Bonnaroo 2010: What a long, strange trip it's been

Melissa Johnson, 24, from Point Pleasant, NJ, rides a mechanical bull at the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival Thursday, June 12, 2008, near Manchester, Tenn. It's Johnson's first time at Bonnaroo and first time to Tennessee.

Photo by Lauren Spuhler

Melissa Johnson, 24, from Point Pleasant, NJ, rides a mechanical bull at the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival Thursday, June 12, 2008, near Manchester, Tenn. It's Johnson's first time at Bonnaroo and first time to Tennessee.

Eric Downing, left, Evan Diamato, center, and Sarah McLaughlin, right, all from Durham, NC, relax at their campsite at Bonnaroo 2009 in Manchester, Tenn. June 11, 2009.

Photo by Samuel M. Simpkins

Eric Downing, left, Evan Diamato, center, and Sarah McLaughlin, right, all from Durham, NC, relax at their campsite at Bonnaroo 2009 in Manchester, Tenn. June 11, 2009.

Melissa Johnson, 24, from Point Pleasant, NJ, rides a mechanical bull at the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival Thursday, June 12, 2008, near Manchester, Tenn. It's Johnson's first time at Bonnaroo and first time to Tennessee.

Photo by Lauren Spuhler

Melissa Johnson, 24, from Point Pleasant, NJ, rides a mechanical bull at the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival Thursday, June 12, 2008, near Manchester, Tenn. It's Johnson's first time at Bonnaroo and first time to Tennessee.

Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival 2010

  • With: Stevie Wonder, Jay-Z, Conan O'Brien, The Flaming Lips, Stardeath and White Dwarfs, Dave Matthews Band, Weezer, Jeff Beck, Michael Franti, Tenacious D, Gossip, Steve Martin and Steep Canyon Rangers, John Prine, Carolina Chocolate Drops, Avett Brothers, Jimmy Cliff, John Fogerty, Baaba Maal and many, many others
  • When: June 10-13
  • Where: Manchester, Tenn.
  • Cost & info: $272.60 regular admission; $1,422.10 VIP package; Bonnaroo.com
Anne Lieber of Pittsburgh, PA applies green paint to herself at the 2007 Bonnaroo grounds. 'I wanted to look like a sea monster,' said Lieber.

Photo by Saul Young

Anne Lieber of Pittsburgh, PA applies green paint to herself at the 2007 Bonnaroo grounds. "I wanted to look like a sea monster," said Lieber.

— Who would've thought eight years ago that the music festival that shut down little Manchester, Tenn., would become a yearly institution? A rite of summer? The biggest, most successful music festival in the country? The 2010 Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival is June 10-13. Here's a look back on how it's grown:

2002

Little Manchester didn't quite know what to do when Bonnaroo hit in 2002 and 70,000 music fans descended on the town. Roads were blocked for hours. Businesses shut down. Some fans were stuck on the interstate for 14 hours. With Widespread Panic, Trey Anastasio and Galactic among the headliners, Bonnaroo gets the tag of "jam-band" festival - a moniker that the festival has fought ever since. Rumors spread that sights not seen since Sodom and Gommorah were still vacation destinations had been on display. People who were actually there disagreed - or at least they couldn't remember.

2003

Neil Young and Crazy Horse, The Dead, the Flaming Lips, James Brown and Bela Fleck and the Flecktones are among the biggest acts. The second festival is even more successful than the first, and the world began to sit up and take notice. An above-the-Mason-Dixon Bonnaroo in Riverhead, N.Y., is planned and then scrapped when permits cannot be obtained for the event.

2004

The muddiest, stickiest, stinkiest, most-crowded Bonnaroo. Attendance reached more than 90,000. After agonizing heat on Friday, torrential rains arrived Saturday night. Camping areas flooded. Cars had to be towed out of the mud. Wilco, Bob Dylan, Dave Matthews, the Dead, Primus and Trey Anastasio made for better vibes than the weather.

2005

Humor becomes part of the festival with a new comedy tent. Dave Matthews returns, this time with a band. Alison Krauss, Earl Scruggs and Peter Rowan help integrate a little more bluegrass into the lineup. Bonnaroo sells 76,000 tickets, and Billboard names Bonnaroo "the top grossing music festival in the world." Bonnaroo founders and promoters AC Entertainment and Superfly Presents follow in October with another noncamping music festival called Vegoose in Las Vegas. Overweight Elvis impersonators are set loose to promote it.

2006

Attendance is limited to 80,000 and is a sell-out. Radiohead and Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers headline the most diverse lineup yet. The weather is at its most cooperative. Getting into the festival has gotten easier. The Thursday night shows that were unofficial treats for early arrivals become official events making Bonnaroo a four-day festival. Vegoose is again staged in Las Vegas in the fall.

2007

Any question that Bonnaroo was a long-term commitment is put to rest when organizers buy the 530-acre site. They will continue to lease another 200 acres for additional camping. The reunion of the Police and Tool are headliners with Widespread Panic returning for the Sunday main stage. The festival sells out its 80,000 tickets once again. For once, the weather was too dry and dust covered everyone. Jazz legend Ornette Coleman collapses from the heat. It's also the last year for Vegoose.

2008

Rumors of a Led Zeppelin reunion show prove false, but Alison Krauss and Robert Plant did perform, along with Pearl Jam and Metallica. And hey, who could forget Kanye West? Actually, who could remember Kanye West? After insisting on a change of stage and start times for his show (forcing Phil Lesh to end early), West didn't go on stage until 4:45 a.m. and didn't go off until the sun was up. In a post-show blog he called the Bonnaroo staff "idiots" and "squid brains" and said the experience caused him to be "the most offended I've ever been" and "the maddest I ever will be." Nah, probably not.

2009

Phish and Bruce Springsteen headline. Things run smoothly. A couple of storms make for some mud. No one says "Dang, I wish Kanye were here!"

2010

Stevie Wonder, Jay-Z, Dave Matthews Band, Weezer ... A new stage, the Lunar Stage, will feature DJs until 6 a.m. - just before the yoga classes begin. Be adventurous. Do both.

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Comments » 1

trollhair writes:

Back in the 60's and early 70's we used to do this all the time in California. When you went to a concert, you were there all weekend long....much to the horror of our parents!

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