I woke up on Friday morning in a pool of sweat and I felt like I was burning up. My first thought was, “Oh shit, I didn’t make it. I died. But hell? Really Jesus? I thought I apologized for all that shit I put my parents through in high school?”
Then I opened my eyes. I was still in my tent. Guess I wasn’t in hell after all (yet).
Because we were camping in a field with absolutely no shade, as soon as the sun rose it started beating down on our vinyl tent making it extremely hot. It felt like a sauna and it was impossible to sleep after 7 or 7:30 am each day. And since it was difficult to fall asleep at night because it got so cold, everyone was running on 5 hours of sleep or less each day. Surprisingly this really didn’t bother me that much. I think I was so excited all weekend that I didn’t have a problem.
We had a lot of down time since we were waking up at 7 a.m. each day and the gates to the festival didn’t open till noon. This was okay though because the line for the showers was soooooo long.
We were lucky because the showers were free for us (people camping in the general admission camping area had to pay $5 per shower), but there was only about 20 showers for close to 2,500 volunteers. On the first day I waited an hour and a half for a shower. The showers themselves were pretty disgusting. They were portable showers in a big tractor trailer truck. They didn’t drain well so while you were taking a shower you were literally standing ankle deep in dirty ass and hair ridden shower water. Also one girl had pulled out her bloody tampon and left it in there. WHAT HAPPENED TO COMMON DECENCY PEOPLE!?
After the shower it was time to get dressed. I had brought all these super cute hippie inspired outfits to wear, but I gave up on wearing real clothes after about five minutes. My go to items were my bathing suit, denim shorts and a number of sheer flowy tops to wear over the bathing suit. Normally I’d wear a tank under the tops as they were see through, but this was Firefly, anything goes including no clothes.
We still had another two hours to go before the gates opened at noon. We tried to explore, but there really wasn’t much to see. We walked around the whole place in 15 minutes. After that we went to get some ice, which was free. On the way back from getting the ice we ran into Anna from my shift the day before and her friends Abby and Andrea. We talked for about 10 minutes and then they joined us under the canopy back at the campsite. It felt like we were one little commune that just kept growing and growing. I loved it!
Speaking of which, I don’t know about you guys, but where I went to college people weren’t exactly the most friendly and welcoming. It was so weird to be around people who just didn’t care who you were, what you wore or where you came from. Everyone just accepted anyone who came by the canopy. It was actually a pretty awesome thing to be apart of. It made me have hope that we aren’t all that bad. But I digress…
Before we knew it, it was 12 p.m. so we could finally get into the festival grounds. The whole commune went along together and explored.
Twenty One Pilots kind of have a Beastie Boys feel to them and they are great performers. They did back flips off the piano and at one point one of them climbed all the way to the top of the scaffolding of the stage and starting singing. I think we were all hoping that he wasn’t going to jump. I mean, was this his way to go out? Literally on top??? That would have definitely been a downer to the whole weekend.
Abby left half way through to charge her phone and I stayed to listen to the end of Twenty One Pilots.
And then before I knew it I suddenly I found myself standing alone in the crowd listening to Ellie Goulding sing “Joy” a song that I had never heard before, but has since become one of my favorite Ellie songs. Maybe I was feeling a little dehydrated from the heat or maybe I was feeling a lonely from not having anyone to share this moment with, but I got a little emotional.
I’ve figured out that joy is not in your arms
I know I’ll always ache with an empty heart
I think it’s time to run cause I’m seeing stars
I’m seeing stars watch me fall apart
My eyes started welling up with tears. I wasn’t particularly sad, but her voice is absolutely breathtaking, the sun was setting and I still couldn’t believe I was there. I unabashedly danced and cried throughout the rest of her set. And then when she started singing “Anything Could Happen” I just went crazy. I was on such a high, I didn’t even care that the sound was pretty terrible and I could barely hear her.
After Ellie’s set was over I walked back to camp to charge my cell phone in my car and (attempt) to take a much needed nap. I couldn’t really sleep, my mind was racing from that Ellie Goulding set. It was too be the first of many mind blowing performances.
Stephanie got back from her volunteer shift a short while later and we had dinner, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches again, then walked back over to the Mainstage to get a good spot for the Red Hot Chili Peppers.
Somehow we managed to make our way pretty close to the front, I wanna say about 50 feet from the stage (this is close considering the field was literally about six acres long). We were packed in like sardines. I’m a shorty and I couldn’t really see much, but that’s okay. I’m used to that.
The smell of cigarette smoke and weed lingered through the air as I sipped my Jack and Coke and waited for the show to begin. The guys in front of us were nice, barricading any asshole who tried to push their way forward.
The Red Hot Chili Peppers were great, everything I thought they would be and more. RHCP was the first band that I ever listened to that wasn’t the Backstreet Boys or Mary Kate and Ashley. I remember waking up early on Saturday mornings as a kid to watch music videos instead of cartoons on VH1. “Califiornication” was always one of my favorites.
After it was over we made the 20 minute walk back to camp. We were both exhausted and sore. I was starving so I bought a taco from these guys that had set-up a taco stand back at camp. They were super high constantly, but extremely hilarious. In addition to cash, they also accepted weed and beer in exchange for tacos.
I devoured my taco in about 15 seconds and we were met back at camp by Page, the most adorable kid I’ve ever met. Besides having an awesome name, Page looked exactly like a Ken doll. Page, who was only 18, came with Steven, whom he met on Facebook. But they weren’t the only two who came to the festival without really knowing each other in real life, there were several others in the commune who came with people who they had met online. Hey, they say half of marriages start online so why not go to a music festival with someone you meet online? It worked for them!
(This is a reference to Saved by the Bell for those of you who are not informed).
He also happened to be in LOVE with Anna. Seriously that was like some missed connection that I want to make happen through this post.
There was some other randoms. Like this guy who was clearly super high ran into the group, did some three second hand show performance with his glowing mickey mouse gloves and then just ran away.
This is also when I discovered that HITCHHIKERS were residing in the camp. Apparently they had hitchhiked all the way from Washington State to Tennessee for Bonnaroo and then to Delaware for Firefly. I’m obsessed with all things hitchhiking and made it my mission to meet these guys.
Before we knew it, it was 3 a.m. again and the older women at the site next to us starting yelling at us for being too loud (for the record, I really don’t think we were being that loud. It’s not like we were screaming SHOTS! and blasting music….we were just talking..)
“Can you guys go to sleep already? Some of us have to work in the morning,” the lady said.
It was like I was 15 again and my mom was yelling at my friends for jumping to loud in the attic. We didn’t want to get into something with the lady so after that we just went to sleep…..
So far everything was still pretty tame, little did we know what would happen tomorrow….
TOMORROW: Day 3: Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, Drug Overdoses, More about the Hitchhikers, MGMT, Heat exhaustion and more people doing drugs.