The 10th Bonnaroo is in the books.
In addition to the great music, several things stood out for me at this year's festival. In no particular order, they are:
* Cell phones rule our world. This is hardly news, but it's hard to imagine attending the festival without one. Keeping up with friends at the festival, checking schedules, getting updates, watching highlights and, in my case, working via a smart phone are now a big part of the daily routine.
So important are these gadgets, some of the longest lines at the festival were in front of the Fuse Barn where people who had forgotten their chargers waited for hours to have them charged. The Fuse folks planned ahead and had chargers for most brands and models.
* I did not plan for dust. I brought plenty of water and ice for the heat and tarps for both shade and rain. I will spend the next several months checking with Desert Storm veterans to figure out how one deals with sand and dust and add whatever they suggest to my survival kit.
* Artist names can be tricky. Not knowing whether a name represents a he, a she or a they is one of the quickest ways to lose your cool card, and it's hardly a new phenomenon. Many a doofus has revealed his unhipness with comments like "I heard Led Zeppelin's son died," "I love Pink Floyd's voice" or "I saw Lynyrd Skynyrd drinking a latté at Starbucks yesterday."
Girl Talk is actually Gregg Gillis, Bassnectar is Lorin Ashton and The White Buffalo is a guy named The White Buffalo. If you are unsure, stick with the stage name and leave the pronouns out of your conversation.
* VIP is hip? The RV crowd is growing, and the festival is doing more and more to cater to them. The first Bonnaroo is remembered as a total hippie fest with the majority of attendees camping either in tents or makeshift campsites under tarps.
One of the beautiful things about the festival is the "we-are-in-it together" attitude. The VIP shift changes that. I'm not ready to say whether it's a good or bad thing in the long run (it was a sold-out crowd), but it was noted by many people standing in long lines for the port-a-potties that the air-conditioned bathroom trailer had no lines much of the time.
* * * * *
I got an email earlier this week from Graham Malley, who lives in Derby, England. He was writing to brag on and thank two of this city's living legends. Malley had just gotten to see, hear and meet Sam Gooden and Fred Cash, who were there performing with The Impressions.
Malley wrote that the group performed to a huge crowd, reducing grown men to tears.
"They did a meet and greet after the concert - nothing was too much trouble - posing for photos, signing autographs - many people bringing along their prized vinyl (remember that?) singles, EPs and albums - and happy just to chat. They stayed for an hour and a half after the performance until everyone had a chance to meet them. True gentlemen indeed.
"I was lucky enough to get Fred Cash's copy of the song listing for the performance, which they all signed," Malley said.