Jason and I are old. Maybe not "old" in the grand scheme of life, but certainly in the "not so young and cool anymore" sense. (OK, I was never cool but I was CERTAINLY young once!) We got tickets to the Shaky Knees Music Festival thinking that it would definitely be one of these situations...
Or perhaps one of these...
However, we ended up having an excellent time! There were people closer to our creaky old age there and we didn't feel too out of place. Emboldened by this experience, we decided to tackle a more difficult music festival challenge: Bonnaroo. We had always seen pictures and heard miscellaneous news about it when we lived in California, but never thought we'd go since it takes place in the middle of nowhere in Tennessee. We decided to take advantage of our current residence in The South and check it out.
We decided this relatively late in the game, about two months before the festival, so we stayed an hour and a half away in Chattanooga and only went for Saturday and Sunday. We have no illusions about the fact that we're too high-maintenance to camp for 4 days straight. These creaky old bones need daily showers (two daily showers if encrusted in many layers of Bonnaroo filth).
In Chattanooga on the way up, we saw a restaurant called Sticky Fingers and both retched. "Who would eat at a restaurant called Sticky Fingers?!"
Well, we did, obviously. Because they had BBQ. The ribs were good.
We got to the festival in the mid-afternoon and took in the insanity...
The heat of the afternoon was stifling, so people were taking shelter in any available shade.
We put down our blanket, chilled, and listened to some bands, already in the spirit of the occasion.
The "spirit of the occasion" is total filth (as previously mentioned), so I was armed with 3 different kinds of body wipes.
We saw a few bands that first afternoon: Songhoy Blues, Woods, The War on Drugs, Gary Clark Jr., Bleachers, and Belle & Sebastian. The last was a bit disappointing because they played barely anything from their older albums (the ones I was the most into). They did play "The Boy With the Arab Strap", although that provided me with the instance at the festival that I felt the very oldest. They invited about 20-30 people on stage to dance with them and half of the kids were taking selfies. SELFIES! You're there to dance and I promise that it happened whether you get a pic or not! (I know there's a selfie of me only two pics up, but I swear I took it when nothing better was happening. I am only SLIGHTLY part of the problem.) Apparently Jon Hamm and Zach Galifianakis were on stage with them at some point, but we were too far away to see it. Remember this because it matters later!
At night the vibe turns more trippy/ravey.
Not for us though, as we decided to see SLAYER! instead.
Mostly I came away from the experience impressed by how devoted their (chanting) fans are and just how long they're able to bang their heads for. Seriously I can't headbang for even a few seconds. They must do some sort of neck-loosening exercises.
The next day we slept in luxuriously late at our hotel in Chattanooga and then had brunch at the Tupelo Honey Cafe downtown.
Even though Jason's meal looks like Patton Oswalt's immortal "failure pile in a sadness bowl" bit come to life, all the food was amazing and delicious and pure love and wonderment. At one point our waitress (who we had been bonding with about Bonnaroo) came up to our table and whispered, "Jon Hamm and Zach Galifianakis are sitting at the bar!" I asked her if it was on the way to the bathroom or something and she was like "No, but you can go get a mint from the hostess stand and glance over". So that is exactly what I did. When it comes to celebrities (at least cool ones that I'm actually into), there is no shame in my gawking game. I did not, however, take a picture or bother them, because there's lots of shame in that game. Sorry, readers. Our waitress also mentioned that Jon Hamm had tipped the bartender with his VIP wristband, something that blogs confirm. That blog also explains why they were in Chattanooga, which is definitely in the wrong direction if you're a celebrity flying away from Bonnaroo.
We drove around Chattanooga a little bit more and kept saying, "It's so cute here, who wouldn't want to live here?!"
Oh right, this is The South. There's some pretty fucked up history, to put it mildly.
But let's back away from that subject and return to Bonnaroo. Day 1 we never ventured into the main stage area, so on Day 2 we camped there for the duration. The first band we saw was Spoon.
The next was Florence and the Machine, who put on the best performance we saw all weekend. She just has amazing energy, running back and forth across the stage and into the crowd like a benevolent little sprite person.
During "Rabbit Heart (Raise it Up)" she asked everyone to life someone else up, and tons of people did. I tried to pick Jason up but couldn't manage it.
The closer of the festival was Billy Joel, perfect for the two narcs walking amongst everyone. His low-key (old.) energy was a bit of a change after Florence, but it was still enjoyable to sing along and dance to. Apparently these kids' parents ALSO listened to Billy Joel, like mine. And singing together with everyone, suddenly we didn't feel so very old after all.
CODA: I need to document the feat that Jason drove ALL THE WAY HOME (3.5 hours) after this. He is a machine man.