For the first time in nearly two decades, Great Stage Park in Manchester, Tenn., was quiet in June. Beloved festival Bonnaroo, like so many others around the world, was put on ice due to the coronavirus pandemic – and as the illness continued to spread, the event ultimately canceled its rescheduled edition, which had been pushed from June to September.
But Bonnaroovians now have reason to rejoice: On what would have been the festival’s rescheduled dates, Sept. 24-26, Bonnaroo will present Virtual ROO-ALITY, a three-day offering of new performances and archival content to ease the pain of this year’s canceled physical event.
On the archival side, Bonnaroo’s serving up the goods, including a White Stripes concert from the band’s final 2007 tour, Godfather of Soul James Brown’s 2003 performance and the Beastie Boys’ 2009 Bonnaroo headlining set – the seminal hip-hop trio’s final concert before Adam “MCA” Yauch died of cancer in 2012, making its full-length streaming premiere.
Other archival sets include Metallica (2008), Dave Matthews and Friends (2004), Run The Jewels (2015), My Morning Jacket (2011), Alabama Shakes (2015), Nile Rogers & Chic (2018), Jack White (2014), Nathaniel Ratelif & The Night Sweats (2016), The XX (2017), Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit (2016) and Tears For Fears (2015).
Courtesy Bonnaroo – Masters of ROO-ALITY
Bonnaroo’s Virtual ROO-ALITY event features archival sets by artists from James Brown to Beastie Boys, and new performances from Pigeons Playing Ping Pong, Billy Strings, Nubya Garcia and more.
ROO-ALITY’s new appearances are similarly robust. The festival will channel its jam and Americana origins with Pigeons Playing Ping Pong, Goose, Trampled By Turtles and Billy Strings, and its diverse lineup also includes R&B (Jamila Woods), electronic (Subtronics), jazz (Nubya Garcia), soul (St. Paul & the Broken Bones) and rap (Denzel Curry). Less classifiable: Bruce Hornsby, whose intriguing set will feature Shins frontman James Mercer, revered multi-instrumentalist and orchestrator Rob Moose and rapper Polo G. A folk summit billed as Old Crow Medicine Show’s Bonnarootenanny will feature Strings, Dom Flemons and Molly Tuttle as guests.
The programming extends beyond archival and live sets. Big Freedia and Action Bronson will make taste buds water with food-related content, Allen Stone will host karaoke, and Paramore’s Hayley Williams will curate a digital Sanctuary of Self Love featuring panelists including Charli XCX, Laura Jane Grace, Dr. Joy Harden Bradford, Blair Imani and Maryam Ajai. Sanctuary of Self Love also has planned a “Conversation on Meditation, Creative and Consciousness” between filmmaker David Lynch and meditation leader Bob Roth.
Bonnaroo will also maintain its commitment to bettering the world in its digital iteration. The festival has partnered with Bacardi to present Cheers to Live, which will showcase historic venues and educate viewers about their importance. The Bonnaroo Works Fund will support the ACLU Foundation and nonpartisan voter engagement organization HeadCount.
Originally planned for June 11-14, Bonnaroo 2020 would have featured headlining sets from Tool, Tame Impala and Lizzo, and its lineup included Miley Cyrus, Bassnectar, Flume, Oysterhead, Lana Del Rey, Vampire Weekend, The 1975, Run The Jewels, Megan Thee Stallion, Leon Bridges, Young Thug and many more. In 2019, a bill topped by Phish, Post Malone and Childish Gambino helped Bonnaroo sell out for the first time in six years, and its forward-thinking 2020 lineup sought to build on that success.
Bonnaroo’s Virtual ROO-ALITY will stream daily Sept. 24-26 at 5:30 p.m. ET exclusively on the festival’s YouTube channel. And, yes, there’s also limited edition “Bonnaroo From Home” merch, available now.