Bonnaroo · Music Festival · Tennessee · USA

Bonnaroo – Festival Season has started!

Dear K,

It has been a while since I wrote to you. I’m already back to Portugal, and it has been insane. But before I tell you what I’ve been doing here, I still have some last adventures in the US to share with you. First, about a month ago, I went to experience the famous Bonnaroo! I was so excited to check this off of my bucket list, you have no idea!

After trying to pack as light and smart as possible, we hit the road in our amazing RV. The trip was long and exhausting, especially because of the heat. I’m happy we didn’t have to camp. I would not recommend it to anyone. The road trip and hours of traffic before getting to the farm indeed require a lot of patience. Some friends warned me of how crazy it was, but in the end didn’t take us more than one hour. I’ve heard testimonials of people that waited 12 crazy hours!!!! Once you finally get in, no matter how early or late you’re there, the fate of your weekend is entirely in the hands of whoever allocates you a campsite. There’s no way to predict it or bribe anyone to get a better spot. It is what it is, and you can either be 5 or 60 minutes away from Centeroo. We were 15 minutes away from the portico, so it wasn’t that bad. Also, we had some really cool neighbors from Canada. Believe me, neighbors can completely change your experience!!

Bonnaroo changed my perspective on festivals. It wasn’t the music or the drugs at all. It was the people. The atmosphere is what changes you. Everyone is so friendly and welcoming. But most of all everyone is ridiculously kind. You make friends with high-fives all the time and just yell ‘Happy Bonnaroo’ to everyone around you. I’ve noticed people are extremely open-minded about pretty much everything. Being topless is kind of mainstream actually. I felt that a lot of people plan and work on the outfits all year round. It’s insane!! I wish I could have taken some pictures, but it’s kind of against the festival vibe. You don’t have service, so you’re kind of disconnected from the world, and also you can be whoever you want to be. Therefore, I felt I needed to respect everyone’s privacy.

When you get inside the Centeroo your life changes. You need to put your orientation skills in practice if you want to watch as many concerts as you can. Even just to find your friends it becomes a challenge, because of the stage names. What Stage, Which Stage, This Tent, That Tent, The Other Tent, and Who Stage…. Yeah! Imagine having discussions about directions with your friends. Hilarious!

All this was completely different compared to any festival I’ve been to in Europe. The only similar part was the music and it wouldn’t be me if I didn’t talk about it. I knew soooo many bands on the lineup that it was particularly hard to make some choices. There were at least 8 stages just for music, and also cinema, comedy and some other smaller tents and stages. My highlights go to Band of Horses (probably my favorite performance), M83, Pearl Jam (of course!), J Cole (the little bit I was able to see), Haim (those girls are amazing musicians!), Saint Motel (despite their usual arrogance towards the audience), FKJ, Andra Day (she made me cry), Daughter, Two Door Cinema Club, Oh Wonder!, Macklemore & Rian Lewis, Death Cab for Cutie, and Jason Mraz (who showed up as a surprise guest and gave a surprisingly good show). My biggest disappointment goes for BØRNS. I was expecting way more, but I did not feel the connection with the audience. And the stage was completely packed, so they cannot really blame it on the audience.

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I went mostly for the music, but I left with the impression that most Roo’ers see half a dozen of concerts and then just enjoy the full experience. Music is just a bonus. I had too many bands I wanted to see, so I was always on the run from stage to stage. But if I ever go back, I hope I can go just for the sake of it and enjoy the farm like a true Bonnaroovian! It will be a struggle, because music is a big deal for me and I love discovering new bands, but the feeling is totally worth it!

Once a Roo’er, always a Roo’er!

– C

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