Chattanooga Now City Beat: Have festivals gone too far with VIP extras?

Chattanooga Now City Beat: Have festivals gone too far with VIP extras?

June 12th, 2014 by Barry Courter in Chattnow Music

One of the things I will be paying attention to at this year's Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival, my eighth, is the growing VIP offerings.

I won't be partaking, mind you, as attending in anything other than a good old-fashioned tent seems like cheating somehow. Or it could be because it costs extra to avail oneself of things like upgraded shower and bathroom facilities, catered meals, stage-side seating and air-conditioned RVs.

True fans suffer for their music, right?

Apparently not. Bonnaroo offers a group package called Roll Like a Rock Star that promises you a berth on a fancy tour bus, three gourmet meals each day and exclusive access to parts of the grounds. The cost is $30,000 per group.

At Hangout in Gulf Shores, the VIP experiences lets you hang out in one of 1,600 hot tubs or in the private swimming pool that overlooks the stage.

Riverbend offers VIP opportunities as well. Club Riverbend, on the Chattanooga City Pier, offers exclusive seating, bathrooms and some vending.

That's a far cry from a swimming pool. What the over-the-top VIP offerings do is provide new revenue streams for the festivals, and I get that. But they also change the "attitude" of the event. Part of Bonnaroo's appeal, and the part that partially makes dealing with the heat, humidity, rain and whatever bearable, is the feeling of camaraderie. We are all in this together, so to speak.

Which is what music is supposed to be all about, right?

¦ Looking for something different to do with dad on Father's Day? Why not take him to Historic Engel Stadium to watch a little baseball?

What's different about that, right? Well, first of all, there hasn't been any kind of baseball there since the actors in the movie "42" pretended to be playing there, and these games on Sunday will be played under 1864 rules by four teams in the Tennessee Association of Vintage Base Ball.

Significant among the rules difference are that there is no cussing, no spitting and the ballists, as the players are known, do not wear gloves.

The Oak Hill Travellers will take on the Franklin Farriers at noon, and Highland Rim Distillers will play the Nashville Maroons at 2:30 p.m. Admission to both games is free.

Contact Barry Courter at or 423-413-6354. Follow him on Twitter at