The last day of Bonnaroo is here.
Sunday on the farm brings with it a bittersweet feeling after a week in the Tennessee heat. On one hand, you are most likely sore, sweaty, and quickly realizing how much money you’ve spent with your Paypal-linked wristband. On the other, it’s the last day of the best week of the year and you’re ready to tear it up!
If my memory recalls correctly (which is not always a safe bet at this point), our Sunday schedule for Bonnaroo 2018 was much more flexible than others. As long as I saw Thundercat and eventually ended up at the Killers before they closed their set, I knew I’d be alright. I also joined my girlfriend to watch Dua Lipa and was pleasantly surprised. I had listened to her on the radio in preparation for the trip and found her songs pleasant enough to nod along to, but I was impressed at how well she performed as a newer pop artist on the biggest stage of the festival.
As expected, Thundercat was easily one of my favorite sets. After being introduced to him by a friend, I spent most of the beginning of 2018 hyping myself up for seeing him in Manchester. Thankfully, he did not disappoint. After the spectacular Pigeons Playing Ping-Pong set, listening to Thundercat jam with his band was a welcome cherry on top for a Bonnaroo that felt much more relaxed and pleasant than the ones I’ve previously attended.
If Thundercat and Pigeons created a cohesive vibe for the Bonnaroo 2018 experience, the Killers joined Sheryl Crow and the Chic in teaching me an important moral for Bonnaroo 2018. There are a TON of songs that I know front to back and had no idea before seeing the artists live. I don’t think I’ve ever sat down to listen to the Killers on purpose, but nevertheless, I knew every tune and could even keep up with some of the lyrics when I saw them close out the festival. Their cultural ubiquity was lost on me until I sat down in front of the What Stage and witnessed it first hand.
After witnessing a stranger steal our picnic mat right out from under us, our group transitioned back to camp and enjoyed the night relaxing and reminiscing about this year’s festival.
Seriously. Someone swiped our mat right as we (a group of approximately twelve or so adults) stood up to applaud the end of the festival. It cost us $5 at Family Dollar and it had spent the past week getting soaked in sweat, mud, and rain, but sure man… take our picnic mat.
They wouldn’t have had to wait much longer for stealing to turn into willing donations, however. Almost immediately after the Killers’ set wrapped up, people started leaving the farm. Once I woke up the next morning at around 10 AM, what had once been a flourishing tent city had become a barren waste of particularly American consumerism. More than a few attendees decided to leave their entire campsite behind, tent, cooler, and chairs included. Anyone who wanted to stock up on cheap camping supplies would have had a payday.
As for myself, seeing the sea of crap left behind by festival-goers put a pretty depressing damper on the whole occasion. Sure, we had a lot of fun, but what kind of waste are we producing to create that fun? Someone mentioned that the Bonnaroo staff specifically donated and recycled most of the items left behind, but it felt like a convenient way to brush aside the fact that we, as a community, leave behind so much worthless crap for others to clean up. Bonnaroo takes place on a wonderful farm, not a movie theater, folks.
All in all, Sunday of Bonnaroo 2018 was a fantastic way to cap off one of my favorite festivals. I didn’t have the normal anxiety of having to jam as much of the last day as I could into 24 hours and the shows that I did end up going to left me thoroughly impressed and satisfied.
The last day of Bonnaroo is often bittersweat. Here are a few ways to make the time between the last set and your departure as smooth and relaxing as possible:
- Hydrate or Dydrate: Depending on your mode of transporation, you may have a long road ahead of you. Make sure to stay hydrated and rejuvinated so that you can tackle the journey home in even strides.
- Relish the Friends You’ve Made: The best part of Bonnaroo each year is meeting and staying in touch with the friends I meet and make on the farm. Before leaving, take some time to confirm contact info and say goodbye to friends you may have made during your trip. At least pretend that you’ll keep in touch.
- Sleep the Night: If possible, stay an extra night after the end of Bonnaroo before leaving the farm. Avoiding the end-of-festival rush is worth the extra time it may take to get home. If you can’t stay an extra night, consider taking a nap or relaxing with your camp before leaving the farm. You’ll thank me on your drive home.
- Stay Safe & Don’t Be Stupid: Here’s a simple tip. You’ve survived another Bonnaroo. You’re leaving Manchester, Tennessee and you’re on your way home. Don’t do anything stupid. Just please be safe and don’t take for granted that you’ve been able to enjoy a week of festivities at the best festival on Earth.
Next week, I’ll describe our trip home from Tennessee, how we managed to reintegrate into real life, and provide some tips on what to do to keep the Bonnaroo spirit alive during your 9 to 5. 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.