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Bonnaroo 2009 sees attendance increase over last year's festival totals

By Bob Grossweiner & Jane Cohen

The 2009 Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival, held June 11-14 in Manchester, TN, did not sell out but was deemed a success by its promoters Superfly Presents and A.C. Entertainment. They say the festival attracted nearly 80,000 fans, while The New York Times and other media outlets had it at about 75,000 concertgoers, possibly based on early estimations.

Attendance, however, was higher than last year when it was just over 70,000, according to published reports. "Considering the current economic situation, we feel incredibly fortunate to be in this position," said Superfly's Rick Farman in a statement. "We don't take anything for granted."

Bonnaroo attracted more than 140 bands and 21 comedians performing in more than 200 shows. There were also numerous exclusive film premieres.

After a few festivals where a fan died at Bonnaroo one year, the promoters also reported that the long weekend was accident free.

The festival, which was dedicated to jam bands in its earlier years, has progressed to more mainstream music with Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band performing for three hours while Phish also performed for three hours but on two nights. It was the E Street Band's only festival concert of the year. Springsteen even joined Phish for a few songs.

Some of the other acts booked for Bonnaroo 2009 were Nine Inch Nails, David Byrne, Public Enemy, TV on the Radio, Al Green, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Snoop Dogg, the Beastie Boys, Merle Haggard. Wilco, King Sunny Ade, Lucinda Willams and others. Jimmy Buffett and the Coral Reefer Band was added just days prior to the festival.

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