by Caton McKenna

Recently I travelled to Manchester Tennessee with four of my closest friends. Why would we travel to such a remote destination as Manchester?

Bonnarooooooooooooo!! (of course)

For those of you who are unaware, Bonnaroo is an epic music and arts festival that takes place on a 750 acre farm in the middle of nowhere (I know because I walked all 750 acres).

Thursday morning we rose bright and early to make the hour drive. We thought we were prepared with our food and our tent and our sunscreen. Thought being the operative word.

When we pulled in to our site after two hours of waiting in a dusty trail of road rangers and station wagons we found that our sun gazebo was in fact nothing more than a wind protector (to go around our now noticeably absent gazebo).

The hot sun beat down on our dirty, sweating bodies as we sat, unprotected in the relentless sun. We finally fashioned a haphazard shade from that useless wind panel and collapsed underneath it. Dirty, exhausted and sweaty (the temperature remained in the mid 90s for the entire weekend).

That afternoon we made our way to Bonnaroo Center. Here there are several large and small stages to accommodate the performances. We made the trek to and from the center a few times each day to catch our favorite artists. Our campsite was the farthest possible distance from the center, and we spent much of our two mile walk discussing the similarities of our condition to the trail of tears or a civil war march. (we knew we were better off, but still…)

Once we arrived at the center we were immediately enveloped in dust and music. Some of you might wonder why we would endure such trials for music that you can listen to in the comfort of your air conditioned homes.

It’s for the experience dude.

There’s something about seeing The Black Keys drummer sweat on stage and Lil Wayne shake his dreads that is impossible to replicate through the dead speakers of your headphones. The crowd, the blaze, the dust, it’s unparalled.

The music comes to life in such a different way at Bonnaroo. All of your senses are stimulated. You can even taste the music.

It tastes a lot like dust and sweat, but it’s totally worth it.

The performances I got to experience were:

  1. Florence and the Machine
  2. Matt and Kim
  3. Neon Trees
  4. Lil Wayne
  5. Wiz Khalifa
  6. My Morning Jacket
  7. Arcade Fire
  8. The Black Keys
  9. Eminmen

10. Alison Krausse

I haven’t decided whether I’ll go back again next year. I’m considering it if for nothing else than to get another delicious black bean quesadilla (to die for) and strawberry lemonade.