40 Bonnaroo Moments (part 2)

13. Billy Joel. Creeping around in the dark field as his set is starting, trying to agree on the optimum spot. We end up on the VIP hill, where to my right I see a crowd of ninety thousand, illuminated by the towering lights of the What Stage. A mass of waving glow sticks, launched in huge bundles towards the sky at key points during songs. LED hula hoops, jump ropes, and all manner of blinking totems. And the lanterns. Those delicate paper balloons carefully lit and set aloft by the crowd, to the triumphant cheers of everyone nearby. They drift by overhead, tiny glowing festival clouds that complete the magic scene that is Bonnaroo's last night. And the music. Terence belting it out, totally absorbed, totally transplanted (probably someplace close to where I've gone; we're only two years apart, after all). I get weepy during "Piano Man" and giddy during "Only The Good Die Young" and everything in between is just all kinds of wonderful.



14. Sometime this spring, "Sedona" by Houndmouth got under my skin in a really big way. The story in that song...I don't know, I just love it. And when they played it, well. Terence standing behind for me to alternately jump on and lean into, breaking my face on the biggest smile ever. Realizing it was only Thursday night and we had another three days' worth ahead of us.



15. Do you know STS9? I did not. I don't know how I'd missed them, studying up. Right up my instrumental alley. We caught them on accident, grabbing a bite next to where they played. Sometimes, being completely removed from a stage offers the best vantage point. This was one of those times. We could see the entire light show, lasers and strobes blasted in every which way to the pulsing beat. From a distance, the whole thing look contained, like a sci-fi movie set standing alone on an otherwise dark island.



16. A small thing, but heartwarming to see: the various Robin Williams totems.



17. I say this with love in my heart for AWOLNATION: AWOLNATION is a big dork. I'd dragged Terence up close to the stage in the blazing heat, half an hour early. We and everyone around us utterly defeated by the sun, hardly anyone talking. Shading ourselves with our hands, sending emissaries out for cold drinks. But then the music starts and we all gamely jump up. Faithful, sun-fried fans, going on pure anticipation. He's animated, undeniably spirited and pumped to be at Bonnaroo. But also...awkward somehow? When he tries to rally the crowd between songs he sounds more like a morning radio DJ than a rockstar. It's a surprise, a bit of a let down at first, but then fun in its own way. We giggle at how goofy he comes across, and give in to what now feel like cheesy anthems.



18. Cooling off in the VIP tent, girding ourselves for another several-hour stint in the sun. Terence uses the bathroom, and when he returns he finds me in conversation with a middle-aged man holding a silver mylar balloon. He's round and pink, pleasantly toasted by sunshine and alcohol. He's telling me about the vibrations in his balloon. How it's picking up levels of sound beyond what the speakers are producing. People are freaking out, he says, when they hear it. Goes on a bit about frequencies and secret, mystical music. Clearly having some kind of spiritual experience, with the balloon, sharing it with everyone he can. Terence gives it a try, and the surprised look on his face delights the man. See? Totally different waveforms, right? The balloon is passed to me. Yep. Totally different waveforms. Pretty damn cool.