Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Bonnaroo 2011

From the free Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream- Bonnaroo Buzz, to the dust covered streets, campsites, people, and concert areas, the Bonnaroo experience is nothing short of electrifying. For those of you who may not know what Bonnaroo is, please take a moment to turn off the “Top 20” pop radio station, currently regurgitating the same Justin Beiber songs, and check out the most eclectic grouping of real musicians to play at the same venue. The Bonnaroo Arts and Music Festival celebrated their 10 year anniversary this past weekend with 125 bands performing over the course of 4 days on multiple stages to a sold out crowd of 80,000. Plenty of hype surrounded bands such as Arcade Fire, The Strokes, Eminem, Grace Potter & The NocturnalsMy Morning Jacket, and Florence & The Machine, which are all well deserved, but the true joy of the festival for me came from the unknown acts who remained favorites  overshadowing the headliners nightly. The bands, who just a few years ago were passing out cd’s to anyone to who would take them, begging for a listen, and now are playing scene stealing tents with up to 50,000 in attendance.
I have to quickly mention the people at this event. Being from Youngstown (and growing up with an overwhelming amount of depressing people expressing continuous, pointless anger), I was shocked by the consistent friendly nature of each individual in such a large group of people. Instant connections and relationships were built over the love of the current band playing, comedy show set, or bottle of water being sprayed into the crowd. It was breathtaking to watch people from all over the continent coming together with the same goal in mind, appreciating good music. My naivety does not overlook the fact that multiple “party favors” were in circulation at the ‘Roo, maybe a coping mechanism, or just another way to take in the music, and to that I say, not my cup of tea but to each their own.  
The conditions and amenities definitely left something to be desired on the camping front but it is a small price to pay for the amount of music, culture, and individual growth gained each day. I will be the first to admit that at the close of day 1, I was not sure I could go on without booking a room at the nearest hotel. It is not easy dealing with camping conditions in extreme heat, little shade; 10 mile daily walks to and from your destinations, and dust clogging your lungs with each breath. It takes a true music lover to go there, overcome the conditions, and embrace the surroundings. The self-awareness alone could kill a person’s ego in minutes. It is by far the most challenging experience I have entered into to date, and the result: the most gratifying learning experience I could have ever wished for.
Smiling from ear to ear walking under the arches for the first time.

Close quarters sharing the largest section of shade at the farm.

Grace Potter killed this performance!

Florence & The Machine overflowed crowds extending beyond Centeroo.

Roo'ers stealing a moment to themselves during the days festivities.

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