With the announcement of the lineup for Bonnaroo 2024, Season 7 of The What Podcast is officially underway. Last time, the crew gave their first impressions of the bill, which features Red Hot Chili Peppers, Post Malone, and more. This week, they're going even deeper, as Barry and Lord Taco sit down with Brad Parker and Cory Smith from C3 Presents, the folks behind the fest.
The group talks all things Roo, discussing what makes the festival special and how it has evolved over the years. They had so much to say on these topics, in fact, that we had to split the episode in two! Check out part two of our conversation with Brad and Cory from C3 here!
Listen to the full chat on The What Podcast here and you can also watch it on YouTube. While you're at it, go ahead and like, review, and subscribe to The What Podcast wherever you get your podcasts. You can also follow the Consequence Podcast Network for updates on all our shows, and snag our "Radiate Positivity" T-shirt on the Consequence Shop.
The Bonnaroo lineup is out.
We know who's gonna be there on the farm.
Will you be there on the farm this year?
Barry Courter, Lord Taco.
We're here, we're gonna talk about what's coming up.
We're gonna talk about how to have a great experience
on the farm and it all starts right now.
Can you believe it?
Can you believe it?
I can't believe it.
It's January, it's here, it's here.
We have the lineup, we've started, it's year seven.
Can you, I just, it just kills me.
I can't even think about it when I, I can't wrap my head around it.
I can't either.
And to those of you that have been listening since the beginning, thank you.
I know we got a lot of OG listeners and if you're new to the show, we got a lot of new
people too, welcome.
I'm glad you, I'm glad you said that because that's exactly where I want to go with this.
We have two special guests, this episode and next.
We're gonna split it into two.
We had Brad Parker and Corey Smith, festival director and marketing director of Bonnaroo
and a whole bunch of other festivals, Moon River in, among them, which is our local festival.
So if you're new to Russ's point, if you are new, I kind of feel like we need to sort of
set the table here a little bit almost every time.
Because one of the points that Brad makes in our conversation or Corey, I think it was
actually is that more than 50% of Bonnaroo attendees are first timers.
Yeah, that's fascinating.
I had no idea.
In our world, we think everybody's been there a hundred times, right?
I mean, that's just how we think and that's not the case.
So that means that probably that many are finding us for the first time as well.
And they're probably looking in thinking, who are these two old guys and why are they
talking about Bonnaroo?
What do they have to offer?
And so as way of introduction, again, I'm Barry, I spent almost 37 years writing entertainment
music stories for the Chattanooga Times Free Press.
That's Lord Taco.
He is an actual Lord.
He has papers to prove it.
I have papers.
He has papers.
We met through our mutual friend, Brad Steiner, who I co-created this podcast with and one
crazy lunch time about three months before 2018 Bonnaroo.
I said we should do something live, Facebook Live, if you remember that crazy thing.
And I mean, his eyes lit up and I think that was like a Thursday and by Friday, he had
contacted you because he knows you're really, really good with computers and web pages and
all that sort of stuff.
So he had a web page designed, a name, a show.
He had it all.
And we thought for three months leading up to the 2018 Bonnaroo that we would do a podcast
for three months.
And here we are seven seasons later, right?
Did I leave anything out?
No, you pretty much nailed it.
I remember I didn't know you at the time, but Brad, you know, through Brad, he just
said he hit me up.
I think at dinner one day he bought me a beer and said, can you get us a website and a domain
and you know, a podcast?
And I said, sure.
And also shout out to Nicky T, Nick Turner, who designed the logo, did all the design.
And so it wasn't all me.
You know, we had a few people come together on this, but.
Yeah, Nicky T. He did.
If you've heard of Camp Nut Butter, he did a lot of that.
The giant heads that we have.
If you've been to Bonnaroo and you've ever been back in the area and seen Camp Nut Butter,
You've heard about it, which is again, part of the reason why this thing is so special
is we actually have a camp that we've created.
And picket fence and name and a marquee.
And that's really sort of the theme of this show and the theme going forward is the reason
we, well, first of all, we thought it would last three months and that would be it.
That was the entire timeline.
But the reason we thought it was a good idea is because we realized that we were talking
about Bonnaroo almost every week, every time we had lunch together, we were talking about
Bonnaroo in this community.
And so we started this podcast and then figured out pretty quickly that there is an entire
I used to joke, if you remember when we first started that we were big in Korea, North Korea,
because we could see the analytics.
And we had listeners in North Korea and I'm sure it was a bot, but whatever.
I thought it was still funny because it wasn't one, it was several.
Which was so stupid.
But we figured out pretty quickly that there is an entire community that is as obsessed
with this festival as we are.
And you are going to hear Brad Parker in particular and Corey talk about that exact same thing.
We had about what, 90 minutes with them?
Yeah, it was over an hour total.
They spent a lot of time with us.
And the first half is sort of just that.
It's us, them talking about how they fell in love with this festival like we did.
They were not, it's funny how many lives have been changed by this festival.
And that's, I think a huge part of this conversation.
Ours, yours and mine.
No question about it.
Yeah, it's definitely changed mine.
I mean, you and Brad and even Bryan Stone combined probably have a whole lot of experience
going to Bonnaroo because you all have been to nearly every single one.
I had never been before 2018, which is crazy because it seems like I should have been going
this whole time.
We're so close here in Chattanooga.
Plus I've got the bus, I've had the bus for 20 years and that's what everyone says that,
oh, I bet you take this to Bonnaroo.
And my answer has always been no.
And then it became why not?
So this was my opportunity to get involved with you all and actually go to Bonnaroo.
So I've been going ever since 2018.
And have a whole new group of, I mean, more than friends.
There's people I talk to every day now because of Bonnaroo.
And Brad and Corey, again, Brad is the director of the festival and Corey is the marketing
They didn't have those careers 10 years ago.
They were just fans who ended up at Bonnaroo and like us fell in love with it.
And, and figured out a way to make a career out of it.
I mean, I don't think, I don't think I can emphasize that enough, you know.
That doesn't happen with a lot of fields, you know.
And Yvonne, who we had on a couple of three weeks ago is now a photographer working festivals
because of Bonnaroo.
Our friend David Bruce, you know, who hadn't, he didn't change his career, but he's been
going since what?
I get it wrong.
It's been going for quite a while now.
11 to 12, cause he had his 10 year, his 10 year anniversary would have been either one
of the ones that got canceled.
I think 2020, I don't know.
But yeah, it's your friend.
And he's a friend of ours.
As I've said, been to my house.
That's, that's sort of the line for me, you know.
If they've been to your house.
I know people, but if you've been to my house, it means a little something special.
And that one does, but, so you have edited the episodes.
You've got them both broken down.
So I have my sort of talking points, but what, what stood out?
I mean, I know what stood out when we were talking to those guys, but now that you've
gone back through, were there key points that jumped out at you?
Like you said, I mean, they both started Bonnaroo as fans and then this ended up being their
And of course, through AC Entertainment and C3, they work on a lot of festivals all over
But they both emphasize how different and unique and special Bonnaroo is to them.
And it's almost, you know, they, they manage it differently because they understand that
it's a lot of fan first type programming.
And you know, there's things they can do at Bonnaroo that they can't do at other festivals.
And that was, that stuck out to me.
That's a great point.
And, and also want to, to give a shout out to the real robust guys, Daniel and Sharla
also interviewed Brad and Corey the day after we did and took it a little bit different.
They went a little deeper as they should have.
And I'm glad they did into the camping experience.
You and I sort of come at it from the media area backstage kind of thing.
And they spend more time out in, in the camping area and, and spend a lot of time on that.
It's a really, really good interview, Brad and Corey again, give a whole lot more information.
Complimentary to ours, I would say you can listen to both, both shows and get a pretty
But you're going to find the same thing.
You're going to find it's, it's about community.
You're going to find that it's different.
It is completely different.
But one of the things to your point, which you were mentioning is they really do listen.
They read all the reddits.
They read all the emails.
They read the good, the bad, and they react to it.
We have said that from the beginning, even before those guys were involved, I could tell,
I can tell you as a, you know, someone who went that very first day and has been going
every day, every year since 07, they listen.
They know it's hot.
They know we need bathrooms.
They know we need grass.
They know we need shade.
They know we want, you know, tame Impala and they know we want this band and that band
and they know we need water.
They listen and it doesn't happen overnight.
And that was one of the things you'll hear Brad say, you know, it takes time.
It takes money.
That was another thing you'll hear that, you know, it just, they listen.
And I think that is so key.
They're not just sitting in an office thousands of miles away, no idea what it's like making
You know, they're in what Nashville and Knoxville?
Yeah, those two are Live Nation C3, I think is in Texas, Austin.
So they're spread all over the country.
They do, you know, these are the big boys.
These are the guys who put on the Sirius festivals.
So we're lucky to have them.
The other thing I wanted to emphasize, if you're new, we have an entire catalog of past
shows that Russ has done an unbelievably great job of organizing.
And I would recommend you go back and listen because they're not, to me, they're evergreen.
We've had Brad and Cory on, we had them on last year.
And we've had Ashley Caps, we've had Rick Farman, we've had Jeff Cuellar, we've had
all these people who helped put these events on.
And they go, we love the sausage making.
That's what this show is designed about.
And so we do.
And I've tried to make it easy to go back and find all that because it's broken down
by year, by topic, by guest.
I mean, you can look it up, you can just search for whatever and hopefully find it.
So we have a large catalog and it's kind of hard to manage, but hopefully we can.
And we do, occasionally we'll pull out clips from old episodes and put them out as a high
You might've heard some of those.
If it's a week where we don't have a lot to talk about.
High five clips.
But you know, it's about a five minute, five to eight minute, maybe 10 minute clip of something
that we hope will entice you to go back and listen.
But my point is they're evergreen.
I don't think they're dated.
There are a lot of band interviews, but Brad mentions Brian Benson and Steve Green.
Steve Green, those are the guys that book these acts.
They've been on our show a couple of times.
And if you're interested in why they book so and so and not so and so, you know, it's
I've told people many times at Moon River, I had a couple of shots of bourbon that were
a little stronger than I knew.
And the next thing I know, I'm hugging up to Brian Benson telling him he needs to book
Like he's never heard that.
He looks at me like, seriously?
You don't think I thought of that?
It's not one of my finer moments.
But point being, they talk about that several times and you know how that happens.
It's not just, you know, walk into a store or walk online and say I want this one and
that one and that one.
You know, it's a complicated formula.
And probably, probably Russ, if we've done nothing else with this show, I think we've
helped explain to people through interviews with guys like that, not us necessarily, the
process, you know, the fact that they work very hard to build a lineup with lanes, as
they call it.
You know, if you're a fan of XYZ, what else will keep your interest for four days while
you camp in hot, sweaty, muggy, miserable, middle Tennessee in June?
If you bought a ticket based on your favorite band is playing, you know, Sunday, what are
you going to do the other three days while you're there?
And that's a good point.
They try to curate that experience based on your musical taste.
I think that is probably in the top three or four things that we have learned in doing
I think it is the Bonnaroo code, the Bonnaroo community, radiate positivity.
I think you and I, you know, I know I have, I remember leaving there after the first year
thinking why can't it be like this all the time?
Why can't people just be kind?
You know, just do the right thing and be kind.
And for me, those are some of my favorite episodes when we just talk to people like
you and me that are fans and that are in the community.
And, you know, like we've had Cassie on a few weeks ago and a bunch of people have been
on the show that aren't necessarily in the business or, you know, a music performer,
but they're very much just as part of Bonnaroo as any of them.
And just be kind.
Be who you want to be.
Be whatever you want to be.
We get to do that for those four or five days, six days now.
And it's a great lesson that we all, you know, can take with us, I hope.
So I think I'm so excited.
We kicked off season seven with the lineup.
Yeah, obviously, you know, Post Malone, Red Hot Chili Peppers, everybody should know by
now if you're listening, you know.
I mean, that's nothing new.
No news there.
No, we started with our initial reactions and then we did a live show with Brad and
Corey and then this is going to be the next couple of episodes.
So, which is another point.
We have a YouTube channel that is kind of a companion to the podcast.
If you haven't come over and subscribed, we do live streams and we do videos a lot of
So, you know, please check it out.
And so along those lines, this is the kicks off the season.
We are probably going to do, we're not probably, we're going to have something every week,
whether it's a high five clip or a new interview.
We're going to interview fans.
We're going to interview artists.
We're going to interview as many people as we can that are the behind the scenes, the
sausage makers, as we call them, because that's what I like doing.
I like asking how you build a stage in a week.
You know, how you get sewer and water and all of that on a 700 acre farm for a week.
That stuff fascinates me.
And you know, for a long time, there was nothing out there.
It's just a 700 acres of nothing field and they had to bring all this in.
That's exactly right.
And that's what we love.
I really, I'd ask you if there were other things from the interview that really jumped
out at you.
You just, I guess everybody will just have to listen.
Like I said, the first part is mostly Russ and I asking them and getting sort of their
story, how they ended up where they are.
And then the second half is a little bit more in depth about this particular and some of
The camping, the a la carte sort of camping changes.
And so it's a pretty wide ranging interview.
Those guys are great.
They were so nice to give us as much time as they did.
And I always love talking to those two.
And I think they like coming on and talking to us.
I know they do.
And it's, again, they're just, they're us.
They're just fans that, it's so funny to think about that.
And again, going back to Yvonne and those guys, this was not a career path that they
had lined up kind of.
Corey a little bit more, I mean, he's a musician, but it's just interesting how this festival
has impacted so many lives.
And I think you get that from these two interviews.
Well, there you go.
I hope you enjoy it because I sure did.
As promised guys, we're back.
This is the what podcast I'm Barry.
This is Lord taco.
As promised, we have Brad and Corey from C3 presents to talk about, man, what are we going
to talk about?
We're going to talk about the changes last year.
We're going to talk about the changes this year.
We're going to talk about this year's lineup.
We're going to talk about whatever you guys want to talk about.
First of all, thank you for being here.
Thanks for having us.
Well, we have to do this for, well, let's do this.
Well, let's do this first.
Brad, what is your role, please, with C3?
My name is Brad Parker and I'm the festival director of Bonnaroo.
When you do other festivals also, right?
Because we want to get, I want to get into that a little bit with, with C3.
So my role kind of changes depending upon the show.
So I have a few shows I work on that I'm the festival director.
And then there are some projects where I'm more of in support roles as like a project
So it kind of depends upon, you know, we've got over 30 festivals in our portfolio.
So we definitely have players that, that change, you know, that are chameleons a little bit
and have to switch roles depending upon the project.
But for most of the, what some that are listening may know as the AC Entertainment festivals,
I serve as the festival director of Moon River in Chattanooga, Highwater in Charleston, South
Carolina, Bonnaroo and a few others.
But that's my role.
I wanted to, I wanted to get that from you because I want to, I want to ask a little
compare and contrast kind of thing later on.
If I remember.
All right, Corey, what is, what is your role, please?
I'm a marketing manager at C3.
My main shows Bonnaroo, but I also work on some of the other formerly AC Entertainment
shows like Highwater, Railbird, Moon River.
And then you go ahead and tease.
We might have a couple more coming this year.
But yeah, that's, and then Bonnaroo is kind of a weird one.
You know, me and Brad and other handful of people are kind of, you know, some of the,
the like OGs on the Bonnaroo team.
So we ended up wearing a few different hats on this one and just kind of get sucked into
pretty much everything, which is always fun for everybody else's new.
I'm Barry again.
That's Lord Taka.
We started this Bonnaroo related podcast in 2018 and you guys, Russ pointed out that you
guys were fans first as were we.
And I think that's really important and an important thing to point out.
When you get it, it's, it's as, as Jeff used to say, it's not about dropping in, getting
a big bag full of money and leaving town.
You're kind of committed to it year round.
I went for the first time in 11, I think, or 10.
And I haven't missed one since then.
And it's, it's one of those where like myself and a group of friends, like even before I
started working with AC Entertainment, it was kind of just one of those things that
we were not going to miss, you know, Brad, I think, I think Brad's been going even longer
than I have.
I missed a few years, um, in around 2011 to 13, but, uh, or 2010 to 12, but my first one
I went to was 2008.
I was still in high school actually.
So my mom, I was going to the Gallenburg for the weekend to go to Dollywood.
That was a lot.
And, uh, went, went and did other things instead of going to Dollywood.
And then my, my first, uh, my first one working on the team was in 2013 in a, in a very small
But yeah, it's important.
I think Corey and I were, were fans first.
And I think that's why we really pride ourselves in being able to have a finger on the pulse
and understand the tone of the fan because we, that's where we came from.
So it's all like we're festival guys coming in saying, oh, we're experts and we know what
to do with the festival.
We're, we're Bonnaroo fans and we've just been blessed with the opportunity to be able
to be, be involved at a deeper level.
And so it's been really fun.
Corey and I love it.
I remember just rolling up the first night that we got there my first year and just like
getting out of the car and grabbing a beer and looking around and being like, this is
And like, and like that, that feeling like still doesn't really wear off.
Like I get there, you know, a week early now and you know, it's not, it's not half filled
by the time we get there.
Um, and still like that first night when you kind of wandered around, you're like looking
around here, like this is a very unique experience.
There are two great beers in life at the end of a round of golf.
And when you pull up and you get your campsite started at Bonnaroo.
I can't relax until I, until I'm parked.
And then I opened that first beer and then it's like, all right, Bonnaroo is on.
Here we go.
What are you drinking, Barry?
What's your, what's your, what's your, what's your, it's a little early.
I know Russ is on the PBRs.
I didn't know what you're, I'm waiting for that splat.
Hard to drink all day if you don't start early.
You got a starter.
First bottle of beer was.
I usually bring a case of Bush.
Yeah, I love that.
Isn't that so funny?
I brought it.
I bring a case every year and a couple of years.
Jim Burris, who's a VP.
I don't remember which record label.
I can't even remember from Chicago, Columbia showed up at camp and I had a Bush and he
was like, Oh my God, I haven't had a Bush in forever.
Can I have one?
And he and his son drank all my beer.
Which was great.
Fine with me.
So in typical fashion, this is how I work.
I had some questions, but this line of questioning I want to stick with because I think it's
One of the things I want to talk about is because I've been hearing all week and, and
Russ the last couple of episodes we've had have been people who have said Bonnaroo changed
Yvonne was on with us a couple of weeks ago and she's now a photographer, you know, working
for music festivals.
She was into photography, what a decade or so ago.
Russ, you probably remember more than I do, but that sounds right.
Now it's that she does for a living.
Did you guys, was this your goal to be involved in music and music festivals?
Brad when you were in high school and you went to that first one or, or you like the
rest of us where you thought, man, this is a pretty good gig.
I think for me, and maybe this is similar to a lot of people's stories.
I always had a very intimate relationship with the music growing up.
It was always like my free therapist.
You know, I didn't have, anytime I was either sad or mad or angry or whatever feeling I
had, there was a record or a song that I went to and that really helped me channel or focus
on the energy and the emotion.
And so I was really attached to the music and I never, I never thought that it was something
that could be a job.
I thought you had to be the guy behind the mic or you had to be the drummer or whatever
to be able to work in music.
And it took me a little bit of time to figure that out.
I mostly was in love with being in a space where that music became a physical, tangible
thing, which was at live shows.
And then I think it was sometime in college, close to the end of college, Ashley Capps
came and spoke at a class I was in at UT in Knoxville.
Ashley Capps for people listening is the AC and AC Entertainment co-founder along with
Superfly of Bonnaroo.
Just sorry to interrupt, but just to bring everybody up.
So he came and spoke at a class when I was in college and that kind of put AC on my radar
and got connected with that organization and ended up starting to work in there part time
in 2013 and then full time in beginning of 2015 or end of 2014.
And then I just been pretty much in it with Corey that entire time through iterations
of the company via acquisitions and things like that.
But it's been the same people in the same room and the same festival for all I care
to mention it since that time.
So your story is very similar to my daughter, Grace, who you knew.
She worked there at AC, same thing, high school, fell in love, got an internship at AC Entertainment,
did four years of working with James, she and all there, the volunteers and then got
married and is doing much better because she figured out there's nobody getting rich, but
But anyway, Corey, what's your story?
We love Grace.
It was a blast working with her and getting to know her.
So I always sang and played music and stuff growing up, especially in like middle school
and high school, and I was kind of like desperate in high school to find a way to get involved
in music because I felt like there probably wasn't really a way to easily perform or play
unless I got really, really good.
And I didn't really want to teach.
So I found out about music business programs at Belmont and TSU.
And I found out pretty quickly that I was way too poor to go to Belmont, so I went to
MTSU and had a great experience there.
Kind of like DIY'd shows and played in bands and did like mini tours and stuff and just
kind of like got my feet wet that way.
And then moved back to Knoxville for an internship at AC in the marketing department.
But yeah, I was, as I started going to more shows in college and festivals, I was definitely
kind of drawn to live music.
A lot of the curriculum there at MTSU was like label based and like marketing of recordings
and that kind of stuff.
And that never really like resonated with me, especially in a space where that was changing
And, you know, some of the stuff they were teaching at that point already felt like it
was a little out of touch as everything was sort of going digital and they're still talking
about like putting CDs on shelves and Target and stuff.
But all the stuff I did with live was always really interesting.
I loved playing shows at the time.
You know, even now, like one of the things I talk about a lot is like, I like to go to
some of the big like hyped up shows, especially the ones like a, you know, like a Zach Brian
where it's like super prone to like sing alongs.
Like even if you don't know a lot of the songs, and I like to just kind of like hang back
and watch the fans and listen to them.
And you know, you get a pretty big like dopamine hit obviously and that happened.
I think that that's something that, you know, through all my years, that's really the only
place you can get that.
It's just super cool to, you know, be involved and help create that space.
But yeah, at AC I did marketing for concerts for quite a while and then started drifting
into the festival world and then came on with C3 a few years back.
I'm glad we did this.
I mean, my story is similar.
I'm older than you guys, but I was at college, had no clue, found out if I, you know, wrote
for the paper and reviewed concerts, I got free tickets.
And if I reviewed records, I got free records.
And that literally is why.
I had an internet blog in college that I used to get free tickets.
That literally led to a 30 something, 37 year career and including going to Bonnaroo.
And you know, Russ is, he's with us because he figured out how to design web pages and
do everything else that he does amazingly.
So well, and it got me a free ticket to Bonnaroo and that's kind of how I latched on.
Here we are.
Yeah, here we are along those same lines.
Any advice for somebody maybe in high school or coming out of college looking, they love
music, maybe love festivals.
Any advice for somebody that would want to break into the, this kind of career field
or, you know, yeah, I've, I like to, uh, I like to encourage people to go the DIY route
as much as they can, the music space.
Um, I think a lot of times when you're in school, you get encouraged to do a lot of
internships and, you know, seek out mentors and, uh, kind of like, you know, fill a network,
which you definitely should do.
Um, but I think that there's a lot more that you can do by yourself that people are afraid
to do sometimes, you know, throw your own show, do a mini festival, um, manage a band
when you're in college.
Um, try booking a band, you know, I think all of that stuff.
Like for me, when I'm looking at resumes and interviewing people, uh, coming to the music
industry, people that have done that kind of stuff and take an initiative and kind of
like built their network that way is usually really impressive to me.
And there's, you can like in music, you can even like develop your own company doing that.
Like you don't even have to go work for somebody if, if you like latch onto a band and do a
good job and it works.
Like, so it's, it's time well spent, I think, and that's, that's always my advice.
I think that's a little like against the grain method that works pretty well.
Brad, I'm, I'm gonna let you speak and then we're probably going to say the same thing,
but go ahead.
Um, I, uh, you know, I told to a lot of students, um, throughout the year and we've got the
Boderu U program that we've put together and we're moving that to La Palooza and trying
to get that started at ACL in Austin as well.
And something I always tell, you know, that this industry rewards two, two people.
The first group are, are the hustlers that Corey's talking about that don't say, you
know, who's going to hire me to manage.
They say, I'm just going to go out and hire myself and figure it out and build the skillset.
That's the first one.
And then the second group of people are just the people that are curious all the time.
I tell kids at the end of each session I have, they ask, they always ask the question, what's
your advice and it's be curious, ask the questions.
This industry more than any other industry, in my opinion, is full of people who will
respond to that cold email that they get.
Um, I have students all the time send me cold emails and I think when I respond to them,
they're just like, wow, I didn't know what I didn't expect to respond.
So I don't know where to go from here.
Like what am I, what, what am I supposed to say now?
But reach out to people, man, stalk people on LinkedIn.
I mean, if there's a job you want, find someone in that job, find their email and today's
age it's not hard and reach out to them.
The thing, the thing I always say, and I used to speak at like career days is very similar
is, uh, and kind of Corey, it's everything you both have said is, and even Brad, not
everybody's a singer, not everybody's a quarterback, not everybody's going to be the point guard,
but there are so many other jobs in music and football and basketball or whatever.
Uh, and, and you guys are proof I'm proof, you know, I'm like you, I love music, but
I can't play the radio, but I found a way to be around it by learning, you know, getting
a job in a newspaper.
You guys did the same thing.
So that's the advice I always give.
And you're right about the internships and that's how grace got into it.
And you got into it.
Just keep volunteer, you know, sweep the floor.
It's it's easier to do in high school than in college or as a graduate.
So start early, but anyway, the takeaway is you can't just go to class.
That does not work.
Yeah, that doesn't do anything.
It does not work.
No one ever got that job from class.
Well, we spent way more on, on this than I intended to, but I think it's important because
it is, it establishes a lot of what we talk about on this, this podcast is how much we
love this festival and how different it is.
It's people who care about the music and Bonnaroo and, and festivals.
And we're fascinated by the sausage making.
We're fascinated by how you turn a 700 acre farm into the fifth largest city in Tennessee
for a week.
And so let's, let's go.
My first question was gonna be, how do you guys feel about the lineup?
Corey I'll go first.
If that's cool.
Yeah, you take it.
You take it first.
I still, I still really great about the lineup.
I think that, you know, Corey and I have been talking a lot about this.
Obviously we've been on the phone a lot over the past couple of days and reading a lot
of comments, some of which we should probably ignore, but we, we try to, we try to, we try
to hear out as many people as possible.
And I think that Bonnaroo is, you know, right before this call, Corey and I were talking,
it's so weird to have a festival where people go one time and then the next year they decide
I don't even need to wait and see the lineup.
I'm going to buy the ticket.
That's not something that happens at Alala Palooza or, or, you know, any anywhere else.
And that's not to say anything bad about other shows we work on that do incredible things
for the communities and cities that they're in.
But it's something very special that needs to be acknowledged with Bonnaroo.
And I would never use that as an excuse for something someone might perceive as a mediocre
lineup or underwhelming lineup.
I think the lineup we have next year is, is magical.
I think the undercard is stacked.
I think we've got two very heavy hitting headliners in Post Malone and Red Hot Chili Peppers.
And I think that Fred again is the future of, of the headlining space for the space
that we're in with Bonnaroo.
And people are going to see that as, as, as more European festivals announce their lineups
for this summer.
And our job is to be forward thinking and see what's, what's next and not what's just
And I think that time to time you, we have to be the tastemaker, you know, we, people
trust us to be the tastemaker.
So let us be the tastemaker.
And so that's kind of my thoughts on next year.
I think there's a lot of very Bonnaroo bookings on the undercard this year with Sean Paul
and Guar and all of these things that are little golden gems that you're not going to
find at other festivals that are only going to be unique to, to mixing in, you know, I
don't know anywhere else you're going to see Megan, the stallion and Guar on the same line
It probably doesn't, it doesn't exist.
Or Jean Baptiste.
That's what I said.
Did somebody ask me what I think?
And I said, I'm never going to see Jean Baptiste anywhere else, but this festival and not,
not just because of who I am.
So yeah, go ahead, Corey.
This lineups, this lineups the most unique one that I think we've done in a while.
It's, it's like, it's, it's had the widest like age and demographic range of my friends
who are reaching out to me saying they like it.
Like I've got, I've got, I've got friends in their early twenties hitting me up, loving
I've got buddies in their forties hitting me up, loving this lineup.
I think it's really got something for everybody.
And I think it appeals well to, you know, like the nerdy music lover and the, the person
going to experience the funeral festivities of Botero alike.
I think the opening the main stage on Thursday is going to be insane.
I don't think people are ready for that.
I'm so, so excited about that.
That's going to be a one of a kind experience.
Pretty lights this team's already hitting us with some crazy, crazy ideas for some stuff
they can do to take that show to the next level.
It is just going to be nuts.
And then, you know, I know we've got like, like Brad said, we've been reading the comments.
We always do.
And you know, this, this one's definitely, there's, it's, it's a lot more of like the,
this is the best lineup I've ever seen right next to the, this lineup's garbage.
There's a lot more of that than last year.
It definitely seems like it's a little more polarizing.
And you know, I know, I know some people feel like that Sunday spot is maybe, it's supposed
to be reserved for a legacy act.
And it has been in the past, but I think we all just want to say like, trust us.
The Fred, the Fred show is uplifting and magical and he's pulling out all the stops from Monterey
and people are going to walk away from that field on Sunday night feeling awesome.
And I'm just so excited for everyone to see that it's going to be, it's going to be incredible.
And if you didn't catch it, it's the only festival in the United States that he's going
to play next year.
Didn't know that he said lining a bunch of European festivals and he's headlining bar.
Nice for all to go back to your pretty light point and folks, if you're listening, pace
yourself, pace yourself.
Yeah, that's good advice.
Pretty lights on Thursday night.
Man, that's a dangerous, dangerous thing.
Cause that Thursday is wide open anyway.
So listen to our past episodes.
Opening up Thursday, the, you know, the wet stage is going to be, yeah, it's going to
make for a long marathon.
So yeah, pace yourself is good advice.
Real quick, Russ, just because you had a day to sleep on it.
And you know, Corey, you said polarizing and it's, I didn't think of it this way, but I've
been reading the posts too.
It's either love it or hate it.
There's not a lot of middle with this one.
It's kind of weird.
No, not that I've seen.
Um, all right.
Anything else, Russ, you want to talk about this year's lineup before we sort of move?
What do you guys think?
I was saying, I listened to y'all's podcast yesterday, but it seemed like you guys were
still a little bit undecided at that point.
Well, yeah, we had just gotten it.
Literally minutes before we hit record.
So you really got our first impressions.
We've had about a day or two to sleep on it and it is good.
I think, uh, you know, that, that 2020 lineup that never happened is kind of like where
everybody wants to compare it to.
And of course nothing is ever going to compare to that.
But yeah, I think the more I dig into it and look underneath the big names, there's a lot
on there that, that I am excited about.
And yeah, there's stuff on every day.
I mean, every day is pretty much stacked for me.
Yeah, I think it's really, really, really solid.
And I said so yesterday.
I think the things I've heard are sort of headliners, you know, maybe not last year
or certainly not 2020.
I'm a chili peppers fan from the beginning.
I saw them when Hillel was still alive.
I mean, that's how far I go back.
Um, you know, so I get that, but when you started digging in the krung bins, the John
Baptiste, the Maggie Rogers, it's really, really good.
And, and two things you want to be entertained all day each day, or at least have some options.
You know what I mean?
You don't want one day to just so overwhelmed.
The other two are not very good.
You want to be entertained the whole time.
And Brad trust us.
That's what I keep hearing from, which raises other points, the veterans, the people who
have been know it's more than the lineup.
It's about the camping.
It's about the experience.
It's about trusting you guys to know how to build lanes, put together a lineup.
It's not about just seeing one favorite act.
It's about the whole weekend.
And that's what I'm, I'm hearing from people.
The other thing is, oh man, they were just here.
And I was going to ask you, that's one of my questions.
What's the percentage now of like new ticket buyers?
Cause that's something people forget.
Like veterans like us.
It's the majority.
It is the majority.
So majority of people have not seen it's well over half.
So the majority of people have not seen post Malone on the farm or the chili peppers on
the farm or dude and chili peppers.
Like yeah, they played 17.
A bunch of us got the opportunity to see him at other best walls or shows last year.
And they sound amazing with Rishiani.
We have to have that on the farm.
They've never played Bonnaroo with Rishiani in the band, which is big.
They sound really, really great right now.
So all that stuff plays into it.
And that's why I wanted to bring it up.
I'm glad that came up.
And even if it is, it's not the same band.
Like I, you know, I heard somebody saying post Malone's not the same guy he was a few
years ago, you know, and no artist is.
So I always take that into consideration.
So it, and it's, and I wrote down, you said forward thinking, Brad, that's, yeah, that's
so weird that people can be that way.
I know so many people want to hear their favorite band.
Like they remember them in the seventies or the eighties.
That's not what you guys are about.
And that's what I've always loved.
I don't want to hear a classic rock band doing, you know, their hits.
I don't mind hearing a classic rock band, but I want to hear the progression.
And I think the key to that Barry, and I was talking to Corey about this earlier is that
if you look back, if you, if you talk to OG Bonnaroo fans right now and say, give me your
top five Bonnaroo years by lineup and you pull those years out and you look at those
years in the context of the year that they happened, we were on the front edge of a lot
of those artists.
And you don't even think about that.
Now you look and you go, Oh, Kanye West or whoever is on the fourth line or third line
of this festival.
That's a bad example.
I don't know why he was the first one that came to mind, but my point being, my point
being the best Bonnaroo years were ones where we were really saying, trust us.
We want to be the tastemaker.
We know where this industry is going.
We know what's hot and we want you to be the first.
We want to be the first to show it to you.
And it's hard.
It's easy to forget that when you're looking at a lineup from 10 years ago and go, Oh yeah,
obviously this was a good year because all of these are Grammy winners, but they weren't
Grammy winners when they were on the stage.
Now I did a radio interview.
They wanted me to call in and talk about Bonnaroo and they were talking about this exact same
And I was like, the thing that Bonnaroo has created.
And I went to the first one in 02, started going in 07.
And when we talked to Danny Clinch a couple of weeks ago, we talked about this because
he's a huge fan as well.
Bonnaroo changed the landscape because before it was around, before it came on, it was a
lot of arena rock acts and rap, which was two different things.
But the arena shows were just so cookie cutter.
It didn't matter if it was country or pop or whatever.
You knew at the end of third songs, they were going to say hello, you know, Cleveland or
And then they were going to introduce the band at the end of five and then it was going
to be over in 87 minutes.
Didn't matter what it was.
And it became real.
And, and the other thing is they did away with festival seating.
So everybody had to sit in their assigned seat.
There was no more going towards the front of the stage.
It was just really dull.
So Bonnaroo changed that, but it also changed this idea.
And this is my main point is it fit.
It made it so that you wanted to discover the band that you'd never heard of.
My favorite t-shirt I've ever seen there was some kid wearing a shirt that said my favorite
band doesn't exist yet.
And I thought that sums up, that sums up Bonnaroo to your point.
It made it so that going and coming back with three or four new bands that you had never
heard of is now the goal almost as much as going to see that favorite band that you've
I mean, you guys, that's my response when people say, Oh, I've never heard of these
names on here.
I'm like, well, what a great opportunity.
You know, you can go and come back with a new favorite artists.
You might, you know, find out.
So I think that's a good time.
I think it's a good time also to just give a shout out.
Like as we're going through those comments, you know, you're seeing a lot of people who
you can tell by sort of reading their like full comment that maybe it's not their favorite
lineup and they're, you know, actively encouraging people who are, you know, voicing their complaints
about the lineup to come anyway.
So, you know, you've got people that, you know, have been before obviously and understand
what it's about.
And, you know, I've also read a bunch of stories this week and, you know, seen some stuff online
where people are talking about how the lineup that they liked the least going into the weekend
ended up being their favorite moderate.
Never not great.
As our friend Ken Weinstein said, it's never not great.
And I think, I think another thing, you know, that shows that too is, you know, we've, we've
had the most successful pre-sale this year that we've ever had coming out of last year.
There's more people who have gone ahead and bought their ticket before the lineup that
we've ever had before.
So I think, I think that message is really, you know, starting to spread in a big way.
And you know, that's, that's always been kind of my, my, my thing.
Like I was saying, it's like me and my buddies kind of decided pretty early on, it's like,
we're going to go every year because it's going to be awesome.
And there's hundreds of bands.
We keep hearing.
Well, let me go back then to that first, early on, I said, I would jump around because the
fact that Brad, you said you work with like 30 other festivals, how similar, and we're
going to get into the details for you guys that are listening.
We're going to get into the, because you guys made some pretty significant changes last
year and you sort of continued that.
And that's the main reason we wanted to have you on here.
But I want to talk about this other stuff too, because I'm fascinated by it.
How similar are those other festivals in that regard?
Because we say all the time, the lineup doesn't, it matters.
Let's don't kid each other.
It matters, but it's becoming less and less significant, I think with Bonnaroo, because
of what you just said, Corey.
It's the total experience.
Can you quantify that in regard to some of these other festivals, guys?
I mean, I'll start by saying as a whole, Bonnaroo within the portfolio of festivals that our
company works on and produces in the United States.
I think Corey would back me up in saying, we look through Bonnaroo.
We look at Bonnaroo and make decisions on Bonnaroo through a completely different lens
than what we think about for any other show that we produce.
And it's because of the sentiment and community that's built around the fans of this show
that is way more engaged.
Whereas you have big city festivals or single genre festivals like the Highwater that really
lean into, I want to get Americana fans to come and they're more passive music fans.
They're going to come this year because Noah Khan's there, but next year, if it's My Morning
Jacket, maybe they'll take the year off.
Bonnaroo fans, in my opinion, are always coming until we give them a reason not to.
And that is the opposite.
Everyone else is not coming to Highwater unless we give them a reason to come to Highwater.
Bonnaroo, I truly think when you come one time, I've got to convince you that next year
not to come because that's the magic of the experience.
And we went through a really pivotal time.
This is something I've spent a lot of time thinking about and I've told Corey my thoughts
on this and there's no way to prove it.
I think the pandemic, I think 2020, 2021 really masked a time that naturally we were having
a paradigm shift in the fan base of this festival.
And we were going to have to deal with that either way.
And we kind of got distracted by COVID and the cancellations and the hurricane and all
But we were at a pivotal point where the people that came in 05 and 06 and they saw Dave and
they saw Widespread and they had this festival change their lives.
This is no longer something that easily fits in their life anymore.
And we've now got to pivot to who is that new fan?
The guy that was coming to see Widespread in 2006.
What is that fan today?
Is it the kid that's 18 that's coming to see Fred again?
Is that who that is?
And how are we catering to that?
And so I'm kind of rambling a little bit.
No, man, you're nailing it.
Please don't stop because you're...
It's just such a special thing, man.
It's the coolest thing I've ever been able to work on and associate myself with.
And it's unlike anything else we work.
And I'll let Cory talk about it.
I want to preempt because I want to comment on that.
You talked about COVID and the hurricane, but also that was right smack in the middle
of the big shift between AC and Superfly and Live Nation C3, right?
So as a fan, it felt like, man, this thing is going really, really corporate.
And then it felt like people like you two stepped back in and said, don't mess with
Dude, the C3 team also is the best group to do this show.
That is not a corporate situation over there.
That is a bunch of music lovers with big ideas, just like AC.
They just got more festivals.
It's super cool.
But am I wrong?
And that's the way I felt.
You know what I'm talking about?
I think there's a perception of any time Live Nation's name is brought up, that is the
They're the death star.
Yeah, they're the big...
100%, I agree.
They're the Comcast.
Yeah, but it's important.
It's really important.
I can't stress this enough.
If you were to turn my camera around, walk out my door and walk about 30 feet down the
hallway in front of me, you'd walk into Brian Benson's office.
And that's who's booking this show.
Friend of the show.
Him and Steve Green, right?
They're doing all the magic work.
And those were the same guys that did it in 19 and they did it in 20 and they did it before
C3 was in the picture and before Live Nation was in the picture.
And when somebody like C3 becomes involved, and I'm extremely lucky to work for a company
like C3 because like Corey said, it's a lot of dreamers and big idea people.
And the only thing different now is that those dreamers have access to more resources and
capital to actually do cool stuff.
It's pretty sweet.
But perception is the right word.
That was the perception.
And then in the last couple of years, it felt like whatever shift change there was, and
it may just have been a perception, but definitely...
I'm glad to hear you say that.
And Brian and Steve, man, they're great.
They've done a terrific job.
All right, Corey, I interrupted your answer.
I think the big thing too with like looking at the perception and stuff, it's...
Some of the comments sometimes are...
It's always great to get feedback from people because we need it.
We spend as many hours as possible out there on the site, but we're not experiencing it
in the same way that fans are.
And we take all of that to heart.
But it is hard to see those comments sometimes where people think it's a big...
Boughters a big money machine that's just gobbling up dollars because it's really just
a bunch of me and Brad's in here trying to make something weird out on a farm in Tennessee.
Yeah, it does need to make money.
We do have to eventually turn a profit to be able to keep doing it, but there's a lot
of liberties that we're allowed to take that aren't necessarily contributing to the bottom
I had a boss that used to say, nobody likes to be told their kid has big ears.
So there you go.
That's just part one.
Part two will be next week.
Russ, I mean, I don't think I oversold it.
Those guys are fans.
They're fans, fans, fans first, right?
They just happen to have the keys.
And they listen.
They listen to other fans.
They listen to other fans and it's interesting to see.
You can tell it stings a little bit when they hear criticism, but they do something about
They do if they can.
And a lot of times they can.
So keep that in mind that when you make comments like that or you see comments, they definitely
look at it and respond and like you said, it's not always an instant change, but it's
something they can work towards.
They're looking at long-term.
That's a great point.
And that's something that I've been saying to you, especially my goal is to not only
go this year, but next year and the next year and the next year.
And so that's a different mindset in a lot of ways than just how can I take advantage
of something this year?
You know what I mean?
We won't go too deep into that, but yeah, it's just interesting.
I think it's a great point and I'm glad you keep making it that they listen because I
think that's very important.
I also wanted to ask you, it's been about a week.
Have you digested any more of this lineup?
I still think it's really good.
I think my initial reaction is similar to yours and I haven't come off of that.
The top is okay.
It's kind of interesting.
You hear, if you listen to Brad and Corey on the Rebus podcast, they get into it a little
I think we touched on it briefly that this is a tough year for headliners for festivals
because we all came out of COVID and those guys were ready to work and now they're ready
to take a break.
It's just the cycle.
It's the cycle.
You can't book.
There are reasons why a band books when they do and goes out on a festival and those sorts
of things and you can hear that.
I won't repeat it.
To your point, I still think that middle, that undercard just under the headliners to
the middle is pretty doggone strong.
That's where I'm going to be living most of this year, I think, is that middle.
That's a solid middle.
I had a chance to see Pretty Lights at the Caverns a few months ago and I wish that had
gone now just to kind of see what it's all about.
But I am curious about some of these because like you said, part of their job is to kind
of predict the future.
That was a great point.
That was a really, really good point.
I'm glad you brought that up.
They are a future planning festival.
They're trying to book bands that are going to be great.
And they've done that as well as anybody.
I think so.
So if you're not familiar with a band that's, you're wondering why they're headlining,
just know that there's a reason that Vonaru picked them and put them where they did.
So it's definitely worth checking out.
If you're the type that isn't going to go because you've never heard of somebody on
the lineup, you know, whatever, stay home.
But most of the Vonaru fans are the people who are there to discover.
That's the other sort of thing that we've kind of realized is that it's a discovery
That's the reason you go.
And that's part of, you know, we've shifted a lot from the days of MTV where you would
see a music video and that's usually how artists would get discovered by a lot of people was,
you know, major airplay, but now it seems like discovery happens on places like Vonaru
where you just go and that's where you come back with, you know, a whole list of artists
that you want to go home and listen to now.
That's my favorite part.
Coming home with a, coming home with a list of brand new favorite acts.
You know, Fred again, I know nothing.
Listening to those guys, that's going to be an epic, crazy, you know, North American exclusive
one time only show.
It's going to be big.
And so that's cool.
That's what I'm looking forward to.
I want to see the John Baptiste because where else am I going to see it?
I want to see Gore.
You know, I want to see the ones I'm familiar with, but I want to come back and go or rather
go and see the new act that I've never heard of and be blown away.
So me too excited about that.
Speaking of Gord, I saw some of the memes that people are already posting about a Gwar
and about Gwarly Ray Jepson, the crossover we didn't know we needed.
It's going to be fun.
Well, I'm excited.
I'm energized again.
Somebody, my friends keep saying, you know, are you really going?
Yeah, I'm pumped up as excited as I've been in a long time for this for this particular
And it's partly because of talking to Brad and Corey and the lineup, but just listening
to all these other people talk about how excited they are.
Well, thank you guys.
Please like, you know, hit the hit the like button, share, post a review.
Thanks to Consequence and we're looking forward to where this takes us.
And stay tuned next week.
We'll have part two out.