t minus-one. 6:30 wednesday.
stephaniesid (comprised of the core: chuck, steph, michael, krum; and members who complete dream squad: matthew, jon) attempt to leave home base. michael brings bag of wet laundry to be dried by someone who owns a dryer, along the road. ascertains that person will be ginny (booker, tripmate from knoxville, host for night). steph has brought delectable cookies. arrive outside krum's apartment. steph and matthew shoot breeze outside van with attached previously sid-owned trailer on loan specifically for trip. one of them notices unacceptable separation in wee right side tire. yikes. brainstorming in van. barbecue in knoxville is goal for dinner. steph, chuck, matthew dial free 411 for numbers to appropriate service stations that could possibly be open. free 411 automated system proves inefficient as ever (411: "residence or business?" matthew: "business." 411: "say the name." matthew: "wal-mart." 411: "that's dr. jim macalpine's orthodontic practice, right?" matthew: "uh..... no." 411: "sorry, i didn't get that..... please say just the name of the business...."). jon spots serendipitous unattached trailer tire on side of road. knock on doors around to see about purchasing. no luck. ponder taking tire and leaving envelope of cash. realize wheel has wrong number of lugnut holes. back to 411. find wal-mart's number at last. store has only tire, not wheel. band must summon skills to take tire off wheel, replace, refill with air. advised by store personnel to use dawn dish soap and crowbar. dream squad progresses to nearby citgo with built-in pizza hut and air machine. matthew is de facto expert. band's cunning creativity eventually pries old tire from wheel, new tire onto wheel. tire fails to create seal, however. its insides was a open place where no air could find purchase. band determined. now 9:30pm. word from knoxville: no dinner left at barbecue. hopes shattered. jon orders pineapple-mushroom pizza (steph has persuaded more than one of the squad to covet this combination). he knows people there. steph hears that one pizza-hutter is married to icelandic woman. must talk. figure appears from the dark mist near the highway. "y'all got a tar problem?" "yeah, won't seal." "i g'n fixit. just need startin' fluid's all." matthew and steph skeptical. involves lighting tire on fire. chuck runs inside convenience store to purchase said miracle fluid. mist man picks up tire and finds secluded spot behind dumpster. pours starting fluid inside. lights tire on fire, kicks several times. audible popping noise. seal achieved. pizza arrives. heavens smile. "y'uns thought i's crazy prolly, huh?" bearded mist man asks rhetorically. band is in awe. mist man disappears again. moment is later nominated for best moment on whole bonnaroo trip. arrive knoxville late. meet up with steph's bff marcella, in from dc for trip. ginny and (musician beau) jason's house has new paint job and furniture, same uber-cute persian cats. looks lovely. watch some youtube. sleep.
day one. thursday
crew of 9 up early. out to gather bamboo for campsite. proves pretty easy. hit the road for manchester with secret directions. manchester is town with small population and lots of farmland. obvious that townspeople are mostly enthusiastic regarding the annual intrusion of 90,000 music fans. some sell water along road. some give out religious pamphlets. manchester is hot. at fork in road, dream squad sees long line of cars which turn out to be fest attendees waiting to get into fest. line goes on for miles. many near-nude youngsters in cowboy hats outside cars, "woo"-ing, scoping, putting on sunscreen. sid flies past in opposite direction, as band registration is elsewhere. registration: band giddy with new shiny lanyard badges. drive to campsite. ginny and jason are pros, stake out area with marcella and abundance of tarps; three are left to make camp while sid is golf-carted to radiobonnaroo studio for first recording session of fest. recording camper is air-conditioned. yowza. sid meets very friendly and pro engineers, and folks from asheville-based music allies, who host the radio thing. radiobonnaroo commandeers a local radio station and broadcasts within 20-mile radius of the fest for duration of fest; is available to an impressive smattering of independent / college radio stations (incl. band's beloved wncw) across the country for airplay. new respect for music allies. company knows their shizz. the operation is killer. sid records "drinking at a party," "warm people," and "bullet train." sounds amazing. (see pics.... "drinking at a party" can be heard at sid's reverbnation site.) band very excited about first show at bonnaroo. michael and steph do short interview. due in to same studio over weekend is jack white, rilo kiley, lots of others. awwwwwwesome. (thanks incredibly to zac, josh, molly, sean, and the engineers and interviewer from radiobonnaroo). sid is golf-carted over to solar stage to drop off equipment. golf-carting is the way to go. back at ranch, home is looking divine. covered, staked, tented, scattered and smothered. complete with outdoor living room. thank you ginny, jason, marcella. at this point story begins to be even more incomplete without input from all members of dream squad and crew. steph's account will have to do for now. campsite is situated just behind "which" stage, convenient to cinema tent (air-conditioned, yo), comedy tent (likewise), and really everything, including artists' hangout area, which could possibly be more rockstar if each artist were given feather boas and sparkly sunglasses to wear. but not otherwise! becomes band and crew's oasis for weekend. team sid splits up and surveys larger festival scene. good food, tons of vendors, energetic fans checking their schedules, very friendly vibe. obviously well put-together. festival is a wonderland for musically-minded people. each attendee has paid around 250 dollars to camp out, not shower, and walk in at least a mile in the hot sun each day. to see bands performing live and in person. these are true music fans. musician utopia. ginny and steph run into aaron fenner, soundman extraordinaire, from knoxville. aaron offers to run sound for sid show later. steph drops to ground in "we're not worthy" stance. aaron is kind, talented, thanked. band takes to solar stage after dark. band is playing at freaking bonnaroo! MGMT (electro-pop) has just finished across the way; playing now are battles (math rock), the sword (metal), the felice brothers (soul), K'NAAN (hip-hop), comedian Zach Galifianakis, and stephaniesid. show begins. people begin to gather. krum has t-shirt on head tied as turban of sorts; falls into face during frenetic drumming spell; k throws it off without missing beat. jon jumps around, sings with passionate fury, sweats, plays trombone, trumpet, melodica. chuck performs characteristic lean-forward-lean-back-with-mouth-agape motion; drives ladies wild. matthew tames angels on vibraphone... michael plays with relaxed fervor and happy wince. steph spins in hawaiian dress, alternates between vocals-keys and vocals-only. glow-things begin to twirl in audience. maybe 400 dancers, listeners, revelers. bonna-freeeeeeking-roo!!!! nine mile records' new interns jeremy and nick capture some of show on video (one day to be posted). show ends with "the weakling"; marcella ("merchella") is swarmed at the cd table. sound system for whole show ran on day's sunshine, gathered in solar panels. sweet. band packs up and heads to see other bands (lez zeppelin ("all girls. all zeppelin." great musicians. most of dream squad agrees that vocals didn't work too well, as robert plant's charm was always about having to reach for them high notes. plus, why is a cover band playing on our stage??), extra golden (great Kenyan Benga / American rock music), and vampire weekend (prepsters playing afro-beat... none in our party resonates with them, truth be told... though methinks that to admit that aloud at this fest would be tantamount to declaration of hipster war). many times throughout nite dream squadsters retreated to artist oasis. drank beer and stiff purple drinks served by flirtatious bartenders. retire to tents. michael ("i don't like nature") sleeps on seat in van. everyone else in tent or in living room. day one. check.
stay tuned for more.... :) s
Asundry thoughts by Stephanie Morgan, the singer for Stephaniesĭd, pop-noir band from Asheville, NC.