Ben Neely and I (Blake Russell) headed out to the farm on Wednesday June 6th. After loading up at the local Walmart with cases of water, chips, bread and the usual tub of Peter Pan peanut butter, we picked up our credentials and headed into the farm one day before public access. That afternoon we set up camp inside the private camp grounds where most of the media and press were located. We decided to take a quick stroll around the farm, not realizing that TECHNICALLY, we weren’t even supposed to be in the camp grounds a day early. After leaving the grounds and walking four miles to the closest Subway, regenerating our energy and then walking back to the campgrounds; we were presented an unexpected issue…
As stated before, apparently we were not even supposed to be let on the grounds on Wednesday. Access for media and photographers was supposed to be on Thursday morning at 10:00 am. Due to some miscommunication though, many media goers were set up camp early on Wednesday. When we arrived back to the entry gates from our long and muggy four mile walk, we were stopped by security. At that moment, we were told that no one was allowed in or out of the camp grounds for the rest of the night due to the miscommunication on security grounds. Problem was… our van, tent and everything we had brought to Roo was about 100 feet inside the gate. After communicating with the grounds supervisor, we were finally escorted back to our tent area inside the camp. Needless to say, we did NOT leave Roo or the campgrounds area for the remainder of the festival.
We started the festival off right. Thursday we shot many up coming artists including two of my personal favorites, R.LUM.R and Space Jesus. Space Jesus moved the night into the nightlife phase where Roo goers slowly migrated to the Kalliope stage. Kalliope was dropped from Roo and then, due to attendees requests, was brought back for this years festival. The party starts late at night at Kalliope and has surprise DJ’s spinning until the sun comes up.
Friday was probably the biggest day for us. Ben and I were moving from stage to stage and shooting some of the biggest artists on the Bonnaroo lineup. We started our day off with a nice shower and then hit the Louisiana Favorites breakfast tent for some of the best breakfast burritos I’ve personally ever had. Grilled scrambled eggs grilled in salsa then thrown in a fluffy tortilla and topped off with crispy bacon and hot sauce. I’m still dreaming of those burritos and the festival favorite, Spicy Pie. Oh the Spicy Pie… We had at least 5 pieces of the Spicy Pie New York style pizza topped with crispy pepperoni, jalapeńo, and crushed red pepper. You wont find anything like it anywhere other than the festival circuit. Once we filled our tanks, we set out to hit all of the artist on our lists. We covered most of the artists we were able to catch between the two of us on Friday. Artists included: Tyler Childers, Sheryl Crow, Paramore, Sturgill Simpson, Kalid, and local favorites, as well as winner of the Lightening 100 Battle for Roo, The Foxies.
As the weekend lead on, we randomly shot many of the festival goers and their whacky and fun attire. The two of us continued our shooting as well as taking breathers to enjoy a little time to ourselves. We spent Friday night after midnight hanging out with some close friends who had the opportunity to make it out for the night. The group of us watched an incredible performance by Muse Friday night. After that we watched a bass, body shattering performance by Bassnectar followed by the usual Kalliope late night dance party. Saturday and Sunday we shot some great artists including: Old Crow Medicine Show, Glitch Mob, STS9, Dua Lipa, Bruno Major, Brothers Osbourne, and Future. My favorite show of the whole weekend of course was a personal favorite, Eminem; The Marshall Mathers himself put on one of the best performances I had seen in a long time.
After The Killers finished off the main stage performances Sunday night, Ben and I hit the road to beat the traffic and headed back to Nashville. We settled back into our homes, took a hot shower from all of the sweat and dirt leftover from the weekend. As I finally sat in my bed, I had a night of silence to reflect on what a wonderful weekend it had been. A fun weekend with friends, shooting pictures of some of the most talented artists on the planet, and some of the best festival food I’ve eaten; I’d say it was a memorable year at Bonnaroo 2018 and we can’t wait to see what 2019 brings us out of the farm!
More images from Bonnaroo 2018: