Postcards from Bonnaroo, 8: The Morning After


Just because you drink lots of water… Just because you try to be so diligent about what you eat… Just because you wear the next best thing to Zinc Oxide and a ball cap… Just because you’re sure you’re made of Kryptonite…

Somehow you end up in the Artist VIP, waiting on the Bluegrass Situations Jam with a headache to end all headaches. It’s in one jaw, and your molars. The pounding is like an appropriate enough “9 Pound Hammer” – and no amount of acupressure, yoga breathing and folding over the knees will relieve it.

But you is me, and there I am in a lawn chair, staring at the mirror ball gently spinning overhead, tossing stars across the bistro lighted compound, wincing. There is so much music to see, so many decisions to make. But I can’t get no… relief.

This is not the time, the place, the moment. Damnit.

I’ve survived plenty of forced marches through long show business days, excruciatingly early tee times for qualifiers with banquets at the end of the day and no time to get back to a hotel to nap. Those things not foie gras-fed experiences of music and nature and so many delicious people watching opportunities…

Please merciful Lord of Headaches, please, please… I’ve drunk a bunch of water, some restorative iced tea from a hippie stand… let this pass.

But it doesn’t. No, it feels like thrombosis. I don’t want to die, I just want to kill the sensation. But knowing there is much to see, I get up and wander. Maybe I can find someone with an aspirin, a motrin, something non-prescription … but pain-killing.

And there is Ali Harnell, all impossibly cute and shining, with her mom to two boys scowl, going “Are you okay?”


She starts probing, plunging a finger into my third eye. Her scowl deepens.

“ I know who can fix this…” she says, then calls over her shoulder, “Peter.”
He looks like Jack Johnson’s older shaggier quite possibly cuter brother. “How long has it been since you’ve slept?”

We both laugh. He doesn’t have to ask about drugs, because even in black yoga pants and a grey and black striped t-shirt, it’s obvious how straight I am.

Laying his hands on my head, he begins the cranio-sacral exploration. He scowls a little, too.

“Your plates… they’re swollen. How long have you been on your feet?”
I laugh again. This is not a man who tells people, especially music people at Bonnaroo, what to do.

“How do you feel?”
“Kinda like the little kid at the party who wants to stay up with the grown-ups,” I say more honest than I want to be. “Only I’m probably past my limit.”
“You should listen to your intuition,” he says kindly, seeing the chagrin smash my face.


Turning around, watching the devlish try to smuggle her very good glass of red wine out in her pocket, I weigh going to see R. Kelly with my friends. (And yes, I do know people out here, just trying to protect everyone but Andy Langer’s privacy)

I realize: there’s another day.

Sadly, I walk down the dirt road to my car. I hate leaving. I feel awful.

Even the Buddha head fountain at the Quality Inn seems to look ruefully at me as I pull back in, and head the mechanical buzz of the in-room air conditioner.  I have no choice, as I peel the damp clothes off my body, everything aching.

Seventy-five minutes later, my feverish sleep is interrupted by the violent need to throw up. Yes, over and over. Whether it’s too much sun, or not enough water, something tinged at the pizza place where the pesto/potato/carmelized onion/feta pizza came from, I am on my knees.

The Lord of Headaches delivered. Just not in the way I’d intended. Ahhhhh, festivals. The pitfalls remain, no matter how careful you might be.


And walking in the Starbucks when I finally rise far later than I’d intended, I am not alone. The energy level has leveled out, the buzz is the palest white noise. People are getting their coffees, with the two extra shots, milling about imperceptibly.

They’ve not hit their threshold, but they’re not rocking either.

Bonnaroo Day 4 is going to be a bit more restrained. The acts every bit as good, but perhaps the throng a little weaker for the wear. Still, we’re here for the music, and the music it is!
Who lets an ab workout to end all ab workouts stop them?