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Now That Bonnaroo’s Schedule Is Out, Here’s How to Maximize Your Time on the Farm

Kevin Winter / Neilson Barnard / Kevin Winter, Getty Images

The 2014 Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival will take over a massive farm plot in Manchester, Tenn., on June 12-15, with dozens of the world’s biggest and up-and-coming artists performing. The daily schedule of events has just been announced, and along with all the great music comes plenty of decisions to be made —  like, how do you make the most of your time?

As someone who’s attended the past five Bonnaroos, I’ve analyzed the daily schedule to offer some insights on how to best tackle the various stage layouts and where to dig deeper into the fest’s stellar roster of acts in its 13th year. So take a deep breath, and let’s sort through how to maximize your Bonnaroo experience.

THURSDAY

Bonnaroo’s opening day is always specifically designed to be not only an introduction to the festival’s grounds, but also a platform for some of the most exciting emerging artists to grab the attention of receptive and ready-to-rock festival fans. The larger What and Which stages, where some of the weekend’s largest acts will perform, are closed on Thursday. So the trio of tents hosting shows will keep your travel time from stage to stage to a minimum.

Spotlight performances include Polica, White Denim, Pusha T and Cloud Nothings holding down some of the prime-time slots. Here’s how to get a healthy taste of Bonnaroo’s first course. The times below reflect my recommendations on how long to spend at each set, not the actual length of the shows. And they don’t take into account possible bathroom, snack and wandering breaks.

The Preatures – That Tent – 3-3:30PM
The Wild Feathers – Other Tent – 3:35-4:05PM
Jonathan Wilson – This Tent – 4:10-4:40PM
Allah-Lahs – That Tent – 4:45-5:15PM
Robert DeLong – Other Tent – 5:20-5:45PM
Cass McCombs – This Tent – 5:50-6:20PM
ZZ Ward – That Tent – 6:25-6:45PM
Caveman – Other Tent – 6:50-7:15PM
Thao & The Get Down Stay Down – This Tent – 7:20-7:35PM
Real Estate -That Tent – 7:40-8:30PM
Cloud Nothings – This Tent – 8:35-9:30PM
Break Science – Other Tent – 9:35-10PM
Omar Souleyman – That Tent – 10:30-10:55PM
Polica – Other Tent – 11-11:45PM
J. Roddy Watson & The Business – This Tent – 11:50PM-12:05AM
White Denim – That Tent – 12:10-12:45AM
Pusha T – Other Tent – 12:50-1:15AM
Ty Segall – This Tent – 1:20-2AM

FRIDAY

Phew! You’re not tired already, are you? We’ve gotta get ready for the second coming of Yeezus tonight! Things start to really kick into gear on Friday, when all of the festival’s stages open for business. You’re going to need to leave those flip-flops back at the campsite, as some serious traversing of the fields will be required to make sure you catch all of the biggest sets of the day.

Sunscreen, a full CamelBak and a strong resolve will be your best friends today. The biggest challenge will be choosing between Vampire Weekend and Chvrches, since their sets directly conflict from opposite ends of the festival.

Vintage Trouble – Which Stage – 12:45-1:45PM
Big Sam’s Funky Nation – What Stage – 1:55-2:10PM
Sean Kuti & Egypt 80 – That Tent – 2:20-2:45PM
Dr. Dog – Which Stage – 2:50-3:30PM
Umphrey’s McGee – What Stage – 3:40-4PM
Danny Brown – Other Tent – 4:15-5PM
Ben Howard – Which Stage – 5:10-5:30PM
Janelle Monae – What Stage – 5:40-6:15PM
The Naked & The Famous – Other Tent – 6:30-6:45PM
Andrew Bird & The Hands Of Glory – This Tent – 6:50-7:05PM
The Head & The Heart – Which Stage – 7:10-7:30PM
Vampire Weekend – What Stage – 7:40-8:30PM
Neutral Milk Hotel – This Tent – 8:45-9:25PM
Phoenix – Which Stage – 9:30-10PM
Kanye West – What Stage – 10:10PM-12AM
Mastodon – This Tent – 12:15-12:35AM
Disclosure – Other Tent – 12:40-1:15AM
Deafheaven – This Tent – 1:20-1:30AM
Superjam? – That Tent – 1:35-2AM
Die Antwoord – Other Tent – 2:05-2:35AM
Skrillex – Which Stage – 2:40-3:10AM
Chance The Rapper – That Tent – 3:15-3:30AM

SATURDAY

As the harsh Tennessee sun rises sometime around 7:30AM, waking you up after a full day and night of musical ecstasy, your tent will turn into an oven, giving you plenty of time to nurse that hangover and plan ahead for the middle lap of the Bonnaroo marathon. By now, you’ll have a pretty firm grasp on the stage locations and be able to differentiate This, That, Other, etc.

Sitting in your lawn chair, hopefully in the shade, break out your paper schedule and notice that Saturday holds some of the most difficult scheduling conflicts of the entire weekend. Important decisions need to be made, and re-energizing food needs to be consumed. And funnel cake doesn’t count, no matter how delicious it is.

Clasixx – Other Tent – 12:45-1:25PM
Seasick Steve w/ John Paul Jones – What Stage – 1:40-2:05PM
King Khan & The Shrines – That Tent – 2:15-2:45PM
First Aid Kit – This Tent – 3-3:30PM
Typhoon – That Tent – 3:40-3:55PM
Cake – Which Stage – 4-4:55PM
Bobby Womack – Other Tent – 5:05-5:15PM
Drive-By Truckers – This Tent – 5:20-5:35PM
Cage The Elephant – Which Stage – 5:45-6:05PM
Grouplove – Other Tent – 6:10-6:25PM
Damon Albarn – What Stage – 6:35-7PM
Phosphorescent – This Tent – 7:15-7:40PM
Chromeo – Which Stage – 7:45-8:05PM
Lionel Richie – What Stage – 8:15-8:25PM
James Blake – Other Tent – 8:35-8:55PM
Ms. Lauryn Hill – This Tent – 9-9:20PM
Cut Copy – Which Stage – 9:25-10:20PM
Jack White – What Stage – 10:30PM-12:20AM
Frank Ocean – This Tent – 12:30-12:50AM
Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – That Tent – 12:55-1:25AM
The Flaming Lips – Which Stage – 1:30-2AM
The Glitch Mob – This Tent – 2:15-2:30AM
Darkside – That Tent – 2:35-2:55AM
Zedd – Other Tent – 3-3:25AM
Kaskade – Which Stage – 3:30-4:15AM

SUNDAY

The pervading thought for most of Sunday is “Man, I am not looking forward to driving home tonight.” All good things must come to an end, but not without a bang. Fortunately, the festival closes down as the fireworks go up behind Elton John at 11:30PM, so the extra late-night endurance won’t be necessary as you draw from your already-spent reserves.

Now that you know the map like the back of your unwashed hand, Sunday should be spent making sure you take a walk down Shakedown Street and a spin on the Ferris wheel. This is your victory lap and final bow all in one. Also, it’s going to be a little strange seeing Arctic Monkeys in the evening sun with a full run of festival dates scheduled worldwide as nighttime headliners. And given the location of the festival, it’s understandable why the Avett Brothers are in the coveted pre-Elton John slot.

Lake Street Drive – That Tent – 1-1:30PM
Those Darlins’ – Other Tent – 1:35-2:15PM
Capital Cities – Which Stage – 2:30-2:50PM
Okkervil River – This Tent – 2:55-3:20PM
Goat – Other Tent – 3:25-3:45PM
A$AP Ferg – Other Tent – 4:15-4:35PM
Warpaint – This Tent – 4:40-4:55PM
Arctic Monkeys – What Stage – 5:10-6PM
Washed Out – Other Tent – 6:15-6:35PM
Broken Bells – Which Stage – 6:40-7:25PM
The Avett Brothers – What Stage – 7:35-8PM
Little Dragon – Other Tent – 8:15-8:45PM
Wiz Khalifa – Which Stage – 8:50-9:15PM
Elton John – What Stage – 9:30-11:30PM

And there you have it. Play your cards right and you can catch approximately 80 acts at this year’s Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival. That averages out to almost $3 a band!

Next: More 2014 Music Festivals

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