Bonnaroo Music Festival

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Coordinates: 35°28′40″N86°03′02″W / 35.47778°N 86.05056°W / 35.47778; -86.05056

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Genre Pop, alternative rock, indie rock, hip hop, R&B, electronic, metal, funk, stoner rock, jazz, jam bands, Americana, country, folk, bluegrass, gospel, reggae, world
DatesJune 13–16, 2019
Location(s) Great Stage Park, Manchester, Tennessee, U.S.
Years active2002–present
Attendance80,000+ (2015) [1]
Organized by Superfly Presents and AC Entertainment
Website Official website

The Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival is an American annual four-day music festival developed and produced by Superfly Presents and AC Entertainment. Since its first year in 2002, it has been held at what is now Great Stage Park on a 650-acre (263 km2) farm in Manchester, Tennessee. The festival typically starts on the second Thursday in June and lasts four days. Main attractions of this festival are the multiple stages featuring live music with a diverse array of musical styles including indie rock, classic rock, world music, hip hop, jazz, americana, bluegrass, country music, folk, gospel, reggae, pop, electronic, and other alternative music. Musical acts play from around noon until 3:00am or later.

Music festival festival oriented towards music

A music festival is a community event oriented towards live performances of singing and instrument playing that is often presented with a theme such as musical genre, nationality, or locality of musicians, or holiday.

AC Entertainment

AC Entertainment is a music promotion company based in Knoxville, Tennessee. They are the co-producers of the Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival with Superfly Productions and the producers of the WayHome Music & Arts in Barrie, ON, the Forecastle Festival in Louisville, KY, Big Ears Festival in Knoxville, TN, and the Mountain Oasis Electronic Music Summit in Asheville, NC. They also specialize in venue management and services, event booking and production and event marketing and sponsorships. They are also talent-buyers for several venues across the Southeast.

Great Stage Park

Great Stage Park is a 650-acre outdoor event space located 65 miles (105 km) southeast of Nashville in Manchester, Tennessee. Since 2002 it has been home to the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival, the largest outdoor festival in North America.

The festival began with a focus on jam bands and folk rock; it has diversified in recent years but continues to pay tribute to its roots. Notable acts have included Primus, Eminem, U2, Phish, Nine Inch Nails, Radiohead, Paul McCartney, Billy Joel, Tool, The Beach Boys, Kanye West, My Morning Jacket, Stevie Wonder, The White Stripes, Neil Young, Pearl Jam, Tom Petty, The Dead, The Allman Brothers Band, James Brown, Wilco, Bon Iver, Arctic Monkeys, The Flaming Lips, Willie Nelson, Mumford and Sons, Of Monsters and Men, Jay Z, Bob Dylan, The Black Keys, Zac Brown Band, Dave Matthews Band, Buffalo Springfield, The Police, Arcade Fire, Jack Johnson, The Strokes, The Black Crowes, Metallica, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Bruce Springsteen, Beastie Boys, Kings of Leon, ZZ Top, Dead & Company, Paramore and Widespread Panic. The festival features craftsmen and artisans selling unique products, food and drink vendors, comedy acts, silent disco, cinema experiences, and a Ferris wheel.

Jam band musical group whose live albums and concerts relate to a unique fan culture

A jam band is a musical group whose live albums and concerts relate to a fan culture that began in the 1960s with the Grateful Dead, and continued with The Allman Brothers Band, and Phish which had lengthy jams at concerts. The performances of these bands typically feature extended musical improvisation ("jams") over rhythmic grooves and chord patterns, and long sets of music that can often cross genre boundaries. The Grateful Dead continued to grow their fanbase in the second half of the 1980s. In the mid-1980s, the bands Phish, Edie Brickell & New Bohemians, Blues Traveler, Ozric Tentacles, Widespread Panic, Bela Fleck and the Flecktones, Spin Doctors, The String Cheese Incident, Col Bruce Hampton and Aquarium Rescue Unit began touring with jam band-style concerts. In the early 1990s and 2000s, a new generation of bands was spurred on by the Grateful Dead's touring and the increased exposure of The Black Crowes, My Morning Jacket, Dave Matthews Band, Widespread Panic and Aquarium Rescue Unit.

Primus (band) rock band from the United States

Primus is an American rock band based in San Francisco, California, currently composed of bassist/vocalist Les Claypool, guitarist Larry "Ler" LaLonde and drummer Tim "Herb" Alexander. Primus originally formed in 1984 with Claypool and guitarist Todd Huth, later joined by drummer Jay Lane, though the latter two departed the band at the end of 1988. Featuring LaLonde and Alexander, Primus recorded their debut Suck on This in 1989, followed by four studio albums: Frizzle Fry, Sailing the Seas of Cheese, Pork Soda, and Tales from the Punchbowl. Alexander left the band in 1996, replaced by Bryan "Brain" Mantia, and Primus went on to record the original theme song for the TV show South Park and two more albums, Brown Album and Antipop, before declaring a hiatus in 2000.

Eminem American rapper and actor

Marshall Bruce Mathers III, known professionally as Eminem, is an American rapper, songwriter, record producer, record executive, film producer, and actor. He is consistently cited as one of the greatest and most influential rappers of all time, and has been labelled the "King of Hip Hop". In addition to his solo career, Eminem was a member of the hip hop group D12. He is also known for his collaborations with fellow Detroit-based rapper Royce da 5'9"; the two are collectively known as Bad Meets Evil.

Bonnaroo Music Festival was largely influenced by rock concerts of the late 1960s and early 1970s, as well as the massive Phish festivals of the late 1990s. The festival is a nod to the Monterey International Pop Music Festival (1967), the Atlanta International Pop Festival (1969, 1970), and most famously the Woodstock Music & Art Fair (1969).

Starting in 1996, American jam band Phish has hosted a series of festivals - ten in total, with attendance ranging from 35,000 to 85,000. They are typically the only band to perform at the festivals, although the 1997 Lemonwheel festival and 1999 Camp Oswego festival both featured a second stage for supporting acts.

Monterey Pop Festival Three-day concert in California in 1967

The Monterey International Pop Music Festival was a three-day concert event held June 16 to June 18, 1967, at the Monterey County Fairgrounds in Monterey, California. The festival is remembered for the first major American appearances by the Jimi Hendrix Experience, the Who and Ravi Shankar, the first large-scale public performance of Janis Joplin and the introduction of Otis Redding to a mass American audience.

Atlanta International Pop Festival (1970)

The second Atlanta International Pop Festival was a rock festival held in a soybean field adjacent to the Middle Georgia Raceway in Byron, Georgia, from July 3–5, 1970, although it did not finish until after dawn on the 6th. It was the only successor to the first Atlanta Pop Festival, which had been held the previous summer near Hampton, Georgia. The event was promoted by Alex Cooley, who had helped organize the '69 Atlanta festival as well as the '69 Texas International Pop Festival, and two years later would promote the Mar Y Sol Pop Festival in Puerto Rico from April 1–3, 1972.

The festival was ranked in 2003 by Rolling Stone magazine as one of the "50 Moments That Changed Rock & Roll" [2] , "Festival of the Decade" by Consequence of Sound, and among the 10 Best Festivals by GQ Magazine .

<i>Consequence of Sound</i> American music website

Consequence of Sound (CoS) is an independently-owned Chicago-based online magazine featuring news, editorials, and reviews of music and movies. In addition, the website also features the Festival Outlook micro-site, which serves as an online database for music festival news and rumors.


Bonnaroo was established by Ashley Capps of AC Entertainment and Kerry Black (graphic design), Rick Farman (festival operations), Richard Goodstone (marketing), and Jonathan Mayers (programming) of Superfly Productions.

The first Bonnaroo Music Festival took place in 2002. The founders chose "bonnaroo" (Creole slang meaning a really good time) for its literal meaning and to honor the rich New Orleans music tradition that they had enjoyed in college. Bonnaroo was popularized by New Orleans R&B singer Dr. John with his 1974 album Desitively Bonnaroo. [3] [4] Bonnaroo is derived from the French "bonne" /bɔn/ the feminine agreement of "bon" /bɔ̃/ meaning "good," and the French "rue" /ry/ meaning "street," translating roughly to "the best on the streets". [5]

Dr. John American singer-songwriter, pianist and guitarist

Malcolm John Rebennack Jr., better known by his stage name Dr. John, was an American singer and songwriter. His music combined blues, pop, jazz, boogie-woogie and rock and roll.

<i>Desitively Bonnaroo</i> 1974 studio album by Dr. John

Desitively Bonnaroo is a 1974 album by New Orleans rhythm and blues legend Dr. John. The album was produced by Allen Toussaint and features sizable musical support from The Meters. The album mines the territory featured on his previous album In The Right Place. This album spent eight weeks on the Billboard 200 charts, peaking at #105 on June 1, 1974.

The founders were inspired by music festivals they attended in the 1990s, including those put on by the band Phish, and events held in Coachella and Glastonbury. They found a site in Manchester, Tennessee that had facilities and good highway access. Using only their website for ticket sales, they sold out the festival in about two weeks. By 2003, the festival had been named by Rolling Stone magazine as one of the 'top 50 moments in rock & roll.' Comedy acts such as Jim Breuer were first added in 2005. In 2007, Bonnaroo purchased the land for the festival, creating Great Stage Park with all of its iconic features. They installed a permanent main stage in 2010. [3]

In 2016, AC entertainment was purchased by Live Nation Entertainment. Following very weak attendance for the 2016 event, Live Nation responded with performances by U2, Lorde, The Weeknd, and the Red Hot Chili Peppers in 2017, returning the attendance to 65,000. [6]


On January 10, 2007, Bonnaroo organizers Superfly Productions and AC Entertainment purchased a major portion of the site where the annual music festival is held. The purchase of 530 acres (2.1 km2) encompassed all of the performance areas and much of the camping and parking area used for the annual festival; the festival will continue to lease another 250 acres (1.0 km2) that currently serve as additional parking and camping. Since its inception, Bonnaroo has contributed more than $1 million directly to Coffee County organizations.

In addition to the festival's annual charitable contributions, its activities help generate annual revenue for the county. Measured in a 2005 study, the economic impact of the event on Coffee County was more than $14 million in business revenues and more than $4 million in personal income. The Bonnaroo music festival makes most of its income from the fans.

The festival regularly contributes to charities including Doctors Without Borders, Head Count, MusiCares, Habitat for Humanity, Boys and Girls Club of America, Rock the Earth, the American Red Cross, and the Sierra Club. It provided aid to assist local organizations following disasters such as Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the 2010 Haiti earthquake, 2010 Nashville floods, and 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

By 2013, the direct and indirect economic impact of the festival since inception was estimated at $51 million, including $2.9 million in tax revenue for the year 2012. [7]


Bonnaroo actively supports recycling and sustainability. [8] In 2011, A Greener Festival recognized Bonnaroo's efforts for the previous three years with an award. [9] In 2004 Bonaroo said it prevented having to collect 120 tons of trash by encouraging fans to recycle. Food and drink are sold in organic and recyclable materials to create less waste. [10] AGF auditors review festivals, as well as requiring their self-evaluation. [9] As of late, Bonnaroo initiates many "green" activities during the festival, such as Planet Roo, [11] a hub advocating sustainability and effective change toward the environment.


When the festival first began in 2002, USA Today referred to Bonnaroo as "The culmination of a musical movement." [12] CNN described it as: "Music and subculture melted together into a pot of creative bubbling energy." [13]

In 2008, it was named "Best Festival" by Rolling Stone magazine, calling it "the ultimate over-the-top summer festival." [14] Rolling Stone also recognized Bonnaroo as one of “50 moments that changed rock & roll.”

The New York Times said "Bonnaroo has revolutionized the modern rock festival" in 2012, [15] and Spin called it the "Best festival of the summer." [16]


Which Stage at the Bonnaroo Music Festival in Manchester, TN. Which.jpg
Which Stage at the Bonnaroo Music Festival in Manchester, TN.

The official venues located at Bonnaroo often change from year to year. The following are some of the more permanent venues.

Various other small tents and stages are also used for various performances, such as the Solar Stage, Lunar Stage, and the Cinema tent. There are also various performances at areas throughout the campgrounds. See the Bonnaroo website for further details on these stages and performances.

Notable performances

The Beastie Boys performed on the main stage on June 12, 2009. With the passing of Adam Yauch nearly three years later, this would mark the band's final performance.

R&B singer D'Angelo marked his return to American stages for the first time in over 12 years [17] on June 9, 2012 with a surprise performance at the festival's annual Superjam. He was backed by members of the R&B collective The Soulquarians, most notably Questlove, James Poyser and Pino Palladino, with guest guitarist Jesse Johnson. The set was composed almost entirely of covers. [18]

On June 14, 2014, soul music singer Bobby Womack would give his final performance before passing away on June 27. [19]

Other iconic performers have been Phish (2009, 2012), Dead & Company (2016), U2 (2017), Pearl Jam (2008, 2016), Billy Joel (2015), Mumford and Sons (2011, 2015), Elton John (2014), Eminem (2011, 2018), Jack White (2014), Lionel Richie (2014), The Flaming Lips (2003, 2007, 2010, 2014), Paul McCartney (2013), Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers (2006, 2013), Wu-Tang Clan (2013), Red Hot Chili Peppers (2012, 2017), Radiohead (2006, 2012), Neil Young (2003, 2011), Dave Matthews Band (2005, 2010), Stevie Wonder (2010), Bruce Springsteen (2009), Nine Inch Nails (2009), Metallica (2008), The Police (2007), Bob Dylan (2004). [20]


Graffiti by Nashville artist Ryan McCauley on the Graffiti Wall, which separates Centeroo from the campsites. Bonnarooooooooo-bot.JPG
Graffiti by Nashville artist Ryan McCauley on the Graffiti Wall, which separates Centeroo from the campsites.

Available to the Bonnaroo public throughout the week are various activity tents. These tents become most popular with the night crowd, with such activities set up as The Silent Disco tent, and other club or bar-themed venues. In the Silent Disco, each person entering is given a set of headphones that sync with the DJ and the music. Everyone is listening to the same song through the headphones while appearing from the outside to be dancing to no music at all.

The Comedy Tent has featured such comedians as Mike Birbiglia and Flight of the Conchords. The Cinema tent, showing a variety of mainstream and independent movies, is popular, in part because it is air conditioned. The Broo’ers Festival tent features independent breweries from all over the United States.

Outside the big tents, Planet Roo hosts a variety of non-profit organizations sharing information on healthy lifestyles and resource conservation. Splash-a-Roo (a giant slip-n-slide area) and a giant mushroom fountain provide practical ways to beat the heat. Bonnaroo creators designated the wall surrounding Centeroo, colloquially called "the Graffiti Wall", as a place for street artists to paint their choices.

The campgrounds consist of ten pods organized by the producers with activities and services for the campers. Each pod has an information and medical booth, and a community art project. Many of the pods also feature barns with activities going day and night, and offering a place to relax or purchase refreshments. Often the community art projects develop as joint projects between invited artists and the campers: past festival pods have featured birdhouse construction, decorating stretched canvas, a giant Lite Brite-like panel, and huge frames and raw clay which festival goers shaped to their taste. Some of the art installations are finished prior to the festival. In addition to information, medical services and an art project, each pod offers public showers for $10 each.

In 2009, Bonnaroo featured the Bungaloo, a community art project that invited festival goers each to paint a small tile. These were affixed to 10-foot (3.0 m) water drops suspended between The Other Tent and This Tent. With each tile painted, the festival-goer could vote for the charity of choice. Bungaloo, a new online paint company, made a $1000 donation to the charity with the most votes.


In 2013, Bonnaroo brought its stage to YouTube. [21] In conjunction with talent and Bonnaroo fans, Bonnaroo and Los Angeles production company Kids At Play created Soopergroop – a band created from four musical acts brought together over four days to create and share original works at Bonnaroo 2013 and launch Bonnaroo’s YouTube channel. The channel’s title, Bonnaroo 365, refers to the celebration’s intention to be part of fans’ daily lives. YouTube’s position with musician and fans – amassing 1.9 billion views of music videos in 2012 [22] – made it an essential platform for the music festival.

Soopergroop [23] talent was chosen for their musicality and YouTube audiences. They met for the first time at Bonnaroo in June. Their work process over the four-day festival was the subject of an eight-part documentary series by Kids At Play released on Bonnaroo’s YouTube Channel.

The artists were: Ÿ

Annual attendance

Note: all figures are approximate

Bonnaroo Music Festival by year

See also

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The 2009 Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival was held June 11–14, 2009 at a 700-acre (2.8 km2) farm in Manchester, Tennessee, United States. There were roughly 75,000 people in attendance. The onset of Bonnaroo 2009 was punctuated by monstrous thunderstorms. Thursday night included heavy rain, lightning, strong winds and hail. A lighter storm passed over the farm on Friday. The resulting mud became a hardship for some and a plaything for others.

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2012 Bonnaroo Music Festival

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Superfly (company)

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2013 Bonnaroo Music Festival

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2015 Bonnaroo Music Festival

The 2015 Bonnaroo Music Festival was held June 11–14, 2015 in Manchester, Tennessee. This marked the 14th time the festival has been held since its inception in 2002.

2016 Bonnaroo Music Festival

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