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No plumbing, no problem 

Bonnaroo's bands make it worth every discomfort

Intense heat, dirt, Porta-Johns, dust, ice-cold showers (if you shower at all), little sleep -- for four days. It's SO worth it!

When I got home from Bonnaroo last year, I was exhausted. I averaged about four hours of sleep for the four nights I was there, nearly forgot what indoor plumbing looked like, had dirt and dust in every orifice possible and drank enough water to support a small town ... and I couldn't wait to go back.

I'll be heading back to Manchester, Tenn., this year for the four-day festival. While the thought of putting my mind, body and soul through it all again seems like a daunting task, I also know it's going to be an incredible four days of music.

Last year, I took in an incredible performance by Rodrigo y Gabriela, watched John Butler make my jaw drop with his guitar prowess, stood in awe at the spectacle that is a live Flaming Lips show and found a new favorite in Cold War Kids.

That's the beauty of Bonnaroo -- check out your favorites, find new acts to salivate over and be generally entertained.

Already on my schedule for this year: Pearl Jam, Metallica, Jack Johnson, The Raconteurs, B.B. King, Levon Helm, Zappa Plays Zappa, Robert Randolph, Rilo Kiley, Ozomatli, The Avett Brothers and Against Me!

Meanwhile, I'm also looking forward to checking out: Iron & Wine, Talib Kweli, Derek Trucks & Susan Tedeschi, Lupe Fiasco, Mastodon, Sharon Jones, Ghostland Observatory, Battles, Vampire Weekend, Nicole Atkins and a whole bunch more.

I'll be able to see what Kanye West's much-hyped performance is all about, laugh my ass off at Chris Rock and find out why there's so much hype around bands like Death Cab for Cutie, M.I.A. and Sigur Ros.

Last year, I regretted missing Gogol Bordello's much-talked-about performance, so I am thrilled they'll be there again.

The beauty, and bane, of Bonnaroo is having so many different, amazing performers all within walking distance of each other, yet having to make the decision of who to see. Last year, I wore out my shoes and legs by stage-hopping as much as possible. I'd go see a song or two of Lily Allen, then check out one by Dierks Bentley. See a few songs by Kings of Leon then check out The Nightwatchman. Stick around for The Flaming Lips for a while before checking out the Superjam with Ben Harper, John Paul Jones and ?uestlove.

If you're going this year, here are a few suggestions:

• See as many bands as you can. If you have favorites, stick around, otherwise wander around and see who's drawing a big crowd. Rodrigo y Gabriela got the most "Who is that?!?" questions of excitement last year from people passing by.

• Drink lots of water. I think I drank a case of it last year by myself. Find it wherever you can and bring lots in a cooler. It's better to have too much of it than not enough. Helpful tip: Freeze one or two gallon-jugs of water in place of ice. When it melts, you can drink it and it lasts a lot longer than standard cubes.

• Bring some food. It's a cheaper option to have breakfast at the campsite, maybe lunch, too, before grabbing dinner while you're running around.

• There are a lot of small stages with great acts -- don't focus on the big stages.

• Porta-Johns are scary after the masses have used them. Scope out which ones were recently cleaned.

• A lot of bands play for a couple of hours. You can easily catch 30 minutes at one stage, then 30 minutes at another if two acts are playing at the same time.

• Expect a massive crowd during the headliner performances. There's no one else playing, so 80,000 people will be in front of the main stage. Get there early for a good view, or hang out in back to get a better view at a later show.

• Bring sunscreen. There's not much shade anywhere on the grounds ... you will get sunburn. The Teva tanlines on my feet from last year are still there ...

• There are DJs, vendors, a dance club, fountain and so much to see the days will fly by.

• A schedule of bands is available at www.bonnaroo.com.

Hope to see you there! Daily blogs from the festival will be posted at qcvibes.com.

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