I have been doing the small, local festival circuit for a few years, and have been really anxious to try to one of the larger domestic festivals. Bonnaroo seemed to fit well; I had a few friends interested in going, and the festival also boasted a killer line-up this year. My friends Maranie, Kristen, and Evan signed up for a little RV excursion, and we crammed in to the little camper for five days away from home.
Leaving Wednesday evening , we were lucky enough to have a fairly smooth ride down (except for the cargo rack that began to sag off the bumper; nothing a few ratchet straps couldn’t handle). I drove the whole way, and we stopped for a little rest at a travel stop somewhere in Kentucky to recharge a bit. Fortunately (this is clutch for any good road trip), everyone in the RV had great taste in music, so one of my favorite parts of the trip was having everyone take a spot an DJ’ing the trip. It was great, even including Evan’s strange fixation on Eddie Vedder.
Bonnaroo’s scale shocked me. Standing on top of the RV and looking out over the horizon, there seemed to be no end to the cars, people, and campsites. We we lucky enough to camp next to some awesome neighbors and, just like at small fests, I met countless new friends over the weekend.
I saw a lot of music, and this probably isn’t the venue for a detail synopsis, but there were a few shows that really stuck out for me. The Word‘s set was incredible; all of the musicians are simply virtuosos. I also discovered Sister Sparrow and the Dirty Birds which blew my mind with their talent (not to mention, my total crush on their lead singer, Arleigh Kincheloe. If this video doesn’t make you melt, you don’t have a pulse).
I admit to my guilty pleasure of dubstep, and really had a wild time at the Skrillex show to, the crowd was perhaps the largest and most energetic group of twenty-somethings I’ve ever been in. Among other bands that I really raved about were the Punch Brothers, the Infamous Stringdusters, Fitz and the Tantrums, and The Alabama Shakes. There is not enough time to see every act, and the crowds are huge at almost every show, so next time I go, I’ll have to spend a little more time fine-tuning my schedule.
Though, another piece of advice – don’t take your schedule to seriously, there is no way you’ll keep to it anyways.
My old rowing buddy Yon stopped by at our campsite for a few nights, so it was great getting to spend time with an old friend. Meanwhile, our campsite had nightly jam-sessions with our neighbors (soundtrack to the video below), and the whole environment of the festival was astonishingly peaceful and vibey considering the huge number of people. It was such an awesome experience, totally worth the money and vacation days. Maybe next year, I won’t decide that after driving most of the night, arriving at my driveway at 8:00am, going to work would be a good idea. That was a huge mistake.