Hey there! I’m Brooke and I’m an intern at Granada. I had the opportunity to go to Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival in Manchester, TN this week and these are my top five favorite experiences!
5. The Silent Disco is a Bonnaroo staple and takes the number five slot on my list of favorites. It’s one of those tents that I walked by for three days before finally deciding to try it out. We waited in line, picked up our headphones, and headed into a circus tent that had nothing but a dance floor and a DJ. People were moving around and dancing like crazy, but without the headphones on it was like watching a silent movie. We donned our headphones and joined the disco being curated by DJ Logic. He played remixes of throwback jams from the Jackson 5 to the Fresh Prince theme song that had everyone groovin’ and gettin’ down. The best part was taking off one ear and listening to everyone sing along at the top of their lungs (usually out of tune and off key). It was one of those events that truly captures the spirit of Bonnaroo: lose your inhibition and have fun without the fear of judgement.
4. Most people will list Billy Joel as the “number one” aspect of Bonnaroo simply because he’s Billy Joel, but for me he falls to number four. While he did play an incredible set, hitting almost every major song he could and keeping the crowd of 90,000 people on their feet and dancing for his whole two hour show, it was all very expected. The only surprise of his entire set was Chainsaw, a longtime roadie from his tour that took the stage to sing Highway to Hell. (There was actually one other surprise: Billy ended his set half an hour early and the pyro people were clearly not ready so we got a nice fireworks show about fifteen minutes later… but we’ll keep that one on the downlow.) Billy still sounds incredible and can play the piano like never before, but as an audience member I was hoping for something more, that extra mile that shows an audience the artist’s appreciation and enjoyment. All of this aside, it’s impossible not to enjoy seeing someone like Billy Joel!
3. As much as I was looking forward to Mumford & Sons’ set time, I was also very apprehensive to hear the new music. The band has made comments stating that playing Wilder Mind live is going to be difficult since they haven’t played it outside of the studio, yet. However, when they took the stage on Saturday night, the transition to their new sound was seamless. They played a solid 50/50 split of new vs. old music and filled their two hour set wonderfully. It was clear that most of the audience knew only Mumford’s first two albums, but that is to be expected when a band unexpectedly changes their sound. The thing that made their set over the top was the mini-jam-session at the end. Mumford invited out a whole slew of artists including Hozier, My Morning Jacket, and Dawes to come out and play their final song–a cover of With a Little Help From My Friends. It was one of those moments where everyone, artists and crowd alike, united together in a love of music and created just a few magical minutes. The drunk banter of Marcus Mumford and the musicianship I witnessed make Mumford & Sons number three in my book!
2. Coming in at number two is Jack Antonoff’s band, Bleachers. This performance marked the tenth anniversary and third band for Jack at Bonnaroo and he was incredibly grateful towards the crowd for it, continually giving thanks and saying “I don’t care what else is happening on the planet, there is no place in the universe I would rather be right now.” The band’s energy through the whole performance was off the charts; from consistently running the whole stage, jumping into the audience, and climbing all over their equipment, they simply did not stop. The crowd was right there with them, yelling every lyric and jumping nonstop. At the very end of the set, Jack suddenly grabbed his guitar and began smashing it around the stage. He threw it a solid twenty feet in the air and ripped it into pieces which he then gave out to audience members. The energy of this show did not let up from beginning to end, and coming out of it I felt overwhelmed in the best way possible. Bleachers had the most fun and vibrant crowd of the whole week, and it’s all because of Jack Antonoff.
1. My absolute favorite part of the Bonnaroo experience was hands-down the community created by this incredible festival. There is a huge stress put on the “Bonnaroovian Code” which I honestly snickered at the first time I heard it. But, after reading about and attending the fest, I realized that the Code is what makes Bonnaroo the best music festival in the US. Everywhere you go on the grounds you are receiving hundreds of high fives and hearing “Happy Roo;” people are offering you water and asking if you need shade to share; everyone is smiling and happy and that makes it totally impossible to not enjoy yourself. The Bonnaroo Croo do everything possible to make the festival grounds the happiest place on the planet. (Sorry Disneyworld.) Despite being covered in dirt and sweat, suffering through the heat, and being packed into so many crowds, Bonnaroo was the most positive four days of my life.