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In the words of Bob Marley, one good thing about music is when it hits you, you feel no pain. Bonnaroo, one of the largest eastern festivals in North America hosted more than 70 000+ people this year with headliners such as Bruce Springsteen, Beastie Boys and Phish. But really, these were just headliners and in my opinion, not the real headliners of the festival. With performers ranging from Of Montreal, the Decemberists, Animal Collective, and Grizzly Bear to Femi Kuti, PUBLIC ENEMY, Erykah Badu,and Murs, you could easily be a neutral fan of the Boss and Phish–or in my case, not a fan at all–and still have a fuckin’ awesome time. It was overwhelming as to how many people there were in comparison to festival sizes I’m used to like Coachella or Bumbershoot. The tent grounds were absolutely ridiculous, with over 10 massive camping sites–mine took over 20 minutes to walk to Centeroo.

Throughout the four days, I kept making comparisons with Coachella, I couldn’t help it. Coachella is a big festival with a small festival feel. The campgrounds are tinier, less people and less crowded. Free showers (Bonnaroo showers cost $7) and sinks and sanitizer outside of porta-potties. But Coachella is anal as hell. At Bonnaroo, you can bring in anything you want, as long as it’s not glass. And that includes drinks! Food! You could bring a skillet or a BBQ and cook your breakfasts, lunches, dinners, and late-night snacks if you wish. In terms of music, I still think that all other North American festivals just simply cannot beat Coachella’s great headliners and great diversity. Best of all, Coachella has an amazing electronic representation with the Sahara tent and I think now, the other festivals are starting to catch on and are beginning to add their versions of the Sahara tent. Bonnaroo mainly has bluegrassy, rock, folk, indie, and some hip hop but barely any reputable electronic or experimental acts. The same goes for Lolla and ACL as well.

But you know what? It’s not ALL about the music. It’s about the experience. And I think I know that’s where Bonnaroo beats all the other festivals and why 70 000 people come back every year. The people at Bonnaroo from the staff to the fans are so effin’ nice. Everywhere I went people were starting conversations with me not out of some unforseen or awkward obligation but out of genuine graciousness and curiosity. Random strangers offered me a drag and everyone had an awesome time together. Sure, lots of people go to festivals alone and festival connoisseurs push these people to go reasoning that they’d be with XX, 999 other friends. It’s generally not true with most fests but with Bonnaroo it really is. I met so many people that totally made my festival weekend, shout outs to Nathan, Nick, and Sean from Texas for good laughs about taking prunes, shits in the BBQ, fweee fweee fweee beeep booop and of course, sharing the weed. It was sweet. It’s the people at Bonnaroo that make the experience and the music comes somewhere along the way. That’s why I’ll come back. That’s why I’ll drive another 20 hours down from Montréal to Manchester—in one shot—for four days of mayhem, memories, and of course, music.

I recap my four days along with pics, MP3s, live footage, and awards for Bests after the jump!

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