@shiftywhiteguy: Zack and I have had several conversations about the feasibility of crashing Bonnaroo, and unequivocally, we determined it was a pipe dream. There are only three entrance points, and you don’t even get to the campgrounds unless you go through a checkpoint manned by an inordinate number of people in neon shirts. So attempting to walk through unnoticed is futile, not to mention that if successful, you’d only be at the campground at that point. The Coffee County Police are also very intent that the other possible idea, skipping the fence, is not an option. They have helicopters doing flyovers throughout the day, not to mention that it would be damn near impossible to sneak across the buffer zone lugging all the crap you have to bring for four days of Bonnaroo survival.
So, I didn’t go into B-roo intending on writing about an actual crash. How silly of me. I had forgotten rule number #31 of Bonnaroo survival: Never underestimate the 75,000 people you are about to run into.
Your camping neighbors are a giant wildcard in the Bonnaroo experience. Chances are they will at least be decent people, since it does take a certain attitude and dedication to attend a festival like this. However, these people will be sleeping six feet from you for four days. It’s not unheard of for camping neighbors to be annoyed, if not awkward, with each other by the end of the weekend.
I was fortunate this year, as next to me parked a van of seven very awesome, very excited Bonnaroo virgins that got to the festival by starting with a few in Seattle, then to Oakland and Arizona to pick up the rest of their crew, then across the country to Manchester.* That’s over 2,200 fucking miles! One way! And with seven people in the car! Like I said, Bonnaroo requires dedication, but that kind of trip requires an extremely special assemblage of people to get through sanely. Even more amazing is the fact that three of these guys came out with no ticket, just the hopes of a crash to end all crashes.
Apparently two plans were in place: plan A-skip the fence. As I mentioned before, that one is less than plausible. I’m glad they didn’t end up attempting it. But, their plan B was to get into Manchester in time to be part of a crash on a scale that makes my knees buckle.
Now, I find it necessary at this point to define “crash,” as there seems to be some dispute. Zack’s stance is that you have to get in for free to call it a crash. I disagree. You’re going to have some kind of overhead in crashing expenses, like paying for the first show you see at a venue before you have the wristband for later use, or the expense of a Pita Pit stamp so you can recreate hand stamps.** I think what defines a crash is the spirit behind it. Are you going to feel nervous going through the gates? Can you be kicked out if the wrong person gets suspicious? These are the types of thoughts that provide the excitement of a crash. My point is if you have to spend a few bucks, in this case, about 7% of the legitimate ticket price, you’re still definitely allowed successful crash status.
The crash itself was brilliantly set up: the crew had connections in Tennessee that lived in very close proximity to the festival site. And, apparently, the locals have figured out how to milk every dime possible out of Bonnaroo. In this case, a Manchester local had kept an eye on the staff bracelets used by workers that come in prior to the festival to set up stages, paint fences, and such. The bracelet design was then recreated by a hobbyist that does great work in color matching and embroidery, and voila. One thousand*** copies later, and you have a pile of staff wristbands for $20 a piece. For a festival where the real ticket costs over $250, that’s more than reasonable.
The three of my west-coast neighbors that crashed hardly got a second look at any point. Four days of going in and out from the campground to the festival, constantly re-testing your mettle, praying you don’t have to figure out how to get through the weekend if kicked out, and coming out clean every time, all the way through to Sunday night. That is a serious crash. Congratulations, guys, you were all a hell of a lot of fun.
*A Jay-Z style shout-out to my west-coast neighbors: I see those badass aviators! I see you, bearded and blondie! I see that curly red hair! I see you, displaced Brooklyn cat! I see that cutie that got y’all in! And I definitely see that amazing trash-stash out there, bi-polar bear! Thank y’all, good night! …It must be an amazing amount of fun to be Hova.
**Oh, wait. That was totally free.
***I know, I’ve already thought what you’re thinking, “A thousand? Really? Is that logistically possible?” And I agree. I’m sure it’s embellished, but it’s just so much fun to say the thousand-man crash.