Bonnaroo Sells Out in Favor of Commercial Success

eminemIt was only a matter of time, I suppose. It happens to all music festivals eventually, as they struggle to make money and become commercially viable. It happened to Lollapalooza and now it’s happened to Bonnaroo: it’s completely sold out.

Over the past few years, the festival has snuck in some more mainstream acts, like Jay-Z.

The 2011 lineup is a whole new level of mainstream though, proving the festival has just lost sight of its beginnings.


Bonnaroo was built on the shoulders of small, virtually unknown bands. It was a goldmine of talent. We looked forward to it every year because we KNEW we’d be exposed to music we’d never heard before. It was the great mystery -- who would be the breakout of the festival each year?

This year there are still some virtual unknowns on the bill, but even the majority of the indie acts are fairly well known. The Low Anthem will be performing. Bela Fleck will be there! Florence and the Machine ... all of these are indie faves.

But then you keep reading the list.

Bruce Hornsby ... Big Boi ... Primus ... Eminem ... Lil Wayne?!

What the hell?

These guys are all musicians in their own right. Great, good for them. But they are not independent music artists. They do not represent the spirit of Bonnaroo.

The producers are abandoning their core demographic. Most Bonnaroo ticket holders would never buy a ticket to an Eminem concert. Or Lil Wayne. And come on -- Robyn?

Suddenly this year the producers seem to have decided that their core demographic, the people who made the festival what it is today, just aren’t good enough anymore. Maybe they aren’t making enough money off of us for their tastes. So instead of booking awesome acts that fit with the style and tone of the festival, they’re watering it down. What was once a haven for independent acts is now no more than another Grammy show.

What do you think of the 2011 Bonnaroo lineup?


Image via courtneyBolton/Flickr

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