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Why did Bonnaroo Ask Kanye West Back to the Farm?

posted by Laura Baker-Finch on February 20, 2014

Photo: Kanye Performs at Bonnaroo 2008 by Armando Sanchez (The Tennessean)


Manchester, Tennessee -- Last night during its BLAM broadcast, Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival announced it would be welcoming back Kanye West as one of its 2014 headliners. Panic ensued as hundreds of Bonnaroo fans took to Facebook to share their outrage.

"Not even worth a star this year. How do you possibly have Kanye Back???"

"Hey Roo family! Maybe if we get 100,000 "#kanyesucks" posts Bonnaroo will make the change that is needed. #kanyesucks. That's 1!"

"Kanye is an arrogant pr#*k. The last time he was there the fans hated him and threw things at him. He even asked for a police escort away from the festival ! Disappointed that he's back is an understatement." 

Six years ago, Bonnaroo festivalgoers waited hours for the rapper to take the stage, which he eventually did at almost 4:30am. Strike one

If the late start wasn't enough, fans booed Kanye throughout his performance as he performed what most in attendance recall as a poor performance despite the giant theatrical show West has become known for. The following day, many fellow Bonnaroo artists commented on the debacle, some even leading crowds in chants of "Kanye sucks." Strike two

To make matters worse, West wrote an explanation on his blog demonizing festival organizers almost two weeks after the fact. 

Part of his online rant read, "WE WERE OBVIOUSLY DEALING WITH FUCKING IDIOTS WHO DIDN'T REALLY HAVE THE CAPACITY TO REALLY PUT ON THIS SHOW PROPERLY." He continued, "THEY TRIED 2 GIVE ME A TIME SLOT WHERE IT WAS STILL LIGHT OUTSIDE‚Ķ I HAVE A FUCKING LIGHT SHOW DUMB ASS, IT'S NOT CALLED GLOW IN THE DARK FOR NO REASON SQUID BRAINS." 

Strike three

So why, 6 years later, would the very same festival organizers invite Kanye back to the farm? In an interview with Relix, Rick Farman of Superfly, the production company behind Bonnaroo, explained the festival's reasoning. 

"First and foremost, we think Kanye is one of the most prolific and groundbreaking artists of this generation… He takes a lot of chances and he's adventurous with the live space. All those things are what Bonnaroo performers are about. That's why we booked him [in 2008]."

Farman continued, "Everyone has moved on - it's in the past. We're happy he wants to come back to Bonnaroo and is embracing this. It's a great opportunity for everyone to look forward, and we think it's a great opportunity for the Bonnaroo community to show what it's made of. It goes back to what Bonnaroo stands for: It's about having a good time, radiating positivity and that whole message. We couldn't be more excited about what we think has the potential to be another historic Bonnaroo moment." 

Kanye West will be joined at the festival by Elton John, Jack White, Lionel Richie, Vampire Weekend, The Avett Brothers, Phoenix, Skrillex, Arctic Monkeys, Frank Ocean, and more. Head over to our lineup announcement for the full bill. 

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