With summer imminently approaching, we thought sharing a drink with Kerry Black, co-founder of entertainment group Superfly and creator of top-notch music festivals, Bonnaroo and Outside Lands, seemed appropriate.
‘Roo kicks off in Manchester, TN on June 11th with headliners, Billy Joel, Kendrick Lamar, and Florence and the Machine. Bonnaroo’s more refined west coast sister, Outside Lands, which begins August 7th, features artists such as Elton John, Wilco, and The Black Keys.
I caught up with Kerry to hear about the biggest discrepancies between the two festivals (if you’re planning to go to either of these, he sums up the distinctions perfectly), how he goes about scouting restaurant and drink vendors, and the menu of a day in the life of Kerry Black. Let’s just say he doesn’t dislike bacon.
You have an awesome job! What’s your daily role in the production of Outside Lands and Bonnaroo?
I work on the festival identities, programming the talent (music, culinary, etc) and our amusement / decor projects like the Cinema Tent & Snake & Jake’s Christmas Barn at Bonnaroo and GastroMagic at Outside Lands.
Cool. Since you booked all the bands, which artists are you most excited to see perform at the ‘roo and Outside Lands?
SLAYER!!! I am also really excited for the SuperJam this year at Bonnaroo, a theme I have wanted to do for a long time! At Outside Lands, I’m looking forward to Tame Impala, RL Grime, Twin Peaks and the Beignets & Bounce Brunch (fans have to twerk for their beignets).
Sounds like something Miley Cyrus would love. What are the biggest differences between the festivals?
The camping—by far. At Bonnaroo you have people living on site for four days straight, so there is more of a freewheeling intensity to it, while Outside Lands is a bit more refined with all of the great food and drink options. Bonnaroo is the dank beer to Outside Land’s elegant glass of wine.
With festival season approaching, what’s your drink of choice in the summer when you’re listening to tunes?
I’m not really a Summer drink kind of person, but I have been drinking a lot of Boulevardiers (Bourbon, Campari & Sweet Vermouth) since they are easy to make and bring to any level of party/hang. But my crutch is the Sazerac.
What’s a menu in the life of Kerry Black look like? Breakfast, lunch, dinner, drinks?
Cocktail: Bacon Infused Old Fashioned
Or at least that is what I wish it could be.
So you hate bacon, I get it. New Orleans is where Superfly got it’s start. New Orleans is also loved for its amazing food and drink scene. What are some of your favorite bars/restaurants there?
The list is endless! My favorite of the classics is Bayona and Sazerac Bar. Cochon and Cure are great of the new school bars. For a decidedly non-New Orleans but epic gastro meal, hit Square Root. Some less well known favorites: Pho Tau Bay for Vietnamese (closed but moving to new location), Coop’s for the Duck Quesadilla, Willie Mae’s Scotch House for Fried Chicken, Adolfo’s for Italian and Charlie’s Steakhouse. Snake & Jake’s and The Saint for bad decisions.
Awesome. How did you go about scouting locations for both festivals? What were you looking for?
When we came up with Bonnaroo, we liked the idea of doing the festival in the South because both Superfly, and our partner, AC Entertainment were located there, and it was centrally located and easy to drive to from a number of surrounding major cities. We thought that was key for a camping event. From there, we looked at sites across a bunch of different states, but The Farm in Manchester seemed special. There are also more operational advantages, like being next to the interstate and only an hour from Nashville.
For Outside Lands, Golden Gate Park was the obvious choice being so iconic, beautiful, and smack in the middle of the city. It took us a while to secure it, but it was well worth the wait!
At both festivals, the food and drink is pretty epic. Basically, this isn’t your standard stadium beer and hotdog fare. How do you go about scouting vendors for both festivals to give attendees such and amazing experience?
For Bonnaroo, we have always worked with some great local spots like Prater’s BBQ, but have also enjoyed bringing in food trucks to expand the offering. Our concessions team looks at many food trucks local to the region, but also works with places like GastroPod, by Jeremiah Bullfrog from Miami, who did a Pulp Fiction-themed menu last year. We have also brought in some favorites from NYC over the years like Roberta’s, who programs and serves the Snake & Jake’s Christmas Club Barn, and Eddie Huang a few years ago.
For Outside Lands, Ari Feingold leads the charge with input from our team and our partners at Another Planet Entertainment. We of course always start with restaurants or chefs that inspire us, trying to add new spots every year to keep it interesting. We started the GastroMagic stage last year as a way to work with even more chefs and give them a unique marketing opportunity with some off the wall and fun programming.
Jillian Scheinfeld is a writer and interviewer living in Brooklyn. By day she’s a publicist for a nonprofit and by night you can catch her at a concert or practicing yoga. See past work here and follow her tweets @jillianschein