That’s how people greet each other at Bonnaroo. Along with high-fives, hugs, and the occasional offering of candy. That’s not a euphemism; a couple guys walked up to me and gave me a fun-sized bag of Skittles.
This was the vibe of the festival. The words “Radiate Positivity” are posted all over The Farm, and Bonnaroovians act accordingly. Nobody’s a stranger there; they’re all friends that haven’t met yet. It’s an environment I had never experienced before.
Kendrick Lamar put on one of the best shows of the festival. His set was sick—almost as sick as what I witnessed in the crowd. A guy was frantically trying to exit through a sea of entranced, fully-hyped people. We were stepping aside to let the guy through, and he vomited all over a girl in front of me.
Time stood still for a moment.
The crowd formed a meter-wide radius around the scene. The girl was visibly mortified and didn’t know what to do but scream, “IT’S ALL OVER ME!” The crowd parted open a path to let her leave. It took us approximately three seconds to get back into the show. As Kendrick Lamar says, “Bitch, don’t kill my vibe.” We complied.
That incident is the embodiment of Bonnaroo culture. If something unfortunate happens, we deal with it and we keep the party alive. Through the 90+ degree weather, we still crowded together, jumped up and down, and screamed our lungs out.
We didn’t bother those who passed out on the grass. We didn’t bother people’s campsites. There’s bound to be some bad apples with 60,000+ people in one place, but the honest folks far outnumber the jerks. The Lost & Found section of the Bonnaroo website lists hundreds upon hundreds of phones, wallets, bags, and keys lost on The Farm.
I had never seen so much trust among strangers in my life.
One night, I was at a “charging tent” where I sat with a handful of folks, our phones plugged to the table. A guy stumbled to the table and plugged in his phone. He was under the influence of something strange. He asked us if we could watch his $500 luxury item called an iPhone while he took care of something. One joker said, “Sure, but how do you know that one of us won’t steal it?”
The thought blew his mind. The joker convinced the guy he wasn’t serious and he would watch the phone. Sure enough, nobody walked off with it. The guy came back and was ecstatic to see his phone. He was happy. We were happy. We didn’t know each other, but we were friends.
After a weekend of some fantastic shows, it was time to go home. My buddy Kelly and I were exhausted and partied out. I looked forward to a hot shower and sleeping in my bed. I was ready to go home, but at the same time, I wasn’t ready at all.
I didn’t realize much I would miss everyone.
Feel free to read on to Part 2!