It is difficult to find words that do justice to the Bonnaroo experience. It has been about a month since I have left the farm, yet I still feel affected by the people I met and the experiences we shared.
I came to Bonnaroo for the music, but I believe it is the people of Bonnaroo that set the festival apart. Despite their variety, Bonnaroovians are all united by their love for music. People of all kinds spend a weekend becoming one giant family. I am accustomed to the curt disposition of New Englanders. Perhaps it is being out of New England, but more likely the joy that permeates throughout the festival ground, Bonnaroovians are the nicest people I have ever met. Within moments of entering center-roo, one of my friends bumped into a man at the festival. After apologizing, the man immediately struck up conversation with us and soon we had a new friend in our group. On the suggestion of our new friend we went to one of the activities on the farm, silent disco. Silent disco is a dance floor where everyone listens to a DJ through headphones. It was surprisingly entertaining. We spent over an hour dancing under the tent and returned throughout the weekend. Almost every show I went to I met more new friends. Most I do not even know the name of, however I still remember the experiences we shared.
As it would be a herculean task to give an account of every music act I witnessed, I will highlight some of the most notable. However, every act I saw, even of bands I had no previous knowledge of, amazed me.
The most fun I had during the weekend was at Vampire Weekend’s show. My friends and I went early to get a good spot and passed the time bonding with people around us. The set list was well balanced between their 2013 release, Modern Vampires of the City, and their previous two albums. I have never danced so hard in my life.
After Vampire Weekend, we hoped to catch part of the Phoenix act, as it had been recommended several times to us. However, we soon realized this was an impossibility due to the throngs of people flocking to the stage for the largest and most notorious show of the weekend. The time Kanye spent performing his music was amazing. However, much of his performance was spent lashing out about the reaction of the press to his last Bonnaroo performance. Based on the chants of “F@#! Kanye!” during his act, I doubt many people thought he redeemed himself. Kanye’s ranting did make me question whether the hours I spent waiting to see him perform were worth it. However, the experience was unforgettable. I have never been to a show with so many people in the crowd, and the visuals on stage were stunning.
Not traditionally a hip-hop fan, I was surprised by the amount I enjoyed Chance the Rapper’s performance. With the night winding down, the entirety of Bonnaroo gathered to see the increasingly popular Chance. His live band, which produced his beats, was as entertaining as him rapping and jumping around the stage.
One of the bands I was most excited for was the Arctic Monkeys. Having seen them once before in a small venue, I hoped to one-up the experience by going into the pit in front of the stage. Three hours in the sun was worth it. Thousands behind you and the stage in front is a surreal experience. The set-list was heavily saturated with songs from their recent hit record AM. Although I would have liked to hear more music from their early career, the Arctic Monkeys were still a huge crowd pleaser.
The performance, which I personally found the most amazing, was the headliner, Jack White. Jack White performed an eclectic mix of music from his various projects. Not only did he play music from his new solo album, Lazaretto, but also from the self-titled debut album The White Stripes. His showmanship even upstaged Kanye. Jack White also delivered a rockstar-rant. However, unlike his fellow headliner, his rants were well received by the crowd.
Almost every act I saw throughout the weekend was brilliant. It gave me a new appreciation for live music and festivals. Bonnaroo was the most amazing weekend of my life. Listening to music I heard at Bonnaroo immediately takes me back to the farm.
Perhaps this blog post gave you some insight into the Bonnaroo experience. However, most of Bonnaroo is something that is indescribable. If any of this interested you, or if you love music, or just good times, Bonnaroo is something that should be experienced. I know 2014 will not be my last time on the farm.