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Entries in Music Festivals (8)


A Last Minute Checklist

I promise that I'll post about something else soon. Coming up I'll share my summer fun plan for piano lessons, projects from the house, and a new weekly project!  But first...

So you're going on vacation to somewhere in a tent. Here's a fortnight checklist:

Tent stuff together? (Tent, poles, mallet, stakes)

Throw a bunch of water bottles in the freezer. Not only will this be handy for drinking later - it'll also save you on ice money for the cooler.

Packing List? (Here's my festival checklist, if you need a starting point)

Freshened up your car? (Inside and out: I get a once over on my car when I have my oil changed before a trip. Also, when did you last replace those windshield wipers?)

Cleaned your cooler?

Have your car games ready? (a deck of Trivial Pursuit and Outburst cards are pretty nifty in my book)

And a few more tips for the Bonnaroo crowd:

- Packing your Centeroo stuff in plastic bag will not just make your stuff rain proof, but could speed along your bag check this year. (Check out Survival of Preparedest for more on this)

- Pack a set of clothes that stay fresh and hidden. When you reenter the real world, you'll look and smell a lot less like you've been in a field for 4 days.

- Prepare for it all: Hot and cold weather, wet and dry: long sleeves, no sleeves, pants, shorts, sandals, shoes, poncho, hat, bandanna

Hydrate. Use sunscreen. Wear ear plugs. You'll be glad you did.


Sunday Afternoons

Sundays at the farm are one of my favorites. Every year it seems we are able to find some good bands to relax to - a good mix of music legends, and recent favorites. Here's a few of my favorite Sunday bands from Bonnaroo past for your Sunday enjoyment:

*Note: These are albums to fill your day instead of just an hour playlist or so. Also, sometimes musicians swear. Sorry.

Yonder Mountain String Band - self titled

Mavis Staples - "You Are Not Alone"

Robert Plant & Alison Krauss - "Raising Sand"

Fruit Bats - "Ruminant Band"

Phoenix - "Alphabetical"

Orchestra Baobab - "A Night at Club Baobab"

Diversion: They Might Be Giants - "Here Comes Science," or "Lincoln"

Neko Case - "Middle Cyclone"

Ben Folds Five - self titled

Andrew Bird - "Armchair Aprocrypha"

 The Beach Boys - "Endless Summer"

Aimee Mann - "@#%&*! Smilers"

John Fogerty - "The Blue Ridge Rangers Rides Again"

Explosions in the Sky - "All of a Sudden I Miss Everyone"

Happy Sunday!



Days into Nights

Late nights are magic.

For someone who has to manage how much I've spent in the sun and hug the shade, nighttime is perfect for wandering freely from band to band and not keeping track of how long ago I applied sunscreen. But there's something else about a late night of music, and I don't know what it is. Magic just seems to happen. Here are a few of my favorite moments:

After Pearl Jam finished at our first year, we were exhausted and sweaty. (Plus my husband was recovering from some cold he'd picked up) we stretched out on the lawn with a plate of samosas and sweet potato fries to watch Sigur Ros. I first heard this band on a mix cd my best friend gave me for my 19th birthday, and was amazed by the sound. I could hardly believe I was watching them suddenly live on stage, sparkly atmosphere and a marching band? The perfect wind-down to a wonderful day.

Same year, we were at the epic My Morning Jacket show. As songs would build, the rain poured down and the wind blew hard; then ebbing as the song wound down. It felt like they controlled the weather. Eventually they had to take a break since electronics and water aren't very good friends. When they came back, Jim James wore a cape and they tore into a great James Brown cover. We ended up leaving a bit before the end, soaked to the bone and shivering, but warmed ourselves in our sleeping bags listening to the last song,"Home Sweet Home," as we fell asleep.

LCD Soundsystem made us dance our socks off a few years ago. As we dance-sprinted to the tent, we dodged and leapt over sleeping bodies. I wish that LCD would reform every year for a late night set.

Walking back to Public Enemy from the portapotties, I reached a point in the road where I could distinctly hear Phish and Public Enemy. The sound of the two bands briefly complemented each other for a minute, rhythm and tonality syncing just for a minute. Just the right moment and right time. Amazing.

The Flaming Lips played a double set of their own work and then played The Dark Side of the Moon. First, Wayne was in the hamster ball. Second they played Dark Side. Need I say more?

And finally, Alice Cooper's set last year. My great friend had been so excited and she made sure we found the perfect spot. There was a kid dressed up in a top hat and cane on their parent's shoulders the whole show. I had never seen Alice Cooper before. Such a stage show, and just amazed me from beginning to end.

So many different sounds. So much fun. And a lot of dancing. It's the magic of late nights.


Festival Friday is back!

All right, it's been a few weeks, but I'm back with another Festival Friday. To make up for it, tomorrow I'm starting a countdown to Bonnaroo with a new post each day. But today just a quick check - have you practiced your set-up?

For those who've never been to the farm, the entire set-up process might seem a little crazy. Cars park, people stream out of their cars, shade tents immediately start popping up and tents are staked. There are a few reasons for this mad rush:

- The sooner you're up, the sooner you can sit in the shade/get out of the rain or start exploring. 

- Sometimes space needs to be claimed before the 6 people next to you get their two 8-person tents up.

- The sooner you're up, the sooner you can sit in the shade/get out of the rain or start exploring.

To make this all a smoother process, here are a few tips:

- Try to keep everything you'll need for setup in an easily accessible spot, perhaps on the floor in the backseat. That way after your car is searched, your tent won't disappear into the abyss of your trunk. (Side note: Store bread/hot dog buns in something sturdy so that the car searchers don't have to worry about flattening it)

- Know your footprint. Go out and practice your setup. How much space do you really need? With a 10x10 pop-up shade tent, we'll nestle our tents about 1/3 of the way under to help save space. By knowing how we want our space set up, we can immediately get out of the car, unroll our tents, and then set up our shade tent knowing we have enough space.

- Be kind to your neighbors. We all want space, but you're going to be living next door to these folks for several days. If someone next to you got stuck with the tiniest plot of land with barely enough room for one tent, see if you and your neighbors can help shift over some space.

- Bring duct tape.

- Guylines in the night are the scariest thing at Bonnaroo. Find something to help identify them (unfortunately glow sticks aren't allowed, because those are the easiest solution): bright string, solar powered string lights, a flag, tie something to it, etc. Protect your tent, yourself and the person walking - let them know there is a taught rope about to trip them.

- Test your ideas for posting flags or balloons at home. I'm not complaining about the flags and balloons waving in the wind, I would never find my tent without these. ("Wait, why am I buy the unicorn, I need to find the clownfish!") However, a badly posted flagpole could result in an awkward introduction to your neighbors. ("Hi, I'm the guy with the clownfish. I'm sorry to tell you but it fell and now your hood has a big dent down the middle of it...")

- Did you find your duct tape yet? Good. Grab your rubber mallet and a flashlight too.

Things you could have to be the helpful neighbor: extra stakes, extra plasticware, scissors, small tool kit, jumper cables, cold beer (either as gift or trade for a warm one) and since you're camp will be up in no time - see if anyone needs a rubber mallet too.

All right, make sure to check my other Festival Friday posts to get some tips on what to bring, how to sort out all those conflicts and some favorite bands I've seen. And check back tomorrow as I count it down to getting back to the farm.

Remember - Protect your ears, skin, and hydrate! Happy Friday!



Festival Friday: Survival of the Schedule

There is this beautiful time when the line-up is announced, tickets are purchased and possibilities abound as to how it will all come together.

Then it all crashes when the schedule is finally announced. Suddenly, there are conflicts, there is timing involved, and just when you think you've got it all figured out you realize that you will spend 14 hours a day going from one band to the next. Intense.

Don't worry, it'll be okay. Just take a breath. We'll figure this out.

- Pick out your must-sees. Even if you want to just leave it to chance, double check the list and make sure there isn't a set that you would kick yourself for missing. If you want to be up close and personal for the whole set of your must-see, make time for a bathroom break, replenish your water, and time to find your spot.

- Think about location and time of day. For example, I sunburn very easily, so I try to stay in the sun for short durations between 3:30 and 5:30. It's not easy, I've had to miss some great stuff, but I'd rather be able to enjoy the rest of the festival as a non-lobster. Catch 15 minutes of a band in a very sunny area, then find a shady area to enjoy the rest or go see another band in a shaded area.

- Make sure you give yourself time to rest. Especially if it's a multi-day festival. Don't overdo it on the first or second day and be laid up for the rest of the festival. Take your time. Take care of yourself. Find times in the schedule where you would miss a few bands in order to take a break. See if there are any bands that you would be just as happy to lay on the lawn and listen. Knowing of a few spots where you can rest beforehand might help you be able to stay up really late for that one set you're dying to see, or endure some time up in the front of the mob at a band you absolutely love.

- Be flexible.

- Don't forget to eat. This can get a little tricky, if you're on a budget like us and need to find time to escape back to the campsite. We carry snacks in my bag to help sustain us between meals - have some carbs, have some protein, but don't have anything that melts (including chewy granola bars, candy, yogurt covered granola bars, etc.).

- Print off a schedule and mark it up. Sometimes I use a star rating system, sometimes I just write comments next to the band's name - "!" or "meh." If you don't know a lot of bands, maybe it would help to write what kind of music it is. That way if you're feeling more reggae than rock, you'll know where to go. Also, anything you really don't care about can just be crossed right off.

If all else fails - Just do a 3 song set. 3 songs and you can count is my rule of thumb. Often, I get to hear a song the band is known for, an older song and a newer song. It's almost always a perfect set, and great for catching a bunch of bands stacked on top of each other or an easy way to find new stuff. For bands that don't necessarily have defined songs, 15 minutes is a good equivalent. There have been times that I've stayed for less and there are times I've ended up staying for the entire set.

My summer project for my students is to build their own three song set. 3 songs that they can play anytime and give people a good idea of who they are or where they're at. It is the magic number after all.

I hope that might help any of you feeling stressed looking at those festival line-ups. Just take a breath, make some notes and wing it. Have fun, stay hydrated, and use sunscreen!

Ps. The 3 song set idea might place me at Lady Gaga on a smaller stage at Lollapalooza in 2007. I can't place it, but looking at the schedule, it's very likely. How weird is that?