Bonnaroo 2016, Missing the Magic?

This year’s Bonnaroo had all the makings to be better than the last except that is wasn’t.

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I want to make a few things clear. I am all for change but sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. There is nothing wrong with that.  You can’t grow and improve without failure. I say what I say in love and I don’t plan on throwing the baby out with the bathwater and vow to never attend Bonnaroo ever again.  I had a great time and saw some great shows. It’s just that comparing past experience, it was just meh.

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I’m actually pretty conflicted about it because I’m not sure why it wasn’t the same. I can’t put my finger on it. I feel that not offering something constructive in my criticism isn’t very useful but I’m putting it out there anyway.  Maybe someone else can shed some light on it and help me resolve it and put it to bed.

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For those who don’t know, the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival was bought by Live Nation. They made some much-needed improvements to the grounds and to the enjoyment of the festival itself.

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Real toilets, mixed drinks, wine, and adding your credit card to the wristband so you don’t have to carry so much cash.  All that was great! But…..

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I talked to someone who has gone to Bonnaroo every year since its inception. He usually has great stories and “moments”.  He’s the poster child for Radiating Positivity. All he said about his Bonnaroo experience this year was, “A lot of effort for not a lot of reward”. Mic drop.

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So it’s not just me. The lack of that something was felt by others.  This was the lowest attended Bonnaroo EVER!

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People who keep up with that stuff more than I do were getting worried when vendors were told to expect around 46,000 attendees.  It’s usually no less than 70,000. Seems like more room and shorter lines would be a good thing, but maybe the lack of those people and their energy made the atmosphere kind of dull in comparison to years past.

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What kept those people away? Some people thought it was the increase in prices. Others said that since big acts like Beyonce, Drake, Rihanna, and Madonna were doing tours this year, that people spent their money on those shows. There has also been an increase in the number of festivals in general that could draw people away with cheaper prices and closer proximity to home.

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I think the best theory I’ve heard was the lineup.  It wasn’t good enough to bring people out in the middle of rural Tennessee to camp for four days in the blistering heat to see.  Doesn’t matter if the drinks and bathrooms were better. People who endure portapotties and not showering for 4 days to listen to music don’t care about the improvement in facilities. They are there to be with their people and to hear great music (and a few other things, let’s be honest).

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Maybe that’s the evolution of things. The Bonnaroo that we’ve known and loved may be coming to an end.

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For my part, with Bonnaroo ticket prices as high as they are, I’m not putting money down on tickets next year until the lineup is announced.  In the meantime, ACL anyone?

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