Festival Report Card

Festival Report Card: Bonnaroo 2024

Dubbed one of the happiest places on Earth, Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival has religiously lived up to its name.

Taking place in Manchester, Tennessee from Thursday, June 13 to Sunday, June 16, 2024, the festival once again opened its arms to Bonnaroovians to forget the world around them and immerse in the magical culture of Roo.

But not everything was perfect as production was at an all-time low this year, leaving attendees feeling underwhelmed and unimpressed.

Luckily, irrefutable vibes and multi-genre performances have been the bread and butter of Bonnaroo for over 20 years so the energy from the nearly 70,000 attendees carried many acts through their finale where fireworks and pyro were missing.

And with temperatures reaching nearly 100 degrees daily, the festival was hot, but luckily so were Chappel Roan and The Beaches. Despite it all, the festival pulled through and made for a weekend worth remembering.

EDM Maniac attended the festival to report the good and the bad; the improvements and lack of:

Photo by Dusana for Bonnaroo @dusana

Vibes: A-

Positive attitudes, good times, and a carefree ambiance are what earn Bonnaroo a spot at the top of our favorite festivals list year after year. Excitement buzzed around the farm from the moment we entered the gates. From staff to attendees, everyone was smiling, offering compliments, and encouraging high-fives.

But temperatures of over 90 degrees and little relief from clouds definitely brought down the world-famous Bonnaroo vibe. Typically, people can be seen roaming Centeroo before sets start, grilling out with neighbors in the afternoon, and exploring the themes of each plaza in Outeroo.

This year, however, the heat was so extreme that it drove attendees into air-conditioned RVs, under the shade of canopies and seeking the relief of mist-generating fans. Because of this, energy seemed to be low this year and it wasn’t feasible to wander around and make new friends.

Guests of all ages are invited to dance amongst each other during the festival, adding diversity to the crowd. A surprising number of families joined the farm this year which was an adorable breath of fresh air but safety and comfort for children were concerning in the Tennessee heat.

On the flip side, plenty of older-generation ravers were spotted on the farm getting down like it was 1980. One couple, well into their seventies, danced with us at the EDM stage late night and asked for a picture to cherish the memory. A love for good music truly has no age and that’s apparent at Bonnaroo.

A community of its own comes to life each summer to welcome all Bonnaroovians, new and returning, to escape reality and immerse in live music. Generosity, kindness, and outgoingness were abundant at the festival in the absence of crowds that come with a sold-out year. Excuse-me’s were plentiful, stages were spacious and first-timers were welcomed with open arms.

Production: C

Production at Bonnaroo was extremely underwhelming, especially compared to last year’s spectacle. High on the list of most impressive things about Bonnaroo is the dedication they put into the camping plazas to make the grounds feel like an adult playground.

Last year, Cracker Barrell sported life-size versions of their infamous table games and free breakfast burritos near group camping. Centeroo was also littered with sponsorships offering freebies and activities to participate in. This year, few were found around the festival grounds making the ambiance seem less of the magical wonderland that its reputation holds.

Fireworks, pyrotechnics and lasers were amongst elements lacking at the festival. Outstanding performances by Red Hot Chili Peppers and Fred Again.. were pitifully ended without the fireworks show that is expected on Saturday and Sunday night from most festivals. Although Sunday’s events did start off with a severe weather warning and lightning that could have impeded the show from offering these extras.

Credit should be given where it’s due and that was the finale of Post Malone‘s performance. Fireworks could be seen and heard across the farm during the energetic finale. Two Friends also sported pyrotechnics, lasers and a live drum line throughout their set, winning the most impressive set of the weekend in terms of production.

The What stage has become a colorful, happy place for people to dance and mingle but some sets didn’t fully match that ethos. Fred Again.. has curated a moody experience that lacks in color and electric aurora which clashes with Bonnaroo’s character. Although this has become Fred Again..’s identifying attribute, the set wasn’t as enticing as we’ve come to love from the Bonnaroo main stage.

Photo by Roger for Bonnaroo @rohofoto

Music: A

Musical diversity is what makes Bonnaroo an undoubtedly top tier festival. With names like Megan thee Stallion, Chris Lake, Maggie Rogers, Cage The Elephant, SVDDEN DEATH, Reneé Rapp, Knock2, Greensky Bluegrass, and so much more there was something for everyone to indulge in.

Chappel Roan’s performance on Sunday afternoon stood head and shoulders above the rest. The artist first gained popularity while joining Olivia Rodrigo on tour with 1.6 million Spotify listeners in February and blew up in popularity after Coachella, gaining an additional 19.5 million listeners prior to Bonnaroo.

Her festival performance was so highly anticipated that her set was moved last minute from the cramped environment of This tent to the welcoming grounds of Which stage. Thousands of Bonnaroovians showed up in their pink cowboy hats to show off the “Hot To Go” dance and boogie to “Pink Pony Club”. With the performance being colorful, accepting and high-energy, it was an incredible start to the final day of the festival.

Another exuberant performance was by none other than Mr. T-Pain himself. The Bonnaroo veteran opened the set saying “I’ve played Bonnaroo before. And they’ve put me on a lot of small stages. I’m excited to finally be playing here [Which stage] for you all.”

He kept that playful energy all night, egging attendees to repeat ridiculous phrases and laughing afterwards saying “Don’t encourage my behavior.” The set was filled with his most popular bangers like “Buy U a Drank” and “I’m Sprung” as well as covers of Journey‘s “Don’t Stop Believin‘” and Chris Stapleton‘s “Tennessee Whiskey.. Topped with the artist’s groovy moves, this set had everyone laughing, dancing and having a blast.

Other notable performances included the Thursday night, 2-set debut of Pretty Lights at What stage, SVDDEN DEATH‘s DEADROOM set at Where in the Woods, the jam-bandesque performance of Parcels at This tent and GWAR‘s interestingly gory and confusing show at This tent.

The weekend was filled with music’s most impressive A-listers as well as accomplished up-and-coming undercards to create a masterfully blended festival.

Venue: B+

Six main stages, one late night stage, four Outeroo venues, camping for miles and hundreds of food and market vendors create an unsurpassable experience for all attendees. Although the plazas weren’t as boisterous as prior years, the House of Yes delivered undeniable LGBTQ+ energy with the pride parade and the Galagtic Giddy Up hosted Boot Scootin’ Boogie Nights in the midst of camping areas.

Staff at Bonnaroo are always present, going above and beyond. During car searches and bag searches, security was thorough but respectful, putting minds at ease while still allowing fun on the farm.

Medics were quick to respond to heat-related incidents and encourage safety over consequences. Water is always available from fountains on the farm but staff know that a good spot is hard to leave. Free water was handed out by the case to rail-riders and late-night partiers alike to maintain a safe environment.

Cell reception at the farm was impeccable. Finding your friends was a breeze this year, and more importantly, organizers were able to send notifications via the Bonnaroo app about schedule changes and safety alerts.

Possibly the biggest addition to Bonnaroo this year were the bleachers at the main stage. For $150 attendees could purchase an add-on to their entrance ticket for an exclusive viewing experience. Many have complained that this is a money grab and the heat on the bleachers was nearly unbearable. Luckily, the bleachers did not occlude much of the view at the iconic stage, a major concern going into the weekend.

Where in the Woods, the notable late night EDM stage, posed a challenge that was hard to ignore on the closing night of the festival. Police and security were seen escorting attendees from Alison Wonderland‘s finale set only minutes into the performance. The show had reached capacity and Bonnaroo made the decision to prioritize safety; a respectable move.

Photo by Nathan Zucker for Bonnaroo @nathanzucker

Overall: B-

Many call Bonnaroo their second home and it will always hold a special place in our hearts. Pizzaz of the festival has been lacking for the past two years with the absence of fireworks and pyrotechnics. We hope that Bonnaroo will take this into consideration to provide performances that are up to par with its competitors in the upcoming years.

Bonnaroo’s saving grace this year was its distinct lineup and overall ethos. Love, positivity and respect radiated around the farm and made for an unforgettably positive weekend. Overall, we will definitely be back again.

Featured image by Taylor Regulski for Bonnaroo

Written by
Katie 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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