Friday is usually the day that everyone starts to settle in and get comfortable with Bonnaroo. Newbies finally get a handle on the names of Tents and how the campground is broken up into distinct Pods. The crowd gets bigger as more locals and fashionably late attendees begin to filter in. Everyone is setting up for the first wall to wall, action-packed day of the festival.
Our Friday plans looked something like this: Japanese Breakfast at 2:15, Arizona at 3:15, Sheryl Crow at 4:15, then Denzel Curry at 5:15, Paramore at 6:15, Sturgill Simpson at 8:15, Khalid at 9:30, Muse at 10:30, then wrapping it up with Bassnectar at 12 and Chromeo at 1:15 AM. Needless to say, it was a lot and I didn’t get to see half of it. Such is the way of the jam-packed music festival.
Depending on how my night went, I usually end up skipping the first one or two acts of the day and depending on my plans for the next morning, I may skip the last act of the night, especially if they start after midnight. That means that Japanese Breakfast and Arizona were off the table, as well as Chromeo. I ended up making it to Sheryl Crow, but the combo of a lack of shade at the main stage and the Tennesee heat at 4 PM created some serious issues for heat exhaustion. My girlfriend and I had to take it easy for the next few hours to cool down and rejuvenate, meaning we missed out on most of Denzel Curry. We went back to our camp around then but were able to hear most of Paramore’s set from there thanks to being in Pod 3 and having a direct channel to What stage.
We passed on T-Pain to hang out with our friends at camp, but I had to go in to see Sturgill Simpson. Thankfully, it was one of the best sets of the entire festival. He really killed it, which helped make my decision easier to see him a few months later in Mansfield with Willy Nelson so much easier. That man can play the guitar like nothing else.
At this point, my girlfriend and I had gone our separate ways. I suspect she went to see Khalid, but we met up again for Muse, which was another stellar show. I know they get a lot of flack for sounding samey, but a similar sounding band can still rock the hell out of a show. Here’s a little clip from their set on my Instagram.
From there, we ended up grouping with some of our other friends for Bassnectar. Now, I’m not a huge EDM fan, but I always find I enjoy their shows at festivals thanks to the pageantry of it all. Giant light shows, blaring music, and a sea of excentric festival goers all combine to create a dream-like scene of sights and sounds. Check out of some of the set on my Instagram below.
For first time Bonnaroovians, here are a few tips for how to get the most out of your non-festival hours (if they exist), sleep, and staying hydrated.
- Sleep When You’re Dead: is not a healthy attitude to take towards music festivals. I’ve seen plenty of people go HAM on day one or two and then crash for the rest of the week, ultimately having an awful time. Instead, I suggest you go hard from around 2PM to around 2AM. If Kalliope is your thing, you may need to move it closer to the AM by a few hours, but ultimately, this schedule will give you all of the time you need to explore the festival, see the shows you want to see, and get the sleep you need to get to keep going for 5 days straight.
- Hydrate or Die-drate: Drink lots of water, always keep a water bottle with you, and remember to catch some shade if you’re getting too warm. Tennessee in June can be really harsh, especially in an open field with 80,000 other people. Luckily, Bonnaroo is great at ensure that clean water is available all around the festival grounds. Keep your map on you to know exactly where the closest water fountain is to you.
- Eat Food: Humans can’t survive on salvia and coffee grounds alone. Instead, try eating some food. It’s good for you. Also, you’ll like it a lot. Trust me.
- Drink/Act Responsibly: Make sure you pace yourself, kiddo. This is day 1 and you have two other days to go, not to mention your trip home. You’ve got plenty of time to become a swamp donkey over the weekend. Save it for then. (I’m considering leaving this note up for the rest of the blog. It’s important to keep in mind.)
Next week, I’ll cover what happened on Saturday and provide some tips for how to stray off the beaten path and find unique experiences on the Farm. If you’d be interested in reading more about my experiences traveling and visiting music festivals, feel free to shoot me a comment to let me know.