Release your inner hippie at Bonnaroo 2011

    Bonnaroo 2010. Photo courtesy of Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival.

    Upset by fake announcements about The Strokes headlining Dillo Day or eagerly awaiting to see who’ll join B.o.B. on stage come May 28? Well, while you wait for the rest of the lineup you can start making plans for the 10th annual Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival, one of the biggest summer music festivals in the country. North By Northwestern recently participated in a conference call with performers Albert Hammond Jr., guitarist of The Strokes, comedian Eugene Mirman and Gregg Gillis of Girl Talk to talk about the festival, this year’s lineup and what to look forward to.

    The four-day festival, which takes place from June 9-12 on a 700-acre farm in the tiny town of Manchester, Tenn., will have over 160 acts with headliners like rappers Eminem and Lil Wayne, The Strokes and baroque rockers Arcade Fire.

    “We’ve never played [Bonnaroo], so I have no idea what the crowd is like,” Albert Hammond Jr. of The Strokes said. “I’ve only heard stories from the Kings of Leon, and they seem to always have fun.”

    However, with 12 music stages the festival will be host to a bunch of other must-see sets, from mellow artists like Iron & Wine and The Decemberists to the dance-friendly beats of Ratatat and Matt & Kim. Bonnaroo will also be featuring up-and-coming bands like Sleigh Bells, Deer Tick, Beirut, The Black Keys and Girl Talk.

    “I want to make it a spectacle,” Gillis said. “I want to be the most festive as far as the performance goes. So hopefully in time for Bonnaroo, we’ll have some special shit planned.”

    At music festivals, a lot of it is about checking out under-the-radar bands like Nashville songstress Tristen and the synth-laden Twin Shadow. However, Bonnaroo doesn’t cater solely to the Stereogum/Pitchfork set by bringing in artists like Wiz Khalifa and J. Cole as well as Bonnaroo veterans likeBig Boi.

    “It seems like when I look at the festival, it started as a jam band [thing] and then it kind of grew into everything,” Hammond said. “You know it’s kind of nice. A little bit kind of like the future, it takes a little bit of everything.”

    The festival will also host legendary stonerCheech Marin, Internet sensation Jon LaJoie and pencil moustache aficionado John Waters.

    According to comedian Eugene Mirman, there is “an ideal set-up for comedy,” but the typical hot and sweaty summer festival is not counted among the most humorous of environments. Luckily, “it sounds like Bonnaroo has actually worked very hard on changing that,” he said. “The fact that they have a tent that’s air-conditioned is so massively helpful.”

    In addition to music and comedy, the festival is known for its 100-acre entertainment village, which includes a movie theater, workshops and a Silent Disco, where late night festival-goers can slip on a pair of headphones and dance without disturbing nearby campers.

    Accommodation-wise, the most popular option is camping in designated areas around the farm. The campsites themselves are fully-equipped with bathrooms, ATMs, a general store and are often the best places to meet other festival-goers.

    “There’s a lot of music happening and obviously it’s a social place, and people are just doing everything you can imagine,” Gillis said. “The social component is huge.”

    But how does one make sure not to get swept up in all the craziness of music and meeting new people?

    “I high-five people who think I went to high school with them,” Mirman said. “Drink a lot of water and don’t take drugs that people just hand you. Bring your own ‘shrooms and make sure to drink a lot of water.”


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