Festival Report Card

Festival Report Card: Bonnaroo 2023

The 2023 edition of Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival radiated positivity all over The Farm in Manchester, Tennessee. This classic event has been a long-time favorite of many festival veterans because of the diverse lineup, immaculate vibes, and unique festival lay out.

The Farm provided the perfect place to reconnect with festival family, run around the wide open space and dance to music from Kendrick Lamar, GRiZ, Sofi Tukker, ODESZA, and so many more top-notch artists.

Check out EDM Maniac’s Festival Report Card below to read more about our thoughts:

Photo by Taylor Regulski

Vibes: A+

If you didn’t catch it in the intro, Bonnaroo’s slogan is “Radiate Positivity” and this festival lived up to that ethos. From the employees at security to festival attendees to artists on stage, everyone had a smile on their face and the high-fives were plentiful.

We loved seeing all of the hugs and hearing all of the “Happy Roo”s, especially after someone says it’s their first Bonnaroo.

It was a sold-out year for Bonnaroo which means some of the crowds were cramped. Although being cramped is never fun, mostly everyone was polite and said “excuse me,” when moving through the masses, which was essential in creating a feeling of safety.

The thing that was so special was the forever-flowing love and support for the LGBTQ and trans communities throughout the weekend. Queen Big Freedia opened the Centeroo gates on Thursday afternoon with the Pride Parade in tow, setting the precedent for the weekend of over-the-top glam, acceptance, and of course, glitter.

The messages of so many artists who spoke up on behalf of the trans and queer communities were so honest and authentic. Being in the thick of Tennessee was often times heavy but so many artists like Sheryl Crow, Paramore, GRiZ and Sofi Tukker reminded us that the queer community is powerful, united, that EDM doesn’t exist without queer folk, and that trans rights are human rights.

Production: B+

The What stage brought insane production with a notable ODESZA finale on Saturday night, complete with fireworks, lasers, and confetti. ODESZA always has such extraordinary performances.

All of the stages had ample room to dance and boogie, however, we were a little disappointed that This and That Tents had removed their side screens. Just one screen in the middle of the stage was available which meant that viewing the show from the sides of the crowd was more difficult.

We were also a little disappointed in the Foo Fighter’s performance. The alternative rock band closed out the festival on Sunday night on the main stage sans a grand finale.

We were looking forward to a notable end to the weekend with pyrotechnics and an over-the-top light show but we were left wanting more.

The festival was anticipating severe weather later that night, which was probably why the performance was lacking, so we can’t blame the festival for prioritizing safety.

For that same reason, late night sets were cancelled on Sunday night which was upsetting but understandable.

Overall, the production was great; lasers could be seen from miles away and bass could be heard and felt from all the way in the campgrounds without sound bleed.

Photo by Pooneh Ghana

Music: A

The diversity in Bonnaroo’s lineup is unmatched. It is one of few festivals where you can listen to rock, pop, house, bass, bluegrass, and country all in one place.

The Other stage has been making its name as the EDM stage at Bonnaroo for quite some time now. The bass was bumping and the house was flowing all throughout the weekend with performances by Subtronics, Diesel, Wax Motif, MK, Zeds Dead, and so many more.

Zeds Dead also had a notable sunrise performance at the late-night stage, Where In The Woods, immediately following their Thursday night closing set.

Paramore was a highly anticipated set by many Bonnaroovians and they did not disappoint. The band played Bonnaroo in 2018 but purposefully skipped their most famous song ‘Misery Business’ stating they were sick of playing it, with Hayley Williams saying “Isn’t it funny; getting sick of the song that made you famous?”.

This time around, the group did not hold back in giving the crowd what they wanted, playing “Misery Business” towards the end of their 75 minute set.

Of course, there were some disappointments, one of which was Rainbow Kitten Surprise, who canceled all of their upcoming performances, including their sunset slot at Bonnaroo.

Luckily, our favorite saxophone-playing, rainbow-brain-having DJ (GRiZ) offered to play his ‘Chasing the Golden Hour’ set in their place.

The multi-talent included a very special “Freefall” remix at the end of the set to remind the band that we love them, we miss them, we support them and we will be waiting for them whenever they decide to come back.

Venue: A

Bonnaroo goes above and beyond to create an unsurpassable experience for all attendees. Driving through the entrance of Roo is like entering an adult playground.

Bonnaroo’s campgrounds are superior to many other festivals. The grounds are split into different plazas that include unique themes and activities.

Plaza 3 included the House of Yes which hosted the annual Pride Parade and other LGBTQ events throughout the weekend. Plaza 5 offered free breakfast tacos, courtesy of Cracker Barrel, all weekend long. Free food at a festival?! Unheard of.

The festival seemed highly sponsored this year with corporate labels scattered throughout Centeroo, but we appreciated how interactive they were.

There were opportunities to get our game faces on with Hulu’s escape room and Sonic’s mini golf. Verizon provided a place to relax and recharge. Liquid Death tempted us to sell our souls in a house of tarot and palm reading. It was really fun to see the sponsor’s creativity in involving the attendees at their booths.

I also really appreciated the ample shade and misting fans. With temperatures reaching over 80 degrees, it was hot in Tennessee, but the festival provided plenty of opportunities to keep cool.

Photo by Taylor Regulski

Overall: A

Bonnaroo has been one of our favorite festivals for a long time and they continue to defend that title. Bonnaroo holds our values of peace, love, unity, respect, and responsibility to an exceptional standard.

Bonnaroo is known to be a spectacular festival primarily due to the attitudes of attendees and good vibes. I can attribute the positivity to the attentiveness of the festival organizers. The festival continues to exceed expectations in providing not only a fun festival but a safe festival. Happy Roo!

Featured photo by Nathan Zucker

Written by
Kaitlyn Katuscak

Katie is currently working as a travel nurse with a specialty in Pediatric ICU but has a deep passion for electronic music. She's been going to festivals since 2017 and loves the free-spirit energy that comes with festivals. Her favorite artists are Zeds Dead and Subtronics. If you see her at a show, please come say hello!

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