Another year, another Bonnaroo: one long, grueling weekend, filled with lines to write home about, clouds of dust, and the hottest weather you can imagine. That’s how it goes every year, right? Actually, this year broke the cycle — and in many ways. Gone were the impossibly long entrance lines of old. This time around, you could get to Manchester on Thursday morning and be inside the gates to set up camp within a half an hour. (The longest wait I personally heard of this year was only three hours, a time that used to be on the low end of the spectrum.) There was also a noticeable lack of dust; while the stuff is impossible to fully eliminate, Bonnaroo staff seemingly took extra measures this year to suppress it. And, in a bit of luck, the intolerable heat took an extended vacay, as the temperature never reached 90 degrees, and the highs even dipped into the 70s on Thursday and Sunday.
For their eleventh year, the good folks at Bonnaroo went above and beyond to improve the experience all around. In the attendee handbook, they outlined a few steps they took, which included groundskeeping improvements like installing Bermuda grass in formerly barren areas around the Which and What stages and planting over a hundred indigenous trees throughout the festival grounds. They added four new water stations in Centeroo to accomodate the traffic, and they even added more port-a-johns as well, nearly all of which in Centeroo were shaded to keep temperatures down. What’s more, they also expanded the grounds of Centeroo, pushing the Comedy Tent in a corner that used to be fenced off, offering festivalgoers even more room to breathe.
Even with all the improvements and ideal circumstances for the weekend, it’s still a marathon and not a sprint. It takes a certain brand of person to make it through a whole Bonnaroo weekend, and yet each year a new flock of 80,000 descend upon Manchester for another weekend stuffed to the brim with music, comedy, movies, food, sports, camping and community. This year’s edition was highlighted by the return of Radiohead to The Farm and the return of D’Angelo to the U.S. stage, but there was so much more in between. From Danzig to Skrillex, Kenny Rogers to Danny Brown, and Phish to Feist, this lineup had something for everyone. But all music aside, this year’s iteration of the festival may have just been the best one yet. It wasn’t just another Bonnaroo — it was a new and improved Bonnaroo, and it’s never going back.
Senior Staff Writer