Bonnaroo is a fucking magical place. I could tell you stories for days (and I probably have), but you will never understand them until you’ve been there.
I always look back in awe at the experiences I’ve had and feel incredibly grateful for the three weekends I’ve spent on The Farm. How special it is to escape to a community that is all about radiating positivity, enjoying music and having fun. Walking around the campgrounds feels like you’ve been teleported to a small town. Everyone is smiling, high fiving and “Happy Roo”-ing. You leave your stress at the tollbooth as you enter and get ready for four unbelievable days.
It’s crazy how much our group has grown thru the years. We started with 5 two years ago, grew to 37 last year and expanded to a whopping 67 Bonnaroovians this year. While it’s impractical to get to know each and every person well, you all establish a bond. I love bringing people together in this way, so seeing it at Ro like this is amazing. After years of persistence, I was able to recruit so many of my college friends (and their other friends) to join us in Manchester this year. I loved showing them The Farm, some of my favorite secrets (like Snake and Jake’s or Plaza 6) and artists they’d never listened to before. What made my heart even fuller was waking up each day and seeing all my different friends hanging out and becoming friends themselves. It’s always hella convenient when your friends can be friends and heartwarming to hear, “I really love your friends!” from everyone.
We, as always, spent the bulk of our time at The Other, Roo’s EDM stage inside Centeroo. We’d gather at THE tree (which is also now synonymous with THE speaker) and find a spot as we bounced and headbanged. Some of my most favorite sets of the weekend happened at The Other: RL Grime, Space Jesus b2b Eprom b2b Shlump, G Jones and Illenium — just to name a few. Being able to throw all our shit in a pile and just vibe is one of the best feelings (until someone tried to walk thru, and I’d have to jump on top of our belongings). As the wookness amongst my friends has increased, we’ve partaken in rituals like owning a pashmina (or pashiba). It killed me that by the end of the weekend, almost all of us were rocking them.
Scenes from The Other throughout the weekend
Some of my other favorite moments weren’t at sets. First and foremost, I’d like to point out that the first ever Roo Pride parade was bound to happen the first year I brought gays to Roo (#myimpact). House of Yes lead an incredible celebration, and I loved going IN during their party at Plaza 3 that Saturday (to a mix much like Matcha Sounds 010). The parade filled me with so much happiness, and I was so happy to walk with everyone.
Pre-House of Yes Pride content
I also got some of the group to stop into Snake and Jake’s Friday night for a little air conditioning and trap music. Most simply put, the boys fucking loved it. I don’t think I stopped laughing the entire time due to all the fun we had just being ridiculous. Back to the music, though, one of the best surprises of the weekend was a set from The Lonely Island. I was very pleased with her performance, and we were all dying laughing as we reminisced on so many of their songs we had forgotten about. They brought out Chris Parnell for Lazy Sunday and even had a Gaga puppet for The Golden Rule. My obvious favorite was when they played We Like Sportz. Additionally, I loved the very late nights at Kalliope, especially Thursday night (Friday morning) during the Wakaan takeover (W’s up!).
A look into Snake and Jake’s on Friday night; (BR) Veryyyyyy early Friday morning at Kalliope
The absolute highlight of my weekend happened Sunday night. Roo always books an amazing headliner to close the festival, like The Weeknd in 2017 or The Killers in 2018. We were pretty crushed when we learned that Phish (who already played a two hour set Friday night) would be closing the weekend with a three and a half hour set. That meant that Illenium, although ending well before Phish, would be the closing set for most of us. The set was so fun — I don’t know how else to put it. We headbanged, we chucked glow sticks (if you know, you know) and threw our arms around each other in a circle when he dropped Slander’s Love Again. The set ended, and we all looked at each other with the biggest smiles so happy to end the weekend off with that. We wandered around Centeroo one last time and headed to the Totino’s booth for some free pizza rolls.
Looking seemingly put together in the Tennessee heat before G Jones
Ezie and I had been joking about running thru the (in)famous Bonnaroo Fountain that night. I looked at him and said “I think we should do it.” So the group headed over, and I worked my magic to convince all but three of us to go in. We threw our stuff in a pile, stripped down and lined up as we agreed to go after a 3-count. When we got to 2, Chris, Andrew and Peter, who weren’t going to run in, screamed “WAIT!” as they feverishly pulled off layers and got in like with us. “GO!!!!” we screamed as we all ran in. I think about this moment and just laugh. It’s funny how something seemingly small like this is a moment that we’ll always remember. We headed out thru the squarch back to camp.
One of my favorite parts of Roo is coming home and hanging out at the end of the night. We sit in a circle recalling the day as we chow down on white cheddar Cheez Itz and bump tunes. We hadn’t been able to do this all weekend as people were often coming home in waves. Finally getting to do this with so many of my most favorite people in the world on Sunday night reminded me of how important and impactful experiences like Roo are.
There was nothing that brought me more joy than hearing things like “I like dubstep now,” “I’m coming every year,” “I’m so glad I came” along with a hundred thank yous for organizing our camp. It’s a really cool feeling to bring people to something like this and have them understand it fully. The cherry on top of the weekend was a framed lineup poster with signatures from all my friends on it.
Another year down in the books, and I could not be happier. I love Roo, and I cannot wait to return next June.