Attitude goes a long way at festivals

File - Music fans cheer during a Unlocking the Truth concert at Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival on Thursday, June 11, 2015, in Manchester, Tenn. (Shelley Mays/The Tennessean via AP)

From the very first minute photographer Tim Barber and I rolled up to the registration area to check into this new thing called Bonnaroo in 2002, we knew it was different.

It wasn't just because there were what seemed like a million cars clogging up I-24 a half-mile away. And it wasn't the long hair and tie-dyed T-shirts. It was the attitude. Everyone was smiling and happy and interested in saying hello to complete strangers.

The lines to check in were long, but there wasn't the usual jostling for position, nor was there any pushing or shoving. I actually saw a guy get out of line for some reason and the folks where he had been insisted he return to his place.

"It's cool," one guy said.

That attitude is real. So real ,in fact, it became known as the Bonnaroovian Code and is now listed in the handbook and online. It is so persuasive that newcomers feel it right away and find themselves wanting to be part of it. It makes you want to be cool to other people.

You feel it in line to get food, and you feel it in the camps where people share supplies. But, where you really notice it is in the crowds in front of the stages. While at many places, people are mostly looking out for themselves, trying to push forward to get closer, the fans at Bonnaroo are just ready to have a good time and see a good show and they aren't interested in any bad energy messing that up.

It was very much on display last weekend in Manchester, Tenn., during the festival as people everywhere reveled in talking to complete strangers, wishing them a "Happy Roo," or offering high-fives as they passed by. Even the staff and volunteers got into it.

Ask anyone who was there what they liked most about Bonnaroo 2017 and you'll hear "the attitude" and "the energy" mentioned right up there with "the music."

It's a cool thing to witness, and so it was great to hear from more than a few people that "the attitude" at Riverbend last weekend, especially during the Ludacris show, was very positive and that there was a lot of energy. The weather helped as it was gorgeous here and in Manchester, but I hope that energy continues for the rest of the weekend.

I imagine it will be on display Saturday during the Flaming Lips show as they are very much a positive-energy festival band.

If you want to see what I mean, go check it out. High-five a stranger.

Contact Barry Courter at or 423-757-6354.