This was my fourth year shooting concert pics at the Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival in Manchester, Tennessee for my newspaper, The Memphis Flyer.
Each year, my friend and fellow reporter Shara Clark and I camp out in the media area (which is way nicer than the overpopulated and wild general camping grounds) and attend show after show in the blazing hot sun. She writes. I shoot. That means I get to stand in the photo pit right in front of the stage for the first three songs of most shows. Then they kick us out into the crowd. Basically, I have the best job ever.
This year's fest featured another amazing lineup — Bjork, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, Purity Ring, Wu-Tang Clan, Big K.R.I.T, A$AP Rocky, Billy Idol, R. Kelly, Passion Pit, Pretty Lights, Porter Robinson, Weird Al Yankovic, comedian Bob Saget, and a horde of new indie and hip-hop acts I've never even heard of. And even though I could care less, Paul McCartney (yes, I hate the Beatles, but I do love all he does for vegetarianism), Tom Petty (yes, I hate his music), and The Lumineers (not into it, but people seem to like them) were there too.
I got some GREAT shots of the bands, and I'll share a pic from my fave performance of the weekend in a few. But you're here for food, not music. And luckily, Bonnaroo is VERY vegan-friendly. Most every food vendor has a vegan option. When 80,000 hippies gather for a weekend fest, you'd better believe vegan options are a must. I ate some meals at my campsite to save money (oats, instant ramen, and peanut butter and jelly wraps). But I also enjoyed lots of delicious vegan festie food.
We arrived at the festival on Thursday afternoon. Even though I had a snack at the campsite before heading to Centeroo (where the action happens), I was hungry again after we watched Purity Ring. These Veggie Samosas with Dal were only $2 each!
On Friday, I ventured out in search of dinner after shooting Passion Pit. I'd heard about a BBQ tempeh vendor, but while searching for that place, I ran across Feel Good Foods, which had BBQ Soy Curls & Black Beans! Um, yes, please. Soy Curls > Tempeh.
It's easy to get overheated at Bonnaroo, especially when you're trying to drink beer and balance your water intake. There's very little shade in Centeroo, and the average daytime temp this year was 90 degrees. While wandering around Centeroo on Saturday, I started to feel a little crappy. Then I spotted one of the many Bonnaroo smoothie vendors. These are peppered all over Centeroo.
I had a Coconut-Strawberry-Banana Smoothie, and I instantly felt better.
Later on Saturday, hunger struck while we were watching Bjork's magical show. I hated to leave, so I stuck to the vendors close by where I could still hear her as I ordered this Tofu Bhan Mi. This was amazing — fried tofu, cilantro, crusty bread, and homemade plum sauce.
Bonnaroo goes all nearly all night with bands and DJs playing until the wee hours of the morning. I used to stay up until sunrise when we first started going, but I'm getting old, and I don't typically make it past 2 a.m. But that's still pretty late, definitely late enough to justify a fourth meal. I had this Channa Masala (forgive the crappy poorly lit shot) around 1:30 a.m. Sunday morning.
Even though we left on Sunday afternoon, it was my favorite day! Why? Because Macklemore & Ryan Lewis played, and I LOVE them more than anything ever. If "Thrift Shop" is the only Macklemore song you know, I challenge you to listen to his other stuff. He has plenty of funny songs, but he also raps the truth on so many important issues — LGBT equality, anti-consumerism, the problems of white privilege, homelessness, addiction. This dude is amazing.
I was shooting Macklemore at 2:30 p.m., so I fueled up first with this Funky Farmer Roti Roll from the Food Truck Oasis. That's slow-cooked curried squash, zucchini, and onions tucked inside an Indian flatbread.
My roti roll came from a truck of the same name in the oasis, an area where food trucks from across the country park and vend. Most of the vendors at Bonnaroo are set up in traditional stationary concession stands, but the Food Truck Oasis features real food trucks from all over.
Finally, at 2:30, the magical moment came! I was inches from Macklemore's face in the photo pit. Here's my favorite shot. He spotted someone in the crowd wearing a faux fur (and yes, it was definitely faux, although Macklemore has some issues with wearing real animals occasionally ... my only beef with him), and he had that person crowdsurf their coat to the stage so he could wear it for "Thift Shop."