One of the constants in life is the passing of time and how swiftly it moves.
In the case of the Bonnaroo Music and Arts festival, time and change have been on its side as it has been a stable draw regionally, nationally and globally for the mid-state for 10 years now.
The traveling festivals in the 1990s such as H.O.R.D.E. and Lollapalooza were short lived, and America still had the void of a great festival since the summer of 1969 as there was nothing similar to Woodstock or the Atlanta International Pop Festival.
With botched attempts in 1994 and 1999 with the recreation of Woodstock, the peaceful and communal vibe had turned disruptive.
Since the inception of the inaugural festival, Superfly Productions and AC Entertainment spawned a monster that broke the tag of being a jamband festival into the nation’s premiere music event.
In the early years, it simply took bands like Widespread Panic, Ben Harper, Gov’t Mule and Trey Anastasio to bring the masses to the modern music festival.
But in past years the field has expanded with artists such as James Brown, Bob Dylan, Neil Young and Bruce Springsteen performing upon its stages.
The communal vibe, interaction among fans and artists along with the diversity in music from year to year are the main attractions of Bonnaroo.
It does what is one of the easiest things to say but not do – it holds onto past traditions but keeps a focus on the future.
For the 10th anniversary, the festival boasted a lineup that consisted of ‘Roo veterans among many newcomers.
The Thursday night undercard was stacked as always with Hayes Carll, Best Coast, The Walkmen, Band of Skulls and Sleigh Bells who packed the house at The Other Tent for their performance.
My Morning Jacket and The Black Keys climbed the ladder to the upper echelon as years of playing tents turned into late night shows and later escalated to main stage, headlining status.
Widespead Panic, who played two headlining slots at the inaugural festival, closed down the festival Sunday night with a top-notch performance with visuals to match.
From the original festival in 2002, String Cheese Incident, Warren Haynes, Bela Fleck, Les Claypool, Old Crow Medicine Show, The Del McCoury Band, and Galactic along with Panic were all included on the bill in 2011 in some manner.
A recharged lineup of Buffalo Springfield, which included Neil Young, Stephen Stills and Richie Furay, took the stage Saturday night to what Young recalled “the biggest gig” the group had ever done as they rolled through “Broken Arrow,” “Rockin’ in the Free World,” and their hit “For What It’s Worth.”
Keeping it on the classic side, Robert Plant and Band of Joy provided a mix of Led Zeppelin tunes and cuts from his latest album with an all-star band consisting of Nashville players Buddy Miller and Darell Scott along with the serene pipes of Patty Griffin.
On the other hand, Gregg Allman performed a set of solo work along with Allman Brothers tunes that included “Dreams,” “Melissa” and the Jackson Browne penned “These Days.”
Outkast member Big Boi proved to be the unsurpassed rapper on the card as his late-night set outshined heavyweights Lil Wayne and Eminem not in the size of the crowd but overall performance as he dropped rhymes with a backing band and dance crew.
One of the main fixtures in Bonnaroo over the years has been the late night sets.
Almost separate festivals within themselves; the grounds take a new light after midnight as the ante is upped each year for the midnight roamers.
This year had several draws as The Black Angels, Scissor Sisters, Girl Talk, String Cheese Incident, Pretty Lights and Sphongle among many others provided a spread for attendees.
Dr. John and The Meters performed the album Destively Bonnaroo with ‘Nawlins style as part of their late-night set where a parade soon followed with Preservation Hall Jazz Band and guests Patrick Hallahan and Portugal the Man while Eugene Hutz and Gogol Bordello brought a raw energy to the crowd with their gypsy punk Sunday morning.
Even though the hippies have been traded off for hipsters and there have been changes due to the sign of the times, some things do stay the same – the patchwork of music and a good time rise above all.
At the end of it all, time moves hurriedly in a meager four-day span and you’re left with only the memories you create.
As there are always many highlights year after year, there is always one word that sums up the experience of Bonnaroo and is found in the new theme song – magic.