As June approaches and temperatures rise, music lovers nationwide are preparing for a summer of music festivals. With the annual Bonnaroo festival just days away, the concert schedule has just been released, and visitors can plan how to best spend June 7-10 rocking out.
If you’re going to Bonnaroo for the first time, you will definitely meet Bonnaroo veterans–those who have experienced years of planning, packing, forgetting, losing, and finding again. But don’t worry, even if you’re a Bonnaroo virgin, College Magazine is here to help you make the most of your trip to Manchester, Tennessee and avoid the sweaty crowds, enjoy the music, and get home without losing anything, including your mind.
Marshall University graduate and five-time of Bonnaroo survivor Patrick Stanley recalls how he found every year to be a unique experience, and offers some helpful tips. Your welcome, Bonnaroo newbies!
Do not forget…
A canopy. “I forgot to bring one the first time, and it gets so hot during the days if you don’t have anything to cover you up,” Stanley says.
About the longest wait ever. “The line is far,” Stanley says. “It was awful driving for eight hours and then waiting in line for eight hours in my car, but after it’s over and the next year comes, and you tell yourself you have to go back.”
As sweaty and dirty as you are, you have to remember that everyone else is in the same condition, so have realistic expectations. Excited to be up close to Bon Iver? Chances are 8,000 other people are going to attempt the same. Allow yourself to make friends with the people listening to music near you without always worrying about the proximity.
Be Open to Newness
Sure, you’re there to listen to your customized schedule of performances, but keep your ears open for newly introduced music as well. “The third time I went, I had never seen Old Crow Medicine Show and they were opening for Andrew Bird,” Stanley recalls. “But we were so into it.”
As far as riding in cars with friends, encourage everyone to bring their own music and mix it up during the trip. Remember, you are going to a music festival to share music with thousands of others, so you might as well get used to it.
Discuss meal plans and pit stops in advance. Sure, that rest stop addict won’t always abide, but the designated drivers should make the ETA clear and stick with it. “I’ve gone with one other person one time, but I’ve also a caravan with people, and the ride isn’t bad,” Stanley says. “Everyone is just excited to get there—we kept the windows down, and came across a lot of other people going to Bonnaroo, too.”
Expenses suck, but you have to eat.
“The best plan for food is to eat big breakfasts in the morning, because the food is pretty expensive,” Stanley says. “But what we usually do is bring a campfire stove and then take a sandwich or two, bag of chips and fruit.”
Stanley notes that a huge breakfast is necessary, because you won’t want to carry a lot of food around with you throughout the day, and you definitely don’t want to walk back after you’ve gotten in. “Then just spend seven bucks for dinner that night,” Stanley says.
Just looking at the Bonnaroo schedule is painful, because you end up wanting to see a million things at once. “The first year I wanted to see Radiohead, so we went to stay at the main stage at the beginning of the day and decided to see whatever bands would play, but for big stuff you definitely have to make big sacrifices,” Stanley says. So get together with the your friends, look through the schedule and plan! List your pros and cons and which band will be most fun to boast about later. Although going solo to a stage may be necessary if you are the fan of vague bands, knowing you’ll have a partner with you makes it much more worth it.
“We left for Bonnaroo super early on Thursday, which is cool, because you get to see bands you haven’t heard,” Stanley says. “You can’t say ‘This is when I’m going to get there’ because of that long wait when you arrive.”
Although some of the larger acts are placed on the last day of the concert, some people decide to beat the crowd instead. “I usually leave on Sunday,” Stanley says. “They always have the jam band on Sunday that the show is centered on. Generally, people I’m going with aren’t into jam bands so we can leave at that time.”
Veteran vs. Newbie
“There’s always the allure of the first year—experiencing it for the first time,” Stanley says. “Seeing so many bands at a festival is unlike anything else.”
Although Stanley’s first year was so memorable, his second year takes the cake. “The second year was my favorite year, when I went with the most people I’ve ever gone with,” Stanley says. “At the concert you’re spending so much time with people you go with, and if you are with a good selection of people you’ll have a lot of inside jokes from it all.” Stanley says that no matter the year, the people you go with are what make it most memorable.
Newbie vs. Veteran
Getting newcomers to embark on the same adventures can be as exciting as it is frustrating. After your first year of attending and understanding the “Bonnaroo code”, fans have to remember that others are still learning. “The year before last, I went with everyone who hadn’t been there before, and two of them were tired all of the time and stayed at the campground,” Stanley says. “I was trying to leave Sunday night but I couldn’t get a hold of the people.”
As for one last bit of advice, Stanley offers this gem: “No matter what, you shouldn’t care about how dirty you get or what other people think,” he says.