Tech At Bonnaroo


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For the last 12 years, thousands of people have flocked to Manchester, TN to soak in the sun, music and good vibes for Bonnaroo. Bonnaroo is one of the largest music festivals in the US and wrapped up its four days of non-stop music and activities this past Sunday. I was fortunate enough to attend the festival again and not only was the event environmentally conscious but technologically advanced as well.

The Website

The Bonnaroo website serves as a Roo-goer’s home base for everything from lineup info, tickets, news, videos and even a post-Roo “lost and found” powered by great-karma.com. This year, Bonnaroo teamed up with PROD4ever and WPEngine to create an appealing website with all of the bells and whistles an event of this size needs to run smoothly.

The main site itself was powered by WordPress with WPEngine managing WordPress hosting service –  handling everything from support to site speed. The partnershipworked well given the site’s size and stature.

Mobile App

Bonnaroo’s website was great both on desktop and on mobile because of its responsive theme. There are however some things that are better suited for a native app and that’s where the Bonnaroo app came into play. It mirrored a lot of the content from the website in a more mobile friendly manner and introduced some mobile only features like a trip planner for the drive down. The app was developed and maintained by Nashville-based Aloompa, who seem to have a monopoly on the festival mobile app department.


The best tech integration at Bonnaroo the past two years has to be their RFID wristbands. They acted as your ticket into Bonnaroo and they were scanned every time you headed into “Center-roo” to see a show. These wristbands made it a lot harder for people to sneak in or create fake tickets.

The wristbands also created a bunch of opportunities for interactive experiences. People were encouraged to register their bracelet and connect it to Facebook and Twitter before the event, so they could use check-in locations at each stage to automatically update their status and hopefully make their friends jealous enough to want to attend next year. Checking-in was as easy as holding your bracelet up to one of the RFID scanners, a single beep and a green light and you were on your way. Some of the stations even allowed you to pose for a quick picture that would get posted automatically. Last year, this social experiment generated over 200,000 check-ins. Still waiting for the numbers on this year.

Streaming Video

All of the cool festivals are doing it. It’s actually what got me interested in attending my first Bonnaroo last year. This year, Bonnaroo teamed up with UStream to broadcast two channels, so you were always in on the action. The high quality footage will be released slowly to the public over the course of the year to garner interest in next year’s festival.

In addition to UStream, Bonnaroo teamed up with ChirpVision to stream 3 live shows at once to the audiences’ mobile devices. All you had to do was download their app, and you could take advantage of their free-wifi and video streaming service.

Honorable Mention

It’s not new or directly connected to Bonnaroo in any way, but boy is it awesome. Most people who attend Bonnaroo drive from whatever part of the county they hail from. This year, we used the Waze app for directions to Bonnaroo instead of our old friend Google Maps. Waze is one of the coolest apps I’ve used in awhile. It’s slowly been building a loyal community of people who report things like traffic, accidents, speed traps, hazards etc. The app can then help you re-route to avoid potential delays and even warn others of upcoming hazards. I can’t wait to use this app again for my next road trip.

Wrapping It Up

Bonnaroo is more than a music festival. It’s the perfect blend of music, art and technology to create a truly amazing experience. It is officially safe to leave your phone in your car and forget about it until it’s time to pack up Monday morning. With Bonnaroo’s high quality videos and easy check-in stations there’s no need live life through a small screen when it is happening right in front of you. Bonnaroo is an experiment gone right, and I can’t wait for next year.

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