I’m Going to Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival 2010. Wild, Right?

**BREAKING UPDATE: Sarah will be accompanying me to Bonnaroo! Wheee!**

One week from today, 80,000 people will be gathering in a field in Manchester, TN, for four days of music, comedy, art, and questionable personal hygiene known as The Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival! This little party’s been taking place every year since 2002 and for the first time in festival history, I’m gonna be there! I got myself a press pass, a backpack and I bet everyone’s really excited to see me, and I’m totally psyched to see them. Also? I’m a teensy bit nervous. Let’s talk it out.

There’ll be tents and peanut butter sandwiches and beer and music and art! Here’s the complete lineup and here’s the schedule. Here’s that music festival survival guide we wrote a long time ago. Conan O’Brian! Jay Z! She & Him! Chelsea Peretti! Showers for $7! Probably hummus and falafel!

I’ll be writing you love letters from Bonnaroo all weekend, so I hope you write back. Are there specific bands you think I should see? Let me know so I can plan my schedule accordingly and feel ambient intimacy. Brandi Carlile will be there, too. You guys love her, right?

I’m Totally Psyched About These Things:

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1. The Black Keys

OMFGWTFBBQASLDKFJALSJBALLS. I am Really Excited about seeing The Black Keys, you guys. The scheduling is weird, because they’re up against The Flaming Lips, who’ll be performing Dark Side of the Moon. I’m not a huge fan of The Flaming Lips or Pink Floyd, but it would’ve been neat to hear. When I feel sad about this, I remind myself that Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney might perform “The Lengths,” which I love, and then I feel a lot happier!

Their latest album, Brothers, is really fucking good. You should buy it. Here they are performing “Tighten Up” on Letterman.

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2. The Gossip

Shut up. Just shut up. THE GOSSIP! If you don’t already have Music For Men, go make that happen now.

3. Using this neat solar-powered charging apparatus.

The Brunton Portable Power Device. I think this will make me cooler than most people.

4. Local Natives

This band is for when you’re over Vampire Weekend, or so I read. Their album Gorilla Manor is a thing I like. Makes me want to cuddle and think about the future and eat fruit at dusk.

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5. Steve Martin and the Steep Canyon Rangers

Did you know that Steve Martin’s been playing banjo for over 40 years? That’s probably twice as long as you’ve been alive. His latest effort, The Crow: New Songs for the Five String Banjo, won a Grammy this year for Best Bluegrass Album.

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6. Being in a “photo pit.”

Sounds pretty exciting, doesn’t it? I have photography credentials! So fancy.

7. Margaret Cho

I think she’ll see me in the audience, have her handlers usher me backstage, then feed me alcohol and strawberries while we talk about Autostraddle and her Hitachi Magic Wand.

8. Wearing yellow rain boots.

9. Warpaint

Warpaint is an all-girl quartet out of L.A. and I think I may love them? Here’s what their blurb says: “They weave intricate guitar lines, hypnotic vocals, and driving post-punk rhythms into gorgeous, sprawling songs that skirt the line between the soundscapes of psychedelia and intimacy.” Yeah, pretty sure I love them. You can download their album, Exquisite Corpse, and then we can talk about our feelings. Sarah said the lead singer, who I assume is Emily Kokal, sounds like she’s singing into a fan and then Riese said that singing into a fan was like “autotune for toddlers.”

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10. John Fogerty

Well hello there, American legend. John Fogerty was the lead singer of Credence Clearwater Revival, which is another thing I like a lot. According to online sources, he’s been performing some CCR songs lately, so I’m really hoping to hear “Fortunate Son” or “Keep On Chooglin’” (bitchin’ harmonica solo!) OR BOTH.

I’m a Teensy Bit Nervous About These Things:

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1. Camping, in general.

I really love the idea of camping, but I don’t really like actual camping because I don’t know how. Yep, that’s right – I don’t know how to camp. Go ahead and laugh, you smug tent-loving bastards. The good news is, Bonnaroo’s website has a handy list of what to bring, as well as personal accounts of “How to Bonnaroo,” like this one by Drew, who suggests I bring vodka and Red Bull for the perfect morning drink.

2. Going alone!

Ok, not totally alone, (also it’s hard to be ‘alone’ in a sea of 80k) but I’m going without a bff or gf, which is SO WEIRD to me. I could get into how I’ve never really been single and how I didn’t let my mom send me to boarding school in grade 7 because I was terrified of meeting new people, but I won’t. To move past this fear and nervousness, I’ve decided to pretend to be the person I thought I’d grow up to be when I was a child, which is to say: AWESOME.

3. Edward Sharp and the Magnetic Zeros

What if they suck?

4. Being in a “photo pit.”

Dude. You guys. What if the other photographers laugh at my camera? What if I do something uncouth?

5. Dysentery / Dehydration / Heat Stroke

I don’t want to die.

So! What do you think? Can a person call themselves a peace-loving hippie if they don’t know how to camp? Have you been to Bonnaroo? Are you going this year? Do you want to meet me by the showers?

Also attending: Dave Matthews Band, Damian Marley and Nas, Phoenix, Blues Traveler, Weezer, Tenacious D, Regina Spektor, Norah Jones, Tori Amos and OK Go.

How many cases of canned beer should I pack?

this is a picture of technostraddle editor, taylor, at bonnaroo 2009. could i ever look as cool as she does?

Laneia is the Executive Editor and founding member of Autostraddle, and you're the reason she's here. She's 37, has two kids, two dogs, one cat, one Megan, and some personal essays.

Laneia has written 909 articles for us.

57 Comments

  1. This may be the first comment, and it will be lame, but please keep yourself safe! These festivals get rowdy and we don’t want you hurt or assaulted in any way! Say you have a huge group of friends waiting for you back at the tent at all times, wear sunscreen, don’t put your drink down, and don’t take drugs from people!

    <3 ur mom

    • my mom legit thinks i’m going to die. nevermind the fact that i’m ALMOST THIRTY and have raised TWO CHILDREN for like, years.

      but srsly, i don’t take drugs from strangers or put my drink down. i’m really quite paranoid.

  2. LANEIA I AM GOING TO LOLLAPALOOZA PROBABLY ALONE, I FEEL YOUR PAIN. You’re going to have to write a post-festival guide on how to go it alone.

    YOU BETTER MAKE OUT WITH A GIRL IN THE MUD.

  3. apparently you should get a big mylar balloon to put on your tent, assuming you’ll be in a tent. i guess it helps you find it, since there are a lot of tents.

  4. I don’t know, but you can borrow my white sunglasses if it will help. Also, Warpaint looks like a hot coven of hot witchy witches with shiny, shiny hair. WANT.

    I would also recommend:

    The National
    GWAR (I mean, you know, if you’re into it)
    Mexican Institute of Sound

    For camping, my best advice is BRING A MASSIVE HUNTING KNIFE but they probably don’t allow that sort of thing. So, like, bring as many individually wrapped tissue packs as you can jam into your backpack (in lieu of unwieldy toilet paper rolls, etc.). If you’re going w/ seasoned campers, just thank them with booze. Good luck!

  5. I’m so jealous.
    Obvs it’s going to rock and I think my mom said something to the effect of “some of my best memories come from things I didn’t initially want to do/were scarred to do” although she said it to me when I was in high school, but I think it still applies here.

    I don’t know how to camp either, although because I love my girlfriend, I just went camping over memorial day weekend. It rained. So. But I mean, there wasn’t live music and thousands of people…so the experience is probs a whole lot different. Have a great fucking time.

  6. I’ve not been to Boonaroo, but I’ve been to Woodford, a similar camping-based folk festival in Queensland. I chickened out halfway (got sick, got harassed) and went home.

    Some tips:

    1. Even though you’re going alone, find out who you know that’s going too (likelihood’s pretty high). Camp next to them. Having some friends to count on if anything goes wrong – and actually KNOWING where they are, campsites can be a map nightmare – is so handy.

    2. Bring your own OTC meds. This was what got me; I caught the flu at Woodford and I could hardly get any Panadol. Had I brought my anti-flu stash I’d probably survive better.

    3. Decide whether you’ll buy food there or cook food yourself. Then choose one. I wasted money on bringing food I couldn’t cook (no burner) and spent so much money on meals at camp.

    have fun!

  7. so jealous you get to go! i’d say check out the XX if you have time. i saw them about a month ago and it’s one of the best shows i’ve seen in a while. show was packed, literally couldn’t move my feet. the music was so good i overcame my fear of crowded places in no time, but that shouldn’t be a problem in a huge field. also, their drummer boy is ambidextrous and insanely talented. worked two drum machines/beats at once. mind blown.

    the more beer the better. because you’re in the south, have some of ATL’s juicy juice, sweetwater. [my parents ship this to me on occasion, it’s damn good] 🙂

  8. i’ve updated the post to include the camping / general tips from bonnaroo’s website, which i think you will find interesting / funny. for example, one couple takes a cooler full of dry ice! i feel like this is smart.

    as for my safety, i’ll be camping near a large group of ppl including a younger cousin and 2 carloads of her friends.

    you guys give really good packing advice!

  9. We’re heading down there from Toronto! We will happily be your friends if you need activity partners. We’ll even share our booze if you run out!

    Bonnaroo is a super amazing hot sweaty friendly community of ridiculously awesome people and impossibly amazing bands. You’ll love camping after you get over the first morning because you’ll realize that everyone is as sweaty and gross as you are! Everyone! Even the people who shower!

    I highly recommend http://bonnaroo.proboards.com/ – Bonnaroo’s unofficial forum! Tons and tons of great information from great people.

    Live it up!

    • that link is super helpful! thank you!

      do you usually keep your car near your campsite, or park it and camp closer? is the walk from the car+tent area to centeroo crazyfar / not worth it?

      wanna find me on the book of face?

  10. laneia, you are already AWESOME. i feel like you are going to have a wonderful time with moments of anxiety but that’s okay because life is like that. please go see phoenix and regina spektor and the national and please wear yellow rain boots.

  11. “I’ve decided to pretend to be the person I thought I’d grow up to be when I was a child, which is to say: AWESOME.”

    laneia that is the only way i get through about 80% of the things i have to do on a daily basis. on a related note, bonnaroo will be great, i can tell already!

  12. Some less obvious tips according to a friend who’s going:

    1. buy some cheap, cooling bandanas to put around your neck (when soaked in water, the gel inside expands and keeps you cool all day)

    2. take a flashlight or headlamp to use when walking back to camp at night (apparently security guards are patrolling on horseback so you may want to see where you’re stepping)

    3. stay away from the fountain at Centeroo, use the mist tents instead (the water from the fountain is recycled and you don’t know what other people have been sweating out)

    Someone has already mentioned this but I would love to see The XX live as well.

    Have fun!

  13. Whenever I go to Lollapalooza my friend and I make a habit of buying travel toilet paper and wet wipes. You will need both and be glad you packed it.

    I want to drive down just for Gossip alone! Enjoy the amazing performance they put on.

  14. My partner and I will be going – for our second time. We’re driving up from FL and don’t know anyone else who will be there, so if you want some company at any point, let me know. We’d to love meet some new people.

    And don’t stress – you’ll have such a rich, incredible experience no matter what happens. That’s guaranteed at Bonnaroo. Everyone will become this giant filthy happy mass – truly a unique experience. It’s natural to feel somewhat daunted or apprehensive beforehand, but take it from me, a super introvert who general doesn’t like crowds – the people there are cool. Simple as that. Combine that with great music and you’re sure to make incredible memories.

    Based on past experience, my most critical logistical advice:

    – Water, water, and more water. Seriously, I came close to heat stroke last time. You can’t be too hydrated. This year I’m upping the ante and bringing gatorade powder! Give your body any kind of electrolyte replacement and you’ll literally be a happy camper.
    – Sunscreen, sunscreen, and more sunscreen.
    – Bandanas will help immeasurably with the heat or dust.
    – Nag Champa (or any incense stick) to cover the bathroom odor, which does indeed become quite horrific. Also, wet wipes/toilet paper – you can never have enough!!

    Thanks for the Warpaint recommendation. I’ll be checking them out shortly. Do you know Mumford and Sons? Especially of the shows at smaller stages, I’m most excited about them- other than the, you know, twenty-plus other bands I’m certain will impress the pants off me.

    Feel free to ask if you have any other questions. This is just what dribbled out of my brain at 1 am. 🙂

  15. i have no real advice for you, other than to say i am positive you will be fine. i dont know how to camp either, except for one time i had to, and suddenly i just KNEW how. like, survival instincts took over. i assembled our tent on my own, after dark, in the rain and im pretty sure i could have built an entire hotel out of things i found in the wilderness. it was amazing.

    • this is really encouraging actually. kind of reminds me of the time i helped my cat give birth in my playhouse when i was 8, only your story is more topical and impressive, so.

  16. Argh fuck, I’m both jealous of anyone who has ever been to a festival of music and/or love, and sick of living on the arse of the world. Complaining done.

    Please have so so so much fun and don’t get dysentery.

  17. Don’t miss out on Tori Amos, she is amazing. Also, as a few ppl already said, Regina Spektor. If you’re into world music you can also check out Tinariwen, a blues band from Mali. I’ve seen them live and they put on a good show.

    Have fun!

  18. True story: Two of the songs John Fogerty is frequently (!!!!) performing live these days from CCR’s catalogue happen to be Fortunate Son and Keep on Chooglin’. So I think you’re in luck. Also, the live versions of those songs are on his The Long Road Home, an awesome awesome must-have album. I may be a total weirdo, but I like to play songs from that album at the same time as I play the CCR version on another music playing devise and it’s really a lot of fun.

    Have fun, be safe, good luck, WATER, sunscreen!

  19. I just so happen to be a camping expert. A large part of my job (park ranger) deals with trying to keep inexperienced campers from dying. I’d be happy to help in any way.

    A lot of people have already said it, but I feel like it cannot be stressed enough… WATER and WET ONES.

    Also, don’t forget:
    – Sturdy multi-tool (don’t fuck around with cheap shit)
    – Any ‘script meds you take (duh)
    – OTC meds (headache, tummy, etc)
    – Band-aids (pun!)
    – 2 tarps (one for under tent, one for over tent)
    – Large Maglight flashlight (at least C, D is better – this will provide you with adjustable light obvs, but also can be used as an excellent weapon. Carry it in your dominant hand and perform a “blind and smack” maneuver on attackers.)

    I could seriously go on forever about camping tips, so let me know what areas you need help with.

  20. Mumford & Sons- total WIN, saw them recently at a super small venue in Paris and it was arcade fire-like, which is a lot to say.
    Also, black keys=love

  21. What you srsly need is a tiny baseball bat, you can get them at target and they’re like ten bucks. I think they’re for toddlers to play tee ball or something but they’re perfect for protecting yourself against crazy people. Also, they come in pink. So.

    Oh, and I lived in a tent for like a month and all that mattered after awhile was A LOT OF BUG SPRAY. I hate bugs. So lots of that and water, always stay hydrated.

    kfinn.

  22. If you don’t see Tori Amos, you might as well claw your eyes out with a tent plug. Or something equally as painful.

    Or don’t. Just see Tori Amos.

    Please?

  23. You must go and see Phoenix because this is why- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DqwpOUPS5lo&feature=related

    Im jealous, id love to hear them live, and Gossip and well, all of those acts! Oh, and I dont know if anyone else said it but bring hand sanitiser. Also, id recommend drinking vodka or some other liquer from your own coke bottle because you can close the top when your not drinking thus reducing the chances of getting spiked and also if you drink beer you’ll spend most of your time in the queue to the toilet, you know what beer and bladders are like, it’s a volume thing I suppose! Ooh, and bring ear plugs so you can get some sleep!

  24. I think you’d really like Lissie, she’s got a really sexy, sultry voice that just screams to be listened to at a festival on a balmy day with a beer in your hand, oh and she rocks a guitar too – need I say more?!

    Heres a vid of her performing at a festival a couple of weeks ago, where she dueted with Ellie Goulding –
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YpyyepDyaLs

    P.s,
    Flag for tent is a good idea, and if your worried about not being able to find it at night you could always customise it with glow in the dark paints – daubing yourselves with them too is optional, depending how drunk you may get!!

    Hope you two have an absolute blast!!

    • UMMM, using glow-in-the-dark paint on the flag is like, the best idea ever. i think we’re taking the shark [of Dinah Shore fame] and strapping him to the roof of the SUV, in lieu of a flag. howevs, we could still slap some paints on him …

      just listened to the video they have up for Lissie on Bonnaroo’s website – love it! thank you for the tip!

  25. See you at Tori’s set. Take awesome pics. My partner and I are going to be in RV land and hoping the Roo goddess provides us with awesome neighbors. Haven’t been to a fest without a posse before, so we’ll be looking for buddies.

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