It’s all happening. The Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival begins Thursday, June 15 just down the road in Manchester and runs through Sunday, June 18.
Now in its fifth year, Bonnaroo is bringing some major acts to Middle Tennessee, many of whom might not come anywhere near us otherwise.
Radiohead is the festival’s main event on Saturday night, the group’s first U.S. appearance since 2004’s Coachella Valley fest, which is similar to the Roo. This is the band’s first Tennessee show since opening for REM at Starwood in 1995.
Other highly anticipated acts include Beck, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Bonnie Raitt, Buddy Guy and Matisyahu.
But it’s not just about the music?it’s the whole scene. Vendors travel from all over the country and they’ve got artwork, food, jewelry, clothing, music and more. This year’s comedy tents will feature Lewis Black and the Upright Citizens Brigade, among others. The lovely ladies of Panty Raid are having a burlesque show every night and there’s even a cinema, showing a variety of movies nonstop in a Dolby-surround, air-conditioned tent.
Security has been tight all month on the 700-acre site, a beautiful open hay field ringed in trees and hand-picked by the teams of Superfly Production and AC Entertainment, creators of the event.
Inspired by Jazz Fest in its native New Orleans, the guys of Superfly recognized the audience for music festivals exists, but the scene in the States was lacking since the H.O.R.D.E and Lollapalooza shows of the 90s.
Hoping to create an event comparable to the great music festivals of Europe like Glastonbury in England, Superfly Productions has laid the groundwork to become legendary in the American culture.
Because Murfreesboro is so close in proximity, it’s hard to fathom how big this thing really is, but this is like Woodstock for the new millennium. There are caravans of folks traveling far and wide, hitchhikers braving their way across the country, and Greyhound stations full of hippies across the country.
Superfly’s Rick Farman hopes the event will continue for decades to come.
“I’d like to see it become an institution,” he tells The Pulse. “We’re in this for the long haul.”
Farman believes it’s the crowd that really makes Bonnaroo work, what makes it most special. After all, it was the people who inspired the festival. Music is in all of our roots and these voyagers prove just how important it can be to us, to see how far we’re willing to travel for the best live music available.
The event has done wonders for the town of Manchester and has come to be important to its people and not just the hotels, restaurants, gas stations and Wal-Mart, but all of its residents, who seem very supportive of the town’s most-famous draw. You’ll find homeowners willing to rent out their front lawns to vendors, offering five or ten dollar showers, charging for parking or a place to camp.
As of press time, tickets are practically sold out, but if you want some, plenty should be available onsite. If you plan to stay, bring your tent and sleeping bags unless you expect to be up all night. The party never stops at Bonnaroo. If you are making the trek between here and there, be sure to fill up before you leave town and allow yourself time to waste in traffic.
For a complete schedule of events, visit their very thorough website at bonnaroo.com.