by Ben the Bonnaroo Backstage Blogger,posted Jun 11 2013 4:31PM
I learned I won the Triple M Bonnaroo Backstage Blogger contest weeks ago, but the big event is really here! My son and I are in the final stages of prep and will start the drive to Manchester, Tennessee tomorrow. We'll be trying to give a sense of what it's like to be at THIS festival as opposed to THAT festival ... and how successful we are in living by the Bonnaroovian Code. (More on that later.)
In the meantime, I thought I'd kick things off by sharing the entry that won the contest - the theme was "Favorite Concert Experience." Talk to you later!
My son Eli is a freshman and Madison West, and we see lots of shows at area clubs and festivals. It's our main connection and way to bond. We enjoy the same styles of music (mostly indie and alt) and always make memories - like the time at High Noon when MC Frontalot dramatically pointed from the stage at Eli and said, "You have a really cool dad" before launching into a risque rap about groupies at a sci-fi convention.
Our favorite memory is from last summer at Lollapalooza. On day 2, the oppressive heat was finally broken by rain ... in the form of intense thunderstorms (complete with tornado warnings). They evacuated Grant Park, and 100,000 people poured into the streets of Chicago to seek shelter. Eli and I ended up in a Panera Bread on State. We found a corner of the floor and sat down, eating enough (we hoped) for it to be okay for us to wait out the storm.
We tracked the storm on our phones and monitored the Twitter rumors swirling around the park opening. We headed back at just the right time, and found ourselves at the front of the line just as they prepared for reentry.
The game had changed. Festival-goers that had carefully planned their day had to start fresh. Obsessive fans of that special (to them) band that had camped out on the rail all day had lost their spot. The playing field had been leveled and we had first choice. Eli is slight-of-build, so I normally avoided the rail area that eventually turned into the mosh pit. But we had a chance here to pick a pristine spot on the rail that could avoid the worst of it. The band fun. was in the mix. Their set had been washed out, and they were rescheduled to play immediately upon park opening. Or ... we could wait on the rail for a couple hours for Franz Ferdinand. The opportunity to see Franz Ferdinand up close was too good to pass up, and we jogged to the stage when the gates opened. We were among the first to arrive and secured a spot 30 feet right of center.
We killed time watching them drain rainwater from the canopy. Security guys entertained the crowd by diving in to confiscate cannabis.
The energy of the festival had changed ... Between the heat relief, the nervous/scared feeling of the evacuation and the general disruption of how-things-were-supposed-to-go, there was a fun mania in the air. We were READY for the band.
When Franz Ferdinand took the stage, they must have caught the vibe. They were happy to be there, a little relieved that the storm caused no real damage, and thankful for the energy we sent to them. It was the only time I've seen them perform, but I'm confident it was their best concert of the year. My son and I watching a great band playing at their best in the heart of Chicago while sunset illuminated departing stormclouds over Lake Michigan ... yeah. Those are the reasons it's my favorite concert experience.
There may be snow on the ground again in Madison--but it's time to start thinking about the summer festival season!
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