It was with great excitement and hedonistic anticipation that I looked forward to this year’s Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival, held from June 11-14 on a farm in Manchester, TN. Tales I had heard from past attendees and the glossy coverage in Rolling Stone promised a long weekend of wonderful music, wonderful people and general paganistic pleasure. Headliners like Band of Horses and MGMT whet my appetite; smaller acts like Amadou & Mariam and The Dirty Projectors made me all the more excited. For a music fan — and one who especially enjoys shared irresponsibility — there’s nothing better.
As my friend and I pulled up to the Bonnaroo security checkpoint, I heard a whistle and was confronted by a guy in a neon concert shirt apologetically telling me that my “number had come up.” Evidently, I had won a chance to have my car searched, not by concert security, but by Tennessee’s finest. By entering the festival grounds, I had consented to the agenda of sunburned cops with nothing better to do than to harass music enthusiasts. I didn’t receive one of the 124 citations the police handed out throughout the weekend; I just got manhandled a little bit before I went to see Stephen Marley.