Saturday, June 21, 2014


 Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival 2014
Entrance to Centeroo

Today I will be turning RWM over to my friend and fellow Oiselle teammate, Ashley F.  Ashley recently attended, Bonnaroo (lucky dog) and then reached out to see if she could share her story with the rest of us.  Yes please!  I don't know what I'm more jealous of....the fact that she got to see Lional Ritchie live or that she got to eat multiple meals at HAMAGEDDON.  All I can say after reading this is that Bonnaroo is now officially on the top of my bucket list.  Huge thanks to Ashley for giving us a taste of this epic adventure.

OK, so how thrilled am I to be doing my first guest post ever on my friend/ Oiselle teammate Rebecca’s awesome Running With Music blog! Exciting stuff. And even more excited that I’m writing to recap my experience at what many people consider to be the best music festival in the U.S.A and the closest thing to the famous Eurofests -- the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival!

Checking out the campgrounds closest to the main “What” stage

For the uninitiated, Bonnaroo is a four-day festival in Manchester,TN usually beginning on the second Thursday in June. This year marked my third time at the festival, which in 2014 celebrates its thirteenth rocking year.  New Orleans musical legend Dr. John is credited with the first popular usage of the word “Bonnaroo” on his 1974 album Destively Bonnaroo. It’s often repeated around the festival circuit and online that the word “bonnaroo” translates loosely from creole/Cajun slang to mean “a real good time.” HOWEVER I have actually asked some awesome southeastern Louisiana folks I know who are fluent in what they refer to as “Cajun French” if they’ve ever heard the term “bonnaroo,” and they say they haven’t. But really now, who cares? It’s a cool word and an even funkier track, so let’s go with “a real good time” and get into how it all went down.

Gotta work in some Oiselle pieces so as to show off the festival #flystyle!

Last week, I took a vacation from real life on Thursday and Friday and headed north to Manchester, TN. My in-real-life friends will tell you that this is a big deal for a bill-by-the-hour lawya like me. I am just trying to do my part to prove that stodgy old attorneys CAN leave the office and actually have a good time...

To drive this point all the way home, when I returned to the office bright and early after the festival on Monday morning, a colleague with whom I am friends on FB told me she saw a fun pic of me in a Lionel Richie shirt (oh, it’s coming; just you wait) and asked me how my weekend was at Bonnaroo. Another office colleague - clearly not quite so cool as the first one - eavesdropped and asked me “What exactly does a woman of your age (ahem) DO at Bonnaroo? I saw some pictures of some young people at Bonnaroo in some articles I read online, and something about that Kanye West fella....and it looked”

OK, so what DO you do at Bonnaroo? What’s it like?  Well, you will get hot. And you might get rained on a bit. It’s Tennessee in June.  You will get dusty and dirty. The festival takes place on an actual farm, affectionately known to all the festival-goers as “The Farm.”  You will get tired. Bands play pretty much all night long, and even if you don’t stay up all night long or even close to it (we don’t) you are, at a minimum, guaranteed to miss your standard bedtime.  You may see some unpleasant things and will most certainly smell some unpleasant smells.   If you don’ t have a VIP ticket, you’ re stuck in the general admission campgrounds when you’re outside of the primary stage area of the fest, and even inside of it, you’re using a port-o-potty all weekend long.  But with all that in mind, you will leave the Farm a few days later with a clear mind, a relaxed outlook, having made new friends or strengthened bonds with old ones, eaten some amazing food, seen some creative costumes and found at least one -- if not ten -- new musical discoveries.  And you’ll have developed a desire to get back to the Farm as quickly as you can.

Outside the VIP tent inside Centeroo 
(a favorite spot to cool off and use the facilities)

Bonnaroo’s main draw are five main venues of music (the “What” and “Which” stages, then the “This”, “That” and “The Other” tents) surrounded by several smaller stages, a comedy tent, a cinema, a silent disco, a “rave barn” decorated in Christmas décor in June, a ferris wheel and hundreds of acres of farmland and campgrounds all around.

Life on the Farm!

Scattered around throughout all of this are lots of food, beverage, clothing and other small-goods vendors. You’ll also find a pretty cool fountain where overheated festivalgoers find a fun and colorful place to cool themselves down.  

I happen to be friends with some of the very best people in the world who enjoy all genres of music (not counting that rando photobomber above us) and as such, they make for awesome Bonnaroo buds. To sweeten the deal, we’ve been fortunate to get VIP tickets for each of the three years we have gone as a group.

Lest you think I am a festival snob and only go if I have VIP tickets, I have attended Hangout Fest in Gulf Shores (multiple years), Lollapalooza (Chicago; multiple years); Voodoo Fest (NOLA) and many other smaller music festivals all on a general admission (i.e., non-VIP) ticket. Bonnaroo is the exception. If you can stomach the cost of VIP admission here, I am a true believer that anyone over the age of 25 (and maybe 21) should spring for it. The air-conditioned bathrooms alone make it worthwhile! Even better - for each of the three years we’ve attended, we rented an RV for our group, so: (1) no camping on the ground; and (2) no waiting in line or sharing a shower with strangers.

Outside of our castle for the weekend; 
about to head over to see Mr. Richie himself!

We don't bother with cooking in our RV, even though there's a stove, microwave, etc. We learned quickly that festival food can be kind of amazing.

And finally, the reason we go to Bonnaroo.....THE TUNES. You can check out the full 2014 lineup here. As you can readily surmise from this stellar schedule, almost every time that a band you really “can’t miss” is on one of the stages throughout the fest, I can guarantee you’ll be missing another performance you really wanted to see. Some standouts for me other than the ones featured below in my posted videos were Disclosure, Sam Smith, Valerie June, Tedeschi Trucks Band and Chaka Khan at the Friday Night Superjam.  The wise festivalgoer will eventually make peace with the fact that for every show you enjoy, you’ll simultaneously be missing out on someone else that you wanted to catch, but you’ll catch them next time. Or if you have crippling F.O.M.O (*fear of missing out) like me, you’ll dash back and forth, catching 15 minutes of this person, then 20 minutes of the other. True story.... gets exhausting.  There’s no way I could describe to you every one of the amazing musical experiences my friends and I had over the weekend, so below I will share some of my favorite performances from Bonnaroo 2014. I’ll be the first to say that my videos aren’t of the greatest quality, but I really wanted to give you the Bonnaroo experience from my perspective, so if a certain song or the band piques your interest, google the band, spotify/soundcloud the song, or better yet, go purchase a high quality copy of the track.  First up, I must feature St. Paul and the Broken Bones. This band makes me INCREDIBLY PROUD to be an Alabama girl, as these cool guys are from - and recorded their debut album in - our great state! More than that though, Browan Lollar (guitars, vocals) is engaged to a Oiselle teammate of Rebecca’s and mine, the speedy speedster of the trail world Alison Hulsey! A small world indeed.

To wrap it all up, I wanted to share some shots of the amazing people we found enjoying the 13th edition of Bonnaroo. What a weekend!

Pretty solid advice, if you ask me.    

Listen to these:
Broken Bones & Pocket Change - by St. Paul and the Broken Bones
Let’s Be Still - by The Head and the Heart
Darkmatter - Andrew Bird and Hands of Glory
Unbelievers - Vampire Weekend
Tiff - Poliça
All Night Long - Lionel Richie
Entertainment - Phoenix

& Watch this:
Lead singer of Phoenix, Thomas Mars, ending the show with some of the most incredible crowdsurfing I’ve ever seen.

1 comment:

  1. i love this guest post. i went to firefly last year with my daughters, it was no doubt the best weekend i ever had. i am also glad to see the head and the heart on your, what to listen to list.