Bonnaroo returns. Finally.
After a two-year hiatus, a small city of fesitvalgoers trek this weekend to Manchester, Tennessee, for Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival — AKA a psychedelic summer camp jam-packed with four nights of nonstop performances, food and campground shenanigans.
A team of Tennessean reporters set up camp Thursday at Great Stage Park (known lovingly to Bonnaroo faithful as “The Farm). Follow along for real-time updates on scorching hot weather, crowds, festival fashion, tunes and everything in-between.
Read on for highlights from opening day of Bonnaroo 2022.
‘This isn’t working’: Reduced entrances leading to long waits, fans report
11 p.m.: Last week, Bonnaroo announced it would be removing one of two longstanding entrances to the “Centeroo” concert area from the campgrounds. On Thursday, all attendees had to come through the festival’s famous arch to enter Centeroo.
Judging by dozens of accounts online, the results have not been ideal. Attendees on Twitter are reporting long waits and densely packed lines.
“Tell me in what world this is safe, @Bonnaroo,” tweeted user @Bonnaroojosh, who included a video of the crowd at the arch after sundown. “This isn’t working.”
The ongoing heatwave is amplifying attendees’ safety concerns: “These lines are scary,” wrote longtime Bonnaroo fan account @TheBonnarooster.
“During the day – there’s no shade, people are STRUGGLING in this heat, with no quick access to water.”
Popular music fest analyst the Festive Owl also weighed in: “Sometimes you just have to admit when a decision is the wrong one. ‘Roo should do that tonight.”
2:45 p.m.: Live music returned to “Centeroo” — Bonnaroo’s general concert area — for the first time in three years on Thursday. The act with the honor of jumpstarting these stages was Parrotfish, an alternative rock act hailing from Tampa, but currently based in Nashville.
It was only right that the quartet offered something for everybody under the shade of the redesigned “Who” Stage: sticky-sweet melodies, snappy grooves, rapped verses and clever riffs.
You could still make out their tunes a stone’s throw away at This Tent, where Calder Allen said he was playing his first-ever out-of-state show. The 19-year-old grandson of singer-songwriter and visual artist Terry Allen reportedly started playing guitar during the pandemic, and released his debut album just last week.
A larger and livelier crowd greeted Atlanta rapper Kenny Mason, who kicked his lively performance off with the booming “Stick,” a collaborative cut that also features Bonnaroo ‘22 headliner J. Cole. After taking the crowd’s temperature — figuratively speaking — the 27-year-old said what we were all thinking, more or less.
“It’s hot as f***, bruh.”
And Bonnaroo, of course, has only begun cooking. Artists will keep making noise on opening night until 4 a.m. Friday morning.
‘Good vibes only’ as fans return
2:30 p.m.: As adults processed past Allie Holland, taking turns for a quick cool-off under Bonnaroo’s mushroom fountain, the 9-year-old stayed reveling in the spectacle of it all.
She held her arms over her head, smiled and waved to her uncle as he looked on from a short distance away. Her blonde pigtails, adorned with blue and purple extensions, bobbled beside her head.
“Good vibes only,” her shirt read. How could it be anything other? This is her first ‘Roo.
While Holland ran in and out of the fountain, the heat was the furthest thing from her mind.
“I’m just excited to spend time with my family, and see the Chicks play,” she said bouncing on her toes.
More on fans returning to The Farm:Bonnaroo reopens for 20th festival after two-year break
1:20 p.m.: Bonnaroo from the comfort of your couch? It’s a thing.
ICYMI: Hulu livestreams this year’s event, kicking off today at 3 p.m. CST. Confirmed artists slated for the online broadcast include J. Cole, Billy Strings, Herbie Hancock, Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats and Machine Gun Kelly, among others.
Since you’re probably reading this story from home, here’s how you can tune into Bonnaroo without standing in a sweat-drenched field.
It’s hot, hot, hot
12:50 p.m.: Campers can expect a blazing return to The Farm today as forecasters anticipate temperatures reaching 92 degrees in the early afternoon. At publication time, the heat index in Manchester reached 100 degrees, according to weather.com.
A heat advisory remains in place for music of Middle Tennessee, according to the National Weather Service. Extreme temperatures plan to hold through Friday.
Earlier this week, Bonnaroo organizers shared to social media a reminder for campers to wear layers of sunscreen and stay hydrated via multiple on-site cooling areas.