By Tori Stukins
Now, I’m not often a person who goes on trips with my own funds. Typically, I thank my lucky stars when my mother invites me along on business trips to California, so this summer was a huge change of pace for me when I got the opportunity to not only go to Bonnaroo but also Pitchfork Music Festival. Since I went to two completely different music festivals differing in both size and crowds, I got to sample some of the best the music industry has to offer all in a short couple of days.
Bonnaroo Music Festival (Manchester, TN: June 12 – 15, 2014)
Thanks to an affordable payment plan, two of my good buds and myself road tripped down to Tennessee for an insane weekend of endless music, expensive vendors and tent city neighborhoods. This was Bonnaroo’s 13th year, and the line-up could not have been any more impressive. Thirteen is obviously Bonnaroo’s lucky number (hopefully, you’ll forgive me for that joke!). I’ll give the run down on some of my favorite acts, discoveries and hangouts of this wild and memorable weekend.
Best Discovery: It’s a tie between…
The Black Cadillacs: This little rock band has apparently been making its rounds on the Tennessee circuit for quite some time before I happened upon them in a random beer tent show. They had so much spunk, originality, and soul that I just had to go see their second show on Sunday as well. These guys hail from Knoxville, TN, and keep an eye out for them. I imagine they’ll hit it big very soon. Also, be sure to check out their Sound Cloud profile for all their songs!
Finding the Cracked Truck in the Food Truck Oasis: Nothing makes me more proud to be from the University of Illinois than spotting this familiar yellow truck as I watched the world cup on a jumbotron. Naturally, I had to get something from the truck while I was there. I mean, we all have a loyalty to Cracked, right? It was so worth it, and man, it was super popular amongst the non-UIUC patrons! You go, Cracked!
Best “High Energy” Show:
Janelle Monáe: Everyone’s favorite “Electric Lady” had been placed where she most rightfully belonged: on the main event, What Stage. While I personally believe Janelle is more suited to smaller stages because of her personal and bubbly personality, her set still rocked my socks off. She had the dance moves and stage presence to captivate a huge audience despite only staying toward the middle of the stage. I guarantee every single person was grooving during “Dance Apocalyptic,” and her final improvised skatting at the end of “Tightrope” left me speechless.
Best “Chill” Show:
First Aid Kit: My lovely Swedish folk darlings never fail to leave me feeling soothed and like I’ve been transported back to the time of Bob Dylan. I camped out at the front for an entire previous show just to snag some shots of Johanna and Klara. They played a lot of songs from their new album “Stay Gold,” but they also brought out the old favorites like “Emmylou” and even a cover or two. It was absolutely magical.
Favorite Hangouts: What a surprise! Another tie…
Xbox One Tent: While a lot of hardcore festival-goers may roll their eyes at the mention of such blatant product placement as an Xbox tent, I assure you that this place was my saving grace. Not only did it have air conditioning, but it also offered comfy couches and outlets/wires to replenish my long dead phone. Between being comatose and checking Twitter, I made sure to check out all the awesome games they had in there, as well as got to see a video game competition.
Planet Roo: Although it was heated as usual at Bonnaroo, Planet Roo always feels just a little bit cooler than the rest of the farm. There are trees everywhere, and I am guilty of taking a little snooze under a couple of them. Vendors are incredibly friendly, and it’s in the perfect location to hear or see several of the states. I also snagged my fair share of free Ben and Jerry’s, but that isn’t why I loved this place so much… Nope… Not at all.
The Best Part of Bonnaroo: Get your “awww” ready…
Making Friends Wherever You Go: One of my favorite aspects of music festivals is the ability to meet and connect with people who share similar music tastes to you. We camped next to a group of young women who worked at Google. Pictured above on the far left is Chrissy. I met her shoving our way to the front row of The Avett Brothers’ set. Music brings people together!
Honorable Mentions: $5 Sunglasses That Last, The Bonnaroo Public Versus Kanye West, Mid-Concert Naps, Cup Showers, Lionel Richie, Elton John and of course…
Endless free samples of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream.
Pitchfork Music Festival: Friday Edition (Chicago, IL: July 18 – 20, 2014)
Now, I only got to go to Friday of Pitchfork, but I still managed to make the most of this day trip! I was lucky enough to receive a day pass from my radio station WPGU 107.1 It was all the fun of Pitchfork without the stress of having to find a place to stay the night or travel across several miles of campground! Of course, this means I missed a few acts, but I still got to see musicians who mattered to me, play Pitchfork bingo and score some awesome souvenirs.
Best In Show:
Beck: For a forty-four year old, Beck sure still knows how to move. He showed up in his now trademark black hat, black jacket and bright colored shirt combo, and I wasn’t sure what to expect. As soon as, he busted out “Devil’s Haircut” though, I was sold. The energy from the crowd was one of the best I’ve ever seen at a concert, and I think just about every person passing by Union Park and beyond could hear us shouting, “I’m a loser, baby. So, why don’t you kill me?” into the night. Perfect.
Having Sharon Van Etten Favorite My Tweet: You could say I fangirled pretty hard when I noticed that Sharon Van Etten had favorited my tweet about being extremely excited to see her and Beck in concert that day. That mixed with her chipper and smooth stage presence made for an awesome day. Twitter keeps bringing us closer to our idols, and I love it.
Courtesy of: Vita
Missed Connections Board: The Craigslist “missed connections” page has come to life, and it lives at Pitchfork Music Festival. Honestly, it’s a pretty neat idea, but I was a bit taken aback by the option to type out these cutesy and vague messages on typewriters. Anyone actually make a connection? All power to you, and man, that would be a cool “how we met” story.
**All photos from are from the personal collection of Tori Stukins, unless otherwise noted.