What's with the change?

What I Learnt at Bonnaroo Part 1

June 23, 2013

It's a week later than all the other Bonnaroovians*, but I've finally had my 12 hour post-festival sleep. After 3500km and two weeks on the road, my crawl into bed was luxuriated by the air-conditioning kindly installed by the landlords during our absence.

What’s the best way to write about a four-day festival (turned into a marathonic seven days by volunteering)? I had a long time to think about it on the drive home and decided it was by sharing what I learnt (thereby creating a convenient segway into my recently published article A Monkey Could Do It: Lessons Learnt as a Temp).

Things aren't as they feel...
1. Tennessee in June is HOT
Der! Obvious, I know. And yes, you’d think growing up in Australia would be good preparation. But arriving on a farm and pitching a tent two days before a festival starts, with no shade or amusement is bloody hot. Before leaving Toronto, I learnt about a fantastic combined measure of heat and humidity (why doesn’t Australia have this?!). Humidex (a reverse of windchill factor) tells you how hot it feels, serving to qualify your moaning about the weather.

On the Wednesday before the music began, we laid in the pitiful shade of a golf umbrella and the car, heads practically under the exhaust in feels like 47C (116F). In a desperate effort to beat boredom and sunstroke, we hiked into town, stumbling upon the oasis of an air-conditioned O’Charleys restaurant and would you believe it, on Free Pie Wednesday (a dessert, not a meat pie). “Yay, the hippies have come to town!” our server said excitedly. It sure made me feel better about sitting unshowered in a restaurant with bed hair and dirty clothes.

Sun safe whilst advertising Peta Panned
on some questionable graffiti- did you see it?
2. Only the Australian sun must give you skin cancer
So much exposed skin at Bonnaroo! I wasn’t exactly wearing the collared long sleeve shirt the old man would approve of but I was definitely adhering to the rest of the Slip, Slop, Slap routine ingrained in us as kids. Perhaps it’s the ozone hole over Australia/New Zealand or those unlucky twenty-somethings dying of melanoma. Maybe I just know how crap a sunburn is at a festival. I’ll admit though that the tan I got even after regimental sunscreening is quite nice. It’s so good I was a little disappointed no-one commented on it on my return to the office today.

3. Americans and/or Bonnaroovians are extremely patient... unless it’s to charge an iPhone.
Bonnaroo: Welcome to the Line Ride. There was a line for everything: the cinema tent, the comedy tent, the water station. It took two hours to even get into the festival on the first day. It might just be that they squished 80 000 people into an area that would comfortably hold half that. But everyone cheered along the way, high-fiving as we snaked along the fencing like cattle. Amazingly, the only places that didn’t have lines were the bars. Perhaps selling the same beer for $4 in the campgrounds and $7 in the festival just rubs people the wrong way.

Yes, Bonnaroovians were patient- the crowd happily hung around for Empire of the Sun, forty minutes late and starting close to 3am. They were patient, unless it involved an iPhone. Call me old school, but I tried to charge my camera battery in the staff shower trailer (where the sulphur in the well water had it smelling as if a hundred people simultaneously farted). When I returned, it was unplugged with a sheepish and rather strong stomached iPhone user concentrating on his facebook profile. I considered explaining that I didn’t even have phone service but it seriously reeked in there.

4. Even a blood clot on the brain isn’t a good enough excuse to pull out.

FUCK MUMFORD. I wish I’d taken a photo of the spray paint across the Portaloos (just can’t make myself say Portapotty...). The rumours had been spreading around the grounds and it was eventually confirmed on Twitter (camping festivals in the modern age!). Mumford and Sons had to pull out because the bassist hadn’t recovered from emergency brain surgery to remove a blood clot. What a slacker. Lucky Jack Johnson was already hanging around the festival to cover. Also lucky that I am part of the 2% of the population that does not like their music (that’s putting it mildly). Since when were banjos cool?


* Bonnaroovian = a special term to describe attendees of Bonnaroo, making you feel part of one big inclusive group at the expense of excluding those who did not attend.

No comments:

Post a Comment