Bonnaroo is a four-day music festival held in Manchester, TN that has been ongoing since 2002. What started as a jam festival on a 700-acre farm in Tennessee, Bonnaroo has transformed into a beast many from that first year wouldn’t recognize. Notable acts over the past 17 years have included Paul McCartney, The Beastie Boys, U2, My Morning Jacket, Stevie Wonder, Arcade Fire, The Strokes, Dead & Company, Nine Inch Nails, The White Stripes, and so much more. Boasting over 130 acts on 10+ stages, various barns throughout the campgrounds featuring anything from yoga, late-night karaoke, jam sessions, cinema, ambient chill-out zones, comedy, parades, mouth-watering food and surprises all weekend, Bonnaroo is more than a music festival--it’s a full-blown experience. Bonnaroo is one of the largest camping festivals with most attendees camping on the farm. You won’t find this level of care and curation at any other festival of this size. Due to it being on a farm far enough away from anybody to bother, music can, and does, go all night. Some sets won’t start until 2 AM and then after that, expect surprise DJ sets on the Kalliope Stage, a traveling stage that has been to Burning Man as well as Bonnaroo. I truly believe that everybody should experience Bonnaroo once in their lives. It’s not just the music, it’s not just the experiences, it’s the people. Everybody there is just as excited as you are to be there and you'll see high-fives, smiles, dancing and community from everybody you see. It’s transformative, it’s refreshing, and in today’s world, it’s essential.
Here's what I'm most excited to see Friday:
Bayonne: “Roger Sellers is not a DJ” are stickers he had printed up years ago to combat how the press was describing him as. Yes, he has a table full of gear but he also brings a full drum kit on stage, as well as singing atop his looped melodies. His music sounds like something you’d hear in a dream. It’s both ethereal and rich, like winding through a maze, you find it repeating and coming back to where it started only to go a different direction again. His music makes sense for late night but he will be one of the first acts of the day, you’ll find me grooving in the Tennessee heat. When: 1:15-2:15 PM Where: Which Stage
Everything Everything: Hyperactive/maximalist synth-pop group Everything Everything will be another act taking the early day heat, on top of whatever heat they bring as well. Their music is frenetic, moving from Afrobeat to art pop, to synth-pop all within a few minute period. Led by Jonathan Higgs’ falsetto, they’ll draw you in immediately and not spit you out until you feel like you can’t walk from all the dancing you’ll be more or less required to do. When: 1:30-2:15 PM Where: That Tent
Japanese Breakfast: What was supposed to just be a way to deal with grief after her mother’s death, Michelle Zauner AKA Japanese Breakfast blew up with her debut album Psychopomp in 2016. With sweeping arrangements, and enchanting loops, Japanese Breakfast is another act I wish wasn’t this early, but that’s not going to stop me. I’ll be swaying along and feeling everything she conveys through her music no matter what. When: 2:15-3:15 PM Where: This Tent
Tash Sultana: There aren’t many musicians who can truly turn busking into a full-fledged career. Melbourne’s Tash Sultana is one exception. A one-woman show, Tash is self-taught in over 20 instruments and plays them like nobody else. A viral sensation that masterfully loops and meshes together various instruments to not only groove but shred, Tash is a don’t miss if she is anywhere near you. When: 6:15-7:15 PM Where: This Tent
Rüfüs Du Sol: This is honestly one of my most anticipated sets of the weekend. With two platinum albums under their belt and more full band/indie-dance jams than you can count, Rüfüs are about to make me feel so many different things. “Innerbloom” is one of the most beautiful songs I’ve heard in a while and the fact that I get to hear it live makes my heart pound just thinking about it. They’re soulful, they’re dancy, they’re groovy-- it’s a triple threat for top-tier music to see live. When: 9:15-10:30 PM Where: That Tent
Into The Great Wide Open: A Tom Petty Superjam: The fact that I get to see some of my most anticipated late night acts the same night is making me giddy with excitement. One of Bonnaroo’s most unique and defining sets is their yearly Superjam. This is always a themed event with them not only gathering artists from the lineup but special guests as well to come together to jam out, do a bunch of covers, re-imagine them and see musicians play together who you would never imagine, YOU WON'T GET THIS ANYWHERE ELSE. The Skrillex Superjam from 2014 will go down in my mind as one of the greatest shows I’ve been able to experience, specifically hearing "Break On Through" by The Doors with Matt from Cage The Elephant on vocals and Robby Krieger of The Doors on guitar. Every year is a blast and this year will be no exception with the Tom Petty Superjam. Personally, I say why pigeonhole one artist to honor when so many greats have passed away recently (Prince, David Bowie, etc) but it’s fine, getting to see Japanese Breakfast share the same stage as Sheryl Crow, members of My Morning Jacket, Wilco, Sylvan Esso, and so much more. I make it a point to never miss the Superjam. Where: This Tent When: 1:15-3:00 AM