Raleigh, N.C. — The Chapel Hill folk band Mandolin Orange is preparing to take on one of the biggest music festivals of the summer - the Bonnaroo Music Festival.
U2, The Red Hot Chili Peppers, The Weeknd and Chance the Rapper are playing the festival June 8-11 in Manchester, Tenn.
"It is a crazy festival," said Andrew Marlin, one half of the duo with Emily Frantz. Marlin recalls a friend who attended the festival and said a couple had brought their baby and the baby was handing out condoms to festival-goers.
The bluegrass band has played two other festivals recently - Merlefest and Shakori Hills. Marlin said it is just about letting the festival dictate your vibe.
"Sometimes people are just there to party. Sometimes we can take it there if we need to," Marlin said.
One of the first festivals the duo played was the Ocracoke Festival held on Ocracoke Island every June.
"It feels like it has been growing every year," Marlin said. "That was a good introduction to music festivals. Everybody was very welcoming and it was a really nice crowd to play for."
Marlin described the Outer Banks as a "gem of a place to visit."
"That festival is super small, also very intimate," he said. "A lot of the people that we've met we've stayed in contact with."
While they have taken on smaller festivals, the band has also played larger stages including South-by-Southwest and Austin City Limits, the latter of which Marlin credits with great Bonnaroo prepping due to its direct sunlight, large open field and crowds.
Despite the chance to play in front of large crowds and see other bands, Marlin said his favorite thing about festivals is the late night jam sessions.
"Late night picking, when you get to meet a lot of people doing what you are doing and get to hang out with them," Marlin said. "It helps build this community amongst musicians stronger."
Mandolin Orange isn't the only band with North Carolina ties playing Bonnaroo. Future Islands started in North Carolina and country singer-songwriter Luke Combs hails from Charlotte.