PSA: It’s really effing hot

It's hot as shit in Murfreesboro

It’s hot as shit in Murfreesboro

When we had a mild winter, people kept saying, “Oh, just wait until summer!” But when the weather for Bonnaroo was perfect (mid 80s during the day, mid 60s at night), I wasn’t sure if the hell of a summer people had been talking about would ever materialize.

Until this week, when it reared its ugly head and smacked us all in the face with a big, city-wide case of swamp ass. Yesterday Nashville hit an all-time high of 105, and today the high was another record-breaker at 109. I haven’t seen official information for the high in Murfreesboro yet, but my weather widget told me it was 113 degrees at 4 p.m today.

Rutherford County issued a burn ban yesterday for the entire county, but I haven’t seen a fireworks ban yet. I really hope they issue one before tomorrow night, when I’m expecting the local yokels will begin shooting them off. I’m actually glad that the Fourth of July is on a Wednesday this year; Ian and I have to work the next day so we don’t want to go out anywhere to celebrate, which works out since I’d probably be too paranoid about someone setting the giant field behind my house on fire with their bottle rockets and what-have-you.

This time of year is never fun for someone with a house-burning-down complex.

My name is Megan and I’m addicted to soft t-shirts

My job is great for many reasons, but one of the best is the completely lax dress code. I can—and pretty much do—wear a t-shirt and jeans/shorts to the office every single day. (I work for a software company, so we’re pretty relaxed about a lot of other things I enjoy, too, like snacking and cussing.)

However, I’ve realized an unexpected consequence of being able to wear whatever the hell I want to work: My standard of what constitutes a comfy t-shirt has been raised to the high heavens.

A year and a half ago, I would have just thrown on any somewhat soft, well-fitting t-shirt and been happy to get away with wearing it to work. But now? I am a t-shirt snob. If the material isn’t super-soft and vintage-feeling, I won’t wear it. I’ve gone through a lot of trial and error to find my favorite brands—Canvas makes a good unisex/men’s shirt and I’ve found several at Target in what Ian and I call their soft t-shirt section, but I’ve recently discovered the most comfortable, perfectly fitted t-shirt is the American Apparel Tri-Blend Track Shirt.

They make a men’s, unisex and a women’s version, but like with everything American Apparel I have to size up four times to get the women’s to fit correctly (seriously, I wear a small in the men’s version but have to get an extra large in the women’s to avoid it looking like it was painted on me).

I spent hours on Etsy the other night searching for funky t-shirts printed on this particular style of shirt, and was elated to find at least four shops selling their designs on them—and for less than what one plain shirt would cost at an American Apparel store!

It sounds ridiculous to be a connoisseur of t-shirts, I know. But that’s where I’ve found myself. And it’s quite comfy.

The My Little Brony Show at the Ryman

Yeah, so the guys in front of us at the Tenacious D concert Saturday night were out of control. I’ve joked around called people “Broseph” and “my little brony” before, but this was serious. This was every bro stereotype come to life right in front of my eyes.

And it was horrifying. I was baffled, annoyed and embarrassed (for them) all at the same time.

These four dudes, most likely in their late 20s, all wearing basically the same preppy shorts/shirt combo with the same just-floppy-enough haircut, were losing their goddamn minds the entire show. I was glad this wasn’t the usual Nashville-at-The-Ryman crowd, all snooty and refusing to stand and dance a bit, but these guys were just too much. At one point I had to stop myself from leaning forward and asking if they were actually from here. Like, were they Amish? Had they never seen a concert before? Did they think Tenacious D were actually Nickelback and they had made it to Bro Heaven?

They flailed their arms the entire time. They linked arms and rocked each other back and forth, high-fived and bro-hugged, and held their tiny rum and cokes out over the heads of the people in front of them, toasting every other word that was sung. One guy shot video of several songs on his iPhone, except he leaned his face down to the mouthpiece and shouted the words himself. I can’t imagine how excited his Facebook friends were when he posted all of that amazing footage. He took about 100 photos with his phone, too.

Now, I generally don’t get crabby when people stand up in front of me and dance around at a show. That’s what you’re supposed to do. And I’m tall; I can usually see over people’s bobbing heads. But these jokers weren’t just dancing, they were obstructing the views of anyone in their vicinity like it was their job. I couldn’t see shit over their saluting, drink-hoisting and arm-waving, which they did the entire time.

We had good seats, too—fifth row smack dab in the center of the balcony, which is usually around where I look for seats at The Ryman if I can’t get in the first 10 rows or so on the floor. Luckily I was there with Ian, who is legally obligated to let me invade his personal space, because I spent most of the show leaning into him so I could see around the spectacle in front of me and catch a glimpse of the band.

Oh well. It was still a good show. I could still see the giant phallic phoenix they raised on the stage, and from what I could tell Jack Black and Kyle Gass didn’t stray too far from their microphones so I don’t think I missed any grand theatrics. I supposed I could’ve complained to an usher, but these guys were having what I’m pretty sure was the best night of their entire lives. Or maybe it was their first concert. Either way, I hope Ian and I earned a little bit of concert karma* for sitting behind that ridiculousness for a couple hours.

*I also deserve concert karma for not calling out all the freaking line-cutters in the merchandise line that caused me to miss out on getting a Hatch Show print!! We got there early so I could buy one, but tons of people just marched on up and nobody would do anything, so by the time I was able to get to the front they had sold out. Sad times.

Our year of live music continues: Tenacious D at The Ryman

June 23: Classy stage phoenix, Tenacious D by MeganMorris

Despite it not really kicking into gear until June, it’s become obvious that this is The Year of Live Music for Ian and I.

It started off slow, with us just going to see The Features in January at Mercy Lounge. I saw Ingrid Michaelson with my friend/co-worker Irene at The Cannery Ballroom in May, but then Ian and I kind of found ourselves in a musical drought.

Until Bonnaroo, of course, where we saw a shit-ton of bands. One of which was Moon Taxi, who we discovered is from Nashville, so we made plans to go see them at the Lightning 100 Independence Rocks show that’s being held July 3.

And then things just started clicking. Without really even looking for shows to attend, we started realizing that a lot of bands that we really like are playing shows somewhat near us this year.

I’d bought tickets for us to see Tenacious D back in March, and that show was last night at The Ryman. (And despite them playing several new songs, it was a GREAT concert. The Brosephs in front of us deserve their own post, really.)

And then last week we just kept finding shows that we wanted to go to. So with The Features, Ingrid Michaelson, Tenacious D and all of Bonnaroo under our belts, here’s what we have to look forward to the rest of the year:

  • Moon Taxi (and whoever else is going to be at the Lightning 100 concert)
  • Fiona Apple (I’m going to this show with a small group of friends)
  • Barenaked Ladies, Blues Traveler, Big Head Todd & the Monsters, and Cracker
  • Pearl Jam, Florence + the Machine, Foo Fighters and the rest of Midtown Music Fest
  • St. Vincent and David Byrne (I scored freaking front row seats at The Ryman for me and a friend for this show!!)
  • Morrissey (This sold out in 15 minutes, but I was able to grab us two tickets before they were all gone)

Despite getting a late start, this is turning out to be a pretty bitchin’ year for live music. To say I’m excited would be an understatement.

Bonnaroo 2012: The perfect weather edition

Last year when Bonnaroo was over, I felt like I’d survived something. This year, since I knew what to expect, I was able to just… be there.

Be in here

Ian and a friend headed in Wednesday night so they could get parked and haul their stuff up to camping-only (no vehicles, right next to Centeroo!), which was opening Wednesday night this year. My sister Emily, her friend Jessica and I headed in Thursday about noon to meet up with them and check everything out.

Getting there

I should say that we left at noon… we didn’t actually get parked in day-parking until about 1:30 thanks to some serious displays of ineptitude on behalf of the Bonnaroo toolbooth volunteers.

We initially showed up to the west toolbooth, which is where day-parking has always entered, and is where the Bonnaroo website directed us. When we got there, though, we were waved away by a volunteer, and were told to head to the “other” toolbooth up the road. But when we got to that tollbooth (the east one), we were told by the supervisor that day-parking is only allowed to enter from the west. Some cops along the way also told us that they were told the west tollbooth was the only place for day-parking to enter, same as always.

So we trekked all the way back to the west toolbooth, ignored the flagger, got the car searched, and pulled up to the check-in people. Where again we were told that day-parking was not allowed to enter through the west tollbooth. I refused to move my car until someone could tell us what the hell was going on, and eventually a stoned kid came by and said he thought day-parking was entering from “the highway toolbooth.”

I pressed him on whether he meant “highway” as in Highway 55 or “highway” as in I-24, the interstate, and he just looked at me like I was crazy. “That road right there!” he kept exclaiming, despite the fact that he was pointing in the direction of Ragsdale Road, Highway 55 and I-24, and couldn’t tell me if I should go east or west.

Finally, I got fed up with nobody knowing what the fudge was going on and drove through the check-in point. I drove up to someone down the road a bit with a flag and yelled “DAY PARKING?!” and low and behold, she cheerily replied, “Just follow that car—it’s right across the grass!”

Right where it’s always been. Right where I had been trying to go for the past hour and a half.

We were livid, but glad to finally be able to park and get the hell into Bonnaroo.

Ian's campsite in camping only #bonnaroo

Luckily that kerfuffle didn’t set the tone for the rest of the festival. We saw tons of bands, ate plenty of great food (I was bummed that our favorite pizza place from last year wasn’t there until Ian discovered Roberta’s, a gourmet pizza joint from Brooklyn that had set up shop near the Which Stage), and drank a fair amount of Magic Hat beer. And water. Lots of water.

Bands that I saw this year

Thursday: Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. and Moon Taxi (from Ian’s tent, which was well-situated about 500 feet from the Centeroo entrance and within hearing distance of That Tent).
Friday: Feist, Ludacris, St. Vincent, Radiohead.
Saturday: North Mississippi Allstars, Punch Brothers, Puscifer, Dispatch, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Alice Cooper, Skrillex.
Sunday: The Beach Boys, War on Drugs, Ben Folds Five, Kurt Vile (on accident—Ian and I grabbed a bite to eat near where he was playing. He was awful), fun.

I was really disappointed in Radiohead’s show, which made me play an extra-sad trombone because I had been looking forward to seeing them the most. They played mostly newer songs, and the majority of them were slow and, honestly, boring. Ian and I were pretty discouraged, so we left the set early and went back to chill at his tent (where we could still hear the show) until Emily came back to find us.

The best show I saw has to be Alice Cooper. I wouldn’t exactly have called myself a fan of his, but I had heard he puts on a hell of a live show so I made sure to be at That Tent by midnight to check it out. Holy crap, I am so glad I did. Emily and Jessica slept through the whole thing (kids these days), but I was mesmerized by it. He pulled out all the stops, and for an old-ass dude he had some really good pipes.

St. Vincent was awesome, too, as were The Beach Boys, Ben Folds and North Mississippi Allstars. Emily, Jessica and I stuck around for the first part of Skrillex’s show, and I have to say that I was disappointed in the level of weirdness exhibited by the crowd. I was really hoping for some crazy costumes and drug-induced trance-dancing, but it was really just a bunch of sorority girls standing around in bathing suit tops looking confused. I suppose we could’ve pushed closer to the front to see the real fans, but it was 2 a.m. at that point, and I’m old and was tired.

All of the bacon and eggs at #bonnaroo

What I learned

Despite feeling like a veteran, there were still some lessons to be learned. Next Bonnaroo, or any outdoor festival, I’ll remember this:

Reapply sunscreen to the backs of my legs multiple times throughout the day, even if it’s not that sunny. (Seriously, I got burnt on the backs of my calves.)

Get a smaller Camelbak. Last year I couldn’t have survived without my Camelbak daypack, but this year Ian’s tent was literally right outside Centeroo so I didn’t need to tote around as much stuff with me all day. I love having the Camelbak hydration pack, but I really need a smaller version that allows me to carry the water and just essential items like my phone, keys and maybe a few other things.

Even if it’s not dusty, wear a bandana while walking outside of Centeroo. I got fooled by the nicer weather (mid-80s during the day, 60s at night) this year and didn’t use my bandana hardly at all on Thursday or Sunday, and I’m paying for it now. Last year the dust was way worse, but I had my bandana over my face every single time I was outside of Centeroo, and much of the time I was inside. This year the dust was not as bad, but I’m still trying to get over a horrible case of Bonnaroo Lung (also known as Bonnaflu).

Don’t trust hippies. Ian and his friends set up a campsite that consisted of two tents and a shade structure, and we quickly made friends with the people around them. The entire weekend he left his daypack (which contained a sheet for the air mattress, his Chacos, a flashlight and who knows what else) sitting under the shade structure with no problem.

On Sunday we packed up everything and stored it in his locked tent—everything except his daypack and a light jacket. When we got home, we realized he had everything except for the daypack. We thoroughly checked the campsite before we left, so I’m guessing either someone snagged it while we were in Centeroo Sunday early evening or this one guy who stopped by to help us load the car grabbed it without us noticing. I emailed lost and found just in case, but haven’t heard back (and I don’t really expect to). Ian’s not too tore up about the missing items, but it was a cool daypack that’s not made anymore so I’m kind of bummed. Oh well.

On the way to Centeroo

Despite the hiccups here and there, it was an awesome festival. I think we might try The Hangout Festival next year for something different (and beachy!), but I have a feeling we’ll be Bonnaroo-ing again in the coming years. (Oh, and pictures are here. I shot film this year, so all I’ve got right now are Instagram shots for now.)

Day-tripping at Bonnaroo: What to bring with you

Bonnaroo is an insane amount of fun, but it’s also the type of experience where when it’s over you feel like you survived something.

After experiencing Bonnaroo for the first time in 2011, I felt like a veteran. Part of that is because I have friends who’ve been going for years, and last year they sat me down and gave me a long list of things to bring with me to help me survive—and enjoy—the festival and its other-worldly environment.

I’ve had several people ask me this year what I recommend they bring, so I figured I should share the list of items I brought with me last year (and will be bringing with me again this year). If you’re camping at Bonnaroo your list will be longer, as it will (hopefully) include a tent and some other camping-appropriate items. Since I day-park and drive in/out every day, my list just includes items necessary and nice to have for everything except camping on the farm.

Except where noted, all of the following is packed into my CamelBak daypack and carried around with me throughout the day:

Water: My sister and I both have CamelBaks, and we bring in two liters of Smart Water each day. Once we get through the gate, we empty the bottles into our CamelBak bladders. Then, throughout the day we refill the CamelBaks from the free water stations throughout Centeroo. They say they check CamelBaks for water upon entering Centeroo, but last year we found it was easy to get around this and were able to come in with our CamelBaks filled with filtered water from my house.

Sunscreen: This year I will use SPF 55 on my face and SPF 70 on the rest of me that’s exposed to the sun. Last year Emily and I lathered on SPF 55 cream and then sprayed on SPF 110 throughout the day. Irish girls are serious about not getting sunburned.

Wet wipes: Besides the water and the sunscreen, this was the most-used and most-appreciated item. Even if you’re only day-tripping, they will come in handy to clean your hands, face… really, any part of your body that’s exposed to the sun and dirt of Bonnaroo. You can pick them up in travel packs, but I found it more economical to buy a jumbo pack and bring a portion with me each day in a Ziplock bag. Be sure to bring plenty to share with those around you, especially people who are grimy from camping!

Vinyl tablecloths: This was a great tip from my friend Lesley. Get some disposable vinyl tablecloths from the dollar store and use them to sit on, lay on, etc. Place one vinyl side-down on the grass, dirt or mud to keep your clothes clean—the vinyl brushes off clean and they’re light and easy to fold back up and stuff in your backpack when you’re ready to move somewhere else. Or, if it’s muddy or really dirty you can just throw it away.

Snacks: There is an abundance of food available in Centeroo—lots of vegetarian options, thankfully—but lines can get long and sometimes you just need a snack, not a $10 pizza. Last year we carried granola bars, peanut butter crackers and gushers in my backpack and we’re planning on doing the same this year.

Bandanas: Last year, Bonnaroo was a dust bowl and it’s likely to get that way again. Bandanas are light and versatile, and every Roo-goer should have one. If it’s dusty, tie it around your face train robber-style. If it’s hot, wet it in the mushroom fountain and tie it around your neck to keep cool. If you lose your hat, tie it around your head. If you get stabbed in the leg, make a tourniquet. (Ok, if that last one happens you should probably find the medical pod.)

Hand sanitizer: Bonnaroo is a friendly place, but even the friendliest people have germs. Bring your own travel-sized hand sanitizer and help your body avoid whatever plague might be traveling around.

Travel packs of tissues: Besides the obvious use, they also double as toilet paper in the port-a-potties. Because there is rarely any in there by the end of the day.

Headlamp: This was most helpful when using the port-a-potties after the sun went down, although you have to remember not to shine it down the hole. (That can be scary.) And despite the area being well-lit, it was it was nice to have the extra light when making the long trek back to the car late at night.

Foldable hat: If you’re worried about your hair getting mushed down or looking stupid, just go ahead and get over it. It’s June. In Tennessee. In the middle of a farm under the blazing sun with almost no shade to be found. Your hair is going to look like shit within 20 minutes of being outside. Go ahead and put a hat on your head and keep it there until the sun starts to go down. Your scalp will thank you later, as will your face when it doesn’t turn into alligator skin at age 40.

Cooler: On a tip from my friend Crystal, we filled a small cooler with ice and placed more bottled water, as well as Gatorade and Gushers, in it and left it in the trunk. This was not only a backup for the hydration plan we had while in Centeroo, it was nice to have something cold to drink when we got back to the car at night to head home.

Change of clothes and shoes: The thing about Tennessee, even in the summer, is that you never know what the weather is going to do. It’s a good idea to keep a change of clothes in the car, including one pair of long pants and a hoodie in case it gets cooler. Last year there was only one night it got a bit chilly, but we ran back to the car and grabbed our hoodies and were much more comfortable. This year the lows are supposed to be in the mid 50s to low 60s, so I’ll definitely be packing some long, lightweight pants and hoodies to pick up from the car before the late-night shows.

Band-aids: You do a shit-ton of walking at Bonnaroo, and you’re likely to get blisters or possibly a splinter from one of the janky picnic tables. Throw half a pack of Band-aids in your backpack so you don’t have to try to find a medical pod before you can run to catch the next show.

Towels: They’re great to have in the car in case you get really muddy/dirty and don’t want to get your upholstery all nasty. Some washcloths are a good idea, too, for an impromptu face/body scrubbing.

Spare plastic grocery bags: Despite there being trash cans scattered throughout the farm, you never know when you’re going to have dirty and/or wet clothes or random things to throw away while you’re back at your car.

Disposable ponchos: You can pick these up at Wal-Mart or the dollar store, and it’s worth having one in your pack just in case it rains. Last year we only got about 10 minutes of rain, but I was glad to have a poncho as it had cooled down a bit and I hate being soggy and cold.

And while not a necessity, it’s always a good idea to have at least one camera with you to capture the experience. Believe me, it goes by quickly (even quicker if you’re imbibing) and you’ll appreciate having pictures to remember the four-day festival. You can’t bring any cameras in that have detachable lenses (so no DSLRs), but point and shoots and smart phone cameras will do just fine.

Other than that, just remember to be kind, stay safe and have a great time! Bonnarooooo!

Gearing up for Bonnaroo

June 1: Going on 2 weeks of being sick. Time to call in reinforcements.

Ugh, I caught a cold that Ian had just after my vacation ended, and I’ve been dealing with it for going on two weeks now. I thought I was almost over it this past Wednesday, but then that evening I started feeling shitty again, and by Thursday night I was running a low-grade fever and had come to grips with the fact that my cold had upgraded itself to a sinus infection. Luckily I had the presence of mind to ask the dermatologist for an antibiotic while I was there Thursday for a follow-up appointment, so I’ve been on that for two days now.

This shit better clear up by Bonnaroo or the chances of me dying in the Tennessee heat will skyrocket. Because I’m not missing it for anything, especially not a stupid-ass sinus infection. (By the way, sinus infections are bad enough, but they’re made especially horrible when you have a nose ring that you can’t wrestle out of your nostril. Gross visual, I know.)

Anyway, I’m in full-on Bonnaroo prep mode now, ordering the last of my supplies off Amazon (200 glow bracelets the other day, and I just ordered seven rolls of 35mm film for my AE-1) and making lists of what provisions Ian and I need to stock up on. I found SPF 70 sunscreen on sale at Walgreens, and still need to grab a few bandanas in case it’s a dust bowl there again. Oh, and vinyl tablecloths to sit on. I’m so lucky that my friends Lesley and Crystal, Bonnaroo veterans, shared their wisdom with me last year; they gave me several ideas that I can’t imagine trying to brave the festival without. Baby wipes and vinyl tablecloths, for example, were two of the most-used and most-appreciated items I packed in my bag. I should probably write up a preparation post for any n00bs who might find my blog.

Oh! I finally broke down and ordered some prescription sunglasses off Zenni Optical a few weeks ago, along with a couple pairs of regular glasses. I’ve never had a pair of prescription sunglasses in my life, so I’m stoked to experience the outdoors without having to squint the entire time.

If you wear glasses and haven’t checked out Zenni yet, go do it. I ordered a few regular glasses from them for things like Bonnaroo, camping, or anything else I might not want to wear any of my name-brand, expensive ones to, and so far I’ve been pleased with what I’ve received. I’m extremely anal-retentive about the fit of my glasses, so I was shocked when I didn’t have to take any of the three pairs I ordered into a shop to be adjusted—not even the angle that they sit on my face. I have one more pair coming today, and I’m crossing my fingers it will sit on my nose as perfectly as the other three do.

Now I just need to clear out all of this mucous from my brain and I’ll be good to go. Bonnarooooo!