Bonnaroo 2012 Review
As experienced Bonnaroo go-ers, my fourth year, my boyfriend’s fifth year we have seen and participated in the festivals changes and growths over the past ten years. Bonnaroo is one of the largest and wildest North American Music and Arts festivals. Held in early June annually it is located on a farm in tiny town Manchester, Tennessee. The festival is hot and dusty, sometimes torrential rain, it is kind of a Wild West combined with survivor experience; yet, the festival brings back thousands of people every year, because it provides great music and fun, every year is something different, festival go-ers come with high spirits, looking to have a great time, meet people from around the world, make new friends, learn to trust their neighbors, enjoy themselves and have a really good time. The festival is on a 700 acres farm, it last 4 days, provides ground for over 80,000 campers and hosts over 150 performers in one weekend. The green grass is thriving when everyone arrives and is often gone leaving dirt patches when we go, but the location provides natural running water, gentle rolling farm hills, lots of tree shade and a location that has brought so many of us memories that we will cherish for a lifetime.
Having a successful Bonnaroo requires a positive attitude, excitement, being prepared, being ready for a great time, working as a team, helping each other when needed, a big smile, a friendly approach, understanding, a hope to build a better future, leave no trace and hope to return next year mentality. Most people at Bonnaroo embody this and this is what has made it such a magical place.
This years festival headlined: Red Hot Chili Peppers, Radiohead, Phish, The Beach Boys, Bon Iver, The Avett Brothers, The Shins, Foster The People, Skrillex, Dispatch, Rodrigo y Gabriela and C.U.B.A., The Roots, Kenny Rogers, Superjam featuring Questlove, Major Lazer, Flying Lotus, Umphrey’s McGee and 100’s more bands. The comedy tent featured acts including Aziz Ansari and more, plus its air-conditioned!
This years Bonnaroo was my first Phish show. We waited in line for hours through the Beach Boys and Bon Iver, chatting it up hoping to get as close to front row as possible to see the quartet. We waited through rain and mud and finally got into the first few rows standing next to Mike Gordon’s nieces! The show was fantastic, so awesome and wonderful that we had to go see Phish in Atlantic City the next weekend. So with my veteran husband I had my first four Phish shows back-to-back. It was one of the best weeks of my life. The Phish show at Bonnaroo played a lot of their most popular songs with easy lows and highs in the jams and nice transitions, a crowd pleaser. The first set included Down with Disease, The Moma Dance, Sample in a Jar, Axilla I, The Gambler covering Kenny Rogers The Gambler with special guest appearance by Kenny Rogers who sung to us all so sweetly. The first set also included Possum, Wilson, Tweezer, Free, Backwards Down the Number Line and Cavern. In set two we heard Golden Age (TV on the Radio Cover), 2001 (Richard Strauss cover), Chalkdust Torture, Carini, Shafty, Rock & Roll (The Velvet Underground cover), a great play of Alaska, Harry Hood, Light, Character Zero and for fun at the end Rocky Top (Lynn Anderson cover). The encore was Show of Life, Julius and Tweezer Reprise. Their show is so inspiring, thoughtful, fun, interesting and full of light and good people.
Backing up from Phish closing the festival on Sunday night, sometimes Bonnaroo can be a kind of survival feeling, hot, dusty torture trap. We all still turn out for the fun and music but Bonnaroo really tries to continue to bring in its fans amenities that make the festival even more enjoyable. There is plenty of shopping, food and bars both inside the Centeroo main stage area and out in the campgrounds. This year there were more light set-ups around the campgrounds, including an unusual kind of fortress with live music, spotlights and live painters out in the campgrounds that gave room for people to cool down, sit and explore the cool scenery. This year also had two Ferris wheels and a light up tower with different graphics playing on it throughout the night. This years Bonnaroo Broo’ers Festival had over 20 different breweries participating including Sierra Nevada, Magic Hat, Woodchuck Cider, Schlafly and Sweetwater. The Broo’ers Festival also included classes and discussions focused on the art and greatness of beer. The classes offered included topics: making of different styles of beer and cider, creating more complex drinks using beer as the main ingredient, pairing beers with different food, and more. This years festival had a cinema playing movies, the comedy tent, a documentary tent, a post office, shopping markets, the Silent Disco, the 20 foot mushroom fountain, Splash-a-Roo including giant water slides, lots of cold, clean water stations, even hand sanitizer when you left the porter-potties! There was also a kid’s area, several charging stations for phones, etc., general stores to buy bags of ice. There is so much to see and do, so many people to meet at Bonnaroo it is no wonder Bonnaroovians, or Bonnaroonis as we prefer, cry when it is time to go home.
This year we really enjoyed the Bonnaroo Beacon and Relix Magazine on site newspaper that printed anew paper each day highlighting the previous day’s performances, special moments, pictures and the day’s updates. It also included special interviews and more; a great souvenir from the festival to hold onto.
We also liked this years Bonnaroo Postcard Campaign– that promoted the awareness and fight against mountain top clearing, protection of mountains, Appalachian communities and drinking water supplies. We indulged in our daily free sampling of different Ben & Jerry’s samples including a Bonnaroo flavor and Phish Food. Near the ice cream and post cards were several other tents promoting social and environmental causes with freebies and ways to get involved. In the center of this was the Bonnaroo Post office- here we sent off packages and letters same as the snail mail post office at home but better because it came from the festival and the mailers were sure to stamp up your packages with Bonnaroo stamp marks!
The Destination Escape tent driven by Ford was also enjoyed by us and many more. The Ford Tent had live shows, air conditioning, phone charging stations; large beanbag chairs and best of all you could sign up and receive t-shirts. The t-shirts were deigned by artists who were painting live at the festival and you could choose from several different designs, sizes and colors and have the shirt screen-printed right there in front of you. All for free- it was great!
This year an entirely new area was dedicated to the carnival type set up for The Adult Swim Ragbag of Jollification. With lots of whacky, hilarious innovative games set-up this area was always a crowded spot during the festival. Free t-shirts from popular Adult Swim shows were being screen-printed. There were also free games, not without a line though, including the a yell-o meter game- who can yell louder you or your friend, the wear a unicorn head and jump and down trying to pop suspended balloons above you with the horn game and a whole lot more.
We made sure to check out the GO LIVE! By Musicians Institute tent which was sponsored by Musicians Institute, College of Contemporary Music where you could jam with friends using cutting edge technology, hang out in the air conditioning and hear live sets with MI student and alumni bands. We also made sure to check out The Bonnaroo Salon by Garnier Fructis. Although it was really crowded you could wait in line to have a complimentary shampoo and blow dry, or we just walked on through enjoyed the air-conditioning, got some photos taken at the photo stands and helped ourselves to the free Garnier samples. We also enjoyed the Bonnaroo merchandise and posters and the poster art exhibit showing artwork from the past and present all for sale with some of the artists present. This years shows included artwork from This year’s artists include Methane Studios, Lil’ Tuffy, Furturtle, Status Serigraph, Powerhouse Factories, Dan Grzeca, and Boss Construction. We also looked around the Silent Auction to see what goodies were for sell. We saw lots of photos, signed posters from bands and artists, special VIP packages for bidding and much more. There was some pretty unique stuff.
This year’s Bonnaroo seemed even more environmentally and politically driven than some years in the past.; there were many non-profit organizations dedicated to protecting the Earth’s resources and balances present. There was more recycling, more incentives for recycling, more environmental projects and groups. One of the most impressive was the Solar Stage in Planet Roo– a stage powered by solar power. Surrounding it was herb gardens and naturally built shade shelters with vines of flowers to enjoy the shows from underneath. At the stage there were hula hooping classes, morning yoga and meditation, belly dancing, burlesque dancing, several shows including The Apple Butter Express and many others. Nearby was also the Academy which held several workshops that focused on topics such as herb growing, greener gardening, art making, drumming, greener living, bill cutting, hula-hooping, juggling, dancing and much more!
A group called the Bonnaroo Carbon Shredders partnered with C-REx to feature educating Bonnaroovians about simple changes in our everyday life’s to reduce carbon footprint, and reduce your environmental footprint.
Clean Vibes does a lot of the festival clean up and this year they had a trading post providing people incentives to pick up trash and recycling. In exchange for bags of cans or cigarette butts people could get anything from soap, to medicine to clothing and posters. We saw people exchange recyclable points for packets of Emergen-C packets and for Eat More Kale.com shirts. Incentives this year also included tickets to next year’s Bonnaroo and rides to Bonnaroo. Clean Vibes’ Trading Post was like the adult version of an arcade you get small prizes or build up points for big earnings at the end. We always appreciate our Clean Vibe workers and volunteers, they help keep the festival running and during the past ten years at Bonnaroo have abstracted over 3 million pounds of recyclable and compostable material produced.
General Admission tickets were between $200-$259.50 and all sold out. Bonnaroo also offered various RV passes from $180-$205. VIP passes began at $1399.50 and sold out this year. RV and tent rental options were available. This year’s special tickets were the Party Like a Rock Star tickets. Limited number available these tickets were bought in packages of 8 people and provided you front row access at the shows, backstage hospitality tent access, VIP lounges, a fully stocked private tour bus for you and your seven friends to sleep, and enjoy air-conditioning, three gourmet meals a day specially prepared for you and your crew. The passes also included all access golf cart rides anywhere at festival, a concierge and much more. We did meet a family there doing the Party Like a Rockstar whose daughter/sister was getting married to one of the Silent Disco DJs. They were living it up!
The newest ticket innovation is actually on this year’s wristbands. The wristbands have a small piece of plastic slid onto it that has an RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) chip embedded inside . This chip scanned each time you entered and left Center-Roo! Kind of high tech! With the wristband you could check in at different points around the festival and it would check you in to your e-mail, information or even post a picture of you and check you in at Facebook!
Every year we experience new things that Bonnaroo tries to give back to the community and to the earth, thankful for this great festival this year one dollar from every ticket bought went towards permanent sustainable site improvements on the Farm (where the festival is held). The improvements will help majorly reduce the festival’s carbon footprint by using permanent solar, expansion of our many current greening projects, tree planting and more. This makes happy festival grounds and happy festival go-ers, sounds good to us! Bonnaroo is such a great place and a great festival, we made good friends with our neighbors this year, we enjoyed the shows, we worked hard to get there and we loved our experience. It really is something special to participate in. My fiancé and I met at Bonnaroo 5 years ago and celebrated our 5th year anniversary. Every year we return we tell people our story and we celebrate our times together. We enjoyed a nap under the tree near where we first ran into each other. We hope that many other people will continue to celebrate this special place and festival and continue to embody the spirit of the festival. We can never say it to each other enough- there is so much love in the world- be nice to each other and have fun!
Photos by See Lizard Art & Photography, Lauren Seaman, for more photos and video check her out on the web http://seelizardartphotography.zenfolio.com/p290068122