Florence and the Machine at Bonnaroo 2011.

Photos by Kathleen Gasperini, Tom Wallace, Nicole Orbe

Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival June 9-12, 2011 in Manchester, TN, marked a turning point when it comes to summer music and arts festivals, as it celebrated its 10th anniversary and attracted 80,000 fans to what’s become one of the largest festivals in the world (2nd to Glastonbury). Despite the 94-degree weather and humidity, Bonnaroo continued to provide a unique experience as it brought together a line-up of indies artist and mega-acts, summer fashion styles reminiscent of a new-school version of the ’70’s, plus art exhibitions, cinema, a comedy tent, and an array of eco-friendly programs.

Among the exhibitions in colorfully high form were a giant cuckoo clock that went off on the hour running backwards (as time takes on a different dimension at the ‘Roo), a colorful ferris wheel, an entire arcade area, massive water fountain, a post office made completely of recycled materials and adobe, surrounded by an edible garden, several stages with names What, Which, This, That, and The Other, an entire “academy” with classes from yoga to drum-making, belly dancing, shitake log demos, and a seed-swap.


The Arcade Fire at Bonnaroo 2011.

Of course most people are there for the music and the line-up was diverse–from indie darlings such as Matt and Kim, Deer Tick, The White Buffalo, Lionize, Florence and the Machine, The Decemberists, and Robyn, to old-school performers such as Robert Plant and the Band of Joy, Gregg Allman, Loretta Lynn, and Buffalo Springfield. Headliners included a huge range such as NOFX, Gogol Bordello, The Strokes, Girl Talk, Eminem, The Aracade Fire, The Black Keys, and Lil Wayne.


Robert Plant and the Band of Joy at Bonnaroo 2011.

One of the highlights for most festival-goers was the game-changing performance of Arcade Fire on Friday night, with their 8-piece band switching-up instruments and creating a chorus of sound that pumped a field of close to 80,000 people. It was a massive show for a massive audience.

Sponsorships at Bonnaroo are quite interactive and integrated within the festival atmosphere. For example, Garnier Fructis hosted a hair washing and styling station in Centeroo that was packed throughout the 4 days. The OnTap Lounge by Miller Lite was a favorite especially as the NBA finals were underway and it provided shade and a place to cool down. Fuse had a simple relax and recharge are for cell phones and chilling out. The Silent Disco was also a hot spot whereby fans could put on a pair of headphones and dance to the electronica taking place. It was also a favorite place to people-watch as hundreds would be dancing, silently, all to the same beat.


Bonnaroo entrance.

The Comedy Tent was also a favorite, hosted in a bigtop with seats in-the-round featuring acts such as Cheech Marin, Lewis Black, and Bill Bailey. Henry Rollins pulled-off a brilliant spoken word segment on the first night, and John Waters rounded out an excellent range of performances in this area of Bonnaroo.


While most people wouldn’t think of going to Bonnaroo, which is an outdoors festival, to watch cinema inside, the Bonnaroo Cinema has become a cult attraction mainly because of the cool features presented in the shady theatre. Things kicked-off with actor, writer, director Zach Braff who answered questions about his indie flick Garden State, followed by Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., who presented the introduction to the film Rock the Earth: The Last Mountain. Other films included The Wizard of Oz, 8 Mile, Raiders of the Lost Arc, Blow, and Harold & Maude.


Eminem at Bonnaroo 2011.

Eco-friendly ideas are a huge part of the equation at Bonnaroo, or rather “Planet Roo” as it’s called ranging from filtered water programs, a solar stage, garden tours and seed plant discussions, recycling, carbon shredders, a trading post onsite to redeem your recyclables immediately for rewards, and classes on growing your own shitake mushroom log.


Post office at Bonnaroo made of recycled materials and adobe.

Most people camp or rent RV’s for attending Bonnaroo, which helps for creating the pop-up city dynamic, since no one is leaving the grounds like at Coachella. It’s incredibly hot and because there was no rain (thank God, because it’s known to turn into a mudfest), the dust kicked-up bigtime. The campgrounds extend for miles, with avenues switch-backing in-between selling food, ice, supplies, and make-shift booths sells wares, ranging from glass pipes to tie-dye skirts. Shake-Down Street, one of the predominate avenues in the campgrounds is like its name -where things happen, turning into a nighttime scene all its own.

Bonnaroo is an experience that can best be summed up as a magical oasis from the everyday grind -a 21st century Woodstock with elements of Coachella that annually attracts a massive gathering of the tribes from all corners of the world.


Campgrounds are full people selling their wares. Cool glass pipes are a hot item, as well as ice.


Jay-Z mural. He played at Bonnaroo last year.


The water fountain in CenterRoo.


Colorful ferris wheel. Lights up at night.


Bonnaroo festival fashion includes many different kinds of hats, particularly big floppy straw hats, denim jeans, halter tops.


Build a drum area was one of the unique activities you could do in the CenterRoo village area.


Hula hoop girls and painted faces add to the Woodstock feel of Bonnaroo.


Adult Swim area is a colorful arcade of old-school games. All free.


More from Arcade Fire.


Bobbleheads–there are several at Bonnaroo.


Hipster young couple. Asymetric hairstyles on guys and girls are back in. Graphic T’s and piercings also.


These were the most unique rubber wellies we’d seen–cowboy boots style ready for the mud.


More hula hooping.


Bonnaroo has a well-planned recycling and eco system. They call their strategy Planet Roo. Volunteers are at each station making sure you do recyle correctly.


Colorful sunglasses usually in 80’s styles and accessorizing in general among key trends at Bonnaroo. We also liked her DIY tank and neon lemon bikini top.

Tagged with →  
Share →

Leave a Reply

.post-comments {display: none}