Bonnaroo 2011 marks the 10th anniversary of the Tennessee music fest, which features a surreal roundup of influential artists—from hallowed hit-makers to old-school royalty, and everything in between. However, the antics onstage hardly compare to the madness off—the grounds have become synonymous with sex, drugs, and hippie shuffling. Complex City Guide reporter Lauren Otis will be forgoing sleep and hygiene to go live on the ground and blog from the bonna-fied event. Come on feel the noise.
Friday, June 10, 2011
‘Roo Showers, 8:20 a.m.
The more time I spend at the fest, the clearer it becomes why body odor is all-pervasive around here: maintaining any sort of personal hygiene routine is a legit process, and requires a fair amount of resourcefulness. When I made my way over to the shower around 8 (I would’ve preferred not to be awake, but once the sun comes streaming into your tent, there’s no escaping), the line was already extending pretty far out the door. I watched a few girls emerge in soaking clothes and wondered to myself exactly what kind of night they’d had, but as I neared the entrance I was able to get a peep inside and it suddenly all made sense: the curtains were completely translucent. Conspicuous crotch was all around me.
Outlines of various unisex shower-takers’ goodies were pretty much on display to everyone that had reached the doorway. Seconds later, someone behind me said aloud what I had secretly been thinking: “Well, these curtains were definitely chosen by a dude.”
I could’ve turned around and made my way back to the tent, but I had waited far too long and there was no way I wasn’t getting what I came for. When a shower on the end finally freed up, I’d already made up my mind that I was getting naked. That didn’t mean, however, that I wasn’t going to try and nab as much coverage as I could. In attempts to create another barrier between myself and potential peeping toms, I draped my large towel over the top as far down as it would go without slipping. Unfortunately, no matter how many adjustments I tried, it ended just above my lower half, creating kind of a makeshift peep show.
Well, at least it felt good to be clean.
The Great Lawn, 8:30 p.m.
En route to our tent, I passed the grassy area in front of the Which Stage for the umpteenth time and really just wanted to stop and set up shop. Despite the madness all around, everyone I noticed who’d plopped down here suddenly looked completely zen—like that grass had some sort of magical calming powers. Or maybe they were high.
Regardless, the mishmash of bathing suit-clad music fans parked on their blankets there seemed kind of reminiscent of crowds my once-crunchy mom has showed me photos of from her Woodstock days. I dug.
Smoking, 12 a.m.
It’s safe to say that I was fuming at my entourage around this time. Big Boi was performing in forty five minutes, and after several days of hyping one another up about the show, the other so-called Luscious Left Foot fans decided to opt out. Who was going to scream their faces off to “Daddy Fat Sax” with me?
As if that wasn’t lame enough, the schedulers had him performing at the Other Tent, which is way out in the boondocks of the grounds from us. It couldn’t be further from Lil Wayne, who was scheduled to go on about a half an hour after him, at 1:30 a.m. However, I finally agreed to forgo Big Boi to try and nab some decent spots with them for Weezy. As it turned out, we we actually able score a spot that wasn’t too far off from the stage.
It also wasn’t too far off from an opium den. Wayne fans clearly enjoy their weed as much as he does. Though there weren’t any floodlights or lanterns within our immediate vicinity, perpetual flickers of light from various blunts, bowls, and other bizarre paraphernalia being lit kept me from ever needing to dig in my bag for a flashlight. Once Wayne’s pre-show DJ decided to hype up the fans by throwing on some Steve Miller Band, the crowd disappeared into one huge cloud of smoke.
Click to the next page for the Lil Wayne's Bonnaroo appearance.
Lil Wayne at Which Stage, 1:30 a.m.
When Lil Wayne made his grand entrance, I could barely believe my eyes. It wasn’t his glimmering grill, his army of In Living Color-style fly girls, or his larger-than-life stage presence that had me feeling like I was hallucinating—it was his punctuality. Lil Wayne came out hard, and he came out ON TIME(!!!) Do rappers even do this anymore? Lauryn Hill, take notes please.
I’d made the mistake of drinking an equally larger-than-life Arnold Palmer before his set and was worried that I’d have to make a clean break at some point when there was no possible way I’d be able to get back my spot back, no matter how hard I pushed through the crowd of thousands. However, Wayne rapped with so much energy and so much conviction during his performance that you’d have thought it was his last. I just couldn’t bring myself to move, no matter how badly I needed to pee. Every time I even thought about it, he’d take a moment to address the audience and remind them, “I am not shit without you.”
Well, I couldn’t very well leave after that, could I?
Another endearing Weezy moment: after doing some significant hyping up of the gentleman in the audience, Wayne turned his attention to the ladies.
“Ladies, if your pussy stinks, be quiet!”
It took a minute for all the females in the crowd to realize that this was a cue to cheer. After a moment or so of awkward crickets, they finally got the hint and applause began to build from soft to a roar. It was a good night to be a guy.
Ratatat, 3:39 a.m.
I’ve been a fan of Ratatat for some time, but never had a chance to catch them live. I remember sighing aloud when I first saw in the program how late they’d be going on, but after Wayne wrapped his set, everyone was far from ready to call it a night. It might’ve been 3 in the morning, but keeping the dancing going was the only thing on everyone’s minds.
From the Which Stage, we darted and weaved our way through the crowds making their way over to the various late-night performers, including Pretty Lights and “The Shpongletron Experience.” Once we reached the Other Tent, I was pretty shocked by my findings. Rather than the mass crowd of PBR-sipping hipsters I’d expected, Ratatat’s tent was an all-out rave. Glowsticks were everywhere—in dancers’ hands, on girls’ heads like halos, and in all sorts of other unlikely places. Sweating girls kept drifting into 8th grade grind-lines while shirtless, glitter-covered guys watched intently. Not far from me, a guy in briefs waved a Pee Wee Herman doll on a stake while another half-naked dude flew a kite in the middle of the tent’s revelers. Just when I was wondering if everyone in the tent was on ecstasy, a girl next to me opened her mouth and confirmed it.
“Are you rolling right now?”
I unfortunately had to disappoint her.
“Well, that’s too bad. Because my friends and I are rolling FACE!”
Within the minute, Ellie (as I learned her name was) from Livingston, New Jersey and her friends turned back to one another to start running their hands over one another’s faces and laughing. But not before offering me a Newport cigarette, which I happily (and embarrassingly) accepted.