Buy a ticket to see Paramore, or Sheryl Crow, or Eminem, or Brother’s Osborne, or Muse, or The Killers, or Mavis Staples, or St. Paul and the Broken Bones, or any ONE particular artist of your choosing, and the height of your experience will be determined by how “good” that artist sounded and how captivating was that artist’s performance. Did you walk away mumbling to yourself, “that was amazing.” Was it a good full body and soul experience? I know how that feels, Paul McCartney left me mumbling to myself on two occasions. No doubt, you have had a full body and soul experience of your own. One artist can do that.
I have become a “festival” person. More accurately, I have been a festival person since the trippy, mud-caked days of the late 60’s and beyond. I didn’t put it into words back then, but it was the festival “experience” that drew me. Sure, I’ve shelled out bucks to see the Stones, or some other act that I’m afraid I may never have the chance to see again. Or, Lucinda Williams in a small more intimate venue, but in general I’m into immersion. Don’t sprinkle me; dunk me good in the hot, sweltering waters of a summer music festival.
“Who did you come to see?” I was conversationally asked at Bonnaroo 2018. After struggling for an answer more than once, I realized that there wasn’t just ONE particular artist who drew me to Tennessee. I can’t with authority speak for the other 76,000 attendees, but I have a strong sense that, like me, most came because they just wanted to be there and it didn’t really matter who was playing.
Bonnaroo, I observe, has intentionally stepped up their campground game. They now have 9 Plazas sprinkled throughout the campgrounds that have vendors, food, showers, small stages for bands, comedy, coffee shops, yoga, artist panels, all night dance parties…. It is now possible to get immersed with your friends and never leave “home.” Bonnaroo is marketing the full body experience. And, by the way, there are 7 stages with medium to top tier artists playing just down the street. Roo does this, I observe, so that everyone can have a complete 24/4 experience.
This is NOT a commercial for Bonnaroo! I may or may not go next year. There are other festivals at which to catch the “vibe” and build the “community” (two more Roo words you see printed and hear frequently). But if I do decide to return for a 4th Roo, I believe I will more intentionally immerse myself in the community of it all. I will find those 6 new friends I made this year and welcome them back. I will hang out at my local Plaza, and I will marvel and how 76,000 people can get along so well without threats, name-calling, and violence. OK, I’m one of the old guys at Roo and I don’t revel in being called “sir,” but I appreciate the spirit of it all.
My nickels worth is this, find you a good music festival to get dunked in this summer. Sweat, dance with people you don’t know, spend more money than you can afford, and for just 3 – 4 days, be ONE with a bunch of like-spirited people you will most likely not see again. In other words, get baptized in the sweltering waters of a summer music festival. Peace.