40 years ago, the Monterey Pop Festival crested the free-loving wave that became known as the Summer of Love, or, to my cloistered hippie friends and me, “the greatest time to be alive … ever.” The Beatles, while absent from the festival’s lineup, helped plan the enormous event, and from June 16-18, the sunny Monterey County Fairgrounds pulsed with 200,000 people in an unprecedented gathering. Just imagine their presumably naked, hopefully painted, and definitely drugged bodies teaching the world how to unite under a song, how to have a festival. Featuring such acts as The Who, Simon and Garfunkel, Jimi Hendrix, The Grateful Dead, Janis Joplin, and Ravi Shankar, the first festival to be primarily devoted to rock and roll paved the way for Woodstock, Lollapalooza, Coachella, and alas, Bonnaroo.
1967 is gone, and until I found out I was attending Bonnaroo 2007, I thought that I would never be free. Held in Manchester, Tennessee, the Bonnaroo Music Festival follows in its granddaddy’s footsteps by building a lineup that is not only diverse but also legendary with space for camping and the perfect venue for recreational activity – psychadelic or otherwise. Like its predecessor did 40 years ago on this fateful June weekend, Bonnaroo also seeks to provide its thousands of attendees with a sense of community and provides comedy tents, organized exercise like yoga and baseball, art galleries, and craft and merchandise vendors, a pseudo-cityscape. I’m not sure how much baseball I’ll be participating in, but I do know that my presumably naked and hopefully painted body will be running frantically around Bonnaroo’s six venues: What Stage, Which Stage, This Tent, That Tent, The Other Tent, and Somethin’ Else.
Bonnaroo is Cajun slang for “a really good time,” which each of the days promises to be. Although no day has Ravi Shankar, Buffalo Springfield, The Who, The Grateful Dead, Jimi Hendrix, and the Mamas and the Papas, as did June of 1967, at the Monterey Pop Festival, I still expect complete aural euphoria. Below is my Bonnaroo, my Summer of Love, day by delicious day. I’ve also hypothesized what I’ll be doing during each of the shows with this handy key:
P- pondering: you know, my existence, the lyrics.
D- dancing: I’m going to be free; I’m a better dancer at night.
Z- resting: calmly listening and hydrating, perhaps in the shade.
R- rocking: my most spiritual mood, a special combination of dance, thought, lust, and possible tears.
Thursday, June 14:
10:30-11:30 p.m. The National (P)
11:45 p.m. -1:15 a.m. Tea Leaf Green (D)
12 p.m. -1:30 a.m. Rodrigo & Gabriela (D)
Hopefully I’ll have my tent assembled and my 40 waters tucked in the cooler by the time the baritone-driven Brooklyn rock from The National begins. From there, I’ll head to Rodrigo y Gabriela, the only concert where I’ll be able to simultaneously tango and headbang.
Friday, June 15th:
1:15-2:15 p.m. Cold War Kids (R)
2:15-3:30 p.m. Brazilian Girls (D)
3:45-5:00 p.m. Kings of Leon (R!)
4-5:30 p.m. Hot Chip (D)
6:30-8 p.m. Manu Chao Radio Bemba Sound System (R)
12-3 a.m. Ben Harper, John Paul Jones, ?uestlove (?)
I’ll enjoy breakfast with the Cold War Kids and, courtesy of WPGU, will be able to sing every lyric of “Hang Me Up To Dry”, all “careless in [my] summer clothes.” A small dream of mine will then be realized as I watch Kings of Leon play an afternoon set in their home state, the festival field a seemingly ideal place to host their epic garage anthems. For the late night show, a superjam is taking place for three glorious hours. With ?uestlove of The Roots on drums, John Paul Jones of Led Zeppelin on bass (and hopefully keys), and international funk-rock-folk-soul icon Ben Harper on guitar, I will be in love, especially when they play “Whole Lotta Love.”
Saturday, June 16th:
2:15-3:30 p.m. Regina Spektor (Z)
3:15-4:45 p.m. Ziggy Marley (P)
4:15-5:30 p.m. The Hold Steady (Z)
5:45-7:45 p.m. Ben Harper and the Innocent Criminals (R)
6-7:30 p.m. Spoon (P)
9-11:30 p.m. The Police (R)
12-2:30 a.m. The Flaming Lips (R!)
The most triumphant triumvirate of shows will be taking place Saturday night, as I move from Ben Harper’s always funky, always passionate show (and perhaps a peak at Spoon), to the legendry punk-pop-reggae trio, The Police, to the ethereal sonic cosmos of The Flaming Lips. If The Police can transcend their 60-year-old shells and move me (Sting does yoga, so it’s likely), then this chain of shows could be the highlight of the festival.
Sunday, June 17th:
1-2 p.m. John Butler Trio (Z)
2:30-3:45 p.m. Wolfmother (D)
5:30-7 p.m. Wilco (R!)
6-7:30 p.m. Feist (R)
7:15-8:45 p.m. The White Stripes (R)
During John Butler Trio, I plan on stretching my bones on the grass and letting the virtuoso slide-guitarist lend me his Australian sunshine, a preparatory soak for another packed day. Ever since Wilco annexed Nels Cline for Sky Blue Sky, I’ve been dying to see them again. My favorite current live act, tears may or may not be shed during “You Are My Face”. Once my catharsis is completed, Jack and Meg White’s thunder awaits me.