photo by Jesica Tezak
Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival has always been a dream of mine, and experiencing it for the first time was just that. My time on The Farm was full of amenities I would have never expected, surprise after surprise, incredible music (no matter what people said about the lineup beforehand), and the best crowd you could ever ask for. Although I feel like being brand new to Roo left me overwhelmed, lost at times, and overlooking a ton, I am just that much more eager to get back there next year. Here are four reasons why my experience this past weekend quickly put Bonnaroo up in the top three of my favorite festivals of all time; and, why Manchester, Tennessee needs to be at the top of your list for next summer.
Photo by FILMMAGIC/GETTY IMAGES
It’s your home away from home
Not only does Bonnaroo give you that mushy, gushy feeling like you’ve found a place where you belong at The Farm, but the amenities they offer make it feel as if you actually have some crucial parts of home with you.
Bathrooms: Although I love nothing more than camping at festivals, there’s nothing I hate more than port-a-potties. Bonnaroo had plenty of those, but they also had flushable toilets throughout the camping pods AND actual, functioning bathroom facilities within Center Roo. Each one stocked with toilet paper too. Roo poo game strong.
Showers: I personally hate having to pay for showers at festivals. I try my best to avoid it as much as I can, however that wasn’t going to work at Bonnaroo. A nice shower every morning to rise off all of the sweat from the previous day was essential to surviving the heat filled weekend. The showers were probably the nicest, and best functioning ones I’ve ever been in. Most importantly, I never had to wait in line to get clean.
Laundry Service: LG Electronics USA decided to go a step further and create the LaundRoo Lounge and Vintage Clothing Swap. Featuring 50 washers and dryers as well as LG Styler steam clothing care systems, the LG LaundRoo lounge provided complimentary laundry services to all campers. “Just bring us your dirty, sweaty, muddy clothes, and we’ll take care of it for you.” I was told. While waiting for the laundry to be done, festival goers could even browse over 3,000 pieces of clothing curated by What Goes Around Comes Around and swap it for their own.
cover photo by by Caitlyn Ridenour
It keeps you on your toes
Sleep is most definitely for the weak on The Farm. Just because the scheduled lineup was over for the day, doesn’t mean the party was. Secret sets should be the definition of Bonnaroo, and I certainly wish I knew that beforehand. The ultimate Roo-noob mistake was made, and I missed all of these. Don’t be that guy. Be prepared. I now know for next year.
From 3am to 7am every night, this stage was all surprise DJ sets. Cherub, Kaskade, Space Jesus, and Shiba San are just a few to name.
Cage The Elephant
A few tears were shed the morning after this surprise set. Cage the Elephant did a surprise performance at Happy Roo day which not only is an installation curated by lead singer, Matt Shultz, but it also was a mere 2 minute walk from my campsite. And. I. Still. Missed. It.
Chance the Rapper
At this point I started to catch on to the whole surprise after surprise thing, and tried to keep tabs on Chance the Rapper since I knew he was at Roo. I went to and from different places where secret sets were rumored to take place. Nothing. I made a weak last attempt to catch Knox Fortune in hopes that Chance would come out to perform their song “All Night,” together. I stayed for almost the whole set, until my friend had texted me to meet them in line to get a good spot for Billie Eilish (who was probably the artist I was most excited to see this weekend), and I left Knox Fortune a little early to get there. Can you guess who came out almost immediately after I left? Lil Chano, that’s who.
I essentially gave up after this, and I’m sure there’s plenty more that I missed. So if you would like to twist the knife that’s already in my back, feel free to share any other secret sets from Roo this year that you happened to catch!
photo by Alive Coverage
It brings the fire, and the fire brings the heat
Although there was a lot of mixed feelings on the lineup prior to the festival, there was one thing everyone could agree upon: every act really brought their A-game to Bonnaroo.
I have enjoyed (maybe) one too many Nectar shows, but always from the back of the crowd. For some reason, I decided I wanted to damage my hearing and went to the very front. As sick as it was, I could only last a solid 25 minutes. Was equally as great in the very back as the front. Even the headiest of bassheads said that was the best Nectar show they’ve even been to.
Never in my life did I ever think I would catch myself at an Eminem show, but I can’t lie it was pretty sick. Hearing “Without Me,” and “My Name Is,” performed live had me and the very excited elderly man next to me having a little dance party of our own.
I’m lame and happened to peek at the setlist beforehand, but The Killers starting off with “Mr. Brightside,” had everyone more surprised than when iHOP changed their name to iHOB. You know when you’re at bar or a club, and Brightside comes on, and every body is hype as can be? Imagine that times about 80,000. I also did my fair share of playing Guitar Hero back in the day, so “When You Were Young,” was quite the experience as well.
Other honorable mentions for great performances throughout the weekend include:
- The Glitch Mob
- Bon Iver
- The Tom Petty Tribute
- Anderson .Paak & The Free Nationals
- Billie Eilish
- Big Wild
- Daniel Caesar
- Shiba San
- Space Jesus
photo by Jorgensen Photography
It brings out the best people, and the best in people
I came to Bonnaroo with two complete strangers, and left with two really great friends. Our camping neighbors made the days way too much fun to be too bothered by the heat. Everyone you came in contact with greeted you with either a high five or a “Happy Roo!” I now understand why something so amazing as Roochute started at this place. I think the Bonnarovian Code perfectly encompasses everyone I encountered at Roo:
“Consider the community and keep an eye on your friends. Extend that friendship to new friends, too — even Bonnaroovians you’ve never met before. If you see someone who can use a hand, offer it. You will make his or her day, and provide an example that will multiply across The Farm.”
“The Farm is an aggro-free zone. Leave your worries at home. For a few days this summer celebrate the best things in life. Smiles, high fives, and random acts of kindness… Happiness is the goal. Proactive positivity is a proven way to get there.”
photo by Brendan David Hall
So thank you, Roo, for treating your attendees well, always keeping tricks up your sleeve, bringing some of the best music out there to The Farm, and for being home to some of the best people the earth has to offer. I am definitely, already counting down the days until Bonnaroo 2019.