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"If we didn't listen to our fears," the great American thinker Andrew WK asks rhetorically, "how much partier would our lives be?" The answer, of course, is a whole hell of a lot partier — and potentially a lot shorter. Fear keeps us alive! We're all gonna die someday, but let's not do it in the middle of a field in Tennessee.
Listen, unless your name is, well, Andrew WK, Bonnaroo will probably be the partiest four days of your year — so there's no reason to ruin it by offing yourself needlessly. If you're the kind of person who's considered autoerotic asphyxiation and thought, "What a way to go!" I suppose there's nothing I can say that will dissuade you from chasing the dragon with no regard for your own continued existence. But I'm here to tell you: Fear The Reaper, a little bit.
Drink a lot of water — seriously, a lot — take shade breaks and know your limits. If you hear thunder, get off your stilts and don't hold onto anything that's metal or lightning rod-like, including those juggling sticks, which ... c'mon. Of course all of this is just common sense — something you will feel yourself slowly detaching from the longer you're inside the 'Roo bubble. If a tornado touches down, well, we're all so completely fucked it's not even worth discussing. (I might build a concrete igloo at my campsite, though.) Don't climb on anything taller than a Subaru. Just trust me on that last one.
You know what's a good way to get killed? Lying unconscious on the ground where 80,000 people are stumbling around in the dark. So a good way not to get killed is not to do that. Or at least, if you feel yourself passing out, put some glow sticks around your face or something so your mindgrapes don't get trampled into wine. Speaking of your mindgrapes: Some of you reading this will be coming to Tennessee from places that don't have thousands of cicadas flying around shrieking like Teabaggers on tax day. If you're easily freaked out by bugs — even harmless ones — maybe lay off the heavy stuff this year. The last thing you need is to have a 3-inch-long insect with red eyes flap into you and try to lay eggs in your neck while you're deep in a K-hole. Is it possible to die of a blown mind? Let's not find out. Bonnaroo: It's more fun if you're alive! —SH
Sometimes — with so much awesome music going on — it's easy to forget the "Arts" portion of the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival. But this year, it'll be unavoidable. No seriously, local graffiti crew WorkForce Rebellion has been commissioned to paint a mural that spans "thousands of linear feet" — and recounts all 10 Bonnaroos — on the walls separating general camping from Centeroo. Basically, you're gonna have something real purdy to look at as you stand in line waiting to get the party started — a serious improvement over staring at that Wookiee trying to hide his contraband in his ass crack.
Once you're inside, be sure you check out The Academy in Planet Roo. Part chill-out room, part art studio and part environmentalism workshop, The Academy has become one of our favorite places to pop into when the sun gets too hot and we need a moment's respite from our quest to lose all our hearing. It's a good spot to recover some of those brain cells you've probably lost, and maybe fire up a few new ones you didn't know you had. Also, make sure to check out the Bonnaroo Poster Art Exhibit presented in conjunction with the American Poster Institute — it's always a feast for the eyes and possibly the most convenient way to empty your bank account in one fell swoop. —SLM
Bonnaroo is a place you're likely to find yourself engaging in debauched undertakings and displaying ignominious depths of depravity you (and especially your mother) never could've theretofore imagined. It's kinda like Vegas: In the day it's nasty, brutish and hot; at night it's an intoxicating, magical fantasy world of arts, music, lights, community and indulgent release, in a setting that's disorienting by design.
But instead of free-basing with automatic weapons, accidentally tossing Keith Richards off the hotel balcony instead of the television set, betting on cockfights and burying prostitutes in the desert, you'll find yourself clapping quarter-notes to the throbs of sub-bass, painting yourself purple, yelling your favorite Titanic lines from atop a Ferris wheel and, yes, talking to strangers.
Only at Bonnaroo are you almost assured to, with the sunrise looming, find yourself interminably walking around in the mud with a questionably ... uh, underdressed pseudo-gypsy voodoo chile, telling him or her your life story, sharing your lame-brained thoughts and theories on everything from the mercury levels of funnel cake to the Kennedy assassination for hours before asking, "Wait ... who are you? You mean, we don't know each other ... in real life? Wait ... you don't speak English, do you? Or do you? Wait ... do I?" before ending with, "Ohhhhh, right. Well, I guess you weren't trying to rip me off after all. Here. Eat a peach, friend!"
While the friendships you make at Bonnaroo aren't likely to last a lifetime, they're ones that will rekindle summer camp memories for ... well, at least until you come down. But they might come in handy the next day, when you and your companions run out of rolling papers (for your tobacco) or lighter fluid (for your grill), or mushrooms (for your hamburgers), or high-fives (for your soul), and you lock eyes and say, "Hey, I'm almost sure I know that fellow festival-goer. Maybe they can hook us up." —AG
As far as the Scene is concerned — since our bosses are reading and everything ... hey guys! — the hardest stuff we'll be looking for at Bonnaroo is a cold glass of milk in that sizzling dustbowl. But hey, we're no narcs, man. Our watches still hit 4:20, like, twice a day, and someone who isn't us has the 411 on keeping your mellow unharshed at the 'Roo.
As far as the wheres, "Shakedown Street" can be any number of places, but if you find it, the 'Roo's unlicensed vendors will likely find you. If you're bringing sand to the beach and plan to ride dirty, use the utmost discretion — The Heat is as ubiquitous as the sun, and gate security will definitely bogart your contraband unless you get mad creative.
On the psychotropical tip, we don't personally condone a journey to the center of the mind, but if you're gonna go, it's a trip best taken at night and in good company. Chiefing out in the open is typically a safe bet, but home etiquette still applies: puff-puff-give, share and share alike, etc. If the sauce is all you plan on hitting and Centeroo's $8-plus drinks aren't kosher, we'll just say that water bottles hold more than one clear liquid, and who knows what the hell's in that soda can? Most of all, your brain on drugs is a frying egg — and Bonnaroo is the stove. Keep your insides wet, and for everyone's sake, leave your bath salts in the tub. —SG
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