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So, funny thing. Manchester, Tennessee is a long way from Western New York. My 20-year old mentality had me convinced that 12 hours was a little bit of nothing, but let me tell you, it’s no joke.
Luckily, 12 hours is a lot more tolerable when Elton John, Kanye West, Vampire Weekend and more are waiting for you at the finish line. When you think you’ve arrived at Bonnaroo, you haven’t. You turn off the highway, turn again and then turn again until you’re in the middle of a field that looks like it should have hosted a civil war battle.
From there you’re guided into a parking spot, which is soon engulfed by other cars surrounding it. Tents are pitched in about a ten foot space near each vehicle, packed on top of each other, creating a camping-style city block.
We arrived a little later than some, and had a little bit of a wrestling match with our tent, and so had about a 15-minute walk into the festival area. That said, the walk doesn’t seem very long when you’re too busy thinking about what’s to come to even begin to think about your paces.
A cloud of smoke has been hanging over Center Roo ever since we arrived, and it’s hard to tell if it’s coming from stages or, well, you know what else it could come from.
Our first show at Bonnaroo was G.O.O.D. Music’s Pusha T. The amazing thing about Bonnaroo is that even the people at the very back of the show sing along like it’s the last thing they’ll ever do. As Pusha T flew through some of his verses, the crowd nodded along, eyes closed, mouthing the lyrics or pumped their hand violently in the air, shouting along.
Thursday is a more quiet kind of day at Bonnaroo, so we checked out a band we’d never really heard of before called Ty Segall. The four-piece tore through a set of punky garage rock that sounded part Cage the Elephant, part Japandroids. Their lead singer stole the show, doubling on throat-shedding vocals and raw, nimble-fingered guitar solos.
We then proceeded to attend an R. Kelly “Trapped In the Closet” sing along. I’ll just let that sit for a while with you.
All the while, Joe and I raved about how incredible tomorrow’s lineup is. Look out for tomorrow’s posts because it’s going to be maybe the best day of our musical lives, and we can’t wait.
It took awhile to get here. I actually left my house on Wednesday morning at 6:15. My dad dropped me off at 10th and Filbert in Philadelphia. My bus left at 7 for New York City.
Once I arrived in New York City, I waited 40 minutes for my bus that traveled to Buffalo. This bus left New York at 10:30, and didn’t get to Buffalo until 6:15.
I spent the bus ride listening to music, mostly. Once I got to Buffalo a Bonaventure friend pick me up. We grabbed Mighty Taco and played basketball. I know that’s not really relevant, but it’s part of the journey. Anyway, Thursday morning I woke up early, and got a ride to Kirk’s house. Kirk and I began our adventure to Manchester, Tennessee at 10. It was a long trip for a passenger, but I can only imagine how it was for the driver. We spent at least an hour in traffic, and Mother Nature couldn’t make up her damn mind as it rained on and off during the beginning of the trip.
We listened to a number of newer albums, including Kanye West, Vampire Weekend, Haim, Jimmy Eat World, Childish Gambino, Drake, among others.
A road trip is great if three things happen. 1.) Good music 2.) Good company 3.) Good food. We had all of the above during this epic 12-hour plus commute. We stopped at Wendy’s, Starbucks and Ralley’s for food and drinks. Once we got to Manchester, we picked up our wristbands. Kirk got a sweet media pass allowing him access to take photos close to the stage. He didn’t use his camera last night since we didn’t get here until closer to midnight.
Once Kirk parked his car, we had to pitch the tent. I’ve never pitched a tent before, and neither had Kirk. We mistakenly pitched the tent in front of the car instead of pitching it behind the car. Although it took us a little longer than we anticipated, we pitched the damn thing. We drank some beers and headed down to the stages.
The first thing you notice about Bonnaroo is how massive the fields are. So many cars, RVs, vans and busses occupy the abundance of land that Bonnaroo offers. Pusha T was playing his set at The Other Stage, so we hit his show first. His set was jam packed with people raising their hands in the air, while rapping word for word. It was a pretty awesome sight to see. Pusha T played the chorus to Kanye West’s “Runaway”, which Pusha T is featured in, and also happens to be one of my favorite songs. It was a really great start to what looks like could be an unforgettable weekend.
Kirk and I then saw Ty Segall, who we’ve never heard before. Ty Segall had so much energy and passion, which really lifted the crowd’s energy. A mosh pit formed, and a number of fans crowed surfed during that set.
We grabbed some beers and headed over to the R. Kelly “Trapped in the Closet” sing-a-long over at the Bonnaroo Cinema tent. We had to wait in line for at least 30 minutes, but it was well worth our wait as fans sang and danced during R. Kelly’s dramatic episodes.
We headed back to our camp spot around 4 a.m., but since there are so many damn cars here we couldn’t find where we parked. Eventually, we found it closer to 5 a.m. Today promises to be filled with some incredible acts. I’ve waited for Friday the 13th’s lineup since the schedule had been released. I’ll be able to see CHVRCHES, Kanye West, Danny Brown, Sam Smith, Ben Howard, Phoenix, Chance the Rapper, The Head and the Heart and Ice Cube throughout today. It will be an absolutely unreal day, and I look forward to sharing that with you.