I had been texting one of the Bonnaroo promoters on Tuesday and everything seemed just peachy.
“We fly in tomorrow afternoon,” promoter Ken Weinstein texted me Tuesday at 2:50 p.m. “Press orientation is on Friday at 11 a.m.”
Ken has been with Bonnaroo since the start and I always enjoy catching up with him every year during the festival. Ken calls New York City home and is really in touch with the music scene.
About an hour later I received an email telling me to be sure to catch Kim Petras and her Bonnaroo set this Friday at the That Tent. As a proud member of the Bonnaroo press crew for 20 years, I get flooded with these type of emails every year in the days before the festival.
Everything seemed to be going along as planned until the hammer came smashing down moments later in an email from festival organizers simply titled “Bonnaroo cancellation.” I initially figured I had been hacked and this was some type of cruel joke. Unfortunately not.
“We are absolutely heartbroken to announce that we must cancel Bonnaroo. While this weekend’s weather looks outstanding, currently Centeroo is waterlogged in many areas, the ground is incredibly saturated on our tollbooth paths, and the campgrounds are flooded to the point that we are unable to drive in or park vehicles safely.”
The announcement continued, “We have done everything in our power to try to keep the show moving forward, but Mother Nature has dealt us a tremendous amount of rain over the past 24 hours, and we have run out of options to try to make the event happen safely and in a way that lives up to the Bonnaroo experience.”
The email closed on a happy note that was entirely inappropriate. “Please find ways to safely gather with your Bonnaroo community and continue to radiate positivity during this disappointing time.”
Continue to radiate positivity after I’ve just been kicked in the throat?
C’mon folks. That sort of behavior is not healthy. Let me mourn. Let me pout. Let me snap at a few co-workers. There are five stages of grief and jumping right to happiness won’t help my mental well-being. I need a few minutes to be grumpy.
This makes two Bonnaroo cancellations in a row. I don’t think I need to tell anyone this so-called “return to normalcy” is not gaining traction.
Canceling Bonnaroo is like canceling my birthday. The only difference is my birthday isn’t a four-day music festival with 72 bands.
To try to look at the bright side and “radiate positivity” as Bonnaroo suggests, I must admit I was a bit apprehensive about 80,000 music fans gathering together for a festival that probably would not have helped the COVID situation.
Maybe the rain was Mother Nature’s way of saying, “No, no, no. This isn’t wise.”
Maybe I should arrange a talk between Mother Nature and the Tennessee Department of Education and the discussion can center on sending unmasked children to school during a raging pandemic.
Standard editor James Clark can be reached at 473-2191.