Ida effects, COVID precautions, Lizzo makes history

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    When the lineup for the next Bonnaroo was first announced just over 600 days ago – yes, 600 – the Manchester, Tennessee music festival was already planning a historic edition. Pop sensation Lizzo was topping the bill, making the “Truth Hurts” singer the first woman to headline Bonnaroo.

    Of course, some other unfortunate history had to be made first. Two weeks after tickets for Bonnaroo 2020 sold out in record time, the coronavirus pandemic transformed lives across the U.S. – and Bonnaroo, along with every other major music event, was put on hold.

    Vaccine: Where to get a vaccine or test for Bonnaroo after the festival implements COVID-19 requirements

    2020’s fest was pushed back three months, then ultimately canceled. When Bonnaroo unveiled plans for a return in 2021, it was for September – marking the first time the festival has ever been held outside of June. The move bought organizers a few more months as the concert industry got back on its feet, but since then, the delta-driven surge has changed the landscape once again.

    COVID

    More: What to know about returning music festivals, from how to get Coachella tickets to Lollapalooza headliners. And so, Bonnaroo 2021 – running Thursday through Sunday – won’t just replace with a bang, but with freshly adopted vaccination/testing requirements. Here’s what else you can expect from a Bonnaroo weekend like no other, for better or worse.

    Hurricane Ida rain renders ‘unusable’ campgrounds, refunds

    Heavy rain stemming from Hurricane Ida is expected to render parts of the festival campgrounds “unusable,” according to organizers, and Bonnaroo will be forced to reduce its camping capacity less than two days before gates are set to open.

    The festival offers full refunds “across all ticket and accommodation types” until 9 p.m. ET Tuesday. “Due to the expectation of significant rain on The Farm from Hurricane Ida, and the knowledge that areas of our campgrounds will be rendered unusable, Mother Nature has forced us to reduce our camping capacity,” Bonnaroo’s official social media accounts shared Monday.

    The campgrounds issue could significantly impact Bonnaroo’s attendance, considering the vast majority of festival-goers camp on-site throughout the weekend. Rain already had led the festival to postpone its campground opening from Tuesday to Wednesday.

    COVID precautions

    The festival requires all attendees to either be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 or present a negative test taken in the last 72 hours. Those without vaccination proof or test results can pay $40 for a rapid test onsite. Those who test positive will be given instructions on receiving a refund and will be asked to leave immediately.

    Beyond the entry point, Bonnaroo requires masks in all of its enclosed spaces – but this being Bonnaroo, that’s a small fraction of the festival’s footprint. Organizers say they’re also adding more hand sanitizer stations and will have “frequent cleaning in high-touch areas.”

    COVID-19 encore: Garth Brooks, Neil Young cancel performances while industry tries to avoid another shutdown

    Lizzo, Megan Thee Stallion, and an evolving, eclectic lineup

    The bulk of performers booked for last year’s canceled fest have returned for 2021, including Lizzo, Tame Impala, and Megan Thee Stallion. Rock mainstays Foo Fighters are a new addition this year, with critically acclaimed rapper Tyler, The Creator. Leading up to launch, the lineup has continued to shift: Lana Del Rey and Janelle Monáe were among those who dropped out over the summer.

    Additional acts include Lil Baby, deadmau5, Jack Harlow, Run The Jewels, Phoebe Bridgers, G-Eazy, Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit, and Brittany Howard. Isbell and Howard are among the traditionally large crop of Nashville-based talent heading down the road to perform this year. Other Music City entertainment includes a particular installment of the Grand Ole Opry – returning to Bonnaroo for its third year – and Joy Oladokun, Breland, Devon Gilfillian, Larkin Poe, Lennon Stella, The Band Camino, Julien Baker, and Colony House.

    It’s the first trip to Bonnaroo for Breland, who’s brought hip-hop influence into the country world with hits “My Truck” and “Throw It Back.” He’ll perform on the festival’s second-largest stage on Sunday. “I’m definitely excited to rally the people,” Breland told The Tennessean. “I know that after three long days, people can get kind of tired, bogged down, and ready to go home. So I’m gonna remind them why they stayed.”

    Bonnaroo schedule beyond the music

     In addition to concerts going on until sunrise (seriously, the electronic dance acts at “The Other Stage” are on until 6:30 a.m. Saturday and Sunday), it’s a 24-hour party throughout Bonnaroo’s sprawling campgrounds. The festival started playing up these specialized “experiences” a few years ago, and it continues this weekend with everything from a “Roo Run” 5K, “Urban Cowboy” line-dancing, meditation and yoga classes, and live band karaoke. This year, one fascinating new addition is the “House of MatROOmony,” which will host daily wedding ceremonies, potentially officiated by a professional Dolly Parton impersonator.

    More: Lollapalooza is a ‘recipe for disaster,’ experts warn. Should more music festivals be canceled amid COVID-19?

    Ticket demands remain high

    Three weeks after tickets went on sale, Bonnaroo 2021 was officially sold out. It’s been dubbed the fastest sellout in Bonnaroo history, but a portion of sales came from those who bought tickets to the canceled 2020 festival and rolled them over to 2021.

    The Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival takes place September 2-5 at Great Stage Park in Manchester, Tenn. For live coverage of the festival throughout the weekend, visit www.tennessean.com/music.

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