Ready to rule Bonnaroo

Alabama Shakes will rock Manchester, Tenn., this weekend. Writer Chris Leo Palermino will be there to take it all in. Follow him on Twitter @indiecalp.

On Thursday, the community of Manchester, Tenn., swelled nearly tenfold as tens of thousands of live music fans descended upon the 700-acre farm for the 11th consecutive year.

No, this is not an annual political takeover, this is Bonnaroo.

Begun as a folk and jam-heavy festival in 2001, the festival has since broadened to compete with the other blockbuster summer festivals in the U.S.: Lollapalooza and Coachella.

For the uninitiated, four days of camping, 15 hours of sets each day across three main stages, a cinema tent, a comedy tent and multiple cafe stages with emerging acts might seem overwhelming.  

That said, with nearly 100,000 new companions and tent/RV-mates sprawled across the farm, it’s more than just an all-encompassing music festival: The community-oriented hippie vibe makes Bonnaroo akin to a 21st century Woodstock.

In that spirit, music and the experience are key at the festival named after a 1974 Dr. John album. Throw some peace, love, and a stacked lineup in — Radiohead, Red Hot Chili Peppers and Phish are headlining — and you’ve got yourself a premier music festival.

Who to see first

Though this reporter is actually writing to you from the ‘Roo, you can watch the webcast online at www.youtube.com/bonnaroo, beginning on Friday at 12:30 p.m.
   
Fans young and old, Deadheads and hipsters, have a lot of choices. Thursday night brought buzz act Alabama Shakes. You can log on and see their set on Friday. The dancier crowd also has some choices, from L.A. dubstep act MiMosa to sax-playing electro act Big Gigantic. Unfortunately, these acts won’t be on the webcast.
   
One of ‘Roo’s defining features is the fact that no two people will have the same festival experience. Saturday’s schedule, headlined by rocker Alice Cooper, at That Tent — yes, the stages are named ‘What,’ ‘Which,’ ‘This,’ ‘That,’ and ‘The Other’  — will satiate the hard rock fans. At the same time, those looking for a more upbeat, glittery vibe can dance the day away with Santigold, Major Lazer and Flying Lotus.
   
After more than a decade, Bonnaroo still prides its jam and folk roots, with perennial favorites Umphrey’s McGee, Robert Randolph-led supergroup The Word, and that tiny band called Phish among some of the notable acts.


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