Radiohead at Bonnaroo 2012: Photo via Bonnaroo.com

The Bonnaroo Diaries – 2012 – Day 2 By Steve Pipps

I can’t remember a morning my feet hurt more than Friday morning at Bonnaroo. This is a sentiment I repeated both Saturday and Sunday morning. I’m not joking when I say festivals are just as much an assault on your feet as they are an assault on your ears… in a good way.

The morning started much like Thursday’s, with just as much excitement and adrenaline bubbling over. We consumed a massive amount of Bojangles and were on our way back into Centeroo.

It was a relatively lazy day, concert wise, until the evening so we had no big plans except to roam around the art tents and explore some of the other smaller venues like the poorly named The Great Taste Lounge Brewed by Miller Lite and the much cooler Silent Disco which didn’t get started until later in the afternoon.

Finally, we ambled over to This Tent to catch the end of tUnE-yArDs and wait for our chance to strike a good spot for Two Door Cinema Club.

Bands of Day 2:
Two Door Cinema Club.
Little Dragon
Rodrigo y Grabriela and C.U.B.A
Major Lazer/Black Star

The tUnE-yArDs show was exceptionally unexceptional from the standpoint of never having heard them before and barely listening to them. It was something else that really took my attention during their set. A drifter came and sat down next to my friend and me while we were soaking up some rays. He will forever be burned into my memory because after our chat we were convinced he had killed a person to get his ticket. He is probably also dead at this point so I’m not too concerned about slander.

He sat down, shirt wrapped around his neck, and stuck his hand out with a gravely hello. Much to our dismay, we shook his dirty calloused hand and waited.

“You guys mind if I sit here for a bit, I’m just trying to make some new friends, everyone here has been so nice.”

“Yeah of course, it is a pretty fun festival.” We were very unsure as to where this was headed.

“So where are you all from?” His voice cracked as much as his sunburned skin had. His shoulders and arms were bubbling over with dead blistering skin.

“New York,” I responded.

“Chicago,” my friend replied.

“That’s awesome. I caught a train here from St. Louis. I was at a crazy parking lot party at a Walmart and some guy gave me his ticket.”

At this point we were both more interested in the Walmart parking lot party than anything else because this was not the first time we had heard of such a thing on this trip alone.

“What is a Walmart parking lot party?” I asked expertly.

“Just a big ass party in a parking lot, pretty much. I train hopped to St. Louis from Arkansas when I heard there was going to be a crazy party there. I was just out drinking and smoking and some guy came up to me and asked if I wanted a ticket to Bonnaroo. I said sure and train hopped my way here.” He smiled at us as if this was a completely normal thing. To him it apparently was.

“Oh, that’s wild.” We had nothing more to say. Images of violence were running through both of our heads. No one just gives away a $300 ticket to a festival in a Walmart parking lot. Someone died for that, I’m sure of it.

He sat there for a while as we continued to make small talk about the weather and people of the festival, at which point he asked us if we had any drugs. We somberly shook our heads to feign disappointment and he was off. Feeling spared we went straight to This Tent for the start of the shows.

I have zero recollection of Two Door Cinema Club. Nothing comes to mind. I’ve watched some videos of the show to try and jog something back, but I’m almost convinced I was not there. My friend argues that we were and I’ll side with him as he has a much better memory.

Little Dragon is where my day began and almost ended. While waiting for the show to start, I noticed two cute girls standing next to us. Sticking to the mantra of love thy neighbor, I struck up a conversation. One was a kindergarten teacher from California and the other I cannot recall. It was the teacher that impacted my day most of all. She pulled out a joint as Little Dragon was taking the stage and sparked it up.

After a few tokes she passed it to me. I am no novice when it comes to pot smoking so I shared in the festivities a few times and waited for the music to get going, which it did much faster than I anticipated. The drums were kicking while the small lead singer was banging on these pads, which were making different sounds. Soon the pads were emitting visible sound waves and I knew something was not right. As the sound waves started to be color coordinated (lower sounds were darker colors, higher sounds lighter colors) I felt a cold sweat sweep over me.

I turned and began falling out of the crowd, which spread for me like the Red Sea did for Moses. Hands kept me upright and guided me to the edge of the crowd. Many hands patted me on the back to let me know it was all right. What a damn good community.

I proceeded to sit next to a tree while having an extremely vibrant high that I was convinced was going to kill me. I have no evidence of whether the weed was laced or not, but for pride sake, I took to saying it was laced with cocaine if anything. That allegedly produces a much stronger high and can in some cases produce small visions such as sound waves off of a drum at a loud concert while exhausted and dehydrated.

Regardless, I missed Little Dragons, half of Ludacris and legitimately feared I would miss the only concert I truly wanted to see: Radiohead.

This is where my sole disclaimer comes in: Don’t do drugs you don’t bring yourself. That’s it. Easy.

I pulled it together and met up with my friend outside of This Tent after Luda and we walked over to What Stage to catch the end of Rodrigo Y Gabriela. It was during this walk that my friend explained how good of a show Luda had just put on. He had pushed his way up to front row and heard some of the classics as I was struggling underneath a tree.

Rodrigo y Gabriela also put on a stunningly cool show, one that soothed me back to normality. I had never heard of the duo, but they are an acoustic guitar duo who plays Nuevo flamenco. The guitars were on point, quick and dance-y. The sounds made you want to move your hips and smile. The perfect music to bring you back to life after a horrible smoking experience.

Finally, it was time for Radiohead. This was the concert I paid so much money for. My love for two albums, The Bends and OK Computer, drove me to it, and my ancillary love for the rest of their music helped as well. However, the set was almost expectedly not as good as I had hoped for.

It was a year after the release of King of Limbs, a more experimental album that I was not as fond of. The set was also heavily In Rainbows favored because it was their second most recent album. This is also an album I enjoy but have not become well acquainted with. Overall, it was great to finally see the band live and when they did play “Karma Police” in their first encore and finished the set with “Paranoid Android,” it made it all worth it.  If you want to judge for yourself here is a full set video from Youtube.

After Radiohead’s crowd let out, I was exhausted but we pushed on to catch the middle of Major Lazer’s set and some of Black Star’s set. Both were great, relatively unmemorable to me, as my mind had shut off. We retired after a few songs at each show and headed back to campsite to get as much sleep as possible for a packed Saturday.

Music lover’s survival food staple to bring with you to Bonnaroo: Bojangles!


(Diary to be continued in day-by-day diary/tips format) Part 0 here, part 1 here, with more to come.)

Steve Pipps is a Chicago-based freelance writer and a frequent contributor to Step On magazine. He enjoys writing for both the screen and TV. Follow him on Twitter or check out his website.