I know we’re about a month out from Bonnaroo, but I’ve been so busy with all the transitions in my life that this is the first chance I’ve found to update everyone about the amazing time I had there.
I’ll get to all of my life changes in a later post, but this one is dedicated to Bonnaroo 2012 and the bands that made the journey from Miami, Florida to Manchester, Tennessee worth the 14-hour drive.
From Miami to Manchester
Addam and I woke up at 4 a.m. on Wednesday, with John and Tati knocking at our front door. (Or texting from our gate — if I’m going to be completely honest.) We were on the road within a half an hour and headed to the most magical place on Earth.
We didn’t make many stops along the way, but we were sure to pull off the interstate when we saw a sign for Mellow Mushroom — a pizza chain that Addam and I fell in love with when we lived in Virginia. After the gang filled up on pizza and I enjoyed a veggie tofu salad, we were back on the road to meet up with Ben and Daniel — who were coming in from Ohio and Harrisonburg.
Since we were all set to arrive in Manchester around the same time, we met up with the boys at a local Wendy’s and immediately got in line. I don’t know how it happened, but there was absolutely no wait and we were setting up camp five minutes after we hit the road. It was a huge improvement from the eight hours we had to wait last year.
Since it is impossible to sit still as soon as you’re set up at Bonnaroo, the gang had a couple of drinks and roamed around before resting up for the next day’s festivities. Addam tagged up some of Roo’s legendary art walls, Tati and I checked out the clock tower and the rest of the group came along for the ride. We met up back at the campsite for about half a night’s sleep.
Thursday, June 7
The gang woke up on Thursday morning ready for a full day of music. After a quick breakfast we headed out to Centeroo to check out this year’s digs, only to find that the line to get in was impossibly long. Since there weren’t any acts that we felt a dire need to see that morning, we decided to kick back at the campsite until Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. played at 7:15 p.m. By that time the line had gone down and it took us just a few short minutes to make it in. (Probably because everyone was already inside checking out the set. Take a look at this link for a video that highlights just how large the crowd was.)
SOJA was the next act that Addam and I made it out for, and we were pumped to see them. As I’ve stated in previous posts, the band has made quite a name for themselves in Virginia, so we’ve been following them for awhile now. They were even better than I remembered, so if you like reggae I’d encourage you to check it out.
After heading back to the campsite for a brief break, Addam, Ben and I headed out to Alabama Shakes at 11:30 p.m. As much as I enjoyed the show, I was disappointed that Jack White did not make it out for the set. He has been touring with them this summer, and since he was not on the lineup, a big part of me was expecting a surprise appearance. Unfortunately — if he was at Bonnaroo he never showed himself. (Trust me — I looked.)
From the Shakes, the boys and I jumped on Roo’s Ferris wheel for a look at the late night crowd and headed out to our final show of the night – Mimosa. The group put on an absolutely incredible set, and it was one that I am extremely glad to have caught. Their light show was amazing, and I encourage everyone to check out this link for a video Addam shot of the performance.
Friday, June 8
As much fun as we all had on Thursday, Friday felt like our first official day at Roo, since that was the day that headliners took the stage. After Daniel grilled me up an amazing breakfast of potatoes and baked beans, Addam and I headed over to the TUnE-YArDs, who played at 1:45 p.m.
Since we hadn’t seen enough of SOJA, Addam and I checked out a small set they were playing on the Solar Stage shortly after. It was a very intimate performance, and we even managed to snag a free sample CD out of it. We had most of the songs that were included, but it didn’t diminish our excitement one bit.
After grabbing some lunch back at the campsite, Addam and I went to see The Avett Brothers, who played the main stage at 5:00 p.m. (I don’t even need to tell you how great that show was. Best. Band. Ever.) We caught a bit of Little Dragon on the way, then headed over to Ludacris.
Since we just saw Luda perform in Miami over the New Year, Addam and I headed back to the campsite to meet up with Ben and Daniel before Foster the People took the stage at 8:45 p.m. I just recently got into Foster, but now that I’ve seen them live I plan check out much more of them. It was a very lively, feel-good show.
Radiohead was up next, and GOOD GOD were they incredible! They recently played in Miami, and I had absolutely no idea what I was missing. Now that I do, I’m determined to make it out to another set. Like Mimosa, the light show was impeccable.
After Radiohead, the boys and I checked out a bit of both Major Lazer and Black Star, as they were playing opposite each other. Addam and I had seen both Talib Kweli and Mos Def before, but it was our first Major Lazer show. Check out this link for a video Addam shot of the crowd going bat-shit crazy.
While the majority of Bonnaroo was a fun free-for-all, when Addam and I returned to our campsite we discovered that someone had cut into our tent and stolen my phone and all of Addam’s clothes. It was a huge bummer, but we tried to put it out of our minds so that we could enjoy the rest of the festival. Needless to say — after a great day it was a disappointing way to end the night.
After we were over the disappointment, the boys and I closed out the night with some Flying Lotus, who played from 2 to 3:30 a.m. It should have been an amazing set, but he spent most of his time replaying songs that Major Lazer had performed an hour prior. Sorry Fly Lo. I’m just being honest.
Saturday, June 9
Saturday was probably the most jam-packed day of Bonnaroo. Addam and I were up and out of camp by 12:30 to check out The Devil Makes Three and Charles Bradley and His Extraordinaires. As much as I love The Devil Makes Three, the Screaming Eagle was definitely the best act of the morning. He’s so soulful that it was easy to get lost in the sound despite the midday sun.
Das Racist played at 2 p.m., and Addam and I met up with Ben and Daniel for the set. Unfortunately, something was terribly off with the group’s sound system and it was very obvious that the members could not hear one another. It could have been one of the best shows at Bonnaroo, but we ended up leaving after a few songs.
Childish Gambino was also dealing with some sound issues and ended up free-styling most of his set. While it was a great opportunity for him to showcase his talent, I felt bad for him since the lack-luster acoustics were completely out of his control. Despite the setback, it was a great show.
Everyone met back at the campsite before Dispatch for dinner and drinks. The show was one of the best of this year’s Bonnaroo, partly because I found a huge, inflatable killer whale that Ben, Daniel, Addam and I released over the crowd. It didn’t survive for very long, but it was a lot of fun while it lasted.
The Red Hot Chili Peppers played next, and even though it was the second time most of us were seeing them, they didn’t fail to impress. They’re epic performers, and the light show was very elaborate and very cool.
Alice Cooper played at midnight, and we caught part of his show on the way to Skrillex. While I had never been a big Skrillex fan before Roo, he easily won me over. He performed a very energetic mix, and even though I went in tired, I was alive as soon as he took the stage. His light show didn’t suck either.
Addam and I were going to stay up for GZA, who performed all the songs on his legendary Liquid Swords album, but it started to rain around 3 a.m. He was scheduled to perform at 2:30 a.m. and still hadn’t taken the stage, so we went back to our campsite to get some shut eye before our last day at Bonnaroo. We could faintly hear him from our taped-up tent.
Sunday, June 10
Addam, Ben, Daniel and I got to Centeroo around 12:30 a.m. — right when Fruit Bats and ALO were taking the stage. They were both fun sets, which is not surprising since they’re both upbeat, energetic bands.
We hung around for awhile, catching Grouplove’s Tongue Tied. After enjoying the hit, we headed over to Mac Miller – who I couldn’t wait to see. I’ve been listening to Miller a lot over the past couple of months, and I was happy that he performed his most popular songs while surprising us with a few new ones as well. Two thumbs up.
After Mac Miller, Addam, Daniel, Ben and I met up with John and Tati for a bite to eat and a few quick drinks. From there we all headed in to see Fun. – the best show of this year’s Bonnaroo.
Fun.’s set was absolutely inspiring. They played their biggest hits, closing with We Are Young and Some Nights. The best part, however, was their encore performance of The Rolling Stones’ You Can’t Always Get What You Want. I’ve never heard a better cover. It changed my life.
Phish closed out Bonnaroo, with absolutley no artists playing opposite them. They played for four hours, and Addam, Ben, Daniel and I hung out for most of their set before heading back to our tents for the night. They’re always amazing, so we were glad we got to see so much of them.
As sorry as I was to let Bonnaroo go, by Monday morning it was time to head back to the real world. Daniel, our campsite’s early riser, and Ben had packed up before the Miami crew woke up and were on the road after a quick goodbye.
It was pouring rain, which made deconstructing our campsite a bit difficult, but John, Tati, Addam and I took off around 10:30 a.m. The wait to leave Roo was much longer than the wait to get in, so we had plenty of time to say goodbye.
Until next year, check out the slideshow I threw together of some of the photos from our 2012 Bonnaroo experience. I’m still waiting to receive some pics from Daniel, and Addam hasn’t started on this year’s video, so expect some updates in upcoming weeks.
“As magic gasses fill the air; It’s bad for your health, but I don’t care; This’ll all be gone tomorrow, but we’ll still be able to taste it; The golden chord is frayed; What was that song they played; Our steed lies melting in the sun; They flooded the parking lot; Our tent begins to rot; And I’m in love with everyone.” — ALO, Walls of Jericho, Fly Between Falls (2006).