After landing Paul McCartney and Elton John in back-to-back years, what will Bonnaroo do for an encore?
In talking with promoters on the 700-acre festival grounds Wednesday, they say plenty of star power still remains for the Bonnaroo lineup in years to come.
“Some of the obvious legendary bands we haven’t gotten yet are The Rolling Stones and U2,” said Bonnaroo co-creator Rick Farman of Superfly. “We’ve had a lot of our heroes play here already, but those two really jump out as bands we would love to have. Getting some members of Pink Floyd here would also be nice.”
Farman says booking acts for Bonnaroo takes place year-round with no starting or stopping point.
“In some cases with your major bands, it’s a multi-year process,” said Farman. “We’re always working on the lineup. A few of us already talked about next year’s lineup last week.”
Bonnaroo co-creator Ashley Capps of AC Entertainment said it took six years to land Paul McCartney and even then “the stars and the moon had to align just right.” It was after McCartney played a memorable show last year Capps said they realized they needed another music legend to follow in his footsteps.
“We’re always looking for the great iconic artists to come to Bonnaroo,” said Capps. “We all started brainstorming, especially after Paul McCartney’s performance, and several names came up. Elton John seemed to be the one to stick and to me it just made sense. It’s going to be a great way to end our show.”
In a change from tradition, Bonnaroo’s biggest name is not taking the stage Friday or Saturday night. Instead, Elton John will close the four-day festival with a performance Sunday at 9:30 p.m. Farman said John’s time slot wasn’t arranged intentionally to keep everyone at Bonnaroo until the end, but was done more because it worked better for several bands from a scheduling standpoint.
As for other noteworthy performers, Kanye West is set to play for the second time at Bonnaroo. The first time was a disaster with West showing up several hours late, much to the anger of fans.
Capps called that mishap a “communication error” and said it’s clearly in the past.
“He’s one of the major artists of our time so it’s silly for him not to come back to Bonnaroo,” said Capps. “He’s known for putting on a great show and I think he’s going to knock it out of the park.”
Moving forward, Farman said the festival has an ambitious goal of becoming 100 percent plastic free to reduce its impact on the environment. To work toward that goal, all beverage vendors are selling a stainless steel canteen that clips to a belt loop and can be used all weekend long for drink refills. Customers receive a discount if they use the canteen instead of a plastic cup.
“We’re calling it the refill revolution,” said Farman. “We pride ourselves on being a leader in sustainability.”
Bonnaroo continues to be on the cutting edge when it comes to technology. There’s a Bonnaroo app that can be downloaded to your phone that tracks your whereabouts and alerts you when you’re near a water station, restroom, or destination of your choice.
The radio frequency wristbands that are worn by visitors throughout the festival can also be scanned at various points to create a scrapbook of your Bonnaroo experience. If you scan your wristband while watching Lionel Richie, for example, photos from that show and the set list will be uploaded to an account in your name that can be accessed after the festival. Organizers say it’s a way to create your own personalized yearbook while at Bonnaroo.