t run that way.) About the 53rd time that I read through the email, I decided that I was being silly and answered. A few days later, I got a phone call from Wired to give me more details.

Okay, fast forward here because there’s no need to bore you all with the details about our games of phone tag or the tickets initially getting shipped to the wrong address (to Wired, not my house) or any of that other stuff. Let’s just say there were not many leprechauns involved and move on.

The drive down from my home in Illinois to my hometown of Manchester, Tennessee was fun, and uneventful. We got the chance to catch up on lots of good Big Finish Doctor Who audio adventures, and had a few really great sing-alongs. (okay, anyone who reads this and knows either me, or my wife, will know that last part of that last sentence is not true… not even likely.) At one point, travelling down I-24, somewhere in Kentucky, we passed a big, old, bus painted in bright swirly psychedelic colors, with “BONNAROO” painted in big purple letters down the side. It was pulled over on the side of the road, surrounded by 4 or 5 police cars, and the officers could be seen in the bus through the windows, searching. There was also an officer standing at the open rear door, talking to a guy, who was not a policeman, inside the bus. Not sure if those guys made it to the festival, or wound up in the tank for the weekend, but, geez, maybe they should have just painted “DRUGS ONBOARD” on the side of their bus. Or, taken a route that would’ve bypassed Kentucky.

Now, for the sake of the story, I’ll let you all know that my parents live just across a bridge from the Bonnaroo site. In fact, when the music is pumping, you can hear it at their house, INSIDE their house. Here's a photo that gives you an idea:

We arrived at their house on Wednesday night, around 8:00 p.m. By that time, the line to get into the Bonnaroo site was already backed up as far as we could see from the bridge near their house.

We knew that we wouldn’t have to get in that snarl of traffic. Our instructions were to enter through the KOA campgrounds on the opposite side of town from the entrance used by the ‘general population.” Cool. So, we slept well, in a bed, and awoke to have a nice breakfast and a hot shower, knowing that we wouldn’t have to be subjected to the fabled 8-hour wait in line to get into Bonnaroo. Sure enough, we stopped off at the Holiday Inn to get our camping passes and “Guest” passes, the wait was about 30 minutes. And, the traffic to get into the Guest Camping Area of Bonnaroo? What traffic? Heh.

I do have one funny story about getting to our camping spot. We went in the back, and followed the directions of Bonnaroo security and traffic facilitators as they waved us into the backstage area, through the Guest Camping Area, through the vendor parking area, and back out onto the highway just outside Manchester. What the? They actually waved us ALL THE WAY THROUGH the grounds and back out! Okie Dokie! That sure made us feel welcome. Ha Ha!

Second time through, though, we got directed where we needed to be and got a campsite. It was a nice one too. It was far enough away from the leaky portable showers that “Lake Guest Camping” didn’t have to concern us all weekend, and we had a shade tree! Well, we did until another group set up their tent right underneath it. Grumble, mutter, gripe. Interesting fact, right after we arrived and started setting up our tent, another little group of three people arrived and set up a shade shelter in the space next to us. After they finished setting that up they got back in their car and left. That was the last we saw of those three people, or their car, for the entire time we were there. I think they were kidnapped by sasquatches (sasquatchi?)

That's a photo of the shelter that was set up next to us. Oh, yeah, that's their tent, too.

We finished setting up, and then went off to explore Centeroo and the Guest areas and see a few of the Thursday bands. We caught The Manchester Orchestra, and, sorry fans of that band, I thought they were pretty bad. I didn’t like the singer’s voice, at all (and I’m a guy that loves Bob Dylan’s voice… go figure) and thought the guitarist was shite. Oh, and the 5 or 6 songs we heard, I thought were kinda sucky, too. We also caught some of the other bands, but, to be honest, nobody else playing that first night seemed to be our thing. So, we went back to our tent, tried out the showers, which were already leaking and causing the area around them to puddle up pretty bad. Then, we went back to our tent and slept.

Here's some images from Centeroo:

I’ll end part one here, and get around to part 2, 3, 4 and 5 later… hopefully. I want to note, before I go, that no hippies were harmed in the typing of this report. Not this one.

If any magazines, newspapers, or websites would like to use any photos that I post as part of this series of posts, please contact me. We'll talk.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Bonnaroo 2010

I'm going to be covering this event for I just found this out last night. I am excited! And nervous. I was so sure that they would not select me from all the choices they had, that I have not even looked at the line-up for this year's show, yet.

Silly me.

I'll try to write something up here, after the event, documenting what a wild, crazy time I have doing this.

It's going to be a busy summer...