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Published: 2014/06/12

From The Thursday Bonnaroo Beacon: "Baker’s Dozen"

Photo by Dean Budnick

Shortly after 3:30 p.m. on Wednesday afternoon it was high-fives and hoots all around, as a parade of cars made its way onto the festival site. Bonnaroo’s first new citizens, Crystal and Brian from Augusta, Georgia, shared deep smiles as they led a procession of vehicles that seemingly originated from all corners of North America. Third in line were Ricky, Chanel and Andrew, who had completed a 26 hour journey from San Diego. “It was worth it!” they exclaimed with enthusiasm and no trace of road weariness.

The Bonnaroo that they will attend this year, shares the core values and basic elements of the event that debuted on this site in 2002, yet many aspects have evolved. Indeed, it seems that the thirteenth installment of the festival has as many new components as any in recent memory.

First off a new stage will debut this year. Kalliope will offer sports enthusiasts the chance to screen the World Cup and the NHL Finals before giving way to some late night raging opportunities with an impressive sound system and a light show to match (basketball fans can watch the NBA Finals in the Cinema Tent).The Sonic Stage also will begin operations a day earlier than usual with Communion Presents curating the acts.

When asked to highlight some of the other major changes at this year’s event, Bonnaroo co-founder Rick Farman of Superfly Presents starts off with the festival’s charitable side, via the Bonnaroo Works Fund. “A couple of the new programs we have this year,” he explains, “are C’roo Gooders, whichis a new program that donates funds to three BWF partner organizations—Music Rising, First Book and Energy Coalition Network—on behalf of our returning volunteers, based on the festival hours they put in. Also, by donating to the Bonnaroo Works Fund, through our partnership with Urgency Network, supporters will be eligible for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to go to space and earn the title ‘astronaut.’ And by performing other actions—like tweeting or viewing awareness videos—they increase their chances and also become eligible for other great prizes.”

The festival’s greening initiatives continue to expand (our interview with Laura Sohn, Director of Bonnaroo Sustainability appears on page 9). One new program is the Refill Revolution, as Bonnaroo strives to reduce its disposable plastic waste. This year the festival is debuting a limited edition Bonnaroo Steelys refillable stainless steel water bottle, along with a stainless steel pint cup for beer refills.

Farman also affirms that he is “very excited about some of our new pods. We have The Grind pod which is a barn we just built that we turned into a coffee shop with tarot card reading, hula-hoop making and more. We also have the Nexus of Ceremonies pod where you can get married, have a birthday, celebrate a bar-mitzvah and more. Lastly we have a game pod with board games, yard games and more.”

On the music side, the Beacon asked SuperJam producer Paul Peck for some insight into what will take place at these two collaborative events slated for midnight on Friday at That Tent and Saturday at This Tent. “The goal for this year’s SuperJams,” he reveals, “is to push the boundaries farther than ever. In vintage Bonnaroo style, the collective goal amongst the artists is to try and do stuff that they’ve never done before. Part of the magic that takes place on the farm is a result of the synergy created by the artist excitement and the fan energy which helps create the right type of atmosphere for musical risk taking which is a big part of what the shows are all about.”

On Friday night at the SuperJam with Derek Trucks, Peck details, “we have one of the tastiest funk drummers ever in James Gadson and we’re pairing him with Adam Deitch who’s just about the best of the next generation. On bass we have Willie Weeks who’s as classic as it gets. Then we’re adding in people like Chaka Khan, Taj Mahal, Los Lobos’ David Hidalgo, Susan Tedeschi, and Ben Folds for good measure. All of this with Eric Krasno and with his partner in crime Nigel Hall. If there’s ever been any show like it I haven’t heard about it. And late night at Bonnarooooo… that’s as much of a musical insanity guarantee as I’ve ever hears. Oh and everyone knows that I love surprises…

“With the Skrillex and Big Gigantic Superjam [on Saturday] our collective goal is to do a show unlike any that’s ever been done. The idea is next level merging of various genres with the common thread being that it’s all about good stuff—great songs and creating an epic dance party that obliterates any dividing lines between different kinds of music.”

As for other offerings, Farman declares that he is “Very excited about the Cinema Tent this year, mainly because of our Harold Ramis memorial film series. We’re showing Ghostbusters, Caddyshack and Groundhog Day. RIP Harold. Also, the Farrelly Brothers will be on site to do a Q&A and Marc Ribot is going to be performing live the score to Charlie Chaplin’s The Kid.The Comedy Tent is always a favorite for me and this year we have some unbelievably special acts. Too many to mention, but to name one, if you haven’t seen Bridget Everett & The Tender Moments yet, run don’t walk! Insanity!”

Neal Cohen, director of Social Media and Community for Superfly, also points to the Red Bull Music Academy (look for more on that in the Friday Beacon), Hamageddon & BaconLand and the spectacle that will be the Friday The 13th Costume Party.

As he drove his car onto the festival grounds on Wednesday, Kevin from Albany, New York, who had spent much of the past day en route to Bonnaroo with his crew, stuck his head out as the window and proclaimed, “Not only we will be celebrating Friday the 13th but it’ll be a full moon. This is the 13th year of the festival, so with the 13th on the 13th, things are in alignment. It’s gonna be huge! I’m telling you, it’s gonna be huge!”

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