The fifth annual Bonnaroo wrapped last night (June 18) with a lengthy set from Phil Lesh & Friends, closing perhaps the smoothest running event to date. Bonnaroo, which began June 15, brought in 8
The fifth annual Bonnaroo wrapped last night (June 18) with a lengthy set from Phil Lesh & Friends, closing perhaps the smoothest running event to date. Bonnaroo, which began June 15, brought 80,000 music fans to this rural site on a 700 acre field about 60 miles south of Nashville, and grossed more than $15 million, making it the top-grossing festival in the world.
“This being our fifth year, the team has worked together and we know the site better, which allows us to pay more attention to the details,” Jonathan Mayers, president of co-producer Superfly Producrtions, tells Billboard.biz. “Every year we try to improve, and I think each year we’ll get better,” says Mayers.
Bonnaroo went clean at 80,000 tickets after missing the sellout mark in 2005. A shift in the lineup to a more mainstream/indie rock bill seems to have been a calculated risk that paid off. This year, bands like Radiohead, Beck, Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers and Elvis Costell & the Imposters joined scene mainstays like Lesh, Blues Traveler, Robert Randolph & the Family Band, and Umphrey’s McGee.
“I think there is definitely a percentage of a new audience here this year, and introducing them to the Bonnaroo experience is cool,” says Mayers, interviewed on-site during the festival. “I think that the audience we’re attracting has a pretty open mind with their musical tastes, but there are 80-plus bands out here so you don’t even have time to see everything. There’s something for everyone.”
Bonnaroo enjoyed it’s first year yet without torrential rain—and mud—but the event was once again marred by death. One festival worker was killed in an accident in the days leading up to the event. And as bluegress legend Ricky Skaggs and Kentucky Thunder left the festival after their Friday night performance, their bus struck a Bonnaroo-goer who had climbed the fence, left the festival grounds, and wandered out onto Interstate 24 adjacent to the site.
“Any time something like that happens of course it’s very upsetting. It’s hard to really take that in,” says Mayers. “More than anything we send our condolences to the family.”