Images by Bill Foster
Written by John Flannagan (JF), Michaela Marchardt (MM), & Rusty Odom (RO)
Bonnaroo has earned itself a reputation for being the “craziest” festival of them all.
Ask Wayne Coyne of the Flaming lips, or Matt and Kim, or any of the many veteran Roo-ers. It may be hot and muggy at times, it may be dusty, or sometimes just a weekend of rain – but there is good reason that approximately 75,000 people make it out to Bonnaroo year over year.
First of all, it is musically eclectic – you will find anything from country and folk to good old rock ‘n roll to EDM and even metal. You name it, they’ve got it. And Bonnaroo does a fantastic job every year at bringing in new talent as well as established artists. You’ll always find your classic staples yet stumble upon surprising new discoveries.
Centeroo, where all the shows take place, is open 24 hours a day. You’ll never be rushed to go back to your hotel or campsite. It is a wonderland for all those seeking the eccentric and weird: lit-up cars bumping music, a welded hog blowing smoke, glowy things everywhere, a volleyball field, a beach, a blow-up waterslide, the ferris wheel, and this year the clock-tower was transformed into a structure resembling a shiny space-needle. The music never really stops. Shows often go until the wee morning hours, and if you’re still not tired by then, there’s always the silent disco to dance until the sun comes up.
About 80% of all attendees camp at Bonnaroo. It may surprise you that 75,000+ people (basically a city, if you think about it) can camp next to strangers for four days, yet get along in perfect harmony. “Radiate Positivity” was the theme this year. It was painted in big, bold letters on the fountain in Centeroo this year. But in truth, it has been the theme and motto for many years. This is exactly why it is one of the absolute best festivals you will ever experience. It is a festival where people open their hearts, accept each other, share smiles and can be themselves. It’s like hitting the reset button every year.
And there’s an additional bonus: you’re absolutely guaranteed to get a solid workout all weekend. Track the steps/miles you walk on your iPhone or your Fitbit, and you will find that you walk – or dance – an average of seven to ten miles a day. It is sort of like running a marathon without training for it, but at the same time you’re having such a great time that you won’t even notice until your legs tell you to stop around 4:00 am. Congratulations, you just went to your own musical boot camp and you succeeded, and you actually enjoyed it. – MM