The 2012 Bonnaroo festival concluded on June 10 on a farm somewhere in the middle of Tennessee. As usual, the festival immediately morphed the small town into one of Tennessee's largest "cities", hosting somewhere around 100,000 strong.
I've attended Bonnaroo before so I am not a newbie, so when I say that this Bonnaroo was a huge success take notice. The festival just gets better every year, and I am not talking about the bands, although Radiohead, Phish and the Red Hot Chili Peppers ain't too shabby (more about the music later); I am talking about the overall festival experience. The bands start on time, the staff is helpful and friendly, and they try and keep the restrooms as clean as possible. The stages are far apart enough that the music doesn't conflict with each other for the most part, but the stages are a walk-able distance. Have you ever had fantastic Jerk Chicken in a farm field in the middle of Tennessee? Neither had I until this year at Bonnaroo. A security guy was more interested in keeping people hydrated by passing out free bottled water than keeping people out of the backstage area.
From the general festival pass to Bonnaroo's VIP experience, "Roll Like A Rockstar" where you get treated like you were Bono checking out the festival, Bonnaroo has something for everyone. If you see a couple bands you like I say make the trip out to Tennessee, you will discover some great bands, and a very well run festival.
For the festival-goer with an Environmental conscience, Bonnaroo has a no B.S. eco-friendly festival plan. I watched someone sort through a mountain of compost and recyclables in the mid-afternoon making sure the proper waste went to the proper location. Bonnaroo, winner of the "Greener Festival" award (5 years in a row now), seems to have tackled or is on top of the waste diversion issue, partnering with Clean Vibes is always a sure proof way to score high on the sustainability metric meter. Though, avenues of change and reform must occur more on the heaviest carbon impact: travel to the festival. In this regards, Bonnaroo teamed up with Zimride this year, an online community carpooling service. I hope it was successful, but I certainly could not partake, I really did not have the time allotted to drive the 5000-mile round trip journey, so I flew and ended up staying at the relatively lovely Manchester Holiday Inn. At the end of the day, not sure how to minimize the flight impact, but I guess I could have camped!
I am a music junkie and I love to see live music, but I really don't get to see as much live music as I would like. So the music-marathon of Bonnaroo really suits my style. Moon Taxi was my new discovery, a solid eclectic sound drawing inspiration from both their contemporaries as well as preserving the spirit of the 70s; performed by skilled musicians. I also saw the core members of The Roots rhythm section jam spot-on Led Zeppelin covers in a tent at 1:00 a.m., country legend Kenny Rogers perform "The Gambler" with Phish, and Skrillex do what he needed to pack the fields for a late night set.
All in all, great success across the board; only hope Outside Lands can compete.