I woke up Sunday terrified that I would find no one in the wilds of Tennessee who would sell me a new tire on a Sunday. I paged through the phonebook, calling tire repair numbers randomly. A sleepy-sounding guy answered, and I asked him if they were open today to fix a flat. He asked, ‘On a semi?’ I said no. He said, ‘Call Wal-Mart,’ and hung up.
It took me about two seconds to abandon my principles, and go to a company I’ve refused to patronize for quite a long time. Yes, I suck.
They had the tire fixed within 20 minutes. I’ve never, ever had the luck to blow a tire and have it be repairable, so I was shocked. I paid $7.14 in cash, and we were on the road by 9:30am. We got coffee, then headed to Jack Daniels. I was hoping Goose would be there to give us a tour. He was working, but had just taken a group out and wouldn’t be back for a couple hours. We didn’t have the time to wait, so we checked out the visitor’s center, did some souvenir shopping in Lynchburg, and then headed back to Manchester.
On the way back into the festival, we saw cars leaving covered in mud. Not just smeared with it, but like balls of mud had been flung at them. The day parking was terrible, and it took us a while to find a spot where we could turn without danger of getting stuck. As I backed into a spot, a girl was standing across the way pointing and grimacing at the front of my car. I nodded, because I knew… Chico was falling apart again.
The duct tape had come loose, and the entire piece was folded forward and attached only by a bolt in the center. I tried cracking the plastic, and it wouldn’t let go. I yanked on it, I twisted it, I stomped on it. I pinned one end to the ground and bounced on the other. I’m sure it was a great show. Finally, I twisted it enough that it snapped. I left it on the ground next to the car, and we went back into the festival. Did I mention my car sucks? It does.
My Camelbak was really heavy, so I dumped out half the water. It was easy to find water anywhere inside, so I didn’t need it, and the straps were hurting my sunburn. It was overcast, but still in the upper 90s and unbearably humid. We got to the gates and people were wading ankle-deep in mud to get in. We had to pick our way very slowly along the edges to avoid drowning.
It took a good 15 minutes to cross the muddy expanse between the main stage and Centeroo. You would find a safe little dryish island in the middle of the mess and have to stand there, planning the next part of the route. People were barefoot and covered in mud, but I was hoping to avoid that. The staff drove ATVs, which would go rushing by, splashing muddy water all over the place. About half the grounds were wet, so people were clustered in all the dry spots. It was a mess.
We wanted to see moe, but that would have required wading again, so we just listened. We heard some of Burning Spear, Marc Ribot, Marc Broussard, Taj Mahal, and Cracker as we walked around. I got a falafel sammich and met some awesome people from Louisiana who talked about their camping nightmare, and how they were prepared to run as fast as possible after the last show that night. We weren’t even waiting around for that, we were leaving after Maroon 5. None of that 9 hour shit again, thank you.
Stephanie went off in search of water, and quickly discovered the vendors were out. I regretted emptying any of it out of my pack. We managed to find pop, and went to hang out for a while, listening to the Bad Plus and waiting for Guster to begin. I laid on the ground and listened to these southern girls talking about how they couldn’t wait to get married so they wouldn’t have to support their own lazy asses anymore. I wanted to smack them, but it would’ve hurt my sunburn.
We got up to pack into a tent for Guster. A cute boy complimented my dirty kitty shoes and offered me his pipe; I declined. I hope Stephanie appreciates my restraint. Guster was OK live, but not great. The crowd was really fun, though. The second the show was over, I pushed my way near the front, as instructed by my sister, who was desperate to see Maroon 5 up close and personal. We congratulated ourselves on being maybe 20 feet from the stage before the rumors started circulating: they had cancelled. The singer had blown out his voice. I felt really bad for her.
We headed out, and I told her she was definitely going to get dinner at the hick dance club, as if that would make up for it. We stopped at the hotel so she could shower. I went for coffee, and found a lone guitarist with three teenage fans playing at Starbucks. In between songs, he worked the crowd. He asked the kids if they were friends of his sister, and they said yeah, they were in her church group. A couple of them taught Sunday school. Now, ain’t that the cutest thing?
We went back to Wildhorse and the bouncer let us in free. We ate and watched the line-dancing lessons; even though I had done them before, I just wasn’t up for a dance called ‘the Rebel Strut’. Shiver. They danced to a song called ‘Save a Horse, Ride a Cowboy’. It was great.
We rushed back to the hotel without the huge donut-tire hindrance, and crashed hard.