Well here we go. We’ve got a headstart since we’re leaving from Greenville SC area instead of home. Beautiful weather, clear directions, smoothly flowing traffic, making great time until mile marker 135. That’s when we start seeing this –
As the hours go on we chat with our driving neighbors, turning off the engine and waiting. After about 3 1/2 hours we make it to the tollbooths. We’re headed to accessible camping and there is a seperate lane for that so we pull in only to find out that they are out of bracelets. So we park and wait a few minutes. Bracelets are secured for admission as well as an extra bracelet for me to indicate access camping.
Directed to accessible camping we settle in and get to setting up camp. We’re rookies mind you but we’re up and ready to go in less than an hour. Not the Taj Majal but it’s home.
With a sense of accomplishment and a map we’re off. Down to Centeroo to begin our exploration of Bonnaroo. I had originally hoped to catch Janeane Garofalo’s set but we were too late for that. I’d been told by others, “Thursday we wander” and hadn’t truly appreciated the reasoning until faced with it. The only band that I was sure I must see tonight was Vampire Weekend and they were later. The biggest stages Which and What were not yet open.
We wandered into Grupo Fantasma a band from Texas. These guys were fantastic. Their music is difficult to define but funk, latin and cumbia come to mind. They’re a big group as well with multiple percussionists, a couple of guitars and horns. I had no idea what to expect from them and they rocked.
The next call was a little bit tougher. I had heard a few of the Felice Brothers songs but the Battles were recommended by many. We decided to hit the Felice Brothers and this was a mistake although not of their making. These guys are a folk/country rock band and are made up of guitar, drums, accordion (At times), washboard, you get the picture. Unfortunately they were next to the Arcade Discotheque which meant massive sound interference from the pounding bass line at the disco. Note to Bonnaroo: Please turn that crap down or off when there are actual musicians performing. I can not give an accurate description of the work of this band as the bass made them sound confused, off tempo and disorganized. I hope to hear them again, soon.
Still trying to get our bearings we found our way over to the This tent which is where Vampire Weekend was set to play. I like these guys. It’s that simple. When I listen to their music I smile. If you can hear the guitar sounds from Paul Simon’s Graceland album and combine it with some young guys singing about New England you’ve probably got a bit of it. Honestly, I was concerned for them. They’re young both as individual performers and as a band and they’ve been getting A LOT of publicity so they had to hold up. This was probably the biggest crowd these guys had ever played for. There were thousands of people waiting to see them and they were not disappointed. These guys played their hearts out and dancing, jumping and singing was seen throughout the tent. Excellent performance all around, I only wish they had a bigger venue, maybe next year.
After we were pretty spent from these guys we decided to head back to camp. It had been a long day. Back in our camp chairs sitting back with a cold one we could hear one of the “controversial” bands of the fest, Lez Zeppelin. Some hearts were broken when the announcement was Lez and not Led Zeppelin but I have to say, sitting back at camp, relaxing, they sounded darn good.