Bonnaroo 2024: A First-Timer’s View of ‘Roo

Bonnaroo 2024 was my first time attending a music festival of this size as well as camping there. Going into it, I had no idea what to expect or how vast the grounds and crowds would be. The sheer scale of the festival was awe-inspiring, and was a humbling experience to be part of.

The festival drew over 70,000 Bonnaroovians to the festival in Manchester, TN over four days, June 13-16 with the festival completely sold out. Throughout the festival, the temperature soared to a high of 94 degrees, but that didn’t dampen the spirits of Bonnaroovians from partying all day and night.

Bonnaroo Day 1: June 13

I arrived at the media camping grounds at 8 am to claim my spot and swiftly set up camp before the gates for Centeroo opened at noon. At noon, I made my way to Centeroo for the first time and walked the grounds. Right away, there was a contagious energy of excitement on the ground from veteran Bonnaroovians returning home to first-timers like myself in awe of all of it.

While exploring Centeroo, I made my way to the House of Matroomony. I heard about this house performing weddings at Bonnaroo and thought the idea was cute; little did I know when I walked in there, I would witness and photograph the first wedding of Bonnaroo. The couple was Savannah and Nathan Ingle, who were officiated by Virginia Slim Jim. What a way to kick off my Bonnaroo.

Savannah and Nathan Ingle center left and right, Virginia Slim Jim in the center

My first show of the day was later in the evening Durand Bernarr at the This Tent. His set was high energy, and he had a fantastic stage presence and the crowd was eating up his performance from the moment he walked out in his all-denim look. Throughout his performance, he sang songs from his EP En Route released May 31 this year. I stayed at This Tent for the next show Nation of Language. This was my first time hearing and seeing them perform, and it was a thrilling experience. The band has an 80s synth pop melodic sound to them that really works and kept the crowd grooving. They started their set off with ‘A New Goodbye’ from their new studio album Strange Disciple. From the This Tent, I quickly had to make my way to the What Stage to catch headliner Pretty Lights.

Durand Bernarr

Pretty Lights had such an imaginative backdrop behind the DJ booth, a wall of circuit panels with wires that was part of his setup. With a band accompanying him, Derek Vincent Smith started his set by hyping up the crowd and giving them a performance of “Swirl Song/Sun Machine,” the lighting that followed keeping the crowd hyped and flowing to the tunes.

Towards the end of the song, hearing the crowd sing lyrics from David Bowie‘s “Memory of a Free Festival” – ‘Sun Machine is coming down and we’re gonna have a party’ – was such a magical moment. Hearing the crowd of that magnitude for my first time at the festival was just a small taste of what would come the next couple of days. To finish off my first day of Bonnaroo, I made my way to That Tent to see Geese. Another first-timer seeing and hearing of this band, who brought their punk-rock fusion and had the crowd in their grasp from the moment they got on the stage.

Pretty Lights Crowd

Bonnaroo Day 2: June 14

Friday was a jam-packed day for music. Starting my afternoon off at the That Tent for MIKE who brought his profound sound that showcased his lyrics and wisdom within the music. Throughout his set, he got great crowd participation whenever he interacted with them. He performed songs from his new record ‘Burning Desire’ and a couple of songs that were untitled and were still a work in progress. The crowd loved each song he did.

After MIKE’s set, I headed towards This Tent for Bonny Light Horseman. The band brought a calm demeanor with their folk sound and strong lyrics behind each song. It was a nice change of pace, from all the hustle and bustle that a festival can bring. After the calm, I made it to Which Stage for The Japanese House who continues the same level of calm in her performance. A blue sky and cloud backdrop set the tone perfectly for it. She performed an unreleased song called ‘Smiley Face’. In her words, it’s “about my big gay love,” and the crowd went absolutely crazy for it.


Drivers Era at the What Stage had tremendous energy throughout their whole set. There was amazing chemistry between the band and the crowd that carried the performance. ‘Turn Up the Music’, ‘Get Off My Phone’ and ‘Feel You Now’ started the set, and all around you couldn’t have walked away after their set without having a smile on your face. I then raced over to This Tent to catch Grouplove, my second time seeing them perform, and I knew the moment that they took to the stage they were going to take everyone on a ride with them. The atmosphere was so electric and contagious. I had such a fun time photographing them.

The Drivers Era, Ross Lynch

I got a little break before heading back to Which Stage for Lizzy McAlpine. Her stage setup was quite unique, it was giving off living room vibes, with a band set up straight across the stage with her being right in the middle and having stage light stands as her backlight across them all. Her performance felt very intimate, no matter where you were in the crowd. She started her set with ‘doomsday’ that got everyone in their feelings from the start. In the middle of her set, she did a mashup of Rascal Flatts “Bless the Broken Road” and John Denver’s “Leaving on a Jet Plane” that the crowd loved.

After getting in my feels with Lizzy, Maggie Rogers took the Which Stage next. Maggie had by far one of my favorite artist’s entrances of the festival. Her band started playing the intro to ‘It Was Coming All Along’, and she rose from a lift on top of her stage stairs case, and when she popped up, the crowd went crazy for her. She went on to perform ‘Drunk’ and ‘That’s Where I Am’ but by the end of her third song, I had scurried off to the What Stage for headliner Post Malone.

Maggie Rogers

Post Malone’s intro was the most exciting thus far this weekend, starting with a string quartet walking out and beginning to play softly, then getting louder, followed by a female guitarist who gave a killer guitar solo that led into the band’s intro to ‘Better Now’ and his entrance to the stage was accompanied with pyrotechnic fireworks. The crowd was beyond ready for Posty, and from the moment he took to the stage, the crowd sang every song along with him. He had such a smooth transition into ‘Wow’ and a mashup of ‘Zack And Codeine’ and ‘Psycho.’

Post Malone

To wrap up my night, I headed back to the Which stage for my most anticipated show of the night T-Pain. I don’t think people really realized how many hits this man has. His set was packed with almost all of them, he started his set with ‘Take Your Shirt Off’ and then went into ‘Up Down’ then ‘Bag of Money’. After the third song I quickly went to put my camera away to go join the crowd for the rest of his set.

To be part of this crowd was truly insane, everyone was having such an amazing time singing, and two stepping the night away. He had such tremendous stage presence throughout the whole set. My favorite songs he performed were ‘Good Life’, ‘Black and Yellow’, ‘Kiss Kiss’, and his cover of Sam Smith’s ‘Stay With Me’ blew me away! Crowd favorites were ‘2 Step’, ‘Low’, cover of Journey’s ‘Don’t Stop Believin’ and of course ‘Buy U a Drank’. He wrapped up his set by doing ‘All I Do Is Win’ and ‘I’m on a Boat’.

Bonnaroo Day 3: June 15

I managed to get some sleep after T-Pain’s late set, which went into the early morning. By noon, it had reached the festival’s hottest temperature at 94 degrees. I made my way to Outteroo and headed towards Plaza 3 House of Yes Pride Parade. This was the fourth year that the House of Yes has hosted the Pride Parade.

When I arrived and entered the House of Yes was a truly heartwarming moment, to be surrounded by the queer community and feel love in the air instantly. Knowing everyone in that room was in a safe space to be their authentic self and no judgment by anyone. Just before the pride parade kicked off, a little dance party broke out in the House of Yes. Everyone was enjoying themselves, and soon enough, the parade kicked off, and the party continued outside. From the House of Yes, the parade took everyone to Where in The Wood for the after-party, where the dance party continued with a DJ set.

I made my way back into Centeroo to catch my first show of the day, The Maine at the What Stage. The rock band brought high energy that had the crowd dancing from their opening song ‘Blame’ and they performed ‘Sticky’ and ‘Slip The Noose’. I finally had a nice break from the sun before going to the Which Stage for Brittany Howard. I’ve been a big Brittany Howard fan for quite some time now, and to finally have gotten to photograph her and see her perform was such a dream. Her vocals are so unique and powerful, the energy she gave off the stage was amazing. ‘Earth Sign’ started her set, with her soulful vocal chops that set the tone for her set. Her soulful voice continued into ‘Georgia’ and the song ‘Stay High’ gave the crowd an insight into the wide range of her vocal ability and sound she has developed.

From one soulful performance to another one. I made my way back to What Stage for Jon Batiste. As with Brittany, I was excited for Jon’s set. His vocals and lyrics are so powerful, and on top of that, there aren’t that many people who can pull off a sequin suit, but he did. There are no words to describe the sheer radiant energy he was giving to the crowd. My favorite song he performed was ‘Freedom’, an energetic song and mood booster that had the crowd on their feet dancing.

Jon Batiste

I boogied my way back to Which Stage for my favorite artist at the festival, Renee Rapp. I’ve been lucky enough to have seen her perform before, but this was my first time photographing her, and she did not disappoint. Her fans were among the loudest at the festival at that time. I love how Renee is able to do such smooth transitions from her upbeat songs ‘Talk Too Much ‘and ‘Poison Poison’ right into her softer song ‘Bruises.’ I enjoyed the rest of her set once I was done, my personal favorites were ‘Not My Fault’, ‘Pretty Girls’, ‘Tummy Hurts’ and the song she hates ‘Too Well’. After her set, I walked away from it with one of the biggest smiles on my face.

Renee Rapp

To end my night, This Tent had the Dashboard Confessional Emo Superjam. Bonnaroo is known for doing Superjams where a mix of artists perform a set based on the theme and it’s always a festival highlight. When I got there, I saw Dashboard Confessional and Andrew McMahan doing Something Corporate’s “I Woke Up In a Car.” By this point, I was running on about 5 hours of sleep, and it was finally catching up to me. I left the Superjam early and called it a night.

Dashboard Confessional and Andrew McMahon, Emo SuperJam

Bonnaroo Day 4: June 16

I couldn’t believe it was the final day of the festival, and I had so much in store for myself that day. I couldn’t miss seeing Chappell Roan on the Which Stage. This artist is right up there with T-Pain, Renee Rapp, Brittany Howard, and Jon Batiste for my must-see performances while here. She’s been having one hell of a year, and had by far the biggest crowd for any artist at the festival. She and her band are dressed in all latex doctor/nurses outfits. The sheer volume of the crowd could be heard throughout the festival grounds and camping grounds. ‘Femininomenon’ got the party going with a song ‘with a fucking beat.’

With every song, the crowd was singing right along with Chappell. She then went into ‘Naked in Manhattan’ and ‘Super Graphic Ultra Modern Girl’. Hands down the most anticipated song of hers I was looking forward to and also a crowd favorite is ‘HOT TO GO’. To see the sea of people in the crowd doing the dance was so magical and definitely a core memory for me from the festival. She debuted a new song called ‘The Subway,’ another show that left a smile on my face afterward.

Chappell Roan, photographed from the crowd

With a little break, I headed to the What Stage for Carly Rae Jepsen. Right from the start, she brought out high energy, and there was a strong crowd connection from the beginning when she sang ‘Now That I Found You’. Unfortunately, due to thunder and lightning, her set was cut short, but after the weather cleared up, she was able to get back on stage and finish her set. Due to the weather, the schedule changed a little, but that’s just festival life for you.

Which Stage had Goth Babe, and they were another artist that I hadn’t heard of before, and I really didn’t know what to expect. When he came out to start his set, I was pleasantly surprised. He had an indie vibe to him with a hint of pop. I definitely jammed to his music while in the pit and instantly became a fan. For as much as I wanted to stay for his set, I had to head out to catch Megan Thee Stallion on What Stage.

Goth Babe

Megan knows how to put on a show! She started her set with ‘HISS’ accompanied with pyrotechnics. The crowd roared when she came out and kept the energy going with ‘Ungrateful’ and ‘Thot Shit’. For the last time of the festival, I made my way back to Which Stage for Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit. With his Americana sound, he slowed down the pace and had everyone bobbing and singing to ‘King of Oklahoma’ and ‘Stockholm.’

Here is where I made an executive decision to stay for two songs of his instead of the three in order to make it to my last show of Bonnaroo at the This Tent for Taking Back Sunday. I made it just in time as the band was starting to play ‘S’Old.’ The crowd was electric for the pop-punk group, and honestly, it was such a perfect way for me to end my Bonnaroo experience.

bonnaroo 2024
Megan Thee Stallion


I am forever thankful to have had this opportunity to have come and cover Bonnaroo 2024. Before I got to Bonnaroo, I heard and read about The Bonnaroovian Code and didn’t really think too much about it. As I sit here reflecting on my time on the farm I understand now when everyone says ‘The Bonnaroovian code isn’t just for four days a year in Tennessee – it’s for all Bonnaroovians, everywhere and all the time. Bringing the spirit of Bonnaroo with you out into the world.’ I can’t wait to go back for round two in 2025.

Comments are closed.