I get it now.
I get why people flock by the thousands to a farm in Manchester, TN every year.
I get why people anticipate this 4 day weekend for months, counting down the days until they can say “Happy Roo” again.
I get it. I’m already ready for next year’s lineup to be announced.
I couldn’t have picked a better year for my first Bonnaroo. I’ll be honest, my original catalyst for buying the ticket was Stevie Nicks. I had promised myself I’d find a way to see her live this year, and when the Bonnaroo lineup was announced, I felt like this was the perfect opportunity.
The more I started looking into the lineup for the festival, the more excited I got. Some of the other headlining acts weren’t exactly my thing, but a lot of the smaller acts were some of my favorites this year. I bought my ticket in January, and immediately began to impatiently count down the days.
Thursday, June 16th, was the official first day of the festival. My friends Haley, Chloe, Mace, and I headed out of Pulaski around 10:30 to make our way toward the Farm. After a quick stop at the box office, a half-hearted car search, and a semi-difficult parking job, we were ready to set up our campground for the weekend.
Setting up camp in 100+ degree weather is not something I’d recommend, but we got it done (yay us!). And then, of course, had to take a break and sit for about 20 minutes afterward…
Covered in sweat and already exhausted, our night was only just beginning! (A familiar story that continues all weekend long). We got ready, which consisted of putting on the lightest amount of clothing possible and applying a ton of glitter and excitedly made our way towards Centeroo for the very first time. (If you’re not familiar, Centeroo is the main part of Roo where all the stages, food trucks, and activities are located, a.k.a. where the magic happens)
At the risk of sounding corny, after only seeing pictures and hearing stories, seeing Centeroo for the first time was pretty magical. The Bonnaroo arch was just like I imagined, welcoming everyone in from far and wide. One of my favorite parts of the weekend was filing into the front gates, where everyone high-fives and wishes a “Happy Roo” to each other as the line winds around itself.
Our first goal was, of course, finding something to eat, and I happily settled on cheese bread from one of the numerous pizza food trucks. Honestly, it may have been the best cheese bread ever and was perfect fuel for our first night. Our very first show of the weekend was Miloe, a band from Minnesota. I had heard one or two of their songs before, and it was a great show to kick off the weekend with feel-good indie rock vibes!! I recommend checking out their song “Winona”.
After dancing our butts off to Miloe, we took a little break, sat on the grass, and just took it all in for a minute. The next show on our agenda was The 502s, a band who I actually listen to pretty often and was super excited to see live. They did not disappoint, and listening to their set while relaxing and sitting down on the grass was an absolutely perfect vibe. They remind me a little of the Lumineers with a bit more kick and jazz, and my favorite songs are “Just A Little While” and “Magdalene“!
I’d love to tell you we stayed up and saw every show that night and couldn’t stop dancing, but I’d be lying to you. After sitting through a few songs of Indigo De Souza’s set (which was great by the way, she’s super cool) Haley and I had to call it a night. Exhaustion and dehydration had already set in, and we knew that Friday was a big day for shows we wanted to see, so it was better to go ahead and get our rest in. I swear I don’t think I’ve ever slept as hard as I did that night!
Friday was jam packed from the get-go and there was absolutely no avoiding it. It was the day we kept coming back to as soon as the schedule had been released, reading time slots over and over again, trying to figure out how we were going to be at 3 stages all at once. We knew without a doubt that we’d be running around all afternoon.
First things first though: Haley and I needed to use the restroom, and to put it simply, we are not Porta Potty girls. After we woke up, we walked 20 minutes into Centeroo to use the nice, *relatively* clean, flushable bathrooms. We wandered around for a little bit, and then were summoned back to camp by the imminent thunderstorm threat (which is infinitely scarier when your home base consists of a $35 Walmart tent). We kind of scrambled to throw important stuff back in my car and stake our tent and canopies down, and then we just sheltered in the car and hoped for the best.
All in all, the storm wasn’t too bad, although several un-staked canopies from other camps did go flying over our campsite. The storm did bring a beautiful cold front to the Farm, and that was welcomed fully with open arms. We felt re-invigorated and completely ready to take on the afternoon once the temperature had dropped by about 10 degrees. (Although don’t be fooled, it climbed back up an extra 5 degrees easily).
Our very first show was Briston Maroney at 3 in That Tent. Briston was one of the first shows we marked as a must-see on our schedule and we knew we HAD to be there!
And all I can say is WOW. Briston’s set was absolutely incredible and reminded me all over again how much fun his music is. He’s super talented and puts on a fantastic show. Singing “Freaking Out on the Interstate” with a whole crowd of people who love it as much as I do was a priceless experience. If you want to check him out, I suggest “Sinkin’“, “It’s Still Cool If You Don’t“, and his newest single “Paradise“.
He’s quickly become one of my current favorite artists, and I recommend him to everyone I know. I’m super stoked about all the stuff he’s doing, and you should be too!
After Briston’s set we wandered over to Which Stage for Dayglow (who we admittedly only really knew one song from). It really was a nice set to just listen in on while resting on the grass. We often opted to sit for bands we weren’t as invested in, so that we could preserve our energy for standing/dancing/waiting for our most favorite artists.
After Dayglow, the really exciting part of the afternoon began. We made our way over to What Stage, the largest stage, and kind of lingered around the edges, waiting for our chance to slip into the crowd for the Robert Plant & Alison Krauss set coming up. As a giant classic rock nerd, I was not playing around with the chance to see THE Robert Plant living and breathing right in front of me.
While we waited, we ate overpriced buffalo chicken cheese fries and found shelter in the oasis of the misting tent. At the end of Tove Lo’s set, as the first bits of the crowd trickled out, we fought against the current and resolved to just walk as far as we could into the crowd that was already there. We figured we could at least get a pretty decent view that way, and this is where our weird luck that weekend began. We actually ended up walking right up to the front of General Admission, directly behind the pit, and plopped ourselves right down to claim our spot on the rail. We waited about 45 minutes, nothing too crazy, before the stage was set and we stood up, anticipating the arrival of the duo.
I can’t even lie, I nearly shed a tear when I laid eyes on Robert Plant. I just could not (and still can’t) process the fact that I was seeing one of the most iconic front men in rock-and-roll history. He and Alison were incredible, and despite not being super familiar with their songs together, I really enjoyed their entire set. Two of my favorites that they sing together are “Rich Woman” and “Please Read the Letter”. Robert Plant’s voice is still so incredible and so unmistakably him. I was really blown away when they launched into a cover of Led Zeppelin’s Rock and Roll. I just could not contain myself, and I think I’ve gone back and watched the video I took of their performance every single day since the festival. I will forever treasure getting to witness that.
After that glorious set, the next item on our agenda was The War on Drugs on Which Stage. My dad recently introduced me to this band, and I couldn’t pass up the chance to see them live.
Remember earlier when I mentioned Haley and I’s weird luck? Well right as we sat down at the back of the crowd to watch The War on Drugs, I was looking around and people-watching, and I saw someone very familiar…
I was so nervous to go up to him and didn’t want to be a total weirdo, but I finally got the courage to get up and we got to take some pictures and tell him how much we loved his set and I’m so glad we did! He was the coolest.
The War on Drugs was such an incredible show, and their music against the background of an amazing sunset was a moment of pure happiness. Their dreamy sound plus the slowly setting sun was a perfect match.
After these beautiful, peaceful moments, next on the agenda was a crowded trek back to the What Stage for The Chicks. We made our way over and just kind of sat off to the side, close enough to see but not right up front. Then, right after we sat down, we noticed the pit line was moving, and the end was right next to us. We looked at each other, made a split-second decision, and ran to join the line, just for the heck of it. That was our first pit experience of the weekend and after that we were totally hooked…
Now, I’m not the biggest Chicks fan there is (I like them but I only know their most famous songs) but I have to say this show was spectacular. They absolutely killed it and I enjoyed every minute. I sang along to the ones I knew: Wide Open Spaces, Cowboy Take Me Away, and the like. Haley was absolutely in heaven; she’s a big Chicks fan.
After a beautiful time with The Chicks, last on our list for the night was Lord Huron. I think almost everyone (my age, at least) knows this band right now since their song “The Night We Met” has blown up. It’s one of my sister’s absolute favorite songs so I knew I had to watch the set and record some of it for her. Haley and I both really enjoyed all of the songs they played, despite not knowing them all. Our favorite part was when the lead singer came out in a skull mask that moved with his mouth as he sang. That was pretty entertaining to watch and it reminded me of Orville Peck’s vibe.
After Lord Huron, we headed back to our tent for the night. We loved being in Centeroo and listening to all the music, but nothing could have prepared me for how tired we would be at the end of every day. We had had so much fun already, and still had two days to go!
Thursday and Friday set a fantastic tone for the weekend, and Saturday and Sunday held even more fun for both of us. Make sure to stay tuned for part two of this post so you can read more on the adventures, mishaps, and wonderful musical experiences of Bonnaroo ’22.
I tried to link as many artists and songs as I could in this post, so make sure to let me know if you check any out or find a new favorite! Thank you all for reading and I hope you enjoyed!
Until next time,