Warm Bud Light Lime: Bonnaroo Story
It’s the kind of memory that will always seem special even though it was so small and insignificant.
April 15, 2014 | Festival | May 2014
On a whim – the kind of whim you only have when you’re eighteen – we decided to go to Bonnaroo.
We were a motley crew, not quite Breakfast Club stereotypes, but something like that. There was the smart stoner, the catholic girl, the hipster, the shirtless bro, and the three best friends. Taylor, Joanna and I. We weren’t quite the people we are today, but more like the blueprints.
The drive from Northern Virginia to central Tennessee is long and winding and incredibly beautiful. There are rolling green mountains and smooth, quiet highways. There are antique stores to stop in and putter around, and divey BBQ joints a plenty. Getting there is at least half the fun.
I remember a big sweaty tent; waking up in the morning everyone saying, “where’s Greg?” False alarm, Greg had slept in the car. We weren’t quite squares but we were far from the teens in Hollywood movies. We drove a clean minivan to Manchester, Tennessee, not clean as in free of dirt, clean as in free of contraband (or so I thought).
The first night we stayed at a campground a few hours outside of Bonnaroo. It poured rain. We set up our tents and ended up sleeping in our cars. I have a vivid memory of sitting in the car at night, listening to the rain on the windows, and singing along to Paul Baribeau with my friends. It’s the kind of memory that will always seem special even though it was so small and insignificant. Then there’s the other kind memories – the ones you laugh about while weeping on the inside as you remember the misery of that moment. I’m talking about the chicken water. We decided to grill up some chicken for dinner. The boys were huddled over the grill under the protection of a tarp, heavy rain coming at them from all directions. I can’t quite remember what happened next, but I know it resulted in chicken water: a yellowish substance that smells simultaneously mouthwatering and horrible.
Bonnaroo was the first time I ever smoked (helps to have a smart stoner in the group, who always has an emergency stash in his pocket). I probably didn’t even inhale, but I remember feeling free floating for the first time. We sadly didn’t even bring beer, and when you’re in a 100-degree field, going days without showering, a simple, cold beer seems like the Holy Grail.
I went from camp to camp asking groups of bros playing beer pong if they could spare a few beers for a couple of sweet underage girls. Mostly I was politely refused, until our neighbors generously gave us a couple cans of luke-warm Bud Light Lime and Natural Light.
The memories are still there in the form of inside jokes and phrases – that’s what friends are so good for. There was the post-Jay-Z lemonade: the most thirst-quenching juice in the land. There was “the billow” – a Seinfeldian moment in which I came face to face with the shirtless bro’s balls visible through the leg of his billowing soccer shorts.
Oh yeah, we saw Jay-Z, Stevie Wonder, The Dead Weather, She & Him, Regina Spektor, The Flaming Lips, Kid Cudi, Local Natives… But all of that just seems like a happy side-dish to the real meal: the teenage freedom, the bonding, the kind of trip you never forget.
It’s comforting to know that in 10 years I’ll still have these shitty disposable camera pics to look back on and remind myself of the chicken water, the billow, and most importantly, to never drink warm Bud Light Lime.
The Gossip front-woman Beth Ditto is a powerhouse and fun to watch; at one point she shoved the mic in her mouth and belched loudly.
She & Him performed to a crowd of mostly 30-something men screaming marriage proposals at Zooey Deschanel. Joanna and I, on the other hand, were mesmerized by M. Ward.
This is a fun little group of Teletubbies we happened upon during Dave Matthews Band.
Ideal. Taylor, Kellie, and Joanna waiting for Stevie Wonder and Jay-Z to perform. Making friends with weird humans a-plenty, such as “popcorn guy”, who had a hat full of popcorn… and drawings of violent stick figures.
Kellie Hogan is the only person who Kellie Hogan finds funny; don’t even try to make her laugh unless you’ve won a daytime Emmy. She gets most of her work done at 3 am, after spending the entire day sleeping, painting her nails, and writing to-do lists. She's a Peggy Olsen at work and a Peggy Olsen in the bedroom. She is the Editor-in-Chief of inconnu.
- Editor’s Letter - […] the Firefly Festival, a personal musing on the heartbreak involved in being a Jack White fan, and a nostalgia…