How the hell can you be knee-deep in mud and choking on dust at the same time? Bonnaroo is full of miracles, I tells ya.
There is some irony in being soaked and dehydrated at the same time, but I’m too sleepy to know what it is.
We rolled in around 8 pm Thursday, the first night of the festival, just in time to be greeted by a flash flood from the Tennessee sky. Luckily, we were able to take shelter under a white kid’s afro until the storm subsided. Thanks again, white reggae fan!
Bonnaroo is a sprawling, chaotic, colorful clusterfuck of a festival. It’s like Woodstock combined with a traffic jam combined with a tornado at UC-Berkeley. Not only can you not get to everything you want to see, you can’t even get to most of it. Want to check out Al Green, Lucinda Williams, TV on the Radio and Ani DiFranco? Well, you’re going to have to be in four places at once. That’s without even factoring in the busking (which seems to be going on 24/7), the cinema tent, the silent disco, the ferris wheel and the fountain. When you add it all up, there’s hardly any time at all to eat a shit ton of mushrooms. (But then, that’s why people keep coming back, I suppose.)
And, yet, everything I do see manages to be pretty wonderful. Last night, I stayed at the comedy tent, which has the advantage of being fully covered, seated, and filled with free candy from its sponsor, Butterfinger. Now, you would think that an audience of exhausted, stoned, wet masses wouldn’t be the best crowd for comedy. And right you would be. That didn’t stop the comics -- particularly Pete Holmes, Janeane Garofalo, Arj Barker, and Todd Barry -- from delivering energetic sets. Barry went on around 2 a.m. at a hilarious marathon show hosted by Triumph the Insult Comic Dog (longtime comedy writer and TV Funhouse creator Robert Smigel with a hand puppet). Triumph had a roast set tailored to the occasion. On Flava Flav, who will be performing with Public Enemy tonight: “He still wears a clock around his neck. That way, at any time, he can look down and see exactly how far back he’s set the civil rights movement.” On festival sponsor SPIN Magazine: “Warren Haynes’ arteries have better circulation.” On Fructis distributing free shampoo to campers at the (pay) showers: “Giving out shampoo to Phish fans is like giving out cock rings at Lilith Fair.”
For now, it’s time to roast in the Friday sun. At this point, I’d agree to waterboarding if it meant I’d have something to drink. The big secret nobody is keeping is that Jimmy Buffett is performing at noon tomorrow. So, if that’s worth a spur-of-the-moment drunk drive to Heat Stroke, Tennessee, take a trip. Most people already have.
More to come later . . .