Manchester Travel Blog

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wed 6/11: i go to work, leave at 6pm, take my dog to class, drop him
off with the sitter, eat dinner, then start packing at around 10pm.  my
camping gear is already en route to nashville in a friend's car, so all
i need are some essentials: socks, tshirts, maybe some underwear.  i
catch a 1130pm train to penn station...

thurs 6/12: i arrive in nyc about 25 min after midnight, take the 1
train down to my brother's apt, nap for 2 hrs, go back to penn station,
then take the 420am nj transit train to newark airport to catch my
630am flight.  the plane is a small commuter jet built for people
under 5'7".  almost everyone on board is headed to bonnaroo, so it's
all good.  i point out to the flight attendant that her uniform is
ripped by her shoulder, and i thought she was going to cry.  i go to
pick up my rental car, but they're out of compact vehicles, so i have
to choose between a mini van and a vw rabbit.  the minivan can sleep 4
adults in a pinch, so i decide to put up with any ridicule associated
with driving a white grand caravan.  after meeting up with chris,
carrie and emily, we begin our journey to manchester, tn.  it's only 60
miles away, but all the exits on I24 are closed around manchester, so
we're routed about 10 miles past the venue then back around.  an extra
20 minutes of travel? hahahah! no.  the 80 mile journey takes about 4.5
hours.  when we arrive at the bonnaroo farm, our vehicles are searched
for contaband, get our wristbands, and we enter what will become our
home for the next 4 days.  chris and i get our tent up quickly despite
the fact that raced through a case of yuengling.  our hike to centeroo is a
long scenic trip.  lots of food and crafts vendors.  not surprisingly,
most of the crafts vendors are selling nice glass bongs and pipes.  i
spot a ferris wheel in the far distance and wonder why there's another
fair or carnival going on so close to bonnaroo.  after walking over a mile to the
centeroo gate, i realize that the ferris wheel is a part of bonnaroo
-our campsite is just really far away.  i also realize that the hippies
are looking at me and avoiding me.  i was
wearing a shirt that said "LIPD K9" on the back ...those who ran away
were probably among the scores of drug dealers at bonnaroo.  while the
food selection was not great (gyros, cheesesteaks, more gyros, some
cajun food, and ummmm ...gyros), it was not difficult to find multiple
vendors for different varieties (and preparations of) weed, E, acid,
shrooms, salvia, molly, tina, nitrous -you name it, someone's
selling/doing it.  openly.  you kinda forget that this stuff is illegal
(not sure if salvia is legal or not in TN).

acts i got to see on thursday:
janeane garafolo: funny but a bit disappointing. i expect a lot because
i think she a comedy genius. but maybe my expectations of female
comediennes have changed since discovering sarah silverman and lisa
back door slam: my first thoughts as they took the stage: "what's this
high school band doing at bonnaroo?"  my next couple of thoughts: "how
does he make his guitar sing like that??" and "damn, the boy can sing!"
vampire weekend: they didn't do it for me. i think they try too hard to be like modest mouse.
lez zeppelin: a huge crowd gathered for what i thought was a really bad sounding zeppelin cover band
porter/batiste/stotlz: their venue was air conditioned, served abita
turbo dog AND (aside from the shirtless frat boys) i felt like i was in new orleans.  PBS was
awesome as usual, and george porter provided one of my favorite quotes
of the weekend: "i thought this was gonna be a 2 red bull night, but it
might have to be 4."

friday 6/13: i went to bed at about 3am (pbs played until 4ish) and
woke up at 730am.  bloody marys and brownies for breakfast.  i decide
to wear extra sunscreen, but no wristwatch.  and no cell phone.  i'm no
good to the outside world anyway.  i skip big sam's show -instead
i wait for the floodgates the main stage to open. i want to see stephen
marley up close! and i want to conserve my energy for tiesto later in the night (early morning actually).  at 7pm i pay $7 to
take my first (of 2) showers at bonnaroo. never had $7 been more wisely
spent.  i took a nap during the 2nd half of metallica's set and not even
the fireworks woke me up. 

acts i got to see friday:
stephen marley: great great set. one of my favorites of the weekend. he really does his father's music very well.
willie nelson: just when i think the man is too old to be doing this
...he proves that he can and should still be on stage.  i did like him
better at farm aid...
chris rock: one of the funniest men on the planet.  he's got a dirty, twisted, sick mind. i love it.
kinda dark and heavy for what amounts to a big hippie fest ...but the
guys can rock.  and they played a lot of older stuff from ride the
lightning.  but i'm not a big enough fan to stick around for a whole
set in the rain.
MSTRKRFT: great warmup before hitting the headlining dj of the night.
and i met some cool people from north carolina at this show.  who knew
they were allowed to listen to electronica in the carolinas?
tiesto: one of the greatest trance dj's ever.  he played until 4am. in
the rain.  i was soaked and muddy.  we all danced our asses off and
loved every moment.
disco biscuits: it doesn't make sense that a group originating from
upenn who combines jamband rock and electronica should be this good.
they're so good. even at 5am.

saturday 6/14: i went to bed after sunrise and woke up at around
945am.  it was about 95 degrees in the tent when i got up -and about 20
degrees cooler outside ...but not for long.  saturday turned out to be
a hot sunny day.  my sneakers were still trashed and dripping wet from
the night before, so i put some miles on the reef flipflops (with the
bottle openers on the bottom).  i narrowly avoided slipping and falling
into a pit of mud outside of the trailer housing the water troughs.  it
would have been a shame to get that dirty after "cleaning" myself in
this communal bathroom area.  i use the word "clean" very loosely
here.  my routine consisted of running cold water through my hair and
onto my face, then using a somewhat clean plastic lemonade cup to pour
more cold water onto the rest of my dusty and mud-splattered body.  at
least this didn't cost $7!  after wandering back to the campsite, i
decided it would be a good idea to sit in the minivan.  i fell asleep
in the front seat and did not emerge until 3pm.  i could hear ozomatli
in the distance, but by the time i got myself (and chris) together and
hiked the 1.2miles to centeroo, they were done.

acts i got to see saturday:
bb king: it was kinda like listening to your grandfather tell you how
it used to be "back in the day" and playing some music in between
stories.  he's a legend for good reason.
ben folds: i only stayed for a few minutes, hoping to hear the song Brick.  no such luck.
zappa plays zappa: dweezil, like stephen marley, is making his father
proud.  frank zappa's music transcends any definition of modern music,
and dweezil's renditions are as authentic as it will ever get.  good
stuff.  kinda weird and definitely not for everybody. but still good.
anyone know what ever happened to moon zappa?
pearl jam: really good set, but since i was running on empty, i needed to find more uplifting music
chromeo: just what i was looking for!  i had never heard or seen these
guys before, but like the drunk guy next to me kept on saying, "they're
tight!"  there's an israeli guy and his palestinian best friend playing
guitar, bass, a little percussion, and doing weird things with
synthesizers, a talk box and an apple ibook.  all of this with a
prerecorded 80s/90s synth-pop beat.  sounds like it would be a
trainwreck, but it was ...tight!
kanye west: i can't believe i gave up seeing ghostland observatory for
this crap.  all i really wanted to hear was golddigger.  scheduled to
go on at 245am, kanye didn't start until after 430am. apparently his
fragile ego can't handle having other performers on other stages at the
same time. so AFTER phil lesh and friends wrapped up their set at 430,
kanye began his.  sure we all danced and screamed.  we also threw
glowsticks at kanye.  50,000 pissed off fans. not fun.  for better or
for worse, kanye's set only lasted 50 minutes or so.

sunday 6/15:  burnt out, out of money, and bordering on delerious.  i
emerged from my tent around 11am.  even though it's at least 100
degrees inside the tent, chris continues to sleep.  not wanting to deal
with the communal water trough, i "shower" at the campsite and forage
for food.  ah -bloody marys and brownies for breakfast 3 days in a row?
sure. why not.  we decide to pack up the camping gear and leave
bonnaroo sunday night instead of monday morning to avoid to chaos that
the mass exodus will surely bring.  apparently i can still come up with
a good idea or two in this state of mind.  of course, we don't end up
leaving until around 1030pm and i drive back to nashville practically
half asleep.  we crash hard at the lovely motel 6.  but not before
taking a nice long hot shower.  i still feel dirty afterwards.

acts i got to see on sunday:
israel vibration: really great mellow set and a good way to start off
my lazy sunday.  with half the festival still passed out (and pissed
off), i score a great location right next to the stage.
ladytron: imagine if bjork had a rebellious electronic/punk/rock evil twin.  good stuff
robert randolph's revival:  excellent as usual, robert provided another great quote of the weekend: "kanye sucks!"
trombone shorty: whatever feelings of laziness i had were wiped away by trombone shorty's set.  great energy and amazing talent.
solomon burke: he sings well for a 500 pound man.  he also apparently
has 21 children, 96 grandchildren and 23 great grandchildren. t bone burnett joined him on stage towards the end.  very nice.
death cab for cutie: i was too tired and too hungry to enjoy this set.
i think i was paying more attention to eating my sweet potato fries.
widespread panic: really, i just listened to wp in the background as we finished packing up our vehicles.

monday 6/16: i slept for a good 8 hours and probably could have slept
for 8 more.  after checking out of the motel 6, chris and i drove into
downtown nashville, ate some great bbq, talked to a couple of cute
bartenders and took a backstage tour of the ryman auditorium (the
original home of the grand ole opry).  we drove to the airport around
5pm, returned the rental van and carried out bags to the terminal
...only to find out that our flights (mine to newark and his to philly)
had been cancelled due to weather.  got another car, bought a box of
wine, and  checked back into the motel 6.  we went back into town, but
there's only so much going on in nashville on a monday night.  good
thing the 4 canadian electricians in room 325 (we were in 326) invited
everyone in the motel to their room for a party.  so i partied with
some canadians, a handful uc berkeley sorority girls, 2 locals from the
liquor store and one random chick who lived in the motel until 2am.

acts i got to see on monday:
random wanna-be cowboy at some random bar on broadway in nashville
another random guitar player at the tin roof

tuesday 6/17: i nap for about 2 hours, shower at 4am, say goodbye to
the canadians and the hotel resident (they were still up, all wearing
less clothes than 2 hrs earlier -you figure it out yourself), and drive
back to the airport.  fly to detroit, then to newark.  train to penn
station.  subway to brother's apt.  check email, shower, change, stuff
essential belongings into my toiletry bag, have an early dinner with a
friend, then back to madison square garden for another concert!  took
the LIRR back to the island, ate at a local bar, and in bed by 130am.
a fitting end to my [almost] week-long musical bender!

acts i got to see on tuesday:
steve winwood:  he's old, but he can still rock!
tom petty & the heartbreakers: ditto.
Ashley_L_Mack says:
Posted on: Jul 01, 2008
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