Two weeks ago Ford Motor Company sent our band, Dave Brown, and Zack Nielsen to Tennessee to experience the madness of Bonnaroo and play some music in their Ford Fiesta Garage. We knew that festivals are generally known for crowds, drugs, and accommodations that resemble those of a developing country, but we did not have any idea how far the words loud, hot, crowded, and a lot of other uncomfortable adjectives could be taken. There were some long hours in the heat but all in all, the nice people responsible for the Ford Fiesta Garage took really good care of us and we had an amazing weekend together.
DARLA: This was taken halfway through our seemlingly endless journey out to Bonnaroo. We left San Diego at 7 A.M. and waited at the hot and muggy Nashville airport for almost 2 hours after wandering around trying to find our shuttle. We made a couple friends along the way that were convinced we’d see them at the festival. We had no idea what we were in store for…
JOEL: On our way into the festival for the first time we asked this guy to pose for a picture on the toilet (to which he responded, "rot hair on da tooter?"), but little did I know I would be getting to know him and his co-workers really well over the weekend. He worked for the company that was in charge of maintenance for the rented RV's, which were all in pretty sorry condition from the start and wound up with power outages, broken air conditioners, and some pretty dire water situations. I became their good friend and eventually their worst enemy because I had to go hassle them to fix our setup 4-5 times a day while they hustled around the clock to fix the sea of busted RV's. Andre, Tom, and Christopher, this one's for you.
DOUG: 700 acres, 100,000 people, 100 degree weather and heavy humidity makes for a lot of disgusting and frustrated people. We were walking past this couple bathing each other lovingly in the open trough/sink. Who could blame them, with showers (sponsored by Garnier Fructis) costing $7 per person? Darla snapped a photo only to have the girl snap back, “Yeah sure! Take a photo! Post it on Facebook so everyone can see how disgusting we are!” Ha, little did you know we would put it on Sezio instead.
DESTIN: I guess this was the last frame of the roll, so only my left cheek got in. This was our brilliant attempt at sneaking beer into the fest, and it worked about 75% of the time. Unfortunately, on this run, Joel got stopped by the gate guy (who was a Nazi) and we all squeezed through while he was interrogated. Thanks Joel. We won’t forget it.
JOEL: Bonnaroo is a brilliant business plan - create a small city for a long weekend and regulate its economy exclusively. With the limited, expensive, and disgustingly pillaged resources at the festival, it's hard not to want to trump the system a little. Beer smuggling was a fun project for the weekend and getting rolled on this entrance allowed me to follow through on another idea we were scheming involving the fence and a pizza box.
Destin : “what are you taking a picture of?”
Darla : “you….standing on my foot for the past 5 minutes”
DARLA: It was night time and I was always nervous as to what I might be stepping in/through. Destin wasn’t.
DESTIN: Actually, I was wearing those velcro clunkers that Joel and I bought for 10 bucks at Walmart special for this trip, and I was quite impressed with their performance…stood on a foot for 5 minutes and didn’t even know it – great shoes.
DESTIN: If you’re wondering why Joel’s carrying a pillow, that’s how he smuggled in the Miller High Life that Doug carried back from a mid-day Walmart run. Apparently, he acted like a vendor, delivering a pillow to someone in need…brilliant. Once the beer was gone, he used the stuffing for making me a Santa belly and a white beard…genius.
JOEL: It became apparent pretty early on that the preconceived image of getting to hear all kinds of great bands in the beautiful Tennessee countryside with other music lovers was grossly unrealistic. We had a frustrating first night trying fight the crowds to watch bands in the same way we might at the Casbah, but by the end of Friday we realized what we were up against and decided to test the ways of the masses by being super obnoxious. Turns out they had it all figured out - we followed their lead and had a great night.
KELLY: The “Silent Disco” tent captured our hearts and minds both Friday and Saturday nights. It featured a DJ spinning music that was only audible through wireless headsets tuned to the same frequency – a really cool concept we hope somebody will make in San Diego. It’s an entertaining and unnerving experience if you pull your headphones off because all you hear is an awkward sort of silence-slash-sound-muddle of the seven stages surrounding the tent, and everyone around you is dancing and singing along recklessly to a hidden soundtrack.
JOEL: We woke up on the last morning of Bonnaroo at 7 A.M, precisely 2 hours after we had gone to bed, to find that our air conditioning was out yet again. I had worked for hours with the RV guys until late the night before trying to get our water going so we could shower and when I woke up in a pool of sweat I just didn't know what to do anymore. I stepped out into the 95 degree heat with my eyes barely open to go find the RV guys and got a face full of water from this kid. I took it as a sort of fitting farewell from a weekend of the most extreme exhibit of humanity and capitalism I hope to ever see.
Hear an interview and live set with Joel P West and The Tree Ring on the KPBS program These Days. See the rest of the photos from the weekend by clicking on the blue gallery button below: