A staffer walked by with a pic of the backstage thermometer‚ which read 108 degrees F. Totes F. It was fucking Bonnaroo Hot.
According to GOTV Founder & Organizer Ken Hays (who had torn his calf muscle the previous week and spent the festival in a "walking cast")‚ the weather was definitely keeping camping attendance numbers down‚ but "every hotel within 30 miles" was now sold out.
I'd quickly gotten into the habit of hiding inside the air-conditioned bathroom trailer near the Media Tent. It was a wood-paneled Oasis of comfort. The skylight was a reminder of how wonderful you had it every second you spent inside the pod‚ and also what kind of hostile alien environment ultimately awaited you the moment you stepped back out. Having access to this secret world made me feel beyond privileged‚ like what I imagine it must feel like to be a member of Yale's Skull & Bones Society (except without all the free DUI passes). I deserved this.
We decided to make a move for Tedeschi Trucks Band‚ but at this point the al.side (House Right / Stage Left) of the field in front of the main stage had become an impassible Pop-Up City. My dad would have referred to that shit as a "fire hazard"‚ but I'll use the less fear-driven term of "total clusterfuck". [Note to self: go chuck.side.]
Additionally‚ the shaded area in front of the stage had crept outwards a bit as the sun moved across the cloudless sky. However‚ there were now approximately 3 times the amount of people condensed into the safety of this space. The increased body heat was now also a factor‚ but there was no choice if you wanted to actually see the band. So we squished in‚ and made the best of close quarters for as long as possible.
The Media Pass sticker had long since peeled off my sweat-saturated tank top and lost all original adhesion in the process. It was now held on by packaging-tape‚ which spanned the circumference of one shorts-leg and was stuck back to itself‚ in order to stay on. The tequila in my flask was now‚ not only warm -- but actually pretty hot. Which‚ shockingly‚ isn't as delicious -- but it was too hot outside to not drink‚ and being allergic to beer -- I mustered through the pain for the pleasure of a sweet‚ dulled‚ inebriated satisfaction. Somewhere in there is a metaphor for all Music Festivals.
Derek Trucks still looks like a 16 year old‚ but now he's all grownzed up‚ married to Susan Tedeschi‚ and they make beautiful music together. Literally -- they make beautiful music together. Gorgeous music together‚ in fact. They rocked the Main Stage with their howling blues guitar driven rock‚ including the haunting "Midnight In Harlem" and Clapton's classic‚ "Anyday." They played their asses off and Susan was even sporting heels‚ bless her insane grit! Band members Oteil & Kofi Burbridge even got a chance to ham it up for a bit‚ as they should.
We couldn't stick out the whole set on the field‚ so we reminded ourselves to eat‚ and hit up Ali Baba's in an attempt to power-up for the long night. Then we completely gave up and hid in the car with the A/C blasting for about a half hour. The car in the sun had a dashboard temp of 113' F‚ the car in the shade was at a mild 103' F. Totes F. My cooler yielded delightfully cold orange Gatorade and Don Julio on melting ice‚ thank Jebus. Hindsight being 20/20‚ I should have put some spare underwear in there too. I imagined getting pulled over on my way out and having to explain to the police‚ "Yes Sir‚ I am coming from the Gathering of the Vibes‚ but I swear that white powder all over my car seats is just argo corn starch. You see‚ it was just so so hot -- that I had to powder my junk right there in the parking lot… No‚ Officer‚ do I look awake enough to be a cokehead? Is that taser absolutely necess---SSAAAAHH!!"
It was time for Levon Helm! He and his all-star band (including Bobby Weir) sounded fantastic from the shady cross-breeze we had discovered in the VIP tent. This set also raised the question: is there a band that Joe Russo didn't play the drums for on Friday? It was a mellow way to wind down after such a taxing day. Levon is Levon. Great set of classic‚ completely family-friendly‚ Americana. Not much is gonna go wrong here. Who the fuck is gonna badmouth Levon Helm‚ anyways? HE WILL CHOMP YOU.
Furthur came along and played 2 sets of mild noodle rock to a packed & attentive crowd. They were fine. It's obviously not my Kool-Aid‚ but from talking to actual‚ real-life Deadheads (aka‚ the majority of people there)‚ most of them liked it‚ a few people were super psyched‚ but no one told me they were blown away or had their face melted. It really only served to make me more pumped to see moe. the next day. My highlight during the Furthur portion of the evening‚ was a magically delicious lime Italian Ice from a vendor in the main field. [Deadhead Editor's note 2: having a really hard time with this…] [Guppy's note: in all fairness‚ it was a really good Italian Ice.]
The sticky layer of sunblock‚ sweat‚ dust‚ dirt‚ sweat‚ dust‚ corn starch‚ & sweat‚ that now covered my body‚ had a date with A/C‚ soap‚ & cold water. Honestly‚ I couldn't get back to the hotel fast enough. My mole in the field‚ hit up the late night Silent Disco on West Beach. Word came back that it was a "mile-long walk" to a total Sausage Fest. "More like Silent Douche-sco." - Jackie H.
Saturday promised to be another scorcher‚ with a hard-hitting lineup that demanded full attention. However‚ in the spirit of pacing oneself‚ we didn't make it to the concert site in time for the opening sets and missed both Nicos Gun & Waylon Speed‚ whom I really wanted to check out. That time was spent enjoying A/C at the wonderful Bridgeport Flyer's Diner‚ where over a table full of breakfast came the newsflash that the impossibly talented but forever troubled Amy Winehouse‚ had been found dead in her London home. This truly was a bummer. Like many‚ we were not surprised‚ but it didn't make the news less tragic. I take heart in the fact that Amy would have enjoyed that at least 3 people in the world found out over 3 separate side-orders of bacon at the same table.
We did the march over to the Green Vibes stage (stopping briefly for some fantastic iced coffee at the gastroPod)‚ where a shit-ton of people were shaking their asses to Tea Leaf Green's bright vibrations. So many people! Why was this on the small stage? In the interest of energy conservation‚ I plunked down on the path of grass overlooking the rocky shoreline next to the Green Vibes stage‚ enjoyed my cold beverage‚ people watched‚ and got even more fucking psyched to see moe..