The Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival is something all music lovers should experience at least once in their lifetime. It’s held in Manchester, Tennessee on “The Farm”, which is what they call the Great Stage Park when it transforms every summer. It’s a festival with infinite color and personality, with unforgettable shows and unusual people to match. It may have started small, but today Bonnaroo is its own community, on and off the farm.
This legendary festival began in 2002 when AC Entertainment and Superfly Productions teamed up to create an experience that called back to all of their best college experiences, combining shows and other festivals alike. Those industry names may sound intimidating, but it was actually a group of friends who wanted to try their hand at making the ultimate music festival. They chose the name Bonnaroo to embody what they wanted Bonnaroo to stand for; the word is Creole slang for “a really good time,” I can confidently say that they couldn’t have chosen a more fitting name.
The festival was an instant success. Ticket sales steadily climbed each year as more and more people wanted to see what the “Bonnaroo experience” was all about. While attendance did dip in 2016, Bonnaroo has still been going strong. In fact, this year it intensely rebounded, with a rise in sales before the lineup was even announced.
This brings me to this year’s Bonnaroo, the rebound Roo. With headliners such as Phish, Childish Gambino, and Post Malone, the festival drew in people from a lot of different music tastes and backgrounds. From country to hip-hop, to singer-songwriter, psychedelic, electronic, jam-band, and plain-old rock ‘n roll, Bonnaroo truly hit all of the bases this year. There was really something for everyone with this lineup, so young and old alike were there to see their favorite bands.
So, what is this Bonnaroo experience everyone keeps raving about? It’s different for everyone, but it can be summed up in the eccentricity of the festival as a whole. The festival is decked with color and rainbows that contrast to the (mostly) dirt ground. The stages are called What Stage, Which Stage, This Tent, That Tent, etc. so you’re pretty much constantly confused. There’s a sense of comradery because not only is everyone there for the same reasons, they’re also stuck together in the same heat, rain, or whatever weather disaster decides to strike. Everywhere you go people are wishing each other a “happy roo!”, and you make friends with total strangers without even trying. It’s weird and fun and unlike anywhere else. You truly never know what to expect there.
To wrap things up here: if you’re wondering if Bonnaroo is really for you, I would say that it probably is. Whether you’re listening to artists like Kacey Musgraves or Childish Gambino, or even if you just want to shop for crystals and tie-dyed clothes, you are bound to have an amazing time. It really has something for everyone and is truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience. There’s a different mindset on the farm of togetherness, and a drive to simply have a good time and help others do the same. It’s the best environment possible to enjoy incredible music with like minded people for a few short days.