Bonnaroo by the Numbers

We tally up the facts about Middle Tennessee's biggest music festival

Conventional wisdom has it that Bonnaroo has gone from being one of the premier hippie-fests in the Southeast to one of the by-god most prestigious and extravagant music festivals of any sort anywhere in the United States. Bands like Widespread Panic and Dave Matthews Band have ceded their high-profile headlining spots to mainstream A-listers Radiohead, the Police, and Tom Petty, and Rolling Stone named Bonnaroo the best summer fest in the country. Bonnaroo: It's not just for hippies anymore.

But conventional wisdom rarely reveals the whole story. Hard facts—statistics, numbers, Google searches—are what you need to really measure Bonnaroo's evolution from one more stop on the jam-band circuit to an annual pop-culture and media event. What follows is an altogether unscientific examination of the nuts-and-bolts facts and figures about the festival, as well as some utterly useless trivia, in an effort to chart six years—and counting—of Bonnaroo.

THE BANDS

Bonnaroo now hosts three times as many bands as it did in 2002; there are five times as many performances scheduled this year than there were at the first Woodstock festival. The line-up has shifted, too, from neo-hippie acts and '60s survivors to younger, hipper performers and big-name headliners. Here's a look at just how much the line-ups for the festival have changed since 2002.

  • Number of acts at the first Bonnaroo in 2002: 47
  • Number of acts scheduled for Bonnaroo 2008: 156
  • Total number of acts that have appeared in the seven-year history of the festival: 589 (1)
  • Number of acts at Woodstock: 34 (2)
  • Number of acts at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival in California in April 2008: 156 (3)
  • Number of acts from Coachella 2008 scheduled for Bonnaroo 2008: 18
  • Number of acts at Bonnaroo 2002 that have been reviewed on the music website Pitchfork: 9
  • Percentage of total: 19.15
  • Average rating: 7.3433
  • Number of acts scheduled for Bonnaroo 2008 that have been reviewed in Pitchfork: 54
  • Percentage of total: 34.62
  • Average rating: 6.9375 (4)
  • Number of acts at Bonnaroo 2002 officially associated with the Grateful Dead or Phish: 3 (Phil Lesh and Friends, Trey Anastasio, Bela Fleck)
  • Percentage of total: 6.382
  • Number of acts at Bonnaroo 2008 officially associated with the Grateful Dead or Phish: 2
  • Dark Star Orchestra, Phil Lesh and Friends)
  • Percentage of total: 1.923
  • Total number of albums sold by the biggest-selling headliners between 2002-2007: 138.5 million
  • Total number of albums sold by 2008 headliners Pearl Jam and Metallica: 87 million
  • Total number of albums sold by Led Zeppelin: 111.5 million (5)
  • Number of 2008 acts that have recorded a song about the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse: 1
  • Metallica, "The Four Horsemen")
  • Number of Knoxville acts at the first Bonnaroo: 1 (Gran Torino)
  • Number of Knoxville acts in 2003 and 2004: 0
  • Most Knoxville acts in one year: 11 (2006)
  • Number of Knoxville acts scheduled for Bonnaroo 2008: 5
  • Royal Bangs, The American Plague, Erick Baker, Tennessee Schmaltz, and Superdrag) (1)
  • Number of results for "Led Zeppelin" + Bonnaroo on Google: 166,000
  • The first result for "Led Zeppelin" + Bonnaroo on Google: A Billboard.com report from Dec. 3 on Led Zeppelin's rumored appearance at Bonnaroo
  • The second result for "Led Zeppelin" + Bonnaroo on Google: A Billboard.com story from Dec. 4 reporting that Led Zeppelin would not perform at Bonnaroo

THE CAMPERS

Attendance has held steady at 80,000 each year since 2005—the festival has sold out every year, with 70,000 in 2002 and a peak of 90,000 in 2004. Bonnaroo is almost twice as big as the population of Coffee County, and nearly 10 times the size of nearby Manchester. Campers have come from all 50 states, and they do get in some trouble—arrests have increased from 18 in 2002 to 73 last year. It can be dangerous, too; heat, drugs, and booze can lay a whammy on you. And watch out for those tour buses!

  • Attendance at the first Bonnaroo in 2002: 70,000
  • Expected attendance for Bonnaroo 2008: 80,000
  • Total attendance between 2002-2007: 480,000 (6)
  • Attendance at Woodstock: 500,000 (2)
  • Attendance at Garth Brooks' Central Park Concert in New York in 1997: 1 million (7)
  • Population of Manchester: 8,294
  • Population of Coffee County: 48,014 (8)
  • Number of arrests at Bonnaroo in 2002: 18 (9)
  • Number of arrests at Bonnaroo in 2007: 73 (10)
  • Number of deaths at Bonnaroo 2007: 1 (11)
  • Number of deaths at the festival between 2002-2006: 5 (10)
  • Number of deaths involving getting run over by Ricky Skaggs' tour bus: 1 (2006) (11)
  • Pounds of garbage recycled at Bonnaroo in 2007: 94,340 (12)
  • Number of results for Bonnaroo + hippies + 2002 on Google: 8,890
  • Number of results for Bonnaroo + hippies + 2008 on Google: 25,400
  • Number of results for Bonnaroo + "dirty hippies": 1,030
  • Number of results for Bonnaroo + marijuana: 42,000

Sources:(1) Bonnaroo.com; (2) Museum at Bethel Woods Center for the Arts; (3) Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival; (4) Pitchforkmedia.com; (5) Recording Industry Association of America; (6) Big Hassle Media; (7) CMT; (8) U.S. Census Bureau; (9) "USA Today"; (10) WBIR; (11) The Associated Press; (12) Dane101.com