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Festival Review and Photos: Bonnaroo 2012

BPM’s Official Bonnaroo Survival Guide

As of Sunday, another edition of the Bonnaroo music festival was put in the books. And between the insane sun, intense heat, marathon Phish jam session, and mushroom water fountain, we here at Beats Per Minute gleaned a few important lessons. As part of our civic duty, we decided to share some of these lessons with you for our official Bonnaroo survival guide. If you still haven’t attended Bonnaroo, take these eight tips to heart. And if you’re a veteran of the outdoor festival, nod along — and be sure to add your own tips in the comments.

Survival Tip #1: Bonnaroo is a marathon, not a sprint.

Thursday morning at roughly 7:45, a small conglomeration of tents was awoken by a young man who was crying, screaming, and naked. He was trapped in his own tent and utterly failing at escaping. Eventually, paramedics had to be brought in to haul him away on a stretcher. Why? Because he had taken eight (eight!) hits of acid Wednesday night, the first night the campground had opened. Poor decision, sir.

If you show up Wednesday evening and don’t leave until Monday morning, you could be looking at spending upwards of 100 hours (plus diving time!) at Bonnaroo. Excitement is understandable, especially if it’s your first time. But, please, pace those 100 hours. That means spreading out those acid hits. That means being overly cautious with the sunscreen the first few days. That means resisting the urge to see everything on day one. It’s far too easy to burn yourself out by Friday and hate everything on Sunday. Pace yourself, folks.

Survival Tip #2: B.Y.O.E.

A variation on the classic BYOB, or Bring Your Own Beer, BYOE stands for Bring Your Own Everything. This means food, drink, drugs, shade, creature comforts, power supplies, etc. Bonnaroo has a lot available to those who forget these things, but the more you can bring of your own, the more you’ll enable yourself to experience all the cool bits of the festival without having to find your way to the general store.

This rule applies, more than anything, to potables. Anything that you’re going to put in your body, make sure you’ve either brought it yourself, purchased it from a legitimate vendor, or received it from friends you’ve deemed trustworthy. There’s nothing that’s going to piss you off more than realizing someone sold you a bag of oregano or that the really nice guys cooking eggs gave you salmonella. Take control of the things you put in and around your body, so you don’t have to worry about diarrhea during Radiohead.

Survival Tip #3: Cash is king.

Or, as the Wu-Tang Clan might say, money rules everything around me. There’s nowhere on the Bonnaroo grounds that accepts your credit card. You may know this fact in your head, but it never hurts to repeat the obvious, especially when you see so many people forget their debit card PIN number at the ATM. Also, make sure to check your balance before you leave. Punching the ATM machine because it gave you an Insufficient Funds message is really only hurting your fist.

Survival Tip #4: You will fall in love at least once per day. Plan accordingly.

Over Bonnaroo weekend, the farm that houses the festival squeezes 80,000+ people onto 700 acres. Combine this with the warm weather and general free love atmosphere, and you’re bound to see a lot of people that you’re going to be attracted to, and since Bonnaroo is an arts festival, it may not just be physical attraction either. Odds are at least once per day (for me it was roughly once per half hour) you will fall head over heels for someone you see.

How do you plan for that? Well, plan like you used to for summer camp: practice your introduction, prepare your pen pal pitch, and make sure that you both exchange information. You may strike out every time (like I did), but at least you be sitting in the passenger seat of mom and dad’s car thinking longingly about how you won’t see Jenny again until next summer.

Survival Tip #5: Find the secret bathrooms. And keep them secret.

The secret bathrooms are different for everyone. For me, the secret bathroom was the handicapped outhouse nearest to my tent, which for some reason was always immaculate. You may stumble upon your secret bathroom by accident, but whatever you do, don’t let anyone else know about your find. Invariably, as soon as you let your secret bathroom location slip, the next time you enter, it will have been desecrated by the foulest of bodily functions. If you don’t find it right away, keep searching. Once you find your own secret bathroom, the entire festival experience becomes about a thousand times easier.

Survival Tip #6: Your neighbors are your greatest asset.

In a weird way, there is no greater determining factor for how much you will enjoy Bonnaroo than who you happen to camp next to. To this end, we have two suggestions. First, if you came with a party, wait for that entire convoy to line up before attempting to get in line for your camping spots. This will ensure your immediate neighbors are those you brought with you and, theoretically, those who you shared the purchasing of supplies with.

Second, if you only brought one car, make friends with at least one of your neighbors immediately. Odds are that you forgot to bring something that these neighbors have. And vice versa. Offer food to your neighbors and they’re likely to pay you back in kind, with food or, um, something else. By partnering with your neighbors, you create your own little mini-Bonnaroo community, and by pooling your resources, both in terms of property, physicality, and intellect, you can solve almost any problem thrown at you, from the need to sleep outside in the early mornings when your tent gets too hot to the location of some secret bathrooms.

Survival Tip #7: Wear sunscreen

That song was right, guys.

– Chris Bosman

[Intro] [Thursday] [Friday] [Saturday] [Saturday – Cont’d] [Sunday] [Survival Guide] [Gallery]

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