Bonnaroo has officially gone back into hiding. I imagine that the festival and everyone that works so hard to organize it is recuperating so they can be ready for next summer’s crowd. The impression this year’s fest left on 80,000 attendees will likely not be forgotten, but artists, too, have stored away this festival in their live-before-you-die files.
How do artists get the opportunity to play in a crowded tent during the largest festival of the year, anyway? Jack Antonoff, guitarist for the high-energy band Fun. has had ample experience at the festival, as he has previously performed four separate times in a different band.
“I’ll never forget the first time I went,” Antonoff says, “and I was just, you know, completely turned around and shocked. It was like completely such a real-world-type situation.”
The first time Antonoff played at Bonnaroo was in 2005, and it was one of the best experiences of his life. “I played that Thursday night five to midnight and to this day I’ve never had a show like that,” he recalls.
Antonoff’s hopes for Fun.’s 2012 Bonnaroo performance to be the next-level-type show came true as fans were left with a unique energy before departing from their four-day adventures.
Fun. welcomed their 6:45 p.m. time slot on the last day of Bonnaroo as a “challenge” they gladly accepted. “I don’t see it as getting the party started as much as I see it as creating a big emotional important sendoff to what was probably, you know, the greatest weekend of a lot of people’s lives.”
Canadian singer-songwriter Leslie Feist has really hammered down the do’s and don’ts from previous experiences performing at festivals. “I think over the years I’ve learned what to try and not to try, and you sort of have to play to the context to a certain degree,” Feist says, “but when you’re on a festival stage there are certain things that will just get completely swallowed by the wind and get carried off into the breeze and not be audible if you’re playing a really sensitive, you know, dynamically quiet ballad song.”
An ever-present difficulty faced at Bonnaroo continues to be the decision-making from fans of various bands. The award-winning lineup has fans running from one stage to the next in hopes to catch a glimpse of every talent. “For the most part whenever I’m playing at a festival it’s just – I’m just grateful there are some people who chose to stand in front of that stage at that time because they could be over there watching The Shins or they could be getting a good spot for Radiohead or something like that, you know,” she says.
All the artists intended to rock the audience at Bonnaroo with their hard-to-forget performances at the festival, including American rock singer Alice Cooper. Cooper has played numerous festivals in Europe as well as the states, gaining experience in front of larger crowds throughout his career.
“I mean, we played all the big ones in Europe. You know, 100,000, 200,000 people is pretty normal in Europe for us,” Copper says, “so, you know, for over the period of years we’ve played half a million people at a time.”
Cooper says regardless of the size, they treat it as the same show. “You know, when you get up on stage my band has the instructions, ‘kill the audience’,” he says.
Along with fans, Cooper is also looking forward to listening to the next growing artists at Bonnaroo. “I’m kind of really looking for the bands that are the garage bands, the next Guns N’ Roses, the next, you know, Nirvana. Those are the bands with some energy that I kind of want to see.”
Photo composite by Valerie Brodnikova