The gates to the 2023 Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival opened Thursday morning. This is a four-night summer camp where thousands of hot, sunburned concertgoers spend a weekend unlike any other. The event is in Manchester, Tennessee, which is about 60 miles southeast of Nashville. It promises four nights of marathon jam sessions, ground-shaking EDM, hip-hop heavyweights, and good old-fashioned rock ‘n’ roll escape.
Follow along for live reports from Great Stage Park, also known as the “Bonnaroo Farm,” about music, food, the weather, and other things. Molly Tuttle, Abraham Alexander, and other artists bring music to Manchester.
Bonnaroo Digs Bluegrass
On Thursday night, Molly Tuttle and her great band, the Golden Highway, played a set of good-time, grass-cuttin’ tunes at The Farm.
Tuttle, a sought-after Nashville flatpicking guitarist, and singer-songwriter whose album “Crooked Tree” won a Grammy Award last year, put out songs like “She’ll Change,” a foot-stomping anthem, “Nashville Mess Around,” a honky-tonk tune from Music City, and “Castilleja,” which is ready to jam. People cheered in awe as Tuttle and her band traded fast-picking solos and duets throughout the songs.
Tuttle said, “We’re so glad to be back here on The Farm. We made it through the storm.”
Before Tuttle, soulful singer-songwriter Abraham Alexander took the This Tent stage, wearing a sleeveless denim jacket and a wide-brimmed hat. He played songs from his debut 2023 album “Sea/Sons,” as well as a tent-rousing cover of Chris Isaak’s standard “Wicked Game.”
The weather makes plans change.
Most years, one band plays Thursday afternoon to start off Bonnaroo. This year, a few singers all got the award.
After a storm put a hold on things for an hour and a half, festival organizers changed Thursday’s plan to fit in all the performances that had to be moved because of the weather. The music started at 4:30 p.m., which was two hours later than planned.
The Texas band Briscoe played in the This Tent, the pond-hopping rock band CVC played in the That Tent, and the indie band Nordista Freeze played on the Who Stage. Most Thursday acts now go on stage later than they used to, but none of the changes seem big enough to cause new scheduling problems for people going to the shows.
The Weather Evacuation of Bonnaroo Will End
Festival managers said in a tweet at 3:49 p.m. that Centeroo will likely open at 4 p.m. The music should keep going at 4:30 p.m.
Centeroo shuts down because of bad weather
Bonnaroo said on Twitter that the main road through the festival grounds, Centeroo, was stopped around 2:30 p.m. Thursday because a storm was coming. Festival organizers asked people to go back to their campsites before the rain hit Coffee County.
As the storm got closer, Bonnaroo organizers told people who didn’t have a car to ask other people who were already at the event for help or go to one of the community barns in the campgrounds.
“Lightning and heavy rain are coming to the site in the next 40 minutes,” the event organizers said on social media. “Weather evacuation,” the post said next. Please go to the nearest exit in a calm way.”
Bonnaroo put a “pause” on the weekend’s events just as CVC, a retro rock band, was about to take the stage as the weekend’s first act. It’s not clear how the storm might affect the afternoon schedule, which includes soul artist Abraham Alexander, alternative singer-songwriter Ezra Furman, and Texas duo Briscoe.
As the storm moved through Williamson County around 2 p.m., the National Weather Service said, “There is a lot of lightning, and some strong winds will move south and southeast over the next couple of hours. If you’re outside, you’ll want to pay close attention!! Hint Hint.”
Pride Walk Is the First Big Event
The gates to “Centeroo,” the central hub where concertgoers gather to watch the main stage entertainment, opened with the annual Pride parade, which was a sea of colors, sounds, and expressions.
As hundreds of people moved from the “Outeroo” campsites to Centeroo, people on the sides shouted “We love the gays!” and “One, two, three, everybody says LGBT!” As they walked, the air was filled with bubbles and the rhythmic waving of colored fans.
Big Freedia, a former contestant on “Ru Paul’s Drag Race” and a key figure in the bounce-rap scene, was this year’s Grand Marshal hours before she was set to appear in That Tent.
A new Apple feature makes a lot of people near The Farm call 911.
On Thursday, there were a lot of accidental calls to 911 from people who were near the event.
“Crash detection mode,” a new feature on the Apple iPhone 14, was to blame for the calls. If you don’t stop it, the iPhone will make an emergency call after 20 seconds if it thinks it has crashed. If the feature is not turned off, Apple calls emergency services and gives them the user’s latitude and longitude.
Bonnaroo and the local police said that people should turn off the automatic feature for the whole event.
Bonnaroo Scavenger Hunt
The artist treasure hunt is already a lot of fun for people at the festival. Fans can join by doing good things around The Farm for a chance to win prizes with their favorite artists. The event is put on by the social activism group Propeller.
There will be performances by Sofi Tkker, Sylvan Esso, Hippo Campus, and Andrew McMahon, among others. Fans compete by doing things on the fairgrounds to earn points, which they can then trade in for prizes. The person at Bonnaroo who does the most things for the scavenger hunt will get VIP passes to next year’s event.
Bonnaroo tickets for all four days sell out.
Didn’t snag a weekend pass to Bonnaroo? You might not have any luck.
Tickets to the magical music summer camp for four nights of music and camping sold out early Thursday, hours before the gates opened. Bonnaroo said on Thursday morning via social media that the festival was sold out.
“Wow, y’all, you did it,” Bonnaroo organizers wrote on Twitter. “Our Bonnaroovian family is back together again, and the good vibes are already flowing.”
The event says that some single-night tickets are still available. This year, about 85,000 people have bought tickets to Bonnaroo, so the event is full.
Alcohol policy: Everything you need to know about the alcohol rules at Bonnaroo 2023
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The weather on Thursday
There is a small chance that it will rain or storm when campers arrive Thursday afternoon. After 12 p.m. Thursday, there is a 50% chance of storms, and there is a small chance of severe weather, according to the National Weather Service. The chance of rain drops to 20% overnight. On Thursday afternoon, people going to the festival can expect it to be around 81 degrees.
Those who can’t make it to The Farm can watch most of Bonnaroo on the digital site Hulu via a live stream with multiple channels. During the weekend, the streaming service plans to show Foo Fighters, Paramore, Tyler Childers, and other main-stage acts.
Molly Tuttle, a bluegrass picker who won a Grammy Award, Abraham Alexander, a soul artist who is making a name for himself, JP Saxe, a pop singer, and Zeds Dead, the headlining electronic band, are all performing on the opening night show.