It seems we caught a lucky stroke (as opposed to Bonnaroo’s ever-looming heat stroke) as we groggily rise on Day Two of the BonnaroOregon trail: Not only did we manage to properly arrange our tent after last night’s stumble home, but fortuitously anchored it to the West of our car (er, wagon). In doing so, we’re able to stave off Manchester, Tennessee’s brutal 7:00am sunlight alarm clock with some well placed shade.
We start out at the Press Outpost (read: tent), where a conference is underway (see above). Eugene Hutz, the fearless leader of Gogol Bordello, shares his wisdom but refuses to trade with us.
Comedy Tent: Donald Glover, 2:30p
Results: 486lb (but we were only able to carry 200lb back)
The above said, here’s one of the BonnaroOregon Trail’s greatest curiosities: The Comedy Tent. Granted, as with their musical lineup, the festival pulls world-class talent year after year, with this spring’s headliners of Lewis Black and Donald Glover being no exception. Strange, however, that herds of festival-goers are happy to wait—like the game’s slow, lumbering, much sought-after buffalo—in near-standstill lines for hours on end in the open sunlight just for the opportunity to get inside.
Fittingly, Glover’s performance was a buffalo-level knockout. Glover’s tales of meeting Reggie Bush and pooping in Home Depot (wildly separate incidents) were side-splitting enough to keep even the exhausted and sun-soaked Bonnaroo audience attentive. And a hat (1860’s style) tip to opener Bill Bailey (see above), who called out the festival’s bizarre and perplexing theme for stage names—and honestly, between Which Stage and That Other Tent, it’s a wonder we were sitting in the Comedy Tent and not the Who Knows I Give Up Arena. Bailey astutely likens the whole experience to an Abbott & Costello affair.
Press Tent: Conference (above and below), 4p
Game: Buffalo, Height 7’2”
It’d appear we’d struck gold before coming even remotely close to the end of our journey, as upon our return to the Press Outpost, we found legends Jerry (of Ben & Jerry’s) Greenfield and Kareem (of basketball) Abdul-Jabbar fielding questions from a moderator in a group discussion. We snagged a pic with half of the Kings of Ice Cream, and treated ourselves to an ample supply of the festival’s namesake snack: Ben & Jerry’s Bonnaroo Buzz. Yes, it’s FDA approved.
Even the incredible high from full bellies and celebrity hobnobbing couldn’t prevent the BonnaroOregon Trail’s onslaught of namesake disasters. Deserts, dust storms, obstructed paths, and thirst all posed threats. We knew we’d need to hunt for live music again—and fast.
That Tent: Portugal. The Man (above), 5p
Funny punctuation aside (perhaps its the grammar of a native tribe), Portugal. The Man played an animated, solid set. The band’s psychedelic tinged poppy hooks helped shield us from the Tennessee heat (being under the massive That Tent helped, too), and singer John Gourley’s voice was as light and airy as ever. The band played some new material off upcoming In The Mountain, In The Cloud, previewing what looks to be an awesome record.
This Tent: Man Man (above and below), 5:15p
Game: Deer (neon colored)
Results: 50 lb
Our expedition split up in an attempt to cover more area during the musical hunt. While some were left at Portugal. The Man, a brave few trekked farther along the trail to sneak up on Man Man at This Tent. With one of the most amusing stage set-ups of the festival – instruments, lights, and anything else the band could get their hands on – the absurd quintet (all rocking warpaint) blasted through tracks from their eclectic, recent record Life Fantastic. Ranting and raving frontman Honus Honus jumped from his keyboard to a variety of different mics placed around the stage – but with so much going on during the set, it was easy to get distracted by any given bandmember’s antics.
What Stage: Wiz Khalifa, 5:50p
Results: 45 lb
Considering the lung capacity of Wiz Khalifa (from, you know, smoking too many cigarettes) and the late afternoon sun, it was surprising the young MC didn’t die of exhaustion. But, as one rises to the occasion on the BonnaroOregon Trail, Wiz and his hypeman controlled the stage, hyping the crowd through head nodding beats from his past catalog of albums and mixtapes. But, the results weren’t as strong due to the presence of a backing vocal track, which we thought added an unfortunate karaoke element to the set. But all’s well that end’s well – closer “Black and Yellow” brought us all to a frenzy. You know what it is.
We left Wiz’s set and headed back to base to exchange some inventory, and embark on an Eleven / Bonnaroo time-honored tradition: boxed wine night. Well, not before we found Ron Jeremy (see below) and some girl who is making an impulsive decision.
9:30p Buffalo Springfield, Which Stage
Game: Buffalo (duh)
Results: 45 lb
Though it’s impossible to deny the allure of seeing the legendary Neil Young play live, Buffalo Springfield’s set left much to be desired. Specifically: it was really, really quiet. Perhaps Young & co. hoped not to disturb nearby wildlife. The pervasive “turn it up!” chants between each song from throughout the crowd had no effect. We’ll assume instead that the sound guy had recently become afflicted with a case of gangrene, and was temporarily incapacitated.
What Stage: Eminem, 11p
Results: 50 lb
Yeah, Eminem’s set was a huge production: instrumentalists, back-up vocalists, blinding lights, and a well utilized LED screen. Mr. Mathers still hasn’t lost his intensity, but made a point to be the Eminem of recent years instead of the shit talking, violent MC of the past. Being a part of a sprawling crowd of 100,000 throwing their hands up to “Lose Yourself,” thought, was unbeatable – even if Eminem did gloss over some of his earlier, raunchier hits. Next time, we hope he rocks his Jason mask – if he still has it.
VIP Lounge, 1a
Game: Fried Chicken and craft beer, ∞ lbs (but we were only able to carry 200lb with us)
A huge score for the inventory-strapped crew of the Eleven caravan, as the VIP area opened up and provided a generous bounty of greasy, salty, filling food. We also finally managed to make (somewhat) good use of our point & click camera ammunition, and snapped a shot of Neil Young hanging out in a beat up ‘80’s-era Cadillac (What?! What is this sorcery??), which we candidly caught in a photo below.
2:30a: Gogol Bordello, The Other Tent
Results: 430lb (but we were only able to carry 200lb with us)
Gogol frontman, Eugene Hutz had been curating The Other Tent all day, and he certainly saved the best act for last. With the effects of our boxed wine now in full-swing—heck, if not multiplied by the band’s wino & gypsy bravado—we headed straight for the center of the tent’s swaying, sweaty crowd. Crowd surfers streamed overhead as the band quickly delved into favorites like “Tribal Connection” and “Wonderlust King.” The grit of the sand beneath us, the stinging sweat in our eyes, and the musk of dirt and drugs in the air made for an altogether truly unforgettable set—level of intoxication to be damned.