Bonnaroo 2011 marks the 10th anniversary of the Tennessee music fest, which features a surreal roundup of influential artists—from hallowed hit-makers to old-school royalty, and everything in between. However, the antics onstage hardly compare to the madness off—the grounds have become synonymous with sex, drugs, and hippie shuffling. Complex City Guide reporter Lauren Otis will be forgoing sleep and hygiene to live on the ground and blog from the bonna-fied event. Come on feel the noise.
Wednesday, June 8, 2011
Super 8 Motel, 2:30 a.m.
After about twelve hours on the highway, our party (consisting of my boy Alex, his roommate, and said roommate’s ladyfriend) decided to call it a night around 2:30 a.m. Our resting place, the 36 Motel, was reminiscent of Breaking Bad’s “Crystal Palace,” where the town’s meth heads like to kick back. After a minute or so of sitting in the car and speculating about what the “36” represented (“36 consecutive police busts?” “36 bodies hidden in the walls?”), we decided to venture onward to the slightly classier Super 8 Motel. It wasn’t a room at The Standard, but it was (seemingly) clean. Not that I’d ever want to see those coverlets under a blacklight.
Fountain City Diner, 12:19 p.m.
After a day of Xtreme Cheddar Goldfish for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, I woke up drooling at the thought of my first legit country breakfast, so when we came across an ad daring readers to “Slay the Diner-saurus” there was no way we weren’t stopping.
The Fountain City Diner didn’t really have the family-sized portions I’d come to expect of the South, but they did have Tiger Toast: French toast crusted with Frosted Flakes and topped with fruit and caramel (undoubtedly something some blazed kitchen staffer had patented). They also had these T-shirts, which regrettably weren’t for sale. Apparently, they were reserved specifically for those brave enough to conquer the “Diner-saurus”—the joint’s massive dessert dish consisting of twelve scoops of ice cream, cookies, and chocolate-dipped bananas. I tried to bribe the manager with a ten, insisting I’d probably housed more than that on nights in watching TV, but she just wasn’t having it.
South Street Smoke House, 8:15 p.m.
Once we settled into our room in Nashville, it was decided soon after that there was no way we were crashing without sampling the city’s legendary barbecue. It didn’t take long for us to track down a place called South Street, which had “NO UGLY ONES” plastered in big letters across the awning. Though it didn’t necessarily do the trick in terms of warding off less fortunate-looking diners, we were too distracted by the ridiculous plates our waiter brought out for us to care: My glass of sweet tea alone was big enough to quench Kirstie Alley, but when the order of “Pumped BBQ Chicken” finally emerged, I just about died. The photo doesn’t even do it justice; it was pretty much like having an entire Thanksgiving dinner to myself. Bringing the takeout box back to the car was an exercise in itself.
Click to the next page for the conclusion to Day One of Lauren's Bonnaroo Tour Diary.
Legal Ganja (and Other Novelties), 9:08 p.m.
After dinner, we came across all sorts of bizarre stuff that I know I’ve certainly never come across in any NYC bodega. I managed to snap a photo of the last remaining “Pickle in a Pouch” (which I guess people are apparently snatching up like gangbusters in the South). In the event you’re looking to relive some of your crunchier college days, the station also had countless packs of Djarums up for grabs. What I was most taken by, however, were the packs of “legal weed” that the owners had on display in a rotating glass case. I wasn’t aware there was such a thing. Am I the last person to know about this? After making a joke about having stumbled upon the “O’Doul’s of kush!” my friend happily reminded me that Dave Chappelle had already beaten me to the punch years ago. Sigh.
Honky Tonk Heaven, 9:33 p.m.
Nashville’s downtown bar scene was nuts. The streets were flooded with country fans that’d flown in for the CMAs, which I learned, after consulting a random cop, are more than just an award show, they’re a crazy series of events and performances extending through the weekend. And this fête was no joke: It was probably every one in a hundred civilians that wasn’t rocking a Stetson.
Lower Broadway felt kind of like a Southern version of the Vegas Strip, but instead of casinos, the flashing neon lights advocated countless live music joints. Each place we rolled into smelt of smoke, booze, and sweat—everything you imagine when you hear some country dude singing about boozing after his no-good woman’s done him dirty. Crowds were cheering and stomping as musicians with questionable hair strummed the shit out of their guitars. It was…kind of awesome.