Quickly becoming the biggest rock festival in the U.S., Bonnaroo wrapped early this morning (June 16) after a marathon set by the Dead. The performance, the last of those on the festival's main stage,
Quickly becoming the biggest rock festival in the U.S., Bonnaroo wrapped early this morning (June 16) after a marathon set by the Dead. The performance, the last of those on the festival's main stage, ended a sold-out, three-day festival marked by musical diversity and, more than anything else, incredibly supportive and enthusiastic crowds.
More than 80,000 people descended on the rural Tennessee town of Manchester for performances by the Allman Brothers Band, Widespread Panic, Neil Young, James Brown, Ben Harper, Jack Johnson, G. Love & Special Sauce, Emmylou Harris, Lucinda Williams, the Wailers, the Flaming Lips, and Nickel Creek, among many others. More than 75 acts appeared throughout the weekend.
Torrential rains in the days preceding the event created logistical challenges, but the event still came off without a significant hitch. "The biggest challenge this year was definitely the rain," Jonathan Mayers, president of New Orleans-based promoter Superfly Presents, said. "Moving the heavy equipment, bringing in the roads, that was a big logistical issue. Thankfully, we got a break and it stopped raining."
Organizers, working with the Tennessee Department of Transportation, greatly reduced the 40-mile traffic jam that marked last year's inaugural Bonnaroo, and once again arrests and trouble in general were minimal. The event sold out in 16 days over the Internet, without the benefit of traditional advertising.
Apart from its diversity and high-energy crowd, the festival was marked by its many guest turns. Artists such as G. Love and Mike Gordon of Phish showed up early and spent the whole weekend taking in, and often sitting in, with fellow artists.
In addition to performing a solo acoustic set Sunday morning, Allman Brothers Band guitarist/vocalist Warren Haynes played with that act Saturday and sat in with Widespread Panic later that night. He himself was joined during his acoustic set by ATO labelmate/South African vocalist Vusi Mahlasela for a cover of his splendid Allmans track "Soulshine."
Before leading his own band in a late afternoon set at one of the festival's smaller stages, Spearhead's Michael Franti ignited Galactic's mainstage crowd with the title track from his 2001 disc "Stay Human." G. Love joined friend Jack Johnson on Friday for "Rodeo Clowns," a song written by Johnson and recorded by G. Love.
"It was amazing. This crowd is so participatory," Nickel Creek mandolinist Chris Thile told Billboard.com. "They are here to involve themselves in an experience. It really felt like they were putting on a show for us."
The show was videotaped and recorded and will most likely be released on CD and DVD. Last year's fest was issued in those formats by Sanctuary.