Nowadays, there are more festivals around than one can even keep up with. Each month you hear about some new one taking place in some new city with some new lineup. With such high saturation in the festival market, it can be incredibly difficult to choose the right festival.
How do you do it then? Do you go with the festival with the best lineup? The festival that’s closest to home? What do you base it on?
Our answer- reputation. There is a reason you’ve heard of Bonnaroo before. There is a reason that before all these new festivals were created, Bonnaroo was already there and thriving. There is a reason that despite being a festival in the middle of nowhere with scorching heat and dust all day long, people make a point to return year after year. And there is definitely a reason Bonnaroo can look back at its 15th anniversary and smile at another job well done.
Let’s be honest, at its surface Bonnaroo can sound pretty miserable. Going nowhere close to civilization. Waking up in the morning to find that your tent that gave you shelter at night has now turned into a large oven. Sunshine so hot that you don’t want to move. Believing you got tan only to find out that it’s a mix of dust and sunburn. And did we mention the heat?
But the positives outweigh these over and over again. Where else can you completely let go from civilization, as enter the special world that Bonnaroo fosters. Where else can you completely be yourself, as no judgement is passed within the gated city. Where else has the perfect temperature at night where shorts and a tank are all you need to be comfortable? Where else can you dance until the sunrise with big name acts playing all night long, as Centeroo never closes. And where else does the community come together so nicely where everyone is just looking out for one another. You can’t walk anywhere without a bundle of high-fives and “Happy Roo!”
It’s difficult to describe to someone that has never experienced this monster of a festival, but there is something very special to it. From June 9th – 12th, 2016 this stood true as the 15th Bonnaroo took place in Manchester, TN. The festival went off without a hitch, having all the logistics down to a science. Newer notable stages include the Christmas Club Barn and the the fire breathing Kalliope stage, which both played music until the sunrise.
Some our favorite sets included the SuperJam Heart, Soul & Spirit- A Tribute to Tennessee Featuring Kamasi Washington & Friends. Kamasi Washington, a god on the saxophone, would bring out different artists playing at the festival to jam with him. These included members from Third Eye Blind, GRiZ, Miguel, and many more. There aren’t many times where you get to see some of your favorites out of their typical genre and just jamming showing off their raw talent.
Speaking of GRiZ, he killed it opening night as he opened up the Kalliope stage in a surprise set. He demonstrated his old-school mixing skills as he played a plethora of songs from beginning the set with the Spongebob theme song to getting down with Brick House. This was a completely new look for GRiZ. But fear not, we also got a glimpse of what we’re more use to with his regular set the following day where he dropped some of his new tracks. Oh yeah, did we mention he did a secret set in the campsite with Cherub. BOOM.
In terms of headliners, Dead & Co may have been the most impressive show of the entire festival. Everyone at Bonnaroo was there for it, and they played all of their most popular songs, which will probably be more common as they perform at festivals versus shows. After seeing John Mayer as the lead singer, we now have a whole different perspective and respect for the guy.
We don’t say this about every festival, but Bonnaroo is an exception. Please, if you haven’t attended this magical gathering yet: MAKE IT A PRIORITY. You’ll be hooked, as it is different than any festival you’ve attended before. Until next year- see Roo later!