What's one way to ensure your mega music festival is well attended in the middle of a recession? Book a reunited Phish.
The jam band's legions of ardent followers sellout arenas in minutes, so with little difficulty they will flood the Tennessee fields of the Bonnaroo Music Festival, which begins Thursday and runs through Sunday.
In its eighth year, Bonnaroo — arguably the country's biggest festival and the country's best, according to Rolling Stone — will have a distinctive Phish flavor.
Oh, and a guy named Bruce Springsteen is playing, too.
"If there was such a thing as a recession-proof lineup this year, this had to be it," said Ashley Capps, the co-founder of Bonnaroo and president of AC Entertainment.
In a festival spread out across six stages — not to mention a comedy tent, an arcade and a disco — a single act rarely stands out much at Bonnaroo. Besides headliners Phish (playing twice) and Springsteen, there are more than 100 other acts performing. They include: Beastie Boys, David Byrne, Nine Inch Nails, Wilco, Al Green, Snoop Dogg, Elvis Costello and TV on the Radio.
Phish, the Vermont-based band on tour for the first time since breaking up in 2004, should feel right at home. Bonnaroo, after all, was founded in 2002 as a destination festival much in the mold of the event concerts Phish has hosted in remote country regions. Though individual members of the band have played Bonnaroo, Phish has never performed there.
Bonnaroo is held on a 700-acre farm in Manchester, Tenn., about an hour's drive south of Nashville. Passes generally run for about $250-$300 for the weekend; VIP tickets cost considerably more.