An Inside Look At Bonnaroo 2011

RFID chips, a privately-funded police state, cult recruiters, and enough soma to make Indra tap out.  Is it just another music festival, or a dress rehearsal for dystopia?  From a rigger’s diary at RockStarMartyr.net:

© Darin Seaman

© Darin Seaman

It took nearly 24 hours of unbroken sleep to recover from my Bonnaroocleosis. Like other workers, performers, and festicle-goers in attendance, I’ve been hacking up silty brown lung-dumplings and blowing whole coal fields of black boogers into rolls of tissue.

The annual Bonnaroo dust storm could be a preview of the world after a nuclear cataclysm, where those so privileged will wring their desperate satisfaction from tingling chemicals, sun-seared flesh on display, and the pulsating rhythm of pleasure machines, leaving pathetic Plebeians to pick through the scraps.

Once again, I had a blast under the mushroom cloud.

Monday, June 6: Say “Moo” motherfucker

I’m late as usual to pick up Glen the Red, a fellow rigger who packed his camping gear and work tools hours ago. We hurtle down the highway to pick up our credentials at Manchester’s high school.

I ask the hipster behind the counter about the RFID tags that are now implanted in festicle-goers’ wristbands. He tells me the electronic chips are to weed out ticket fraud, but also to assist in the identification and removal of evil-doers.

I ask him if the information will be used for marketing demographics. With RFID readers carefully placed around the site, promoters should be able to see who goes to what shows, and for how long. This would render the profit pyramid with unprecedented accuracy. (How fitting that RFID technology got its start in cow-herding, warehouse management, and Apocalyptic propaganda.)

Clerky McClipboard tells me that demographic studies are under development, and that hopefully people will be able to purchase overpriced consumer goods via microchip next year. This is vaguely depressing—in an End Times kind of way—but not as depressing as the crummy Staff Pass he hands me. What happened to the premium passes?

On site, Gator is waiting to welcome us into The Grove, where we pitch our tents beneath gently swaying oaks surrounded by barbed wire. This is sacred space backstage, set apart from the turmoil and communicable diseases of the circus tent ghettos which house most festicle workers—the riggers, steel dogs, stagehands, security guards, and volunteer trash-scrappers. If you happen by The Grove, just assume that you are not invited.

Tuesday, June 7: What’s the difference between a rigger and God?
God doesn’t think he’s a rigger!

I love climbing the massive main stage in the morning. Seventy feet from the peak to the deck—a jungle gym for grown-ups. The steel truss sizzles your palms under the proscenium, the air is suffocating, the smell somewhere between a dusty old book and a bloody nose.

The up-rigger gig is the best job I’ve ever had. It has taken years—and plenty of patient teachers—to hone my craft. I’ve been dragged through the muck as a stagehand and I’ve lapped up the luxuries as a touring tech—nothing beats climbing the steel with the boys. We race to the top of the wire-rope ladder to drop in our ropes. We pull up the motor chains hand-over-hand, sweat pouring, muscles taut, until every motor that hoists the lights, sound, and video is ready to fly.

This art is pure. Bullshit has no place here.

The camaraderie is akin to that among pilots or soldiers, only scuzzier. Riggers literally depend on each other for survival every day. Success means you climb down, smoke a cigarette, and count up your cash. Failure means you fall to your death, or worse, you drop something and kill somebody below. I’ve heard people say they want to learn to rig for the money or glory, but that is absurd. There is only one reason to become a high-steel rigger—because you love it…

Read the rest at RockStarMartyr.net

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  • Grooveboss

    Fans should spend more time trying to create then worshiping bands from afar. But now the RFID will shock them if the spell is broken,

  • Grooveboss

    Fans should spend more time trying to create then worshiping bands from afar. But now the RFID will shock them if the spell is broken,

  • Jonty Kershaw

    It’s good to see Rock Star Martyr on Disinformation.

  • Jonty Kershaw

    It’s good to see Rock Star Martyr on Disinformation.

  • Jonty Kershaw

    It’s a natural progression for events like Bonnaroo. They start small, independent, and word-of-mouth. Then when they start making money, you see more mainstream artists and control. Then they get replaced by some other small, independent, word-of-mouth event.

  • Jonty Kershaw

    It’s a natural progression for events like Bonnaroo. They start small, independent, and word-of-mouth. Then when they start making money, you see more mainstream artists and control. Then they get replaced by some other small, independent, word-of-mouth event.

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