Bonnaroo: Volunteering with Clean Vibes

Where did everybody go?

On Monday when everyone was packing up and leaving the Bonnaroo community, we moved our campsite to the camping area for Clean Vibes volunteers. After re-setting up our campsite, we walked around for about 20 minutes to look for a shower. Every time we came to a shower and our hopes rose, they died instantly as we tried to turn the showers on. All of the showers were shut off.

While looking for showers we also looked around the fields. Ground scores. Think of all the things people bring to a festival. Now think of all those things left behind. You name it, it was left behind. We saw full campsites equipped with tents, chairs, couches, coolers, clothes. I honestly felt like it was the end of the world and we were the last human beings on Earth, just taking whatever we could to survive. We found at least three 30 packs of beer and four coolers so we were set for the night/rest of the week. I found a spray bottle/mister/portable fan and was happy.

After walking another 15 minutes back to camp, unshowered and sweating, we laid at our campsite and just baked in the sun. Without shade. All weekend I was fine, but my body was starting to feel every burn, ache and sun ray. After lying around for a while, I ventured back out to find a shower. I ended up sneaking into the medical tents showers and showering for at least 20 minutes. The water wasn’t too cold, but I didn’t even care.

That night I met a lot of really cool people, hung out, listened to music and played soccer.

The next day we were woken up at 7 a.m. to free breakfast courtesy of Clean Vibes. And boy did it feel good to eat a real meal. I was extremely grateful for every bite of my eggs, sausage, homefries and yogurt. And coffee. After an experience like Bonnaroo, a few days of eating whatever you can whenever you can, a homecooked meal is the best thing that can fall into your hands. You really lean how to appreciate things, even after a couple days. That’s another thing I love about music festivals- they open my eyes to things I don’t even think about missing.

We were all set scheduled to work on the purple team. We were excited to clean the fields and find more ground scores while working. Instead, we were sent to a giant pile of recycled bottles and trash. For eight hours we had to dig through the trash, sort through recyclables, cardboard and compost.

As bags would come in to the yard we would tear them open and sort through, leaving the recyclables behind and taking the compost away, but mainly just tearing open bags.

Shade under the truck, feeling like the Box Car Kids

The sun was shining all day and our only hope for shade was hiding under a dumptruck/leaning on a dumpster. We got an hour break for lunch with free delicious sandwiches, cookies, fruit, chips and water.

Once we got back to work, the clouds overhead started enclosing the sky above us. A girl asked our boss, “Can we still work in this?” He responded with, “Yea we’re fine.” Not even five minutes later, the thunder roared and the rain came down, “Seek shelter” our boss screamed. Everyone ran in every direction. We started running back into Centeroo and ended up seeking shelter in the back of a tractor-trailer. It was such a relief for rain to fall after five sweltering days in a row. The rain also cut two hours out of our day work day.

Blurb from my journal after Day 1:

“As we were digging through the trash this morning and sorting through recycle, compost and trash, I started seriously thinking about trash. What is trash? What makes the cut for the definition of trash? Who’s to say what’s trash and what’s not? Who’s to say what’s anything really? Life is all about perspective. How you see, view, feel, taste, smell, touch, experience things.

The only thing I was certain about was compost. So I pretty much stuck to that. A playground of trash. A sea of recyclables. A sea of trash, of plastic. Where does all the trash in the world go? The recyclables? How exactly does compost work? Recycling? I want to learn a step by step process.

I haven’t stopped sweating since I got here. Haven’t sweated for so much, so long, so consistently ever in my life.

It was a really humbling experience to go through the trash today- knee-deep and sometimes waist deep in huge piles of it. For the most part I did a good job of sucking in my breath and holding my nose so the sour-smell wouldn’t infiltrate my nostrils.

I’ve never been outside for so long in my life. I’ve been living outside for almost a week. That in itself has been a mind-altering experience.

“When outside every hour and change corresponds to and authorizes a different state of mind, from breathless noon to the grimmest midnight…To the attentive eye, each moment of the year has its own beauty, and in the same field, it beholds, every hour, a picture which was never seen before, and which shall never be seen again.” -Emerson

 In certain ways I feel like I’ve lived here all along. It’s been so cool, so amazing to see the Earth at every hour of the day. At times it’s as if I’ve lost touch with reality, but then again, what is reality?”

A closer view of the 'trash'

After completing the second days 8-hour shift, I felt extremely good about everything. I was so happy to be able to help make the Earth beautiful again and to realize the impact we all made by volunteering. It was a very rewarding experience.

So would I volunteer with Clean Vibes again? Most likely.

The advantages:

-Meeting really cool people

-Making the Earth beautiful again

-Having a huge impact on the environment

-Finding sweet ground scores (Team Purple found the best ones out of everyone 😉 )

-Free meals

-Pretty much a free admission to the festival


-Working in the unforgiving southern sun

-Performing physical labor including bending and stooping

-Performing physical labor in the unforgiving southern sun

If you’re interested in volunteering with Clean Vibes, head to their website and fill out an application.

We did it!

Bonnaroo: Highlights Days 3 and 4

All of our headdresses came out to play

 –Saturday: The day of the most beautiful harmonies. Great day to be a music fan. 

Brandi Carlile. We knew it was going to be a great day when this was the first song we heard: 

(The video isn’t the best quality but once you hear the song, you’ll understand.)

-Then we let the music take us and came across The Sonic Stage: a small, intimate setting. Big Sam’s Funky Nation got all soulful and we all got down, way, way down. We set up our blanket and danced all over the grass. They turned ‘When the Saints Go Marching In,’ into ‘Oh when the saints, win the Superbowl’ And I felt like they just won the Superbowl that day. 

Mumford and Sons. Again, the harmonizing took us up, up and away. As they sang, ‘Rain down, rain down on me,’ during ‘Thistle and Weeds’ the skies listened and the rain fell. The universe was working in full force that weekend. Sophia Bush and her boyfriend, another One Tree Hill cast member, also walked right past our blanket during this set. 

Stumbling upon the Ford music tent and seeing Dawes play an intimate, acoustic performance. The band was sitting on stage and there were probably only 30 other people in the room. 

Our Savior

 –The Magic Mushroom. This was a highlight of the whole weekend. This thing literally saved our lives. 

 -Tennessee Sunsets: My new favorite time of day. Just as the sun was setting, it spewed out pinks, oranges, blues; a glow like no other. 

Seeing Stevie Wonder (Even if I only caught the very end of his set, it was still awesome to see a legend) 

Jay-Z. Similar to his performance at Coachella (check out what I had to say here) but he’s still my main man.

After Jay-Z we caught the end of Thievery Corporation’s set. They called all the ladies up on stage to dance. I ran to the front, climbed over the bar, danced in the section before the stage, tried to climb on to the main stage, but got pulled off by a security guard before I made it. Still loved it though. 

The community. Again, this was a highlight of the whole weekend. I had a blast with the group of friends I went with, and enjoyed getting to know our neighbors. Because of the tight quarters, everyone is basically forced to cozy up with their neighbors, which is a definite good thing. We met some really cool people. And everyone was willing to share and help out whenever they could.

Us and two of our neighbors

My wonderful friends

John Butler Trio at the Sonic Stage. 

John Butler Trio

 As they sang, ‘Good Excuse’ I fell in love with the lyrics, ‘Go take a step outside, see what’s shaking in the real world.’ They jammed for at least 10 minutes in the middle of this song. All around it was just a good-feeling, happy, sun-shining set. 

-Our Gift Exchange. All five of us brought gifts to give each other during the weekend. On Sunday when we were just jamming and hanging out before DMB, we passed our gifts in a circle like hot potato and eventually yelled stop.  




Dave Matthews Band 

Lanterns took over the sky during DMB's set

A great finish to an incredible weekend. 10, 15, 20 minute jams spread out over a few songs. Dave’s scatting, and free-styling throughout songs, the non-stop dancing and grooving and feeling-good. In the middle of ‘Jimi Thing’ Dave started saying, “All the sexy mother fuckers shaking that ass, shaking that ass, shaking that ass.” My friends and I just looked at each other in disbelief: “Is this really happening!?” As he kept repeating those lines, we kept shaking our asses.

Bonnaroo: Highlights Days 1 and 2

Settling into our new home. We had two tents, (one for sleeping, one for storage) a blanket area for lounging, and a kitchen/dining room/shade area under the canopy. 

Our campsite

Shade Area

Relaxing After Our 6-Hour Wait

 -Starting the weekend off with Neon Indian. Great group to get us ready for the dancetastic weekend. (This was not a highlight but a sidenote: During their set a guy right next to me started closing his eyes and bopping his head-but not in a groovy way- he passed out. After his friends caught him he looked up and said, “I’m fine. I’m fine.” Then they left the crowd.) 

Two words: Silent Disco! We stumbled upon this magical tent after leaving Blitzen Trapper. When you walk into the small tent you’re handed a pair of headphones. A first glance inside provides a swamp of sweaty bodies moving and shaking all over the place to what appears to be no sound. But then, aha, the golden ticket: the headphones you’re holding in your hands. Take another look around the tent and you’ll see a DJ set against the side wall. Place your headphones over your ears and voila! You’re sucked in. You fell down the Rabbit Hole, got pulled into a vortex, and it’s the best thing that’s happened. You’re free to dance however you want to whatever rhythm you want as everyone around you does the same. Take your headphones off and the world around you seems like a lie, a fallacy. Put em back on and everything’s right again. Everyone’s smiling, laughing. People are dancing alone, dancing with strangers. Needless to say we spent a lot of time in this place. 

-Jamming at our campsite. Everyday we busted out the guitars, tambourines, shakers, and whatever else we could conjure up. On Friday we had a nice, smooth jam session to ‘Wagon Wheel’ by Old Crow Medicine Show. Later our neighbors thanked us for playing that song and told us that on their car ride down, their friend Mike said, “All I want this weekend is to have a jam session to Wagon Wheel.” Mike missed it, but we sang it plenty more times for him to hear. The universe was spreading the same ‘Wagon Wheel’ thought in everyone’s minds. Mumford and Sons played a cover of it on Saturday. It was officially the song of the weekend. 

Ed Sharpe and the Mag Zeros

-Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros. Seeing one of their performances is more than just watching, it’s being apart of it. They’ve been one of my favorite bands for a while now and every chance to see them live sends me shivers all over. We swiveled to the third row behind the bar and ended up on the bar for some songs. 

JadeWhile they forget their lyrics and were disorganized, I surrendered to their spirits, to their overwhelming energy on stage. They’re constantly laughing and prancing around stage. Alex Ebert, the frontman, shook so ferociously at times it looked like he was having a seizure. My favorite was their last song: Om Nashi Me. 

When we all re-entered Centeroo at night without a plan we ran, galloped, jumped, danced and swirled to the first tent that music pulled us to: Eclectic Method at the Rave Stage. 

-Caught the very end of Michael Franti and Spearhead’s set. Guided by Franti’s voice we ran to the stage to see his last song, the song I wanted to hear most, ‘Say Hey, I Love You’. My friend Siserra and I danced like wild woman to those last three minutes. 

Flaming Lips. This band is a must-must-must-see for anybody. For about 45 minutes they performed their own songs and then they performed Pink Floyd’s ‘Dark Side of the Moon.’ During their performance the sky rained confetti and huge multi-colored balloons. When they sang, ‘I can be a frog,’ we all became different animals with every line. Thanks to Wayne Coyne’s suggestions and guidance, I gave peace to the world and all my love to the universe. The whole crowd also sang Happy Birthday to a band member. One of favorite songs: ‘Do You Realize??’ The whole set was the magical mystery kind. I went on an acid trip without any acid. 

-Lying down by the Ferris wheel at night. The lights constantly went from blue to yellow to red to purple to orgasmic flashes of every color. Brittany’s new friend gave us 3-D glasses. I could have watched the Ferris wheel for hours with those things on. While we were distracted by the Ferris wheel, Alex Ebert from Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros walked right by us with a girl on his arm. Brittany leapt up, ran after him and hugged him. We still couldn’t believe we saw him just casually wandering around.