By the time I woke up Saturday morning I had forgotten that I had another life outside of this place. What once would have felt strange, like brushing my teeth on the side of a dirt road while police officers waved at me as they patrolled the camp in golf carts, felt completely normal.
I loved the fact that I had Stephanie and Page to help me pick out my outfits. It felt comforting to eat my breakfast (watermelon and muffins) with 20 of my closest new friends. I didn’t miss my normal life one bit.
I decided not take a shower that day. What was the point? I felt the dirt brush up against my arms the moment the wind blew. Plus, everyone was dirty.
I took a “baby wipe bath” and attempted to wipe as much dirt off me as possible. Baby wipes soon became my favorite item. I probably used about 50 of them over the rest of the weekend. Feeling a little dirty? Take a baby wipe bath! Feeling kind of hot? Cool off with some baby wipes! Got a hot date with Tom Petty? Refresh with some baby wipes! You get the idea…baby wipes…they are key.
After our Saturday morning social with the commune, Stephanie had to go volunteer so I headed over to the arcade with Anna, Andrea and Abby. I was playing a game of Pinball when I was tapped on the shoulder by Steven who had exciting news, the hitchhikers were here!
I went over to them and bombarded them with questions for the next 20 minutes like the true journalist I am. I had the most amazing conversation with the one guy, the other one looked kind of out it and didn’t say much.
He told me how they had hitchhiked all the way from Seattle to go to Bonnaroo in Tennessee and then from there to Delaware for Firefly. After Firefly they were hitchhiking to Camp Bisco in Upstate New York and then from there to Berkeley, California to visit a friend.
I really wanted to ask them how they got into this and if they had jobs to pay for all the tickets (because even if you volunteered you still had to pay $$ to go), but I didn’t want to be rude so I kind of just skirted around the question. They told me that it was just “something to do.” Then we started talking about music. I had been trying to decide if I should see CHVRCHES or Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros that afternoon since they were playing at the same time.
The hitchhiker (sorry I can’t remember his name) told me that I HAD to see Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros because he had an “outer body experience” when he saw them at Bonnaroo. Then he just went on about it for 20 minutes and I was just sitting there nodding in amazement as if I had just met one of the apostles.
Soon he was gone and I was all alone. I don’t know what happened to the other ladies. But I was actually pretty excited to be alone. It was the first time in two days and I was ready for some me time. Plus, I’d never been to a concert alone before so I was excited to see what it would be like.
First I went to see Imaginary Cities. They kind of had that family-cult-folk thing going on. I really liked them. The female vocalist voice sounded like a mix between Regina Spektor and Amy Winehouse.
Afterwards, I went to see Blondfire perform and I also really liked her. She looked eerily similar to Liz Phair. Here’s a picture of her:
Then I started to feel a little loopy from the heat so I went back to camp to take a nap in my air conditioned car. When I woke up Stephanie was banging on my window asking me to unlock the car so she could get her stuff. We had our nightly peanut butter and jelly dinner and headed over to the festival to catch the end of Alabama Shakes.
I couldn’t really hear them from where we were standing, but I did enjoy “Hold On” which is the only song I really know by them. That being said, I can’t wait to get to know their music more and potentially see them in concert. They kind of have a folk-bluesy thing going on. I digged it.
Then, it was time for what would be the best show of the entire weekend, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros. I can’t even describe in words how great it was, those hitchhikers were right. Edward Sharpe looks like a more friendly version of Charles Manson and everyone else in the band are like the happy-go-lucky cult members. They use a ton of different instruments (like a trumpet!) and definitely have that late 60s, early 70s, hippie commune vibe which I am in love with.
Some pictures from Liz:
After that experience I was starving so I was like “F&$K it. I’m getting Korean BBQ Tacos. Screw the PB&J.” The cashier was on shrooms when he rung me up. It was hilarious. I loved him and the tacos.
MGMT was on next. Steph and I made our way into the crowd and ran into Page and Liz. While we were talking we heard people making a commotion behind us. We all turn around and a young woman, she couldn’t have been older than 20 or 21, closed her eyes and slowly collapsed. Her pale, milky skin, was so white that I thought she was dead.
People started crying out for help, but we were deep in a crowd of over 30,000 people. Who was going to hear us?? And even if they did, how were they going to get here to help this woman? Some of the men started crossing their arms into the air as a signal for help, but that didn’t really work either.
Then, the girl suddenly woke up. She looked disoriented, but she was also kind of smiling. It was weird. She just kind of sat there and looked at everyone as her friend stroked her hair. Liz gave her a granola bar, someone else gave her some water and a lollipop, and after about five minutes she was up and ready to watch MGMT.
When MGMT started I couldn’t stop thinking about this girl. I was really worried that she wasn’t going to be okay. I thought for sure it was a reaction to some drugs she was taking, but others thought it might be heat exhaustion. I was worried about what would have happened if something really bad did happen to her. There was no way someone could have gotten there to help her in time.
But MGMT was beginning and everyone else seemed to move on so I did too. I couldn’t really see anything from where we were standing, and the big screens were displaying these weird images of brightly colored shapes, which were probably really interesting to people doing drugs, but I wasn’t and I was feeling kind of bored.
Plus they weren’t even playing the album I really liked, Oracular Spectacular, just that crappy newer one that I never really listened too. I had already heard from others that they didn’t even play their most popular song “Kids” at Bonnaroo because they are trying to get away from their mainstream stuff (okay) so I knew there was nothing to look forward to. It was like watching an old friend who suddenly become too cool for me self-destruct….no thank you.
Stephanie and I left about 20 minutes into their set and walked over to the Mainstage to get spots for Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers.
Tom Petty was great. I felt like I was right up there with him Free Fallin’. I’m admittedly not a huge Tom Petty fan, but let’s get real, is anyone in their early 20s a Tom Petty fan? I’m sure there’s a few of them, but I’d say the mass majority are not. (I’m talking to you, chick with the bandeau top who claimed to LOVE Tom Petty before the show, but didn’t even know the words to “Free Fallin”).
Tom Petty played for a long time, about two hours. I was impressed. Plus he was good. The music was awesome and he was an engaging performer. I give them two thumbs up.
After Tom Petty we decided to go home. I was feeling a tiny bit drunk from the Heinekens I had been drinking during Tom Petty and suddenly had the urge to write. This always happens when I drink. I get this intense urge and find myself spending 20 minutes in the bathroom at a bar typing out a story on my iPhone. It’s weird. I’m weird. I know.
Anyway, here’s some of the hooky stuff I was writing. I should mention that I was writing underneath the moonlight, because “lanterns aren’t natural and I want to feel one with nature as I write this.”–Shit, maybe I was also a tiny bit second-hand high.
I’m not exactly sure what I am looking for, but I think I found it. My passion has been lying inside of me all along. To love, tell stories and to hope.
Right now I am writing this under the moon and the stars. Tonight is the supermoon, the biggest moon of the year. I listened to Tom Petty and while my back felt like it was going to break in half because it hurt so much from standing all day, I still wouldn’t change a second of it.
I felt like this was going to be some life changing and enlightening experience and maybe it was that I just needed to get away from the pressures of life and to love.
From my car I can hear the sounds of the late-night rave artists. From here they are all mixing together ‘Ta taaaa taaa da da daaaa da da’ it’s all so beautiful. Here comes Calvin Harris, ‘I need your love. I need your time. When everything is wrong, you make it right. I feel so high, I come alive. I need to be freeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee.
Yeahhhhhh. So if you’re looking for my state-of-mind during all this, there you go.
By this point, the rest of the commune had made it back and everyone was talking about how amazing Big Panda was. It was the only show that I didn’t see that I kind of regret.
Everyone else stayed up pretty late drinking and talking, but I was so tired that I couldn’t keep my eyes open for much longer. I fell asleep while Page played Jack Johnson on the guitar.
Tomorrow was the last day and real life felt even farther away.
TOMORROW: Day 4: The last hurrah, sing-a-longs, Passion Pit, dancing on my own, meeting musicians, Matt & Kim, rainfall, Foster the People and saying goodbye.
Firefly From A Volunteer’s Perspective: Day 1