Although move-in day was amazing last year, Bonnaroo didn’t officially start until Thursday. Despite what you might think, the first day of Bonnaroo is usually pretty mellow. Everyone who moved in early had a crazy time the night prior and everyone who moved in on Thursday is tired from moving in. The gates to Centeroo opened around noonish, giving attendees something to look forward to as they tried to cure hangovers and catch some delicious food before going in.
Thankfully, mellow was the name of the game for my Thursday plans. I didn’t have any shows I specifically wanted to see until 8:45 PM, which was a blessing because it allowed my girlfriend and me to wander Centeroo aimlessly for a while discovering new bands and side attractions.
We ended up seeing Frenship at the This Tent, then Flor at the On Tap Lounge, Elohim at the This Tent and Pigeons Playing Pings Pongs at the That Tent to round out the night. We saw Flor just a month or so prior in Providence at The Strand, so it was cool to see them again up close and personal. They even ended up covering a Post Malone song, much to my girlfriend’s delight. You can watch a part of that song on my Instagram below.
In general, I would always suggest that a new festival goer, especially someone interested in going to Bonnaroo, set their expectations very specifically. You will never be able to see all of the bands you want to see unless you have a very limited scope. That means that you need to be flexible and willing to let things go if circumstances require it. I didn’t have much on my list of bands I “needed” to see on Thursday, yet Elohim and Pigeons ended up being two of my favorite finds from the festival so I’m glad we took things easy and explored.
For first time Bonnaroovians, here are a few tips for how to survive the first day in Centeroo without burning out or losing out on too much:
- Hold On To Your Schedule: You may be able to remember the times and stages for all of the bands you want to see, but what about everything else that’s going on? Keep your schedule handy so you can jump around from event to event without missing a beat, even if you don’t know who anyone is.
- Not All Who Wander: When all else fails, do not be afraid to wander around and get lost for a bit. The best things from Bonnaroo are born from spontaneity. You can always follow your map or signage back to where you want to be if you actually get lost.
- Food Trucks: While festival food is notoriously overpriced and under satisfying, some of the food trucks that frequent Bonnaroo buck that trend. If you can find it, grab some good grub while you listen to sweet tunes.
- Drink/Act Responsibly: Make sure you pace yourself, kiddo. This is day 1 and you have three other days to go, not to mention your trip home. You’ve got plenty of time to become a swamp donkey over the weekend. Save it for then.
Next week, I’ll cover what happened on Friday and provide some tips for how to pace yourself through a festival. If you’d be interested in reading more about my experiences traveling and visiting music festivals, feel free to shoot me a comment to let me know.