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…


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