Gramatik at Bonnaroo 2015. Photo by: Matthew McGuire

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Words and photos by: Matthew McGuire
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The 2015 Bonnaroo Music Festival is officially underway. Skies are clear, the stages are set, and music on Thursday showcased hungry artists cutting their teeth on massive live audiences.

This marks my first year covering the festival. It is a huge honor to be apart of this annual event located in Manchester, Tennessee. This event is taking place this year from June 11-14, but there is a new trend brewing with guests camping out on Wednesday evening before the music gets started on Thursday.

Watch live sets from the farm at Bonnaroo with Red Bull TV at: http://www.redbull.tv/bonnaroo#/stream

Thursday is setup to showcase fresh, new artists on the smaller stages to ramp up the crowd for a long weekend of live music.

My drive from Illinois to the festival grounds went smoothly. Other guests had reported issues on the road going into the festival on Wednesday, but I saw little conflict on the road during my drive on Thursday.

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After checking in with media, I made my way to day parking. As I realize that it is 9:00 p.m. and I need to get into the festival grounds as soon as possible, I drive up to the VIP entrance and ask about parking. They inform me to drive down Production Row and locate parking behind the Which Stage.

Once the vehicle was parked, I headed into the main festival grounds. The first spot I checked out was the Centeroo Fountain, as well as all the vendors that were open late Thursday evening.

As the festival continues to grow, the fashion trends continue to evolve. After attending Bonnaroo in 2002, 2003, 2009 and 2010 I have seen plenty of updates to the festival. One of the latest additions is Snake & Jake’s Christmas Club Barn. The barn on Thursday evening looked like it had a 1-2 hour wait just to get inside. It didn’t catch my full attention, so I headed over to meet up with my brother and sister-in-law before the Tove Lo concert.


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Tove Lo, Stockholm’s finest, swarmed That Tent with thousands of guests, inside and outside of the tent. In pervious years, when my brother or friends would invite me to meet them under the sign to one of the main tents, it was easy to find the person. On Thursday evening, it took me 10-15 minutes to locate my brother in a sea of people. It was actually the first time I saw a point in carrying a rage stick, (which should be outlawed anyway).

The bass for the Tove Lo was up drastically high for my taste, but it could have been perfect for other guests. Teddy King, reported on the Hangout Music Festival this year for our outlet, and mentioned that Tove Lo’s performance was top notch. Her set at Bonnaroo was good, but I was waiting to sink my teeth into Gramatik’s set.

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Before heading over to see Gramatik, I was pleasantly surprised by Rubblebucket on The Who Stage. It was my first time seeing them live, and I was digging their experimental form of rock music. I have heard their studio work, and was really turned on by their addition to Build, a record by Lotus.

The band worked on getting the crowd interactive and engaged, but had to dig deep to get them fully engulfed with their set. It was also my first time seeing a late night performance on the Who Stage. I fully support opening up more stages for late nights, and for Thursday overall. It felt like a large percentage of guests were on grounds Thursday night, and the tents were getting a little too crowded. My suggestion for next year is to have live sets on the two main stages for Thursday, or make it two weekends like Coachella, and Austin City Limits.

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The scene on Thursday night was wild and out of control at times. The festival does an excellent job of providing medical help, but I would like to see more options to space out the guests to prevent health issues. I moved in to The Other Tent early to grab a decent spot for Gramatik’s set. Benjamin Booker was wrapping up his set as I moved deeper into the crowd. After his set let out, the crowd opened up and I continued to push forward. To get front row for a tent show at Bonnaroo 2015, you either have to be a rude and push people out of the way, or wait 6 hours with little to no water. It is not ideal for live music. Regardless, it does make getting into the tent a major accomplishment.

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Gramatik started his set close to 12:20 a.m. with a sweet blend of house music into original music. He opened his set with ‘Torture’ from his latest album The Age of Reason. Eric Krasno helped out with the track on the album, and Gibbz provided the electric steel on stage Thursday evening.

After seeing Gramatik in 2014 at a smaller venue, I was floored by how he enlarged his set for a festival crowd. The audience in the tent was a mix of sexy Midwestern girls, and down to earth, good people. We were layered on top of each other, but it didn’t stop a single one of the people in my area of going all out.

We interviewed Gramatik on his Bonnaroo set here

During his set on Thursday, one of the guests had to be carried out from the front area. It could have been a mix of elements, but it was comforting to see a group of her friends taking care of her in a rowdy environment.

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“I had no idea this many of you would show up on a Thursday night.” – Gramatik

The band performed a series of songs from their original work, and even touched down on with a cover of Prince’s ‘Kiss’ with Gibbz dialing in the lead vocals.

The festival continues with music, comedy and much more going down in Manchester, Tennessee.



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Bonnaroo News

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[av_heading heading=’Bonnaroo Review: Thursday – Sunday’ tag=’h3′ style=” size=” subheading_active=” subheading_size=’15’ padding=’10’ color=” custom_font=”][/av_heading]

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[av_iconlist_item title=’Thursday Recap’ link=’manually,https://crescentvale.com/2015/06/bonnaroo-music-festival-thursday-evening-recap/’ linktarget=” linkelement=’both’ icon=’ue8cb’ font=’entypo-fontello’]
Raury, Rubblebucket, Tove Lo, Houndmouth, Gramatik & Jungle host hot sets on Thursday.
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[av_iconlist_item title=’Friday Recap’ link=’manually,https://crescentvale.com/2015/06/bonnaroo-music-arts-festival-friday-recap/’ linktarget=” linkelement=’both’ icon=’ue8cb’ font=’entypo-fontello’]
Kendrick Lamar, Ben Harper, Odesza, Earth Wind & Fire raise the bar on Friday.
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[av_iconlist_item title=’Saturday Recap’ link=’manually,https://crescentvale.com/2015/06/bonnaroo-music-arts-festival-saturday-recap/’ linktarget=” linkelement=’both’ icon=’ue8cb’ font=’entypo-fontello’]
Mumford & Sons, Slayer, Bassnectar, My Morning Jacket + the Superjam! on Saturday.
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[av_iconlist_item title=’Sunday Recap’ link=’manually,https://crescentvale.com/2015/06/bonnaroo-music-arts-festival-sunday-recap/’ linktarget=” linkelement=’both’ icon=’ue8cb’ font=’entypo-fontello’]
Billy Joel, Robert Plant, Ed Helms with the Bluegrass Superjam + Pokey LaFarge on Sunday.
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