Ken Weinstein, co-founder of Big Hassle Media, has been handling publicity for Bonnaroo since the very beginning of the festival in 2001. But he's not just a part of the team - he's a super fan of the event.
Weinstein joined Brad, Barry, and Lord Taco from The What Podcast on The Farm back in 2019, and again called in to the show in 2020. In this High Five Clip, the longtime publicist explains why being on the Bonnaroo Farm is never not great.
Hey everybody, welcome back to another high five clip. I'm Barry Courter, that's Lord Taco. As you'll see, Brad is again not with us. These high five clips are things that we've started doing sort of in the off season, I guess if you will. While we talk about Bonnaroo year round, there's not always a full podcast worth of information to do every week, but we want to make sure we're sort of out there because we talk about it every week. That's the whole reason we started doing this. Definitely talk about it and think about it every week. Exactly. Yeah, we're basically killing time until the lineup comes out next month. Yeah, that's right. Until then, there's a few things we can touch on. Yeah, there's always news and a little bit of news and we just sort of figure they're maybe not worth an entire 60 minute episode, but you know, worth talking about. We have these vast interviews, this vault here at the world headquarters. The more we thought about it, we thought some of this is really good information and this is another one of those. I went back and pulled a clip from our interview. We did two interviews with Ken Weinstein. The first was in 2019. He actually came by Camp Nut Butter on a Sunday morning and Russ introduced him to some Southern hospitality and a Mason jar. Yes, some liquid courage. Some liquid courage and he's become a fan and as have we, but he sat with us for an hour or so and told us about how he got involved. There he was in 2001, minding his own business, doing his job with the big hassle media that he owns in New York and a couple of guys from Superflac took him to lunch and said, hey, we think we're going to do this festival. You want to be involved? He said, I've never done anything like that. And they said, neither have we. And a year later there's Bonnaroo. Yeah. And I love that story because he talks about still to this day in his folder of proposals, he's still got the original proposal they sent that just said summer music festival because they didn't even have a name yet. Didn't even have a name. That's how early this was. So that's pretty neat that he can recall all the way back to, you know, it's very beginnings. Yeah. That's in the first interview that we did in 2019 and then in March of 2020 that, you know, the great lineup that we all talk about had come out and they sold not the quickest, they sold out not the quickest, but they sold out the earliest. They sold out before March, which had never happened before. Yeah. And so we had Ken, he was driving around in New York and joined us by phone. I think it was like a Sunday morning, wasn't it? It might've been a Saturday morning, but. Yeah. It was a real off time. It was a real last minute thing. I mean, just thanks to him to make it happen that quickly. And that it was, yeah, it was an oddball thing, but it was very oddball. Of course, little did we know because I think that was days before that we really view the full impact of exactly right. What was coming for us. I mean, March, 2020. That's exactly right. And, and so what we talk about is the inside baseball stuff. And Ken has been there from the beginning. It has some great inside baseball stuff that we talk about. And he also dropped, I don't think it was this particular interview when he dropped the never not great comment about Bonnaroo, even when it's, I think we were talking about the 2016 lineup, which at that time was the lowest attended in what was it? 15 years, 16 years. Yeah. And he made the great comment. Yeah, but it was still great. It's never not great, which you'll find on our t-shirt, which by the way, you can find in our merchandise portion on the what podcast.com. You sure can. You can buy that t-shirt and yeah, we attribute that phrase to Ken and we think it sums up Bonnaroo. Yeah. Precisely. Yeah. And he talks a little bit in this clip about why. And it's interesting to me because as like, as you said, it leads into the whole pandemic and then some of the things that they've gone through and the fact, you know, the conversations that we had with Corey and Brad about, you know, making things back the way they were and taking care of the fan and figuring out what went right, what went wrong. And that's one of the things that Ken that we talked about at great lengths and both of those interviews with him about how the fact that when it's all said and done and it's over, they all get together and say, what'd we do right? What'd we do wrong? And what can we do better? And yeah, that's what he gets into a little bit here. So Russ, you want to talk about some of the news that's happened since we were last together now or you want to do it after we hear from Ken? Let's do it after the clip. Let's hear this clip and then we'll come back and we'll finish it out. All right. So here we are. This is 2020 Ken Weinstein. Like I said, he gave us a phone call while he was driving around in his, at his home in New York. So here we go with Ken Weinstein. It's still very important to tell about a story. There's a lot of news, new narratives for 2020 and we're going to keep on telling those stories and getting people excited. I think a lot of what this sellout is all the stories we told last year. So, you know, there's a lot of information that's going to come out in the next several months. That'll be pretty exciting. Yeah. Let's talk about that sellout. That's the reason we're talking. I mean, the fact that this thing sold out so quickly and it's gotten so much energy, right? I mean, people are so excited about this. It's amazing. Yeah. And I think that people always say to me, and I might have said this in the last interview, you know, how was Bonnaroo? And I'm like, it's never not great. So I think the word of mouth on the festival couldn't be any stronger than it is right now because, you know, it's the gateway to the song. It's the rite of passage. It's the state of mind that people want to tap into. And we're incredibly inclusive. We're a bunch of nice people, we're a bunch of loving people, we're a bunch of music loving people. And we just like having a good time together. And everyone's welcome. Everyone's invited. All types of kinds. Sizes, creeds. Everything. And it's the land of acceptance and Bonnaroo is the best. And people love that. Who wouldn't want to be there? Yeah, it is cool. It is cool. I mean, I think everybody has a lot of support. I think that's the reason why we're here today. that wouldn't want to be there. Yeah, it is quite amazing. And it's gotta be a source of pride when you get to look at the calendar and say, oh my goodness, we sold out quicker than we ever have. I mean, this is not something that major festivals can send you that they do on a regular basis with this type of quickness. It just doesn't happen very often. The testaments, everything that you were saying, the story that's been told, the feeling that has been created by Bonnaroo over the year after year after year and what you guys are continually to build. And at some point, you gotta look around and be like, what more is there that we can do? But you guys are continually finding new ways to super serve the audience, huh? Well, that's for sure. We never sit on our laurels. We are always looking for ways to improve. And even though we sold out last year, we still want this year to be better. And there's a lot of focus on that. And we wanna make sure everyone's happy. We wanna stay current. We wanna do new stuff. And there is a lot of, and people know that. And that's why they keep coming back because they know we're creative and that we're gonna keep on injecting new, cool, interesting things into the fabric of the festival. I would like to say the warning is important here because it's not the fastest we sold out, but it is the earliest we sold out. Nice, right? 2002 sold out in 19 days. Can't beat that too easily. The second one, 2003, sold out nearly as fast-ish, but this one is the earliest. So we have never sold out before March 1st before. That's unheard of. And I think it's because people wanna tap in and come hang out. And they know we do things right down there and they know it's a lot of fun. And the lineup is insane. Yeah, and I think the way you said earlier is exactly right. And I think that that is part and parcel of why we love Bonnaroo so much. It's never not great. I mean, if there's anything that is more of a Bonnaroo, it could be a Bonnaroo catchphrase, never not great. Never not great. Never what? Never not great. I like it, Bonnaroo, never not great. Pouring down rain, pouring down rain. Maybe a lineup that maybe doesn't hit 100% for you. Maybe you had a bathroom emergency that really screwed up a day or two for you. It's never not great. 100%. You know, I just came back from a fish in Mexico and that was an incredible experience. Not just because everyone was in Mexico, but because of these like-minded people getting together, gathering. It's where they see each other. That's where they come to catch up, hang out, dance, see great music, but really to connect. And when I was in a band in the 90s, a tiny band, you know, we would draw like 30 or 40 friends every time we played. When we broke up, our friends were like, we're never gonna see each other again. You know, like this is what brings people out. And it's where it's a gathering that's created, you know, that's created by the band and it becomes something bigger than the band. And I think Bonnaroo has achieved over its 19 years something very similar. All right, so yeah, there you go. Again, just one five-minute clip, part of our conversation with Ken, who owns Big Hassell Media. He's a guy that 99% of people will never see at Bonnaroo, but he's the one who coordinates all the back area media stuff for people like us, works with a lot of the artists, does all the promotion stuff throughout the year, and is a big, big part of the festival and why it is what it is. Yeah, yeah, and really helps us out a lot too. Oh, yeah, he's great, easy to work with. But thanks to him, but yeah, let's get into, there've been a couple of things happen, so they did the pre-sale, which we alluded to a little bit, seemed to go well, their- Pre-sale, yeah, the Black Friday kicked it off. Seemed to have been pretty successful. They've already moved up to tier two on ticket pricing. Of course, like we said, the Area 931, the former- The flea and tick? Kept up butter. Yeah, the flea and tick area. Yeah, the flea and tick area, yeah. Yeah, sold out right away. Yeah, as we hope, knew it would. Yeah. So I listened to some of the stuff and read a lot of the online stuff. Again, the whole point is, if you have the money and can afford it, you know, go for it. If not, there's certainly other options. I'm not in that universe where, you know, I could do it, but I certainly would. It's worth it. Sure, oh yeah. It's definitely worth it. Yeah. What's your sense of reaction? Do you feel like this is gonna be a good year, crowd-wise? I think so. Yeah, me too. You know, just from the overall, you know, internet commentary and, you know, seems to be, you know, of course, this is still before the lineup and that's really what's gonna make it or break it for a lot of people, but, you know, at least the people that are diehard Bonnaroo fans are back in for sure. Yeah, I got the same. What else, what other news? I know we had a Rue Clu. We had a Rue Clu and it was Grizz. Yeah, nice, nice. And we had a leak, right, or a presumed leak. We have a presumed leak. I don't think it's confirmed, but Odessa is gonna be one of the top three. Yep, yep. I, like I said last week, I think this lineup is important. I don't think it's near the make or break that we, you know, I, some others probably said back in June and July, but I think they, it sounds like they're happy with it. They know what they gotta do. Yeah, and we trust them. Yeah, yeah, they've gotten it right more times than not. You know, you never gonna get everybody all, you know, on the same page about a lineup. Like I always- Except in 2020. Except in 2020, right, there've been some, but all right, and what else, anything else? Well, speaking of lineups, we got a Shaky Knees lineup last week. Yes, we did, very good lineup. I would be happy if that was a Bonnaroo lineup. I thought the same thing, and you know, it is kinda, there's typically, there's a little bit of bleed over. You know, you'll definitely see maybe at least four or five of these on the Bonnaroo lineup. So, you know, I'm thrilled with it. It gives me very Bonnaroo 2019 vibes too, because you've got the Killers and Muse, which were two of their headliners in 2019. Yeah, yeah, it's a very good lineup. And I think we're seeing some of that survival to the fittest, you know, type of stuff. Yeah. Some are going away and falling off or taking a year off, and that means, you know, the festivals can be a little choosier. It's a good point. Yeah, we didn't really get to touch on that, but there's been several festivals this year that have either canceled outright or just pausing for a year. What was it? There was- Is it Railbird? Yeah, Railbird, one in Louisville. What was the other one, Firefly? Firefly, yeah, that's the one. Yeah, I already had a couple of friends who've been on this show who have become festival goers and said, well, you know, that one's put on hold, so it looks like we'll be at Bonnaroo this year. Yeah, that kind of automatically makes the decision for some people. If you've only got the time or money for one festival in a year, suddenly your options are cut down quite a bit. And it's interesting, we might need to have them back on, David and Trevin, because like I said, they've become pretty, not prototypical, they're not 20 year olds, but they're, you know, I don't know how old they are, I don't mean to, I'm not gonna guess and insult them, but they're more middle-aged than they are teenagers, but they've become big festival regular attendees and they would be, I would think, exactly the target market that Bonnaroo has gone after with some of these changes. I think so, oh yeah. Where they can tailor-make, you know. They like their comfort. They like their comfort, and that seems to be what Bonnaroo has put more emphasis on this year. You know, they did say, we're not messing with GA, that's gonna be the same experience, but if you are a little more seasoned and have a little bit more money, maybe you wanna upgrade and get a little bit nicer accommodations. That's right. You want the festival experience, but do you like a hot shower or, you know, air conditioning or whatever? So yeah, we may need to have them back on. Especially kinda update and see what other festivals they've been to and what they like and don't like. That sort of thing, so. All right, anything else? Do we have any previews for what's coming up? We're gonna, of course our next big show's gonna be when the lineup comes out, right? That will be, yeah, the big, big show, but before that, I think we need to, the three of us, we wanna do our own predictions. Was it predictions or wish list? Or a combination of both? I don't know. I think a little of both. Yeah, I've got a little of both. So yeah, that'd be a good one to get out right before the lineup officially comes out. We can see how we do with our predictions. Yeah, I think we'll probably do that next. Soon as we can get Brad, get him out of bed or whatever it is, it's. Yeah, yeah. It's gotten so busy. Probably by then we'll have some more Root Clues come out, maybe a few more leaks. Yeah. You never know. But until then, you know, here's a Hi-Fi clip and like I said, it's another two episodes. I really didn't remember that we did, we've had so many multiple episodes or guests that have been on more than once. I knew, you know, we've had a couple, but I'd forgotten about having Ken on twice. Yeah, yeah. And hopefully we'll have him back on again at some point. For sure. And like I said, if you like the inside baseball stuff, this is it. Yeah, Ken. Yeah, there's nobody more inside than Ken. Ken has been there, like I said, just hearing the story about how he got involved is pretty amazing. Can't imagine, you know, hey, we're gonna do this event. You wanna be involved. And he also pointed out, and I'll just give that kind of give this away because I think Brian Stone asked, because I had always heard the same thing too, that at one point they had like 90,000 people was a sellout and he says, no, it was never that high. I think they started at 50 and then sold that out that first year in what, 13 days, 15 days, something like that. First couple of years sold out crazy fast. Yeah, with zero money spent, zero traditional marketing. So anyway, I hope you'll go back and listen to both episodes. Gives you really kind of a clue where they were in 2020, 2019 and 2020, and then where we are. If you wanna go back and listen to Corey and Brad in that interview. So it gives interesting to see evolution. Yeah, for sure. And this one in March, 2020 was kind of a roller coaster because, you know, the lineup came out and we all loved it. The next thing you know, they've sold out, which was a huge deal. And just seemed like everything was going great. It's right at the top of the roller coaster. And then we just came all the way back down. Exactly. All right, well, there you go. We will be back next week with something. It'll be either another high five clip or hopefully we'll have Brad. Maybe we'll do a full episode. We're about due. So subscribe, ring the bell, share. Thank you so much. Send comments. You know, we've asked for those before. And I don't know, Russ, I'm putting you on the spot. We haven't talked about the phone. We have a phone line. Do people want to call and leave a message or? If we do, we have, it still exists. I think I'll check on that, but we'll make sure it's working. But yeah. Yeah, that'd be fun. That'd be something else we can do on these clips is maybe have somebody call and ask a question and we can try to answer it. And if we can't answer it, then we'll do our very best to go find the person who can. Yeah. That would be four, two, three, six, six, seven, seven, eight, seven, seven. That's about it. Awesome. All right. Thank you guys so much and see you next week.