Showing posts with label bonnaroo. Show all posts
Showing posts with label bonnaroo. Show all posts

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.

40 Bonnaroo Moments (part 1)

It's always an intimidatingly huge task, to try and recap Bonnaroo. Just reviewing the performances doesn't really get you there. And anyway, music blogs and mags do a much better job of that than me.

With festivals, it comes down to moments. Blissful moments. Stressful moments. Carefree moments. Surprised moments. Annoyed moments. Amused moments. Playful moments. Pissed-off moments. Those are what stay with me. So those are what I'm sharing today, albeit a solid month after they've cooled off. Forty moments and forty images to keep them company in my memory. In no particular order, because order is taking the summer off.

1. An industrial truck is rolling through the middle of the grounds. It inches past picnic tables where the sweaty and sun-drenched scarf down pizza and donuts. The cab's windows are lowered; two tanned young men sit inside, looking surprisingly cheerful considering the circumstances. These men are doing god's work: hauling pumped-out waste from the Porta Potties. Their heroics are not lost on the crowd, many of whom rush up to high-five them in appreciation. Bonnaroooooo! they call to one another, slapping palms and exchanging smiles, respect, germs. I have a hard time picturing such a scene happening at Coachella.

2. The things you hear, as you move through the throng. Snippets of conversations, shouts of greeting, laughter. You wonder about the stories behind some of them. I really don't think they have chicken soup, says a male voice doubtfully, and I'm intrigued enough to make a note of it in my phone. Is his girlfriend sick? Cold? It's ninety degrees out, middle of the day. Hot soup hardly seems a refreshing choice for overheated revelers. I hope she finds a pot pie or fried chicken, something more likely to be around but just as comforting.

3. They like to say Bonnaroo fills up your spirit for the year ahead. I think of this as we're laying on our sheet, at the edge of a relatively empty tent, listening to the opening song of Who Is William Onyeabor. It's especially dry and dirty over here. As people drift in to check out the music, they kick up dust and inadvertently add to the thin layer of Tennessee that hovers then settles lightly on our skin. I love it, though. It's part and parcel of the experience. We're especially close right now, maybe that's why. Joking and cuddling, flat on our backs, removed but involved, enjoying what's on offer but also making something for ourselves. These are the best Bonnaroo moments. Taking it in but creating at the same time. I love him so much at this instant, fist propped behind his head, tapping a foot while I slap his leg to the beat. All our small cuts and hurts forgotten, lovingly bandaged up with music and sunshine.

4. We're enjoying one of the few gaps in our schedule. Wandering, catching bits of shows here and there, gravitating to whatever draws us in. Something funky's going down at This Tent. We slide into the back corner, where the reds and purples of stage lights hit the black wall of night, washing us in a pink haze. We dance, and I can't tell if we're being ironic with our ridiculous moves or not. A man approaches us and wordlessly, wondrously hands us a pineapple. He gestures emphatically for us to hold it together, which we do, glancing at one another and at him in amazement. So, this is happening. He still doesn't speak and neither do we, other than to say thank you and laugh. All three of dance for a few moments before I sense that I'm expected to return the pineapple. I do so, and he dances out of sight with it. I think we're festival-married now, says Terence. I think that was some kind of ceremony. I suspect Pastor Pineapple will be in a lot of Bonnaroo stories.

5. Another overheard tidbit. This time I see the speakers: a girl skipping ten steps behind two of her friends - a girl and guy - who lean on one another with linked arms as they walk. Crossing an expanse of grass in front of us, so young and fresh they make my heart ache. There's a softness about them I can't explain, as if the light breaking just now was cleared by the clouds especially for them. Where are you gooooing, Katie, where are you going? sings the second girl to her friend ahead. Joy and friendship twinkle in her voice. We're going to make halos! comes the reply, over a freckled shoulder, equally singsong and inviting. Somehow they've managed to write Bonnaroo in fourteen words.

6. Turquoise braids so close I can see where the blond fades in. A gauzy floral kimono, also turquoise, wisping across my ankles. Funky sunglasses, red lipstick, a smile wider than the sky. Girlfriends on either side of her, but she's obviously the beloved ringleader. They sit practically on our feet, so smashed up against them are we. Row after row of us, cross-legged, facing the Jumbotron where Bleacher's lead singer is torturing a tent full of millennial women. He's one part one emo, one part bro. "Ebro," Terence calls him. Braids and Co., shifting positions, notice how much they're on top of us. They apologize, try to make room. We assure them it's no problem, they're welcome to what few inches of space we're all sharing. Braids is effusive, bubbling with thanks and her goofy stoner's grin. She loves us, she says. I love her hair, I say. If we want any of her, you know (she holds up a small pipe), we're welcome to partake. Seriously, it's the good shit. Terence gives her an orange, which he obtained from the VIP tent but which we have no use for. Braids is delighted, hugs him in thanks. I get a hug, too. If nothing else, I won't get scurvy! There's a topless hula hooper over Terence's shoulder. I discreetly point her out to him and my expression says See? I told you they do that here. I've been thinking about ditching the itchy bra under my tank top, so I'm building my case. Bleachers, a world away from NYC, are a blast.

7. I'm going to kill him, I fume silently. I'm going to absolutely kill him. The thing I dread most, the thing I warned him against repeatedly, has happened. We've gotten separated. There's no cell reception. Texts don't go through and calls disappear into voicemail purgatory. We have a designated meeting place set but a show has just started, one we've both been looking forward to. Tears for Fears. He wanted to catch some of Ben Folds before it started, but we cut it too close and by the time we left the crowd was impossibly thick. Walking too fast ahead of me, darting around crazily, striding over the blankets of people already sitting down. I refused to follow suit, perhaps unreasonably so, but I'd rather take the long way around than be disruptive and rude. And now we're separated instead of singing along together. I'm going to kill him. And I nearly do, when we meet up afterward. Chewing him a new one by the mushroom fountain, overly loud. He counters with fierce, forced cheerfulness. These are the worst Bonarroo moments. Veering sharply off course before you know what's happened, willing yourself to shrug off anger and annoyance, intensified by heat, fatigue, hunger. But I do. I stop us walking and pull him into a hug, holding tight until I feel the tension truly release from his body. I'll hold him all night if I have to. We're not fighting at Bonnaroo. Anyway, they sounded depressingly old to me, to be honest. The whole show felt hokey. You can't go home again. You can only go forward.

8. Childish Gambino. Not my thing, but Terence is fascinated by the guy. Completely gave up a career acting. It's like if I just decided one day to.... I tune out. I can't help it. I'm distracted by thoughts of the night ahead. It's just past nine and in a little while we're going to take pills which will make us want to dance. And I can't wait to dance. Deadmau5 the night before was not enough. I'm twitching in my seat, ready for some Silent Disco, some Bassnectar and Flume. Though it could also be the fact that my ass itches horribly, when I sit on the ground in my Dance Pants. Something about the combination of cold vinyl, the hay-like grass underneath, and the sticky slick feel of my leggings. It's the worst, and I keep finding reasons to stand up, smooth my clothing out. The VIP tent is a short walk away so I make a couple trips over there to pee in relative luxury while Terence gets his rap fix. In the buzzy light of the trailer restroom, I check myself out. High neck crop top that laces up my back. Colorful, slinky jersey pants hugging my hips. Festival outfit planning always brings out my harshest inner critic. No way, Ellie. You are too fucking old for that. That too. And that? Don't even think about it. And I compromised with myself this time, balancing out the amount of skin I'm showing. But the getup is skintight and unforgiving, and I worked hard to own it. This vanity, gross and superficial, is still part of the fun of festivals for me. I'll outgrow it eventually.

9. I always forget how much I love the sprawling, sweltering afternoon shows on the main stage. The frenetic energy of late-night sets is the excitement I daydream about, leading up to festivals. But once I'm there, the truth is that the daytime headliners out at the What Stage - a massive field lined with food stalls and shops, with room enough for 90,000+ people - are what often give me the most joy. And right now, I'm giddy with it, listening to Spoon. The sizzling heat has pinned thousands of fans to the ground, where they sit or lay in various degrees of dehydration, delight, or both. Every last one of us working on a sunburn, none of us caring. The opening chords of "Do You" launch me into a frenzy. I jump up, dancing a circle around Terence, singing to him as I bounce. It's one of the songs I've most been looking forward to hearing live. Their entire set will end up being one of my favorites of the weekend. Britt Daniel's scratchy howling has been on my radar since the 90s and finally seeing him perform is a kind of coming home. Terence dances with me, the two of us jumping around like maniacs. When we collapse in a heap, defeated by the sun, I lean against him, smoothing the hair from his face as I sing.

10. Waiting to ride the Ferris Wheel. In three years of going to festivals, I've never yet managed to get on one. We're high on mushrooms and the length of the line doesn't faze me a bit. Everything is color and light and contentment, and I'm satisfied to just look around. The sun is setting, and our bodies cast twenty foot shadows across the grass. The placard at the entrance tells about the original Ferris Wheel at the World's Fair. Adjusted for inflation, a ticket to ride cost $90. Ninety dollars! I'll tell everyone I know this, back at home. Silly on psychedelics, we assign flavors to the car colors. I hope we get grape. Or lemon. When we finally board, we're amazed at how long the ride lasts. Florence and The Machine is on, way off in the distance. I'd caught her at Coachella and had encouraged Terence to go watch her himself, but he's chosen to stay with me instead. We watch a sea of people surging to the music, which we can hear clearly even at this remove. Terence takes in the vastness of Bonnaroo, the endless camping area and the size of the grounds. I duck as he takes panoramic pictures, craning around in my seat to get my own sunset shots. It's spectacular.

11. Guster is playing "Ramona." I wasn't even sure I wanted to watch their set, I had so little faith they'd play much of the older stuff I know, considering how massive their catalog is. But they're playing "Ramona" and it is absolutely making my Bonnaroo. I. Fucking. Love. This. Song. Terence films me singing along, where we sit off to the side, in the grass. When it ends I realize I'm crying. Not even sure why. Not even sure what it dragged up, from deep inside me. Not sure I want to look at it and see. But it got something, that's for sure.

12. Deadmau5 has just ended. Tens of thousands of people are shuffling back to the main grounds, to catch the rest of ODESZA. Other mau5heads like me have been stunned into silence. I stumble along, my hand hooked into the back of Terence's shorts, "Avaritia" still ringing in my ears. The set was phenomenal. Operatic. And all I can think is that I wish there was a way to make Joel Zimmerman understand - feel - what his music does to us. I wish there was a machine I could hook him up to, so that as he performed, all the emotion, all the elation his music generates in fans could be routed straight back into him. Electrify him with a heart attack of appreciation. He is like no other, to me. An innovator with the success and talent to back up his occasional attitude. One of my biggest creative idols, and whom I was most excited to see this weekend. From the opening notes of "You There" (which is exactly what I'd hoped he'd start with), I spent his entire set in an ecstasy of movement, only stopping to drink water. Heaven.

'roo music preview

Would you like to hear some excellent music? Because back in January I threatened to share some of my favorite discoveries from the Bonnaroo lineup, and four months later I'm finally ready to make good on that threat.

(Some of these vids have playback restrictions; you'll have to click over to YouTube to watch/listen. Hoping you find at least a few worth the effort.) Ready? Let's do it!


Courtney Barnett is an Australian singer/songwriter whose brain makes me wish I could put it through some kind of enfleurage process, get a vial's worth of essence for my very own. Her conversational lyrics come rapid-fire, like spiral notebooks tumbling down from a too full shelf, their pages crammed with poetry you don't want to stop reading. So goddamn smart. If you listen to only one artist listed in this post, please make it the first.

The Districts are an indie quartet from Pennsylvania. Lead singer Rob Grote's voice shares that same wonderful lisping quality as Isaac Brock from Modest Mouse. So if you dig that, I think you'll like this. Silver Couplets is twangy and rich; the refrain will get pleasantly stuck in your head. For months. And 4th and Roebling takes a page from The Strokes - and it is a rockin' page:

Seattle electronic duo ODESZA is pretty big; you've surely heard them. But maybe not Kusanagi, which is like drinking peppermint tea and listening to a rainstorm:

And you know Spoon, of course. But in familiarizing myself with them more, I discovered this little gem:

Festival organizers have already published the schedule, which is great, but it kills me that Pokey LaFarge is on so early in the day. Don't know that I'll make it to see him, but holy cow would this be fun:

More Aussies! The DMA's are a trio of kids with a really sweet, plaintive sound that'll slingshot you right back to every 90's emo band you ever banged your heart against:

Indiana quartet Houndmouth just released their second full-length album in March, and I have a really, really good feeling about these guys. And something I've learned about festivals - the closer to their hometown, the more fun a band is to see live. Also? Bonnaroo fans represent, when it comes to folk and country. Sedona from the new album and Ludlow from the previous:

Time for some Afro-electro-pop. Chances are zip to none that Ezra Koenig will make a surprise appearance alongside The Very Best at Bonnaroo (sigh), but I'm including the track featuring him anyway. I promise it is physically impossible to feel bad while listening to these songs:

And while I've got you in a good mood, I'm skipping Slovenian DJ Gramatik's super popular (and played out, maybe?) Hit That Jive for Born Ready, which'll make your freakin' throat pulse:

I know. You're sick to death of AWOLNATION's Sail. But hear me out. Rather, hear frontman Aaron Bruno out, singing the sexiest screamfest you will hear this week. I dunno, it could just be me, but I cannot get enough of Woman Woman:

Good stuff, yes yes? Everyone ready to join me in Tennessee in June? Elliequent field trip? I promise I won't narc if you have to forge your parent's signature on the permission slip...

things coming, things passed

I am very happy to say that the sads I was having about a friend have been resolved. She reached out, but I wasn't ready. Then I reached out, and she was. We had dinner and talked about what happened and what we can do to keep it from happening again. I told her I just loved spending time with her, and was disappointed when she was flaky. That it's a bummer when things seem so often on her terms. She owned this and acknowledged she could probably work on that. Then I apologized for having ambushed her, slightly tipsily, with my hurt feelings in the first place. We cracked jokes, were honest and vulnerable, and it was all over and behind us in a matter of minutes. And then I got to sneak off to Minichella feeling all warm and fuzzy about someone I care for deeply. The best part, though? Her move has been postponed, indefinitely. I've got my Kerrbear for a while yet.


My Bonnaroadtrip is all set! After the festival I'm renting a car and spending a week in Lake Burton, Georgia, with Mason's uncle and aunt, before visiting a friend of my parent's in South Carolina that I haven't seen since I was nine years old.

Why am I spending a week with my best friend's aunt and uncle? Well, because I've had the great pleasure of cultivating a friendship with them - mainly the avuncular half - for the past two+ years. I met Bill on Thanksgiving, 2012 and spent the holiday with him (and Terence, and Mason, and some of Mason's family) again the following year. Bill and I exchange emails here and there, which are mostly me being the lucky, grateful benefactor of his accumulated wit and wisdom. I even printed up one of my favorite messages from him; I keep a copy of it taped inside my desk drawer to peek at when I'm feeling lost:

Life is meaningless. We waste so much time looking for a meaning to life when our primary purpose should be to enjoy living. On the entire planet, among all the animals, only man is arrogant enough to believe that he was put here for a purpose, different from all other animals. 

I could get all weepy right now, trying to convey what Bill's support has meant - support which came to me out of nowhere, really, and for no good reason. When he found out I'd be down south, he invited me to come spend some time with he and his wife before flying back to LA. I've never been to Georgia or South Carolina, haven't been on a lake in decades, and it's been a lifetime since I took myself on a road trip. Really, really excited for this.

To sweeten the deal, I'm going to get together with an old associate of my father's - someone I haven't seen since I was a little girl. Dale got in touch with me after my dad died, sending me one of the kindest letters I've ever received. I don't think he'd mind my sharing a bit of it:

...The thing I can tell you that is regardless of any possible faults your mother and dad had, and we all have them, they loved you dearly. So take that and lift your head high, because not many have the depth of love they felt for you. That I can swear to.  
I hope you don’t mind my reading your blogs. It gives me a feeling of contact with your dad. Know all the manly crap and not supposed to shed tears, but he and I were pretty close and I was a listening post for some of his thoughts so it hit me very hard to find out he had passed away....

So that's who I get to connect with, in just a couple months. My dad wasn't in touch with any family and really didn't have friends around when he died. There were very few people I could talk to about him, who'd known him. In the past few years there's been no one at all. Needless to say I'm very, very much looking forward to this reunion, demolish my heart though it might.


Speaking of, tomorrow marks three years to the day that my dad died. He would get such a kick out of the trip I've got planned. He was the original road-tripper, passed the love of it right down to me. Michigan to Florida. Florida to California. Arizona to Utah, Colorado, Texas. As a kid in the passenger's seat of my dad's cars I saw more of the U.S. than I've seen since, in adulthood. Every national park we could squeeze in, every scenic view and pull off. Always taking the long way there.


Boring blog is boring lately, apologies for that. Few things going on keeping me from writing more (and better):

1. Some awfulness went down between myself and a friend recently. I'm really bummed out, not sure how to handle it, not sure if I want to talk about it or not. And when there's something big on my mind like that, everything else gets backed up and frozen until I've dealt with it.

2. I'm distracted by both some concrete and some still-vague travel plans for the year. Until that's all firmed up, I feel guilty spending time on the blog, particularly because others are waiting on me to make decisions. After Bonnaroo I'm taking a solo, mini road trip through Georgia and South Carolina to visit some friends (which I'll expand on in another post, soon). I need to figure out the exact wheres and whens of that. Also, Terence and I are talking about heading up to Big Sur for my birthday. A sort of hotel/camping hybrid weekend. Camping because I want to be in nature, because I want to try acid. But near enough to a hotel that if things go south, we can easily get back to civilization. I know, I am weird and crazy. And finally, not-so-new neighbor friend and I are looking at Morocco, this fall.

3. I guess I also have to cop to a general lack of inspiration, possibly tied to my upcoming 40th? Every so often an ugly thought worms itself into my brain: Quit the blog. You're too old for this shit. You've outgrown it. I doubt I will, I'm too entrenched. But ways to, I don't know, level it up maybe? - have been on my mind. It seems ridiculous to be posting screenshots of conversations with my friends at my age, even though they crack me up and are fun to read later. Essays feel like the right direction. Less social scrapbooking. But I still love that stuff, too, so who knows.

4. Last thing is that I've been focusing more attention than usual on working out. Also a turning forty thing, admittedly. And what with my finite energy supply, sometimes blogging gets shoved out of the day in favor of a run, or a longer set of weights. The good news is that I feel pretty great, physically. The bad is that I feel out of touch, creatively. If only balance really was sold in bar form. And because boring blog has been boring lately, eh, why not, here's a "progress" shot - though, spoiler alert, there'll almost definitely be more nekked pics closer to my birthday, because I yam who I yam.

Feels like I just wrote a term paper extension request, with the most inappropriate attachment ever.

Happy April, Quents! #morebettersoon

blah blah, good pic of me, blah blah

Well, Blackbird Blackbird was a bust bust. He played his own music, but the poor kid sounded terrible. Totally flat. People were walking out. We walked out. It was especially frustrating since, urged by the promoters to get there early, we'd been there since 7:30pm. And he didn't even take the stage until 11, goofing around having drinks and taking photos until the crowd was close to rioting. Not cool. Maybe you should have used that time to do a sound check, dude.

But if you're local and haven't been, I strongly urge you to check out Sayers Club, which is one of the coziest live music venues I've seen yet:

We bookended the show with pizza from two different places (there's a by-the-slice joint every twenty feet on Hollywood between Vine and Highland), so I can't complain too terribly about a night that began and ended thusly. Then the usual as we waited for the train: Terence making music on his phone while I played Blogstagram on mine.

These are some really fucking exciting photos, aren't they? Almost as exciting as a three sentence bad review of a musician you (probably) don't know or care to. Well hey let's just get to the real point of this post which is holy shit, Ellie managed to take a good photo of herself! Two, even!

I know what you're thinking. Sware to god, though. Sware to god. I filtered them on Pomelo (free and awesome, definitely recommend as a simpler alternative to the absurdly overwhelming VSCOcam) but bishes, your blogmistress didn't touch them otherwise. And I say that as someone who openly admits to a light swipe or two of smoothing on FaceTune from time to time (though not on flash photos! just cruel, unforgiving daylight). 

So yeah, apparently if you can't afford a lightbox, La Mer, or like, facials, the subway station at H'wood and Vine is THE place to take a flattering selfie. At least of yourself. Screw your partner and his mashed-in nose, amirite??

Alright, gonna try and pull this post out of its self-absorbed tailspin with a quick music share. I finished my Bonnaroo homework in record time this year and oh man is there some incredible talent on that lineup, all the way down to the bottom tier. Like this gem:

AWESOME, RIGHT?? That's Madisen Ward and the Mama Bear, a mother/son duo from Kansas City. Broke into the biggest grin when I heard those pipes.

Have lots more Bonnaroo discoveries to share in the coming weeks, including some blue grass, some Afro-funk, and some new-to-me acts from Down Under. Oi!