Once you get past the sweltering heat, mouthfuls of dust, grime covering your body, and lack of sleep, Bonnaroo really is loads of fun. And this year was no exception. Jax and I loaded up our camping gear and headed out Thursday after work for our favorite farm in Manchester.
We set up shop with the quickness, then beelined it to Centeroo to get our bearings and mingle with friends. We wandered around for a bit but made the wise and responsible decision to call it a night fairly early, knowing it would be one of the few times during the weekend that we’d have a shot at more than a few hours of uninterrupted sleep. Good call, because morning came quickly. You can’t really sleep past 7:30am, given that the beating sun converts your tent into a slow cooker around that hour. Even so, we were refreshed and ready for the music! And that is the last time you’ll see the word fresh in reference to anything Bonnaroo, believe you me.
We started the day off with some show hopping – Sharon Van Etten to Jessica Lea Mayfield to Ben Sollee. Next up, The Decemberists, whose latest album I’ve really been digging. They played some of my favorites, and then we darted off to catch the second half of Ray LaMontagne.
The late night shows on Friday were My Morning Jacket and Arcade Fire, both enjoyable but not receiving my full attention. We then attempted to give Lil Wayne the benefit of the doubt, but discovered early into the show that it wasn’t our scene and called it a night. In my experience, with the exception of Jay-Z’s stellar performance at Bonnaroo last year, live rap shows just don’t cut it.
We kicked off our Saturday morning with an hour trek to a friend’s campsite, then into the festival for Black Joe Lewis and the Honeybears, who were lively and energetic as always. Old Crow Medicine Show came next, followed by a food and friend break.
And then, oh and then, it was time for my most anticipated show of the weekend, Mumford & Sons. Their set was perfect, and their encore of Amazing Grace was even more so. Follow that up with The Black Keys, Buffalo Springfield, Eminem, String Cheese Incident, and a brief stint at the Silent Disco, and you have a full evening of good music. Top all that off with a high-energy 2:30am Girl Talk dance party, and you’ve got yourself one pretty incredible day.
And very little sleep. We slept for a few hours, realized that our feet/knees/lower back/shoulders ached from the strain of the weekend, and admitted that perhaps we are not as young as we once were.
And then we headed out for our third and final day. It began with the bluegrass awesomeness that is Railroad Earth. From there, we baked in the heat to G. Love & Special Sauce, which we cut short to get a good spot for Ryan Bingham. This turned out to be a brilliant idea, as we were near the front under a shaded tent, and he was pretty incredible.
We took a break to pack up the car, came back for one last hoorah with Iron & Wine and Cold War Kids, and begrudgingly left before Explosions in the Sky and Widespread Panic. Although we really didn’t want to miss either act, we both really had to work Monday morning and decided, again, to make the wise and responsible decision of getting home to Memphis in time for decent sleep.