Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Bonnaroo Coverage 2011

Bonnaroo in Review Sunday
Sunday at Bonnaroo is always a bittersweet day.
By Sunday the effects of the heat, not showering and all the fun start to take a bit of a toll on both mind and body. On the one hand, you never want to leave because the farm is such a magical place. But, on the other, nothing sounds better than the comfort of your own bed—a real bed—air conditioning and a nice long shower.
One thing that never fails to remain consistent about the ‘Roo is that, no matter if you’re a Bonnaroo pro or if it’s your first time, you’ll always see and hear things you never imagined, and your expectations will always be blown out of the water.
Just because the festival was coming to a close certainly didn’t mean the music had dropped of any. Sunday’s lineup was spectacular. We witnessed everything from Railroad Earth, G. Love & Special Sauce, The Apache Relay, Amos Lee, Neon Trees and Galactic to Gregg Allman, Superjam (featuring Dan Auerbach and Dr. John), The Strokes, Robert Plant and the Band of Joy. And closing down the festival was Widespread Panic. Bonnaroo patrons pushed through their exhaustion and came out to support their favorite bands for one last day.
The best part of our day was actually something that occurred back in the press tent after an interview. We were fortunate to sit down and catch up with The Apache Relay for a few minutes, and afterwards they were kind enough to play an acoustic song for us (we’ll be sharing this with you soon!)
Another year down, and only 365 days to go until we can do it all over again. Many memories were made this year with lots of wonderful people, good vibes and simply great music.
Happy 10-year anniversary Bonnaroo! Cheers to you!
Bonnaroo in Review Saturday
Oh the things that can happen in a single day at Bonnaroo. Saturday was a day filled with all types of wonderful surprises. We were regaled with performances from Alison Krauss and Union Station, Mumford & Sons, The Black Keys, Buffalo Springfield, Eminem, The String Cheese Incident, Girl Talk and Sound Tribe Sector Nine (STS9).
One of the best surprises we encountered didn't take place on a big stage or even in a small tent. It happened at the campsite right next to where Brite pitched our tents. Our neighbors turned out to be Nashville indie rock band Cheer Up Charlie Daniels. They approached our camp mid-day and asked us if we wanted to appear in a music video they were shooting and, of course, we jumped on the opportunity. Joining in for the filming of their video for "Bunsen Burner Baby Blues," we were totally blown away by the talent of this up-and-coming act.
After making our music video debut in the woods, we were off to see Alison Krauss, a sweet talent who never fails to sing like something from another world. She and Union Station did an extraordinary beautiful rendition of "Constant Sorrow," and we could have left the festival happy after that point.
But Mumford & Sons were up next, and we weren't about to miss the folk rock stylings of this nation-sweeping band. After seeing them live, I have to urge you to make it out to at least one live show from these guys; you will not regret it. Old Crow Medicine Show played soon after, and I was sincerely hoping for some kind of collaboration between these rootsy acts. Ask and you shall receive at Bonnaroo; OCMS joined Mumford on stage for the most beautiful cover of "Amazing Grace" to ever hit our ears.
Just when the day seemed maxed out with once-in-a-lifetime shows, we headed out to see The Black Keys. And we weren't alone. Just about everyone at Bonnaroo seemed to make their way over to the stage to see this emerging alternative blues duo, and the walk to the stage turned into an upright crawl.
But Bonnaroo fans never miss an opportunity to turn a difficult situation into something fun—why else would they subject themselves to four days of the harsh Tennessee sun?—so the crowd belted out several songs in unison on the walk over, and everyone seemed to join in with the singing. It was a unifying experience to watch a group of three or four start a song and to hear it spread like wildfire. We turned into one giant, moving, spontaneous sing-along.
The Black Keys certainly did not disappoint. They had the crowd up and dancing to every song they played. Guitarist and vocalist Dan Auerbach proved to be the man, and his fans had no trouble elevating him to hero status.
During the remainder of the day, we caught a few songs from Buffalo Springfield, and Neil Young and the rest showed with undeniable prowess that they've still got it. They closed their set with "Stop, Children, What's That Sound?" solidifying an unforgettable 'Roo moment. The audience stood in reverence, realizing all at once that this was an historical Bonnaroo moment to be remembered.
In the next set we saw Eminem play heavily from his Recovery album. Toward the end of the show, he took it back—way back—with "My Name Is," asking the audience to put their lighters or cell phones in the air. Jay-Z did the same thing during his set last year, and both times it was pretty remarkable to be in the middle of so many screens and lighters, thousands of tiny lights filling the darkness. At these moments of Bonnaroo, worries subside and the world and all within it are undeniably good.
Late night Saturday was absolutely booming. Again, some scheduling conflicts did arise, causing fans to ping pong back and forth between various tents and stages. In the end, The String Cheese Incident took the cake for our Bonnaroo experience this year.
The band launched dozens of gigantic white beach balls into the crowd, creating a constant motion of bouncing orbs. It was such a sight to behold that we almost missed the giant inflatable dinosaur soaring above our heads—we're talking about a Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade-sized inflatable dino.
All of a sudden an incredibly loud noise rang out, taking everyone by surprise and spreading confusing across the crowd. (The guy beside us seemed pretty convinced the world was coming to an end.) Looking up, we saw a rocket man literally descending upon us from on high. A guy in a spacesuit with a rocket on his back was coming out of the sky, and it was one of the craziest things we had seen yet.
But the spectacle continued to grow in involvement and in theatrical nature. Next, a person dressed as a fairy and holding a torch was lifted from the ground by a cluster of giant balloons. He spun over our heads, waving his torch in circles and almost looking as though he was on fire. The audience left dumbfounded and ecstatic.
When we stopped reeling from what we had just witnessed, we were off to Girl Talk, followed by STS9. During these shows the sky was raining glow sticks. Hundreds of glow sticks flew up into the air and showered down on the crowd multiple times before the light of morning crept up.
Party on people. We still have a full day to go!

Bonnaroo in Review Friday
Down on the farm in Manchester, Friday was a day full of heat, hippies and stellar music from early in the afternoon into the wee hours of the morning.
One thing that makes Bonnaroo such a phenomenal music festival is the diversity of music it offers. No matter the time of day, there’s always someone playing to the needs of every festival-goer. Some of yesterday’s highlights included Freelance Whales, Kopecky Family Band, Grace Potter & the Nocturnals, The Decemerists, Ray LaMontagne, Florence and the Machine, My Morning Jacket, Arcade Fire, Bassnectar, Lil Wayne and Pretty Lights.

Grace Potter & the Nocturnals made the scorching afternoon heat more bearable by playing such an energetic and enthusiastic set that the crowd seemed to soak up almost as much music as UV rays. The song "Paris (Ooh La La)" brought the crowd to their feet. Everyone was ooh la la-ing right along with Grace and her band, and she closed her set with a riveting cover of "White Rabbit." In just one year's time, Potter has gone from performing at a small tent at Bonnaroo to commanding the main stage. Plus, she’s a great candidate for a headliner for next year’s festival.

The Decemberists took the helm next, continuing in the vein of great music. They played a 90-minute set sprinkled with a variety of songs, the majority of which came from their studio album,The King is Dead, released earlier this year.
As anyone who has ever braved the elements of Bonnaroo will tell you, it’s inevitable that the artists you desperately want to see will play overlapping sets. If someone ever figures out how to be in two places at once, the Bonnaroo crowd will be the first 80,000 people in line.

Friday’s toughest decision revolved around whether to see Ray LaMontagne or Florence and the Machine. I started at LaMontagne, and he gave his audience exactly what they wanted. His voice was flawless as he flowed easily from one song into the next without even talking in between.

About mid-way through the set, I popped over to Florence to catch a bit of her show. The tent was packed in and out and all around with adoring fans watching and singing along. Florence told her audience repeatedly, "You've got the love, Bonnaroo!" before jumping into the song “You've Got the Love."
At the end of her set, the crowd was completely riled up from singing along to "Dog Days are Over." Then Florence organized her fans, having them all jump into the air at once so she could snap a photo.

Friday night’s Crowd-thrilling headliners My Morning Jacket and Arcade Fire brought their best, and fans jammed out during the entirety of both sets. Some of the crowd favorites for My Morning Jacket included "Victory Dance," Smokin from Shootin" and the set closer "One Big Holiday." Grammy Award-winners Arcade Fire played heavily off their album The Suburbs and gave a solid close with "Wake Up,” causing the crowd to go absolutely wild.

The nightlife in Manchester was a flash of glitter and glow sticks as late-night musical acts Bassnectar, Lil Wayne and Pretty Lights performed in various locations. Booming bass and happy fans danced the night away and sang along with Lil Wayne’s energetic set. Early into the morning, sleep-deprived fans were full of great music (along with some other substances) and ready to launch into day two.

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