Today I finally went and edited my packing list to ensure my old ass doesn't forget anything important. as I went into my Gdocs, I stumbled across the below recap from 2019 that I wrote on June 18th 2019. I dont think I ever posted it here or anywhere, so now is as good a time as any. reading this truly amped me up for the coming party. finally after two years of cancellations we get to set foot back on the farm for Bonnaroo. The last paragraph HITS HOME again this year. WOW.
With Bonnaroo 2019 in the books now, I wanted to take some time to put my Bonnaroo thoughts into words. All in all, Bonnaroo 2019 was incredible. I can’t say much else. I know I have probably said this in years past (every year), but it was different. So, here is what I didn’t like: 1. The “Squarch” (however calling it that is catchy.) I think the graphics the first day or two were so awful and cheesy that it really showed Poorly. Now, I understand why the old one had to go. I understand the concept for the new one and I like where they are headed, but execution here guys was a dud. From an inside source, I understand this was Temporary and not what was wanted. So next year, Give me the LED panels. But the structure in a less square way. Make it a beautiful, Arching LED beast. Give me search lights on the top. That is what it needs to be. 2. Moving the Entrance for Access folks to a place that felt much farther from their camp. Bonnaroo does SUCH A GOOD JOB accommodating those that need this, but this year, I saw the pain this caused for many. 3. Beer selection at the Tents. PBR is YUCK. I missed my Summer Shandy's in the afternoons and the broader selection of CANNED beer. Please bring something else back. Here is what I really liked: 1. Thank you for the Bonnaroo Arch Letters on the Tower. Seriously they looked good there. Good job. Maybe we can get a few of the other art installments back in that space too (clock, bobbleheads). 2. The lineup this year was so diverse. I saw more this year I think than ever before. And I knew fewer of those artists coming in than ever before. Ok, now that I have those thoughts off my chest, here is my Bonnaroo 2019 story. As I write this, the Tuesday after Roo, I am so freaking tired.
For the first time in the 8 years of attending, I actually drove onto the farm and shared camp with someone. My 72-year-old dad joined me for my birthday weekend. It was his first and we took his RV. We staged and entered within the first hour or two via West TB. Before we got to the farm, there was team of Local law enforcement working their explosives dog on every vehicle. Glad to see this. Once in the TB, there was another officer or two doing the same. Going from vehicle to vehicle. Good to see. At the TB itself, the two groups in front of us had their stuff tossed by a drug task force. Dog keyed on something, so they completely went thru their stuff. When the older RV in front of us started back up, he left a cloud of smoke so thick it completely hid the staff. I was SO Perfect and funny. Being two older guys in a 40’ RV, we had all the lower bins open and a team of 4 went thru us. They were thorough but fair. We had no glass for them to find so it was about a 5-minute search overall. Poor guys were tired of looking in all of our cabinets. Once inside, RV felt like a Free for all. Seriously. They asked us what AMP we had purchased. Felt like Honor system. We didn’t purchase one, so we chose a nice spot, next to the afore mentioned RV and 4 spaces from the Roo Bus team. It was a Perfect 12-minute walk to the Tower. Great Neighbors all around us and we loved our spot. Drank way too much that night. Woke up to see a mostly full farm in front of us. Dad was amazed.
Thursday, we toured Centeroo so that dad could get a feel for the place. Again, amazed at the size he was. Saw Donna Missal (who was so wonderful) and the Grand Ole Opry was AMAZING. So glad to see the crowd’s appreciation for this classic. Great performances by all. Dad qualified for Access, so we enjoyed it from the platform. It was a Really Wonderful show. We had our Thurman Murman from Roti Rolls and then we turned in early as Friday was to be long.
Friday was a LONG day. Inforoo Brunch at 10. So good to see people I have met ONLY thru Bonnaroo. Then another meetup at 2pm. I was SO CLOSE to being Part of Roo Chute, but Security was not aware or approving of their plans at the ARCH and I could not stick around any longer. I had a SHOW to see. Rival Sons was INCREDIBLE. It was awesome to be able to walk into the pit and find my buddy Pondo at the rail. I stood with him and absolutely rocked the show. From there, Pinky Pinky was a disappointment BUT AJR was absolutely a great show. In the pit. Nice and Loud. Great Crowd! Dad enjoyed Avett Brothers and we met up for Courtney Barnett. I skipped out early to have a personal moment at Gojira and they did not disappoint. Friday night Phish was enlightening. I am not a Phish fan. Talented guys, but I get bored. I need new songs after 5 minutes. It started to feel like the same old thing over and over and over… you get the point. Its just not me. We bailed for the Super Jam and It was Incredible. Sound sucked and I could barely hear GRIZ sometimes, but the singing was great. We were tired and headed back to the RV and were in bed around 4 am.
Saturday was my Bonnaroo Birthday. What a DAY it was to be. Awake before 9. Long day of music here too. Deva Mahal was so fresh and wonderful. From there, I went to record company and WOW. That did not disappoint. WOAH they were good. We hung out and I brought dad into the PIT for Maren Morris after that. She was absolutely DELICIOUS. She looked good and I felt like a teenager fanboy. Sound was amazing and she had great energy. Dad told me afterwards he LOVED being so close in the pit. From here. Shovels and rope for a sec then over to Kasey Musgraves. Again, same as above for Maren, Kasey was terrific. Except the sound. We were not in the sweet spot at Which, so at times her vocals just got lost. But loved the balls in the crowd. I bailed early for John Prine because you got to see a legend when they are on the farm. The crowd here stole the show. They were so amped up to see him it was fantastic. Loved the special guests and singing with some great folks. Access was packed so dad was not able to get in. We met right after for Republican Hair at the Who and I had the Top sweaty dance party on the farm. What a FUN wild show. These guys hopefully hit it big because they were awesome. “I am Steve”. YES. They did it right with LED handouts Pre-show. I skipped Post Malone and met up with friends for The Lonely Island. This show was a complete Train Wreck, but I could NOT STOP WATCHING. Like wow. Not my speed but it was Funny and entertaining to say the least. Remember, they will be in Plaza 2 after the show by the Ice truck. Bad Bitches only. Thank you. Back at camp after 14 hours of Music.
Sunday. Day #? Today we started slower making it to the Brooer’s Fest for a Father’s Day beer. Oh, that Jam Band is good beer on a Sunday. Sat outside and Dad completely loved Soul Rebels. Sound was PERFECT from the Brooer’s. From here, for me, it was Princess (yes, I missed Trampled by Turtles). Maya and Gretchen were FANTASTIC and Let me say, Gretchen’s Legs looked amazing. The energy here was great and the band was good. Had to leave to catch Brandi Carlisle. Started off on the Access Platform and went to the pit when Brandi brought out Tanya Tucker with Tequila. I immediately ran to the pit and was not disappointed. Brandi’s show was incredible. I then caught some Wood brothers and made my way to the #1 Mystery show of Lil Dicky. This show was either going to be a train wreck disaster or a rocket launch. I was SO THRILLED that it was the latter. Talk about a wild crowd and a show that both fed off and encouraged the energy. He was absolutely HILARIOUS and entertaining. DJ was good behind him. Stayed for the whole show. He sang the National Anthem and the crowd was loud and proud singing it too. That set the stage for the whole performance, baggie tossing, lap dancing and all. Time to eat and see if Phish is any better. Dad and I agreed that if we didn’t like it, we would go drink at the RV. We stayed until just before the Encore and enjoyed it. Music was loud. For me, the best part of Phish was the light show. The movement that it was capable of was incredible. Back at the RV, we sat and talked and drank beer until 4 am. Wow.
I was initially very nervous about taking dad to Bonnaroo. He proved to be a true Bonnaroovian in every spirit of the farm. He was a blast to be with. He will be back on the farm with me next year. Bonnaroo 2019 was a lot of work for me pre-fest. I had a lot of research to do and initially was not very excited about the lineup. However, after actually listening to the music, and taking the time to look it up, this year was one of the most musically enjoyable fests of all for me. I went for the Music and friendships, not the Band fame. I went for the specialness of a place so big, yet you always run across a friend in the middle of it all. Spending this specialness with my Dad on my birthday (and Father’s Day) is something that makes this year really one of the best ones ever. Seeing his joy in the music and the sights and scale of the whole thing made all the effort worth it.