Feeling completely out of it at The Flaming Lips’ midnight set last summer. ‘Roo, just give us the lineup already!
Feeling completely out of it at The Flaming Lips’ midnight set last summer. ‘Roo, just give us the lineup already!
“This year’s Bonnaroo has come and gone, and with it I must admit that I feel a little wiser. I also feel more sunburned and physically incapable of walking farther than a few feet at a time without the mindset of a girl on a mission to see a show in the sun, but I’m trying to focus on the positive. Bonnaroo is unlike any festival I’ve ever attended before, and this is including the weird stuff that goes down at suburban fair grounds and carnivals I frequented as a small child. (Suburban clowns are straight up frightening.) Bonnaroo is a test in endurance. In strength. In patience. If I’m being honest, it’s also the kind of event that has more OMG moments than a bootleg of a dirty movie. Case in point: After a quick run-in with Coco in a cowboy hat yesterday I’m still unable to form complete sentences and phrases. I’m lucky I can still blog. More than just the musical acts and celeb-sighting-induced minor freakouts, I was also deeply impressed by some of the people I met. Being a northerner, I expected to encounter the phenomenon of southern hospitality I’d heard of, but Bonnaroo introduced me to a whole new breed of nice.” - Kasia Pilat of Paste Magazine
Photo by Ian Witlen
“Trying to boil down three days and four nights of relentless music, comedy, distant bass thumping, a unrelenting jerk of a sun that made you sort of wish you had never been born, heat-based insomnia, unstable baked-mud terrain, fried foods in paper trays, sympathy-inducing sunburns and displeasing olfactory combinations into an Internet-friendly list is an absolutely impossible job; a team of a dozen working the festival at all times would be inadequate…”-by Troy Carpenter and Jeff Vrabel of Billboard Mag
“Heat is the expected cause of death for Sloan; his core body temperature was reportedly 108 degrees at the time of his collapse. Although he is the only heat casualty, plenty of festivalgoers suffered from it. Director for Bonnaroo’s Emergency Medical Services Carl Monzo estimates that the medical crew treated 25 percent more people than in past years. Many of these folks were suffering from or hospitalized for heat-related maladies, reports The Tennessean. Arrests were also on the rise this year. By Friday morning, officials had issued more than 100 citations and arrested more than 70 people who were en route to Manchester, Tenn. for Bonnaroo. At the festival site, more than 50 arrests and 200 citations were issued by the Coffee County sheriff’s department, according to USA Today. Most were for drug possession and disorderly conduct.”-Ani Vrabel of Paste Magazine
Photo by John F. Peters
“With its increased emphasis on pop, alternative, and hip-hop acts, Bonnaroo has evolved into a sort of Coachella South, with less celebrity-rehab outpatients, better recycling, and way more mud. Wellington boots were being hauled out of Wal-Mart in bulk, causing many patrons to look like half-cocked hipster fishermen ready to rage.”- Charles Aaron of SPIN
“Bonnaroo has evolved from a showcase for jam bands to become America’s best and most diverse festival. Only at the ‘Roo can you find Southern metal act Baroness and U.K. group the xx playing alongside neo-soul crooner Mayer Hawthorne and Dave Matthews Band. Plus, how many other fests are gutsy enough to keep the party going until the wee hours of 4 a.m.?”-J. Edward Keyes of Rolling Stone
“Bonnaroo’s core might have as much to do with its audience as the music. The festival grew out of the post-hippie jam-band scene, which has traditionally been an open-minded, loyal and not terribly fickle audience: an ideal constituency for an annual festival that relies on repeat customers….By Tuesday evening the pilgrims had begun to arrive in Manchester, with drum circles forming in the Wal-Mart parking lot and teams of dreadlocked, flip-flop-wearing fans taking turns going in the store to stock up on beer, comfort food and rubber boots. (The weather forecast called for plenty of rain.)”-Ben Sisario of NY Times
Photo by John F. Peters
“But there’s no rest for the weary at America’s most endurance-based music festival. Bonnaroo demands, and almost always deserves, a herculean effort. To stand inside those walls, surrounded by light and sound and flesh, is to experience a peculiar pull to cover every inch of its currently-muddy soil and consume whatever it cares to offer. I promise I will not write this whole blog post like some sort of epic poem, but seriously, Mixers, yesterday was long.”-Whitney Pastorek of Entertainment Weekly
“Cheers to Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream, who handed out free scoops of their the toffee bar-flecked and appropriately named new flavor, Bonnaroo Buzz, to massive lines all day. And it’s worth the wait: I queued eight times.”-William Goodman of SPIN
“McLovin’s in the mix. The Gaslight Anthem’s Brian Fallon confirmed it to the crowd yesterday: “You know that kid McLovin from Superbad? I saw him hanging around.” We mistook at least three skinny, bespectacled youth for Christopher Mintz-Plasse before making a positive I.D. side-stage at LCD Soundsystem.”–Chris Martins of SPIN
“‘I wouldn’t pay money to be here!’ shouted a glowering security guard at the VIP/Artist entrance. He was all of 25, and it was 1 P.M. Life may continue to be hard for you, buddy.”-Stacey Anderson of SPIN
Photo by John F. Peters
“In its ninth year, Bonnaroo has done an impressive job of hanging on to its reputation as one of the most eclectic music and art festivals, showcasing a wide range of performers and an even wider variety of fans, from a man trying to break the world record for most hugs in a day to weed-cookbook vendor named Ganjalicious…”No matter how weird or how different you are,” adds Draper, “you’re accepted at Bonnaroo.”…Since its inception in 2002, Bonnaroo has cultivated that oddball sense of community, which stars in the campgrounds and pervades the entire festival…A midway point between Burning Man and Coachella, Bonnaroo lets many a freak flag fly amongst its thousands of tents…”Bonnaroo,” says Bong, “is simply the greatest place on earth.”…Whether dressing like characters from Avatar or bringing a dancing pink squid puppet to stages all weekend, fans seem to savor the judgment-free, anything goes environment. “It’s just a different vibe than other festivals,” explains 26-year-old Cameron Freeman. Comparing it to the Vans Warped Tour he adds, “that festival has more of a fuck you attitude. But here it’s a love you attitude.”-Chris Barth of Rolling Stone
Photo by bwellll
“BEST STUDIO NERD TRANSFORMATION: MIIKE SNOW
Synth-pop crew Miike Snow…decided to throw a dinnertime rave for their Bonnaroo debut at the This Tent, complete with dry ice, searchlights, and a thunderous, perfectly modulated sound mix that was one belting frontwoman away from diva house and one overblown keyboard flourish away from proggy spectacle…”-Charles Aaron of SPIN
Photo by wfuv
“Either way, it was a ceaseless fun set, mixing otherworldly and familiar pop sounds and dunking them in a vigorous spin cycle of reverb. The tent’s vibe bordered on rave for a minute or two, particularly when a few dozen glow sticks were hurled into the crowd. When it came time for the band to pull out their best known tune — the aforementioned Rundgren sampler Deadbeat Summer — a crew of barely clad dancers with feather headdresses appeared and danced half-heartedly around the band, who seemed somewhat surprised by their presence. But the crowd’s response seemed to shock Palomo even more. He told his audience they were “bar none, the most amazing audience that we’ve ever played in front of.”-Laura Petrecca of USA Today
Photo by Kyle Dean Reinford
“BEST SEXY CHRIS MARTIN STAND-IN: TEMPER TRAP
After Kings of Leon, there’s probably no other band at this year’s Bonnaroo providing full-throated, chest-swelling, classic alternative-rock melodrama more effectively than Melbourne, Australia’s Temper Trap, led by Indonesian-born singer (and burgeoning heartthrob) Dougy Mandagi. The band played to an enormous, female-centric crowd at the That Tent, and Mandagi, arms bulging in a sweaty white button-down, transfixed the room as he grabbed the mic with arena-rock hauteur, bellowing and soaring through the set’s penultimate song, “Sweet Disposition” — a shimmering Coldplay-esque epic that’s been featured everywhere from the film (500) Days of Summer to an ad for Diet Coke to CBS’ The Good Wife. It’s masterfully composed pop-rock that will live forever on 2010 collegiate-Romeo mixtapes. And Mandagi delivers the soliloquy like a buff Olivier.”-Charles Aaron of SPIN
“At the mega-stage called That Tent, The Temper Trap and their optimistic sound carried us through sunset. They’re a band for positivity, their music belongs in films, soundtracking triumphant plot points and happy endings. The crowd had their fists up posi-core style, and straggling festival goers started lining up.”-Alex Frank of FADER
Photo by John F. Peters
“The second day of Bonnaroo is the day you feel the most insane. The first day it’s all awe and wonder, and by the third day you have your bearings. But on the second day, it feels like waking up in a carnival fun house. There are bodies everywhere, about a million of them. Some are naked. Some spray pixie dust on you as you walk by. Others offer to pour cold tap water on your head to cool you down. Even if you aren’t disoriented by the social hysteria, the multiple event stages are named in a purposely confusing fashion, dooming you to circle around the same homemade drum shop 20 times. It’s real freak-time déjà vu. There’s “Which Stage” and “What Stage” and “That Stage” and “This Stage,” all positioned throughout a campground that’s built in huge intertwining circles. If you ever can find the stage you want, hardly any schedules are posted anywhere, so it’s still a crapshoot whether you’ll see the band you’re looking for.”-Alex Frank of FADER
“Bonnaroo is frequently a land where time has no meaning, where an hour can pass in a blink or an eternity depending on what you’re listening to and the quality of your footwear. While Friday’s 14-hour marathon was an experience I’d not trade — until you’ve watched an entire Kings of Leon set while standing in mud so thick you have to move your rain boots every couple of songs to be sure they don’t get stuck, I believe you have not yet lived — it’s possible that my compact, musically-mindblowing Saturday is the day of this year’s ‘Roo I’ll remember most.”-Whitney Pastorek of Entertainment Weekly
Photo by Kravitz
“Well, after Friday night’s coronation-style performance at Bonnaroo’s monolithic What stage, the Tennessee native sons probably could’ve asked any of the estimated 70,000 people in attendance to wash their dirty undies and they would’ve had plenty of takers (especially the screeching mobs of teenage girls sporting glowsticks around every available appendage). This was a colossal spectacle—the band entered to thunderous choral music while plumes of black smoke emanated from all over the venue, backed by a dazzling, skyscraper-size matrix of lights. It was both ridiculous and scary and wholly appropriate in its unironic hugeness. They worked through songs from their entire catalogue, including rarely-played first-album track “Trani,” with its evocations of transvestite hookers at the Greyhound Station and bumps of coke. Much more surprising was a immaculately faithful cover of the Pixies’ “Where Is My Mind.”-Charles Aaron of SPIN Magazine
“The significance clearly moved Followill: “There are very, very few times when I’ve felt really proud of what we’ve accomplished. This is one of those times.”-Brian Mansfield and Dave Paulson of USA TODAY
Photo by Ian Witlen
“This is the greatest fucking audience any band will get to play for, ever,” said Wayne Coyne, beaming out into the crowd from Bonnaroo’s Which Stage at two in the morning on Saturday…The band’s entrance alone went beyond elaborate, with guitarist Steve Drozd, drummer Kliph Scurlock, and bassist Michael Ivins descending from a door in the massive video screen, emerging from the glowing crotch of a naked, orange-hued woman…It was like being inside of a kaleidoscope…And Coyne did have one more trick up his sleeve. “Alright, Bonnaroo,” he said while reaching for another outsize orb. “These balloons have real fucking money in them.” “Money” inspired a massive sing-along, as did “Us and Them,” which the band played from complete darkness while the combination of colorful lasers, excess fog, and 3D lyrics upped the trippy factor considerably. And though the entire set stretched well over the headliners’ allotted two hours, the show was over too soon.”-Chris Martins of SPIN Magazine
“The Garnier free hair-washing salon enticed a coed line that pushed out the door and around the tent (all day). Three days in muggy mud-pits speak to the vanity of many.”- Stacey Anderson of SPIN
Photo by Ian Witlen
“BEST BONAFIDE ROCK GOD: THE DEAD WEATHER
Not only is Jack White a journeyman rock prince, now dude can control the weather. “Remember which band brought you the rain,” said the top-hat-wearing Tennessee resident as his quartet kicked off their 6 P.M. set. And rain it did, as if his backwoods bluesman persona had summoned the dark clouds with his two flailing drumsticks. The Dead Weather’s set was a fitting romp of unhinged roadhouse licks, complete with big shiny Gretsch guitars, as she-devil Alison Mosshart tossed herself around in a leopard-print cardigan, tight jeans, and black makeup galore. Conan O’Brien sure approved. He introduced the band, saying, “I love them as people. I love them as artists. Seriously, I would paint their houses for them.” -William Goodman of SPIN
“BEST PATRIOTIC SWITCHEROO: WORLD CUP — ENGLAND VS. USA
At exactly 2:11 PM on Saturday at Bonnaroo’s Lunar stage, an undifferentiated mass of sweaty, sun-baked Americans splayed on blanketsand standing dazed in a Tennessee field suddenly became deliriously pogoing soccer fanatics, as Clint Dempsey scored an unlikely tying goal that glanced off blundering English goalie Robert Green, and the air was filled with beach balls, flags, shirts, umbrellas, water spraying, horns blowing, and scattered chants of “U.S.A.!” The announcers referred to the “catastrophe,” and the faces of the English hooligans in attendance were a bright pink study in dismay and simmering rage. What could they do? Bail to Norah Jones? Punch the hippie in the oversize pumpkin head? Steal anocarina and bash the emo teens exiting Circa Surive? No option seemed even remotely sufficient to address the catastrophic circumstance.”-Charles Aaron of SPIN
Photo by Ian Witlen
“The 90-minute show…was full of wit, humor, and music, sometimes all at the same time. He had no lack of jokes about the Tennessee festival and its concertgoers. “I’ve been here two days and I can tell you we’re losing the war on drugs,” he said, bobbing his head like he was under the influence. “I took some mushrooms and hallucinated that I saw someone selling lemonade for $12.” Fans lovingly renamed his beard “Beardaroo.” A cast of Conan regulars did show up, though, including Andy Richter, writer-comedian Deon Cole, who tested out some XXX-rated material, and Triumph the Insult Comic Dog, who starring in a video that ended with a nasty crack about 69-ing a German Shepherd. He demonstrated his musical talent, shredding a wicked guitar solo on a cover of the White Stripes’ “Seven Nation Army,” And he closed out the gig with a spot-on version of the Band’s “The Weight,” before running around the venue, stopping for pictures, and even letting one guy give him a noogie.”-William Goodman of SPIN Magazine
How do you like Bonnaroo?
My only regret is that no one is showering. At the end of my show, I go into the crowd with my guitar. Yesterday, the odor was appalling. I haven’t smelled anything like that since Slipknot was on my late-night show. After they played, they hugged me. And these are guys that haven’t showered in six years and they’re wearing giant leather costumes. And they got me in a group hug and locked me in there. I thought I was going to die.
What is the best part?
Performing for women in bikinis — it’s just mindblowing. I finished my show, I can’t see the audience because it’s dark. It’s going well, sounds great, great energy in the room. I jump in and discover that everyone is pretty much naked. The men aren’t wearing any tops — they’re all shirtless. The women are in string bikinis. We’re all hugging. I may have conceived a baby in that crowd. We’ll find out because it got crazy in there. So nine months from now, there may be a Conan baby from Bonnaroo that I know nothing about. It was completely accidental — just because the moshpit got a little out of hand.
I hope you [and Jack White] do something together tonight.
I don’t know what’s happening tonight. I’m just trying to survive this. At the end of a long tour I’m just trying to literally survive it. I’ve got one or two more dates left and then I’m going to go home and they’re going to put me in the hospital.-by Patrick Doyle of Rolling Stone
Photo by Mosenfelder
“Jeff Beck took a more traditional approach to the blues, applying a glossy sheen to its rudimentary roots. Beck is an adroit, flashy guitarist, and his mid-afternoon set found him executing a series of deft, liquid runs. He was just as nimble on the slower numbers. His version of “People Get Ready” was almost elegiac, Beck coaxing the notes out slowly as the song progressed. He took a similarly restrained approach to “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” each tone as liquid and glimmering as a teardrop. His backing musicians, wisely, stay out of his way, supplying only a series of gauzy keyboards and letting Beck run wild on top. That, after all, is how you operate when you have a legend in your band.”-J. Edward Keyes of Rolling Stone
Photo by Bolen
“If you want to be a supremacist, you be the supremacist of bringing people together.” He asked us if we agreed again, and said if we really did agree, to sing “Living for the City” at the top of our lungs. He fed us every line as we went along (“A boy is born! In hard time Mississippi!”), and we sang, oh we sang. White, black, sunburned, hipster, redneck, hippie, VIP douche, drunk girl who kept spilling her beer on the music journalist, music journalist — we all sang.”-Whitney Pastorek of Entertainment Weekly
“Not to take anything away from the randomized mixtape of bands on hand, but it’s hard to imagine leading a story about the fourth and final day of the 2010 edition of Bonnaroo with anything other than the heat; Sunday (June 13) quickly became a series of feats of human endurance (i.e., remaining upright and mobile for three straight 19-hour days in the Tennessee summer with barely any precipitation).
But naturally, those who braved the heat were rewarded with a variety of impressive live performances, a country-themed stage, the graduations of Phoenix and the Zac Brown Band to the big stages, the closing-night performance by the Dave Matthews Band, and general live-it-up-while-you-can merriment.”-Troy Carpenter and Jeff Vrabel of Billboard Mag
Photo by Ian Witlen
“BEST 3 P.M. OASIS: REGINA SPEKTOR
The normally immaculate songstress sat down at her piano, and flubbed one chord. Then another. “Aack, how do you guys do it?” the New Yorker exclaimed to the multiplying Which Stage sea. “I’ve only been here a few hours. You guys are like heat superheroes.” This earned some proud hooting — dammit, we are! — but anti-folk’s queen bee is nothing if not a quick study; no further slip-ups ensued. Her thoughtful, dense lyricism was a perfect umbrella in the sweltering early afternoon; she slipped languidly through the wistful anecdotes of “The Calculation, “Folding Chair,” and several other songs from 2009’s Far, her gorgeous verses allowing the audience to lie quietly on the lawn, ponder her poetry, and not move one single superhero muscle.”-Stacey Anderson of SPIN
Photo by Kyle Dean Reinford
“Overhead in the front row minutes before this early evening show began? “I am so $!@%-ing excited for Phoenix.” That fan was right to be psyched, as the Paris pop masters put on a high energy show that was watched from the sidestage by such luminaries as Dean Ween, members of Regina Spektor’s band, and McLovin.”-Conrad Doucette of Fuse.tv
“BEST FAREWELL SUN-KISS: PHOENIX
The French pop-rock quintet’s astronomical rise over the past year reached a sunny summit on the closing day of Bonnaroo. Having graduated from the tent they played in ‘09 to the massive outdoor Which Stage, the dapper boys played much of their new album, Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix, as the setting sun shot sherbet blues, yellows, and oranges on the clouds shining above the stage. “Love like a sunset!!!” Mars sang on the titular track, while on a new one, “Countdown,” he pleaded, “We’re sick for the big sun.” It was all a bit cinematic — after all, they have contributed to the soundtracks from Virgin Suicides and Lost in Translation, both from Mars’ partner Sofia Coppola. Fans ate it up; many cocked their necks to stare at that big sun and all its splendor.”-William Goodman of SPIN
“TOP TEN BONNAROO MOMENTS: #8. Zac Brown Band & Phoenix Rise
At twilight on Sunday, with the 2010 festival winding down…and after huge years, both rocketed into choice prime-time slots.”-Troy Carpenter and Jeff Vrabel of Billboard Mag
“Non-DMBers’ effervescent closure.”-Ben Sisario of NY Times
“7:49 p.m. I climb the fence at the packed Phoenix stage and just watch people go nuts for the Frenchmen. Secretly I do not know the music of Phoenix all that well (I even misidentified “1901″ to a friend as “1501″), but I like the sound of it, and from my perch above the crowd, I drank in the sights of the ‘Roo one last time as the sun set orange and pink over the trees. A helicopter cut the sky, balloons waved on the horizon, beach balls bounced over upstretched arms, and the ferris wheel spun its technicolor frame in the distance. The band sounded great and the fans received them rapturously. In the slot where Band of Horses so beautifully helped me ease my transition back to reality last year, I found Phoenix more than fulfilling.”-Whitney Pastorek of Entertainment Weekly
BONNAROO BY THE NUMBERS by Eric Sundermann of SPIN
Attendance: Just over 75,000
Performers: 178 different acts
Brutal, brutal weather: Heat index over 100 degrees all four days
Show me the money: Bonnaroo contributes more than $18 million to the local economy
ATM Fee: $3 ($5 at other festivals like Mile High or Lollapalooza)
Drinking Water: Free
Trash: 489 tons; 130 tons of it can be recycled.
I’ll try my best to describe the adventure that was Bonnaroo, but merely words can’t do justice to the complete mania that it was. From the moment I arrived to 5 smiling overly friendly securities, I felt like I had died and gone to Planet ‘Be as nice as unhumanly possible to complete strangers.’ There were countless acts I witnessed/experienced of kindness & generosity throughout the weekend, like:
And not only were people nice, but they were GORGEOUS. Being laidback & carefree really must have an effect on appearance.
The best part of it all is that I was never supposed to experience this colossal festival to begin with. The only reason I was able to attend was because I clicked a mouse button a few times to enter a photo contest and some people behind computer screens at Rolling Stone & Canon thought my photo was pretty darn’ good. The amount of entries was over 600, and they chose 5 winners. All I have to say is about that is HOT DAMN…and THANK YOU!
So before the epic week even began, I got this in the mail. Yep, that’s $300…three hundred, just like that, FREE. Checked online and VIP passes were over $700.
On top of that, the airline tickets were Southwest Business Select (i.e. priority boarding + free alcoholic drink) and cost more than $600. Wooo free white wine:
Also got a new digital camera that costs $300. So that’s close to TWO THOUSAND dollars that did NOT come out of my pocket. : o
Probably one of the first things I noticed when I arrived at the glorious 700-acre field was the long purple wall, which I later found out was a traditional graffiti free for all. Anyone and everyone is allowed to leave their mark.
Second thing I noticed was the people. Living in Austin and literally a few blocks away from one of the biggest public universities in the country, I’ve seen my share of, what my brother always jokingly refers to as, “dirty hippie liberals” but these BonnarooERS were something else. They were the real deal. The first person who spoke to me at a nearby Starbucks was a girl named Tefa who got there by hitchhiking all the way from California! What did she do for a living? “I set up stages. These men don’t know what I’m capable of until they see me in action.” When she asked me what my astrological sign was, she described my current situation to a tee. I’m always skeptical about that kind of thing, but she was spot FREAKEN’ on! I was both terrified and amazed…but she did lose me when she started telling me to pursue a photography career and to take my “gift” more seriously. Mmm, no.
I got into Yoga after doing P90x in the comfort of my own home BY MYSELF, so seeing hundreds of people doing downward dog all at once was quite a sight.
Third thing I noticed was the VIP facilities/perks. After some kids that had waited in traffic 6 hours to get into the fest asked me how long it took me, I was hesitant to tell them my entry experience. Thanks to some “confidential” directions I was given, drove down a quiet rode a long and arduous 2 minutes.
Having experienced Coachella camping (minimal outlets causing cell phone charging hysteria, no flushing toilets, 20-minute waits for sinks, 2-hour waits for showers, and absolutely no air condition anywhere) the experience I had at Bonnaroo was an EXTREME upgrade. Not only was almost everything air conditioned, but with only a few amount of VIP passes sold, there was never a wait time. There were outlets galore and even a misting tent, but the cherry on top was the air-conditioned lounge with couches, hammocks, beds, catering, etc.
Going to the fest on my own, I was initially in defensive mode & looking out for who might attack me or try to steal my stuff, but learning that a large portion of BonnarooERS are free spirited, open-minded, creative, and just, NICE people took me by surprise. At almost every other festival I’ve been to, the majority of attendees are your typical working-class, hotel-staying All-Americans, but these dancing-in-the-mud, hitchhiking, hula hooping, slip n’ sliding beauties made me feel like I had time traveled to Woodstock.
Showing some love to my Atlantic peeps, Fanfarlo
One of my favorite discoveries, Here We Go Magic
Miike Snow surpassed my expectations by a million. Energetic is one way of putting it, but mind-blowing is a better way.
Aaah Temper Trap. If Mandagi’s croons aren’t enough to make you melt, I don’t know what is. That “Oooooh baby” in ‘Rest’ absolutely kills me, and those suggestive dance moves and emotional faces he makes just add to the effect.
Young Veins. I couldn’t tell you when I first started following Ryan Ross on Twitter, but it’s been long enough to know about this side project of his and learn most of the words to “Change” For having a 1:20pm boiling hot time slot, they were REALLY good, and the crowd was more than receptive.
Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros. “Home is whenever I’m with you!”
Tenacious D “We’re in the middle of our one-day tour.”
Good ol’ Kings of Leon. After waiting 3 hours in a separate pit line and then nearly getting trampled to a muddy death by the several hundred others in line behind me, I claimed my second row/center spot with pride (front row was already occupied by the owners of Great Stage Park, pssh.) Their ‘Roo set was 2 hours of in-your-face magic that at some points had me calmly singing along, and at others nearly head banging my head off. When Caleb said “We’re gonna’ have a bit of fun now” I had no idea what to expect, but as soon as I heard those first 4 chords, I froze and looked at others around me who had the same “Is this really happening?” expression on their face. Their rendition of Pixies’ “Where is My Mind?” did indeed happen, and it was actually quite moving.
Emotionally and physically drained, I managed to lug myself over to watch the Flaming Lips, and although I was completely sober, listening to ‘Dark Side of the Moon’ as drowsy as I was made me feel like I WAS on drugs. When the guy behind me was trying to explain to his friend what Flaming Lips were like live, all he could manage to say was “I don’t know man, they just do a lot of shit…they do a lot of WEIRD shit.” From dancing naked women, to glowing vaginas (you read that right), and all the confetti and balloons money can buy…WEIRD it was.
Next to the ‘fisheye’ and ‘miniature’ effect, I love this new camera’s ability to turn lights into certain shapes. Props Canon!
Still exhausted from the previous day, managed to wake up around 9:00AM to line up for Conan by 10:00am for a show that didn’t start till 1:00pm, but alas, psychotic “We slept here all night” and “We’ve been here since 5:00AM” fans forced me to watch Conan through a screen in a tent adjacent to the one he was performing in, but even then, people were trying to sell their ‘live screening’ tickets for $50. I considered myself lucky though cause the AC shut down in the official Conan tent. The show was, of course, hysterical. “I’ve been here two days and I can tell you, we are LOSING the war on drugs.”
Dead Weather being their usual dark sexy selves.
Next to all the 50-year-olds, I felt really out of place at Jeff Beck but that didn’t stop me from enjoying what was a truly memorable set. Most of the time, the crowd was dead silent. It seemed like they were trying to take in & savor every single note the man played. It reminded me of Jack White’s Blue Veins solos that practically hypnotize every audience he plays in front of. It was also the most cameras I had seen all weekend, all of them desperately trying to document the spectacle. And I won’t even get into how melodramatic it felt when he played “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” Jeff Beck, I <3 you!
STEVIE WONDER. The crowd was MASSSSSIVE. Twas’ hilarious witnessing everyone completely lose control of themselves when the intros to ‘Higher Ground’ and ‘Superstition’ started.
Tinariwen. All I can say is that MORE bands like Tinariwen should exist. I had never heard or seen anything like that before.
Regina Spektor was a pleasant surprise. I don’t know much of her music, but WOW, her lyrics are piercing. I probably could’ve started crying when she played “Laughing With.”
Ween was Ween. The only part I enjoyed of this set was when they covered “Let’s Dance”, especially because Gene’s voice sounded keenly similar to Bowie’s.
AND FINALLY, what I had been considering to be Bonnaroo’s grand finale, PHOENIX. (Dave Matthews who?) Met some fellow hardcore fans who made shirts that Thomas (after a couple of failed attempts at getting his attention) acknowledged in the middle of a song by profusely smiling at them.
This was my 6th time seeing them live in a period of 7 months, and other than the small La Zona Rosa gig in December, it surpassed all the other gigs hands down. At most of their other shows, I usually felt like the only one or one of the few that was losing their mind, but this time, it seemed like everyone was freaking out as much as I was. And excuse my cheesiness, but to top it off, the scenery was breathtaking: cloud-filled sunset with shades of blue and purple. It seriously felt like a dream.
I don’t think I stopped smiling ONCE throughout the entire hour and half. And it’s the strangest thing but during that final climax in ‘Rome’, my nerves got the best of me and I literally couldn’t control my smile. I was actually trying to stop smiling, but wasn’t able to…how many times in life does THAT happen? All I remember is jumping like it was the last time I was ever going to jump, and having this frenzied delirious feeling like I was capable of doing anything…heck, I probably could’ve started flying.
Wait for 1:40. If only YouTube videos could capture the intensity of gigantic blasting speakers and hundreds of people around you screaming.
Simply put, the show was PERFECT.
And as if the actual gig wasn’t enough, during take-down and next to dozens of fans shouting “Set list! Drum stick! Anything, please!”, I shouted “Minimas!” Happy I was as soon as he smiled and pointed back at me with a recognizing face. After mouthing “CAN I HAVE A SET LIST”, he ripped one off the floor, hesitated jumping off the 10 ft. high stage, but then did it anyway, and gave it to me. Gaah! Some girl behind me even said “Congratulations” haha.
Thomas’ happy face at 0:20 is priceless, and watch out for your girl at 1:20, haha. And the screaming at 3:12 perfectly sums up my emotions at the time.
Shared what I had just experienced with the neighbors who rewarded me with pretzels and a jack & coke. Left my camping spot, and when I came back 2 hours later, DMB was STILL playing. Got to enjoy the fireworks, which harmoniously capped off & ended my journey. Bonnaroo, it’s safe to say you are now officially my favorite festival.
And of course I took some plane sky shots!