What once stood as a testament to hippie culture with more jam than a peanut butter sandwich, more sandals than Germany, and more joints than a skeleton has grown into the largest camping event in North America. Bonnaroo is a music festival, yes, but it’s a music festival with its own daily newspaper, post office, and general stores. It’s got a cinema and a comedy club. If you took a few blocks of New York City and placed them on a farmland in Tennessee, you’d have Bonnaroo.
Folks have pitched their tents, and the festival has tented its pitches of land. Bonnaroo, which runs through Sunday without a moment of downtime–I saw one of my favorite bands at 3 a.m. at the festival and spent the show wondering how they were awake, much less playing music–is underway. Its ~80,000 guests continue to arrive, so we examined the best 5 aspects of this year’s festival. By the end of it, you’ll feel and smell a bit like a dog, and given that it takes place in the dog days of summer, we’ve let our furry friends stand in as examples.
1) Kanye West
Here’s a video of his 2008 Bonnaroo performance.
Oh wait, that’s a video of a sleeping puppy, because that’s what everyone was doing when Kanye finally took the stage, several hours late (he appeared at 4:45 a.m.!), and offered what many considered to be a terrible set. Somehow, our king of controversy, Kim’s dearly beloved, is back as a headliner. As a Kanye apologist, I’m thrilled to have him performing–the Yeezus tour was the most powerful staged concert I’ve ever attended–but let’s hope he only receives headlines for a good performance this year.
2) Not Showering
It’s true that you can shower at Bonnaroo, but that basic experience can cost up to ten bucks, and even if you do shower, you’re drenched in mud 45 minutes later. There are so many people at the fest that it’s impossible to tell who smells, so enjoy the anonymity and the only 4-day period during which it’s acceptable to avoid bathing during summer in the South.
3) Eating Everything
One overlooked aspect of Bonnaroo is the food. In fact, we’ve got a reporter down there right now, dining her way through the culinary delights the fest offers like a bacon flight from Bacon Land, a community farm-to-table dinner, and a “Jack Rabbit Slims” menu from the Gastropod Diner offering food from Pulp Fiction like a Royale with Cheese and The Big Kahuna Burger.
4) Watching Bonnaroo From The Air-Conditioned Comfort of Your Home
It’s the 21st Century, people. You don’t need to leave the house to experience things. All that discomfort of driving/camping/sweating/crowd-pushing/planning/doing is a thing of the past. You can sit at home and livestream the whole darn festival from your living room. Just make some giant turkey legs to feel like you’re at a festival, take a seat, smear some mud on your legs, and hit up the official Bonnaroo website for a stream.
5) The Snake and Jake’s Christmas Barn
For the uninitiated, Snake and Jake’s is a New Orleans dive bar that no one has ever entered before 3 a.m. or after 10 a.m. Christmas is an annual holiday. The Christmas Barn blends the finer parts of both into the strangest smoothie on Earth. To enter on Saturday evening, you must be wearing a robe. But fear not, there are sure to be some Santas running around the strung-up lights and Christmas trees.
What’s your favorite part of Bonnaroo? Extra points if you use a dog to show us!