Thursday, June 18, 2009

Bonnaroo 2009: Wake Up and Rage

By Pauly
Cincinnati, OH

I stood in the damp field in the middle of Nowhere, Tennessee at 3am with a gay weatherman from Boston and two co-eds from Raleigh that we dubbed The Disco Sisters. A crush of rolling souls shimming their asses off mixed together with stoic hipsters who wandered by the late night performance from Girl Talk. His set featured a relentless and catchy, yet quick mash ups. The downside to Girl Talk is that as soon as you attach yourself to a juicy groove, you're shoved into a new direction. It's sort of like having really good sex with someone who insisted on switching positions every thirty seconds.

Around 4am my body crashed hard. Maybe it was the heaviness of the mescaline that bogged down my brain or the pep from the Aderrall wore off. Most likely it was a combination of the party favors, lack of sleep, and overall exhaustion of being on the road for ten days in the row as I followed Phish from Jones Beach to Great Woods to Camden to Asheville to Knoxville and finally at Bonnaroo. I spent most of that journey as the designated driver and experienced several sober shows leading up to Bonnaroo, but the grind of traveling and caravaning caught up to me.

I couldn't keep up with the Disco Sisters. They wore me down. As the searing pain reverberated through my knee and back, I craved pharmies. I looked over at the youngest Disco Sister and she was dancing her ass off... much like she had been doing the moment I had met her in Asheville. I wondered if both sisters were aliens. No human could consume that much booze. One of them sucked up warm beer through a straw. That's hardcore.


Girl Talk
Photo by: Backstage Gallery

I foolishly bet that the oldest Disco Sister would vomit by 11:11pm on Saturday. She even admitted that her goal was to drink so heavily during Bruce Springsteen that she would "puke all over herself." I held her to that promise and figured that she'd loose steam by the third night of Bonnaroo. She proved me wrong and I lost out on a few bucks.

Seriously, those Disco Sisters know how to fuckin' party, man.

I made several prop bets during the course of the weekend and won more than I lost. Phil ended up winning the puke pool when he was the first one to blow chunks. Luckily for us, it wasn't until early Sunday morning when the first member of our 20-person crew puked. Phil lost his mud after he tore into a bottle of Vodka. I knew he was doomed when I saw the obscure Russian name plastered on a label of the shatter-proof bottle.

The Joker thrives at festivals. He has the endurance and stamina to maintain a heavy buzz for four straight days. Like most of us, he's pigeon-holed into the corporate world during the week, but he unleashes the monster inside during festivals like Bonnaroo. Plus he's a true Renaissance man... one who is there to party but also hustle a little bit. He crafted those sawnky LOST t-shirts and spent a coupe of hours every day hawking his goods.

Alas, the Joker was not without an incident with members of the international law enforcement. BTreotch also had a run in with the Mounties. The local cops were on the outside of the festival grounds and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police patrolled the grounds. On horseback, of course, and rode around in pairs.

The Joker and I wandered down Shakedown when one Mountie spotted the Joker holding out a Wolfman's Brotha t-shirt. He gave him a warning and told him to put it away or he'd lose it. Unfortunately, the next time both he and BTreotch ran into a Mountie, they were not as lenient. They took all of his shirts. Same thing happened to BTreotch. Their t-shirts were deemed contraband by the Mounties and immediately seized because they did not have a vending permit.

Despite the bad beat with the t-shirts, Phil's Bloody Mary business thrived as he successfully evaded the overzealous Mounties. On Sunday morning, he darted through the RV camp ground and carried a tray of cocktails while he ducked behind trailers and RVs.

* * * * *

As we entered Bonnaroo on Thursday afternoon, I was the victim of a cruel practical joke when I got Punk'd by G-Rob. I drove a rental car and was G-Rob's RV companion vehicle except I didn't have a pass. G-Rob was supposed to turn on his charm and convince the security guy to let me in... and if his boyish good looks did not work, we were prepared to bribe the guy. I thought all went well until one of the security guards marched up to my car.

"Are you Dr. Pauly?"

I nodded.

"Step out of the vehicle. We're going to need to search every thing."

The Joker sat in the passenger seat and we gave a look to each other like "this isn't good."

Luckily, I'm a pro festival goer and an expert at making my stash hard to find. As long as there wasn't a search dog, I was confident. I went along with the "bad cop" routine and stepped out of the car. I had a sneaky suspicion that the guy was fucking with me but just in case he was serious, I had no choice but to comply.

He quickly darted inside the front seat and looked through the glove box and the center consol. He looked through some things in the back seat when he asked to look into the trunk. He warned me to stay in front of the vehicle while he searched the trunk. After about two minutes, he popped his head out and asked, "Do you have anything illegal on you? Tell me now. Because if I find it, you'll have to deal with the cops."

"No sir," I said to the security guy who was almost ten years my junior.

He closed the trunk and walked back towards the RV. The Joker and I did not know what to make of the encounter. That's when I noticed that everyone from G-Rob's RV had assembled at the front. Apparently, the security guard was telling them how he gave me a rough time. They all burst out laughing. That's when I realized that he was fucking with me the entire time. Welcome to Bonnaroo.

* * * * *

I was impressed with both RV crews. They set up camp within an hour as everyone pitched in. That what happens when you travel with people who have their shit together. The folks who were not in the RVs constructed their tents, while a few expert campers and engineers rigged a tarp to over over the entire site. We had instant shade from the sun and from the rain.

Uncle Ted was a weatherman in a previous life. We hopped up on top of the RV and shot a quick weather report. Of course, like most weather reports, he was very far off. We were pummeled with heavy rain on two different occasions. I was in the middle of walking into the venue when the heavy rain began. We quickly turned around and retreated to the RVs for shelter. The booze flowed and the Joker took on DJ duties. A dance party ensued.

On Friday, I found Sweet Sweet Pablo. We roamed around a very muddy Shakedown. We returned to camp and played Chinese Poker. G-Rob sat in for a few hands as BTreotch wandered over to check out the action. That's when I got the phone call. From time to time, things fall into your lap when you least expect it. This one was a couple of hits of mescaline. The price told me that the batch was not very strong... which was fine by me. I really didn't want my brain to melt that much that I morphed into Corky from Life Goes On. I popped one which in reality was about a half of a proper dose. I'm glad that I went with just a taste because I found myself feeling very anti-social which was the opposite of what I was trying to achieve at Bonnaroo.

I caught the most music on Friday which included Bela Fleck, Grace Potter & the Nocturnals, Galactic, Beastie Boys, David Bryne, Phish, and Girl Talk. My non-Phishy favorite was David Byrnes set which included a healthy mixture of new tunes and classic songs from the Talking Heads era. I was particularly fond of a funk-driven Cross-eyed and Painless.

I personally thought that I preferred the Friday Phish set to Sunday night's closing performance. I'll eventually write about those shows later, but for now, all you need to know is that I dug the Friday set. Three straight hours of high intensity Phish.

The Joker won the set opener pool with Chalkdust Torture. And he was the last person to pick.

The highlight of the Friday night Phish was that insane Down with Disease jam. Fishman was really pushing the band in the right direction while Page unleashed his inner funk monster. Whenever a song or jam impresses me, I circle the name of the song on the setlist. That DWD got two circles. That's how much I dug it.

I freakin' loved the Highway to Hell bustout. The last time Phish played it? 1997 (I think and I'm too lazy to look it up) in Germany.

And of course, you gotta hear the You Enjoy Myself > Wilson > You Enjoy Myself jam. I have seen 160+ shows and I can't recall ever seeing YEM broken up into a sandwich like that and I dunno if I ever caught a YEM > Wilson. An epic moment for sure.

On Saturday morning, Broseph entertained us with his recap of the previous 24 hours. He's a highly independent operative and often strays from the herd to check out the scene by himself. He loves to rage solo and gave me the low down on his quest to meet some groovy girls. He told us one story about a girl from Long Island. When she knew that her vehicle was about to be searched, she shoved a bag of weed up her ass. Not her cooch, but in her ass. Supposedly, Broseph smoked a joint with the so-called ass weed.

On Saturday, I caught the least amount of music. I was having too much fun at the RV and camp site. I managed to catch Wilco, Of Montreal, and Gov't Mule. I dropped a hit of liquid sunshine during Wilco. I noticed that the Joker was super spun. He said he took two, so I decided to only take one.

We left the main stage area after Wilco and headed back to the RV to start drinking for Bruce. Except... we never stopped drinking and decided to keep raging back at the RV instead of checking out the Boss. According to friends who went, we really didn't miss anything.


The ladies donned mustaches (made in China with real human hair) and they attracted more attention than when we wore the Dharma/Phish jumpsuits. They posed for endless pics and they were even captured by an official Bonnaroo photographer. Their pic is currently on the Bonnaroo website.

Disco Sister #2 was extremely saucy on Saturday and was hell bent on hooking up with a wookie. Her sister found a suitable suitor named Charlie and she ran off to find him, yet ended up with someone entirely different. The next morning she woke up with a puffy lip, a massive hickey (oddly enough shaped like the state of Florida), and somehow her entire right side was red and bruised.

"What the fuck happened, Rihanna?" I asked.

"That wook was tripping balls on E and bit the hell out of my lip," she explained. The bruised ribs? Just an unidentified drunken injury incurred when she tried to climb on top of a bus to dance.

When the wook came by on Sunday morning, we already gave him the nickname Vampire. She gave him shit about the lip biting. He apologized. She forgave him and they were going steady. She found herself a lot boyfriend.

* * * * *

I heard that there was a drug bust in Murfreesboro, TN where a trio of space kids had 35 pounds of magic mushrooms. They were making mushroom chocolates when cops raided their home. No wonder there was a lack of shrooms around Shakedown. I was sorta disappointed with the blah narcotic scene. During the first Bonnaroo, the influx of illegal substances was pretty crazy and everyone was spun out. I couldn't walk ten seconds without getting bombarded with offers to sell me molly or rolls.

At this year's Roo, it appeared that there was a surplus of cocaine and LSD with a heavy emphasis on the cocaine. Both nugs and shrooms were hard to come by, but I stumbled upon some mescaline. At one point I walked down Shakedown at 2am and I was offered so much blow that I thought that I was walking down a street in Bogota, Colombia.

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