Chronicles of a Festival Virgin Tori Coyne

This past weekend, I went to Bonnaroo. You may have seen a little something about it on HelloGiggles. Not only was it my first ‘Roo (that’s what the kids call it), it was also my first festival. I should probably preface this by saying that I’ve never camped or been to camp or spent much time in nature (as you can tell from the featured image). Luckily, this first time around we were staying in an Airbnb rental in Nashville, so I got to control my exposure to the elements…sorta.

I hoped to bring you my daily discoveries live at the end of each day, but something I failed to realize is that days at festivals rarely end before 2am and WiFi doesn’t exist. I didn’t know much about what I was getting myself into. So I hope to leave you with some wisdom.

Day One – Figuring Everything Out

I was apprehensive—yeah, that’s a good way to put it—heading into the first day. Sure, back in my emo kid days I always pretended to want to go to Warped Tour, but that was mostly to keep up with the image. I had heard amazing things about Bonnaroo and felt #blessed to have the opportunity to go, so I figured at the end of the day everything would be okay.

The lineup was mostly indie bands that I didn’t know anything about. We (Molly, Slippy and I) had some interviews set up in the media tent, but nothing planned. Yes, we were working, which came along with perks like a nice relaxation area, chairs and free water. So here I was thinking, “Wow, this whole festival is pretty cushy.”

That was, until I stepped outside the rose-colored glass gates to the actual festival. It was a hot mess. I’m sorry. I know people put a lot of work into creating the festival and patrons save up for a year to get their tickets, but that festival ground was pure madness and I was terrified. I spent most of the day thirsty and doe eyed, trying to find service and failing to keep my phone charged.  I ended up going to the car two hours early and waiting for Molly and Slippy.

The good news: I got to hear two really great bands, Milo Greene and Deap Vally, whom I had never heard of before.

Day Two – Matt & Kim Brightened My Day

The drive home the night before kicked my butt and I was exhausted come day two. Don’t get me wrong: the home was LOVELY and not a tent so I really can’t complain about the long drive in and out of Manchester. But it was long.

The night before, I had vowed to myself that I would power through the next 3 days and never look back. It was one festival. I would keep my head down, hide in the media tent as much as possible and everything would be fine. Then we met Matt & Kim and they got me excited. They were full of such raw energy. Luckily, their set wasn’t until the following day so I had something to look forward to.

I don’t really remember if we saw anyone breathtaking on day two, which is one of the major catch 22s of festivals. There is so much going on and it is so muggy and hot that every single minute seems to blend together. I think I spent more time being confused than I did actually seeing shows, which is mostly poor planning on my part, Oh, and I think my phone was dead. Yep.

Day Three – R. KELLY IS A LIFE CHANGER

We didn’t have any interviews to get to today so we arrived at the grounds later. We were handing out the last of our prize bags at the Solange show and then the day was mine. I decided that meant being in the media tent drinking water and charging my phone.

I was very excited about seeing Matt & Kim, so at least there was something in the horizon. I kind of wandered around until their show, making brief appearances on the festival grounds… mostly to get funnel cake. Matt & Kim did not disappoint. They were jumping all around and going crazy and the crowd was responding. We had to take a serious water and food break after all that cardio.

I had decided I wasn’t going to see any more shows and would probably just hang around, eat some food, charge my forever-dead phone and maybe peek outside to snap an Instagram and pretend I’m a free spirit, but the pushover in me couldn’t say no when Molly and Slippy said, “You’re coming to R.Kelly.” Now, I love ‘Ignition’, y’all. It is a great jam. And I love ‘Bump ‘n’ Grind’, so it only makes sense that I absolutely LOST MY MIND at R. Kelly. It was like unleashing the beast. I was dancing and having a good time and just enjoying one of the greatest live performances I have ever witnessed in my entire life. It left me with such a high I barely remember the ride home.

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  1. I lost my festival virginity this year too at Houston’s FPSF! I feel like a big traitor to my generation when I say, I haaaated it. Well, not the food, or seeing the Alabama Shakes, but everything else. The drugged out preteens + Houston heat + 1000′s of people sent me running home early to hug my mom. I was so terrified that I didn’t return the next day. I just didn’t get it, but I can see why most of my friends like to go. I’m such a lame grandma these days.

    ps: Does anyone else find it strange when people bring their CHILDREN to these things? There were TONS of kids running around during the 2chainz show….

  2. Wow seriously? at least she was honest! She could have just told you all how awesome it was and how you really just “must” experience it, but no she gave you her opinion. I am a biker (have been for a long long time) and I had almost the same take on Sturgis. I am not a camper period. I also did not like the whole commune feeling of the most notorious campground that we stayed at. But all in all I’m really glad I experienced it. So cut her some slack! She went, she experienced it (to her comfort level) and she told you about it HONESTLY. Kudos Tori (Haters must hate)

  3. I posted this on Facebook but it might be more fitting here:

    This is a well-written and amusing piece but I don’t think it’s what Bonnaroo is “REALLY” like. I’ve done festivals from media tents and from regular tents; they are VERY different experiences. I’m not saying Tori’s writing is misleading here, just the Facebook status. Maybe consider sending writers who can handle camping and won’t cozy up in the media tent all weekend to cover festivals. In fact, where do I sent my application? I’m pretty sure Tori did not participate in 99% of Bonnaroo…

  4. HelloGiggles, please send someone who DESERVES it next year. Not this whine-a-roo.