By Zach Goins
March 31, 2021
It’s been nearly two years since the masses last descended upon Manchester, Tennessee for a weekend full of camping, camaraderie and, of course, incredible live music. But soon the crowds will return when Bonnaroo kicks off its 20th Anniversary festival in September, and the full slate of artists has arrived!
Known just as much for its diverse collection of artists as it is for its iconic setup, Bonnaroo has become a staple for music festival lovers. Its motto of “Radiate Positivity” is a credo that festival-goers truly take to heart, whether it’s the legendary High-Five Friday, a stranger shouting “Happy ‘Roo,” or the general feeling of togetherness on The Farm, Bonnaroo has developed a following of devotees who return year after year.
Since its inception, Bonnaroo has transformed the music festival experience, and 2021 will be no different, as the festival bounces back from the pandemic. The first change comes in the form of Septemberoo– switching the festival from its traditional mid-June dates to Labor Day Weekend in September in order to allow more time to return to a sense of normalcy. The festival announcement comes as the country continues to hear good news regarding its rebound from the pandemic. All 50 states have promised to open vaccine eligibility to everyone by May 1, the Pfizer vaccine has recently proven to be safe and effective for children ages 12 to 15, and the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines have proven to be 90% effective in “real-world” scenarios– all positive signs as music-lovers are eager to return to The Farm.
“It’s exciting to see Tennessee stages come back to life in time to celebrate the 20th anniversary of this internationally acclaimed festival,” said Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee in a press release. “Fans are ready to gather together and celebrate their shared love of music once again. We welcome them back for a full Bonnaroo and what is sure to be a truly unforgettable event!”
Increased safety precautions are not the only new changes hitting The Farm this year, though. With an extra year between festivals, Bonnaroo has spent extra time investing in fan feedback in order to best make this year’s onsite experience the best it can be. Let’s take a look at everything you need to know about this year’s festival.
The music is always the most important part of a festival, and Bonnaroo never disappoints. While they weren’t able to bring back every artist originally scheduled for last year’s slate, plenty of performers opted to return and there are tons of new additions as well.
As always, the festival will kick off Thursday with a night headlined by the Grand Ole Opry, before acts like the Foo Fighters, Megan Thee Stallion, and Run the Jewels take center stage on Friday. Saturday will be headlined by Tame Impala, Lizzo, and My Morning Jacket, while Tyler, The Creator, Lana Del Ray and Lil Baby will close things out on Sunday. Other gems like Leon Bridges, Brittany Howard, Phoebe Bridgers, Jason Isbell and J.I.D will also perform throughout the weekend.
For fans making the trek from North Carolina, Durham’s very own Sylvan Esso will be hosting the annual SuperJam– a late-night set that features once-in-a-lifetime collaborations between artists on The Farm. This year’s theme is “WITH,” so expect some exciting guest appearances from Sylvan Esso’s 2020 collaborative project of the same name, and more fun surprises.
Depending on where your campsite ends up, you may or may not know the struggle of the long walk into Centeroo, the festival’s main area. Well, no need to dread any more, because this year’s festival will introduce JamTrak, a free on-site transport system that will run day and night to Centeroo and throughout the campground. More details are coming soon about the transport, but anything is better than a long hike back to the tent after a day of jamming.
Arrival on The Farm will also look different this year, as the festival introduces daily entry. Now, when purchasing tickets, attendees will select a specific day for their vehicle pass: either Tuesday, Wednesday or Weekend Access. Overnight campers will only be allowed entry onto The Farm on their specific day in order to help reduce the insane traffic build up seen in years past when everyone arrives at the same time.
The campground layout itself will look a bit different this year, as more camping sites will be located in Centeroo, so you may not even need the JamTrak. The earlier you arrive on your specific day, the closer you’ll get to the action.
Other upgrades include a new and improved Which Stage (the festival’s second largest), all-night performances and DJ sets at The Other Stage, the return of Plazas throughout the campground, and even rentable air-conditioned darkroom tents.
Bonnaroo Gets into NFT Craze
For those of you who don’t know, NFTs, or non-fungible tokens, are the collaboration of art and cryptocurrency. The one-of-a-kind digital artwork can be sold and traded online, and can be anything from a photo to a video, song, drawing or animation.
This year, Bonnaroo has teamed up with digital artist Archan Nair to bring fans the opportunity to own a piece of the festival itself in the form of animated artwork. On April 3, fans will be able to bid on the limited edition artwork, including an animated lineup poster starting at $5000, five animated character posters starting at $1,999, and still lineup posters starting at $999. All winners will receive four-day passes to the festival, in addition to other perks depending on the item purchased.
This marks the first time a music festival has ever produced an NFT collection.