Bonnaroo is a four day long music festival help in Manchester, Tennessee. This event has one of the most diverse array of performers, including musicians from the genres of Indie, Hip Hop, gospel, rock, country, reggae and electronica all in one location. Most music festivals typically have artists from only a few similar branches of music, but Bonnaroo’s diversity of artists is one of the things that makes it so special. The remoteness of its location, deep in the American South, has been letting its attendees escape from the regular world and enter the alternative universe of music festivals for the past 11 years. Also unlike many other music festivals today, Bonnaroo harkens back to its Woodstock roots in that it requires a certain degree of camping. Groups of friends live out of tents or cars for half a week in June just to get the genuine “hippie” festival experience. People drive and pay hundreds of hours for this throwback to the hippie era. Although I never have had the pleasure of going, one of my close friends has. She wishes to stay anonymous due to references of drugs throughout the interview, so from now one I will refer to her as Emma.
LM: So, first and foremost, was your experience at Bonnaroo fun?
Emma: Yes! I was absolutely amazing. I wish I could go back every year.
LM: What was so special about it?
Emma: Well unlike other concerts, where some people just go for the hell of it, everyone at Bonnaroo had this understanding that we all really wanted to be there. Like we had all paid so much for the tickets, and taken the time and effort to travel all the way down, and had committed to a full four days in this one spot. Because we all knew we wanted to be there so badly, there was like an added degree of camaraderie that you just don’t get at a regular concert.
LM: Do you think the timing of the concert had anything to do with it?
Emma: Oh yeah, definitely. I know for me at least, and this is probably true for a bunch of other people who went, I had just graduated high school. It was already such a happy and exciting time already, and then getting to go on a mini road trip and have this rules free experience was just amazing. Like after coming out of such a structured place, it was great to just let loose and have no fear of consequences.
LM: What was the party scene like?
Emma: It was wild. Like everyone was constantly fucked up. Like clearly there was a lot of drinking and smoking (weed), but there was also a lot of other stuff that I hadn’t really seen a lot of, like shrooms and acid and stuff. I know for some of the performances people did Molly too.
LM: What did you think about the drug presence?
Emma: I feel like it was pretty important. Like it wouldn’t really have been a true Bonnarroo experience if there hadn’t been. Like I tried shrooms for the first time there, and I felt like it was the best opportunity to do it. No one was like judging or anything, and it felt like a safe environment, and everything was just so happy. Of course some people couldn’t handle their shit and needed medical attention, but that happens like anywhere whenever there are drugs involved. For the most part it was just and all-around good time.
LM: How was it to spend four days straight with the same people?
Emma: There was some stupid drama over little things, like if there was a few dollars left out who took it and who finished whose drink and whatnot, but stuff like that is inevitable. And like I saw a few fights, but no one I knew was involved, and usually other people stopped them before security got involved. Having that many people in one spot with so many substances around could’ve been a lot worse, you know?
LM: Speaking of security, what was it like?
Emma: Sometimes it felt like they weren’t even there honestly. Like clearly you couldn’t be stupid, and you’d get busted if you made it really obvious you had something illegal on you. But I got the feeling that they were only there if you really needed them, like for help, not as if they were there to police you. Like they didn’t go out of their way to catch you doing something wrong and they weren’t dicks like some staff is at other places.
LM: Did you make any friends there?
Emma: Actually I found out that my freshman year roommate was gonna be there cause we found each other through Facebook a few months before, and we met up so that was pretty cool. And I hung out with strangers who were really cool, but we didn’t keep in contact or anything. I never met someone who lives near me, so like there was no point in staying friends with someone from Mississippi when I’m from PA.
LM: Do you feel like you got closer to the friends you went with?
Emma: Definitely. By the end I felt like a knew them a lot better, and I had seen parts of them that I would never have encountered in a different setting. Like I think it helped build a stronger connection. And like another really cool thing is like if I meet someone who went to Bonnarroo the same year I did, even though we never saw each other, its like we can instantly bond over that. Like its pretty weird to have that connection with someone just cause you have this experience in common that you didn’t even go through together, but I think it’s sick.
LM: Do you think you’ll go to more music festivals in the future?
Emma: I really want to! It’s just a question of finding one that fits into my schedule and is affordable. Also Bonnarroo was so amazing that I’m nervous nothing will be able to measure up to it.
Levy, Pat. “Festival of the Year: Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival.”Consequence of Sound. Consequence of Sound, 12 Dec. 2013. Web. 14 Dec. 2014.