Tuesday, June 9, 2009

preview: Bonnaroo

"There ain't no place I'd rather be"

In 2006, Rick Farman of Superfly Presents--the fine folks who put together Bonnaroo every year--told the New York Times that he had ambitions to turn the festival into "an iconic event...like Glastonbury or New Orleans Jazz Fest." It seems they're well on their way.

The Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival in Manchester, TN, now in its eighth incarnation, takes place June 11-14. Boasting well over 100 performers (many of which have been discussed here on Bobka) covering every genre imaginable, the fest will welcome 80,000 revelers from around the globe to an environment of controlled chaos. Aside from the diverse top-notch musical talent that will be playing throughout the weekend (two nights of Phish and The Boss are this year's headliners), Bonnaroo has also become known for its alternative activities that seem designed to ensure sensory overload, including a comedy tent, cinema tent, arcade, batting cages, and let's not forget the Silent Disco--the surreal club environment in which headphones, not a PA system, are responsible for pumping the music to your brain.

All of this takes place on a huge piece of farmland that is situated perfectly so that it is easily accessible yet still feels like the middle of nowhere. The fantasy-land atmosphere is furthered by the large-scale, visually arresting art installations which often encourage, nay require, audience participation.

And herein lies the secret to Rick Farman and Superfly's success: Bonnaroo is all about the fans. It was started by a group of music lovers and it shows. It is an event/experience rather than just another concert in a big field and it offers tremendous value for the customer.

The Chocolate Bobka team will be in the trenches next week reporting live from the festival ground. Be sure to keep an eye on our Twitter feed for updates throughout the weekend. In the meantime, check the official Bonnaroo site for more information.

A few of the bands playing Bonnaroo this weekend:

Delta Spirit
Passion Pit
Tobacco
Animal Collective
The Dirty Projectors
Yeah Yeah Yeahs
Santigold
Grizzly Bear
Al Green
TV On the Radio
Lucinda Williams
Amadou & Mariam
David Byrne
Beastie Boys
Phish
Public Enemy
Girl Talk
The Hood Internet
Femi Kuti and the Positive Force
Phoenix
Cotton Jones
Justin Townes Earle
Mt. St. Helens Vietnam Band
Elvis Perkins in Dearland
Allen Toussaint
Robyn Hitchcock & The Venus 3
Rodqigo y Gabriela
Bon Iver
Wilco
Of Montreal
Jenny Lewis
The Decemberists
BRUUUUUUUUUUUUCE
Nine Inch Nails
MGMT
Yeasayer
Elvis Costello
The Mars Volta
Ted Leo and the Pharmacists
Erykah Badu
Andrew Bird
Jessica Lee Mayfield
Merle Haggard
Okkervil River
Snoop Dogg
Band of Horses
Neko Case

Aziz Ansari
Triumph the Insult Comic Dog
Jimmy Fallon
Todd Barry
Rob Riggle
Michael Showalter
Michael Ian Black
Janeane Garofalo