First of all, wow. Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival (Roo for short) was truly one for the books. This being my 15th festival, I don’t say that lightly. Throughout this article I have organized my Festival Report card into 7 main criteria: lineup, location, vendors, people, facilities, layout, and performances. I will grade each of the aforementioned on the classic A-F scale with a little explanation of the grade earned per criterium. Now let’s get to it!
The lineup of acts that were set to perform at Roo this year was wildly impressive. With heavy hitters like Bassnectar, Eminem, and The Killers, it was an easy decision to attend the fest in the first place. What really earns Roo the A here is the variety and depth of performances throughout the fest. From Kaskade to Muse, Rufus Du Sol to Sylvan Esso, every day at Roo felt like an exposure to all stretches of the musical spectrum.
Manchester, Tennessee. Had I heard of it before Roo? Nope. Would I ever go back outside of attending my next Roo? Certainly not. While it might have felt a little BFE, there was definitely a charm to it being so off the beaten path. It was a much more all-encompassing affair than festivals past that were located in/near a big city. For the first time, I truly felt I was transported to a place entirely sovereign from reality which really lent itself to the overall experience at Roo. “The Farm’ as they like to call it, was a place all its own.
This might have been the single most impressive aspect of Roo. The Vendors category encompasses both food and shopping. Being vegan doesn’t always allow for the easiest dining experiences at music festivals but my goodness, was my little plant-based heart happy. Whether it was the countless pop-up smoothie carts, the vegetarian hot-dogs, or vegan pizza, I was one happy camper. The options were endless, you would have been hard-pressed to find a cuisine that wasn’t present here. I’m also a total sucker for handmade crafts and the marketplace at Roo was spectacular! Not only was it diversified, but it also seemed never-ending, which was a really awesome alternative when we had some free time throughout the weekend.
My weekend was full of smiles, new friends, high-fives and “Happy Roo’s!” The vibes and the people at Roo were one of a kind. Sometimes when attending a festival you run the risk of dealing with people who don’t quite have common courtesy down to a science. Its not always sunshine and rainbows, but at Roo it was absolutely nothing less! I made the most amazing friends at our campsite (the vibe tribe), and throughout the fest we saw people of all ages, levels of nudity, and really all walks of life. It was nothing but good vibes, freedom, and love in all corners of the fest.
The facilities category includes bathrooms, water refill stations, and medical tents. This is really the only part of Roo that I felt could have been improved upon. There were a decent amount of port-o-potties by the campsites, but the water refill stations were scarce through the campgrounds which made the 90 degree weather hit just a little bit harder. Medical tents too, while usually not necessary, were few and far between.
Roo was by far the largest fest I have attended to date. The first day, trying to get our bearings was challenging, but eventually I figured out my way around. The cool part about it being so big was how much there was to see and experience. The stage names also threw us for a loop.. This Tent, That Tent, What Stage, Which Stage, and The Other Stage.. It was a mind game but a fun one to conquer at that! The best part of the Roo layout was this incredible mushroom shaped fountain in the middle, the most refreshing little oasis!
Roo provided me with some of the best sets I’ve witnessed in my entire life. My personal favorites were, Chris Lake, Big Wild, Kaskade, Future, The Killers, Hippie Sabotage, and Bon Iver. I even witnessed at least two proposals throughout the weekend, one during Space Jesus, and the other during Anderson .Paak. Love was certainly in the air. The stage designs were extremely well executed which allowed for some of the most aesthetically pleasing light shows and most eargasmic sound quality. Bravo, Bonnaroo!
In summary, Bonnaroo has earned itself a A-. Good food, stacked line-up, incredible stages, breathtaking performances, and the best vibes you will ever find.. Now that is a recipe for a successful fest if I’ve ever seen one. Roo, I will be back for you.