Langerado 2008: The weight of the wait
Six of us walked through the crowd, dodging fire ant mounds, clumps of cow manure, and hippies. We were bleary-eyed, half drunk, and working on next to no sleep. Dark Star Orchestra had just wrapped up its set and sent thousands of Langerado festival folk back to their respective sleeping quarters. Professional Keno Player Neil Fontenot was pushing through the throng for us and clearing space with the use of a rapier wit and years of festival experience. The recent Democratic primaries provided him with comedic ground as fertile as the Native American reservation land on which we walked.
“Phish broke up because of Hillary,” he said, startling a group of hippies to reactionlessness. We got back to our RV faster because of this. Of that, I am sure.
And getting back to the RV was key. Two-thirds of our group had turned to zombies. We’d driven the vehicle from Greennville, South Carolina down through the Low Country, through Savannah, Jacksonville, Daytona, Cape Canaveral, and every small city on Florida’s east coast. We hit the Florida Turnpike at Ft. Pierce and felt like we’d made good time. By then, G-Rob was driving and facing the road with a wild-eyed sense of foolish optimism.
The storms started with a few drops and had soon turned into massive spring squalls. The Turnpike turned into a parking lot. A few hours later, only the promise of more than 80 bands and four days of freedom kept us going. It was 8:23 when we pulled onto the small two-lane road that leads into Big Cypress Reservation on the edge of the Everglades. One side of the road is lined with wet scrub. The other side is blocked by a 15-foot-wide channel. Less than 50 hours later, a bus and truck would collide on the same road, killing one person, injuring serveral others, and throwing the lot of them into the channel. At this moment, though, the 15 miles to Langerado had turned to 10 miles of tail lights. We were going nowhere.
The traffic line at Langerado 2008
“8:53,” G-Rob said from his place behind the wheel. It was his prediction for how long it would be before we were parked in our spot and headed to see music.
I laughed out loud. G-Rob is an exceptionally smart person, but he can occasionally be overly optimisic.
“It will be no earlier than 10:30,” I said. To accentuate my point, I opened a beer and looked at the wet, static blacktop outside my window.
Three hours later, we made it through the gates.
“Can I count it off?” James Brown screamed through our speakers. We spoke to the ticket agent and bounced on an overmodulated version of “Sex Machine.” We turned down the music long enough to speak to the smiling security agent.
“How many glass bottles do you have in the vehicle?” he asked.
“None,” we said.
“How many illegal drugs to you have in the vehicle?” he asked. This time, he almost laughed.
“None,” we said.
“Get on up!” James Brown said.
Ten minutes later, we were parked and walking toward the festival grounds. This walk we would make until we had blisters on our feet and felt like waiters after two weeks of doubles.
Why do we do stuff like this? Well, we love music. We love a party. We love a big party even more. Langerado is a huge four-day music party that lasts from the moment you wake up until the moment you are ready to go to sleep every day. This night, we slept for just a couple of hours. When we woke up with the sun, I made bacon, eggs, and biscuits.
And then we started over on Friday morning.
Langerado Pictures of the Day
More at my Flickr account
Pauly in a moment of reflection at the Swamp Stage
Our group at Langerado