Bonnaroo 2012: Thursday Night and Friday Morning Pre-Gaming

Don't come to Bonnaroo if you aren't a people person, especially if you are tent camping. It's a game of Russian roulette, whether you end up next to a party bro tent blaring dubstep at 3 a.m., a family with a crying infant, acoustic-guitar man, tantric orgasmic couple or a quiet older group. But the human body is remarkably resilient once the adrenaline and caffeine kick in.

Nor if you are an anarchist or civil-liberties hardliner. For all the hippie-love vibes the booklet, crew and light-twirling security guards try to emanate, the intrusiveness of the searches has increased from prior years; pat-downs, bag checks and ID requirements for any bottled prescriptions, no matter how innocuous. No matter, though; the scent of pot smoke was ever-present, and the ground was littered with spent dimebags.

We got in around 9 p.m. Thursday, late enough to avoid the four-hour waits that our camping neighbors reported, but also too late to catch much in the way of music, aside from a couple of rock-soul ass shakers from Alabama Shakes. Afterward, in the comedy tent, Pete Holmes poked fun at the portable potty situation from the perspective of one who hasn't used too many of them, before Kyle Kinane had the audience howling with tales of unsliced pizza mishaps (long story short, he folded it over like a pita) and eating hot-dog-shaped convenience-store cheeseburger creations off the rollers in spite of a warning from the clerk.

The bright sunlight of a too-early morning revealed an endless sea of cars, tents, vans, RVs, food vendors and illicit peddlers hawking molly and 'shrooms at 7 a.m. to some 80,000 people. Wave after wave of shirtless muscle-bound frat boys, glistening, taut bikini girls and all manner of jam-band kids, trustafarians and travelers outlined every subculture imaginable.

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Jesse Hughey
Contact: Jesse Hughey