Tag Archives: bonnaroo

Dopa-Blog: The Road Journal of Dopapod #8 – Billy Joel, Bonnaroo, Synths

db1Well, I asked Billy Joel to sit in with us, but he said no. I don’t know why, maybe he was weirded out because I asked him while we were both taking a leak in the bathroom. Whatever, bro, get over yourself. It’s 2015. The walls of urination etiquette are a savage custom of the past. Live in the now.

 

Okay, so I didn’t actually ask Billy Joel to jam with us, nor did I even see him whatsoever. But on a serious note, Bonnaroo was absolutely unbelievable; without question not only the hugest crowd we’ve ever played for, but also one of the most energetic and appreciative. But I’ll start from the beginning of our Bonnaroo experience before we get into the meaty show time details.

 

We arrived nice and early in the afternoon with a lot of time to kill before our set. I usually don’t like to be at a festival all day before we play. It’s not that I don’t want to be there; I just know from experience that walking around for eight hours under the hot sun can leave me totally drained of any energy by show time. Not only that, but a lot of times I get bored and cope with it by drinking beer. And that’s definitely not something you want to consume all day before playing. In this case, though, we didn’t have a choice, so I figured I might as well walk around Bonnaroo and take it all in. I did, however, give myself a rule of no drinking before the set. I didn’t want to be a sloppy, exhausted pile of crap for one of the biggest festivals we’d ever played.

 

db2Before our set we sat down to do an interview with Red Bull TV, which was one of the stranger things I’ve experienced in my time on the road. They brought us up to a sort of tower overlooking the concert field, where they sat us down in front of super bright lights, handed us all microphones and dabbed makeup on us. I felt like I was announcing New Years Rockin’ Eve or something. It was weird. The interview itself was pretty fun, though.
The time finally came to set up our equipment, and I was surprised to see a substantial amount of people already at the stage waiting for us. To be honest, I initially told myself that they were probably just camping out for a good spot for whatever band would be playing after us, and we were just the entertainment in the meantime. As we neared completion of our sound check, we were all a bit stressed to discover that Eli’s Moog prodigy was completely incapable of staying in tune. Fun fact for those of you who don’t know much about keyboards (and I am one of you): Vintage synthesizers actually have to be tuned. I don’t know if it was the dust or the humidity or what, but the Moog was in super rough shape. But it was now or never! Gear malfunction moments are what separate the men from the boys, and if you don’t keep your cool and handle it with grace you’re bound to have a terrible time on stage. I knew that if anybody could handle it, it was Eli. He has four other keyboards on stage, and dude sounds amazing on anything that has piano keys, so I knew if something went wrong he would still play it off like a boss.

 

db3As we took a minute to collect ourselves before walking on stage, we heard the entire crowd chanting our band’s name, and I realized that the people who had been waiting while we were setting up were not just waiting for some other band to start playing. I hate to be cheesy, but we were really moved by it. As we finally took the stage, I was absolutely dumbfounded at how much the crowd had grown since I had walked off after sound check. I had never experienced anything like it. I would guess it was somewhere between 10,000 and 12,000 people. A few of my friends and family asked me if were nervous playing in front of such a big crowd; Honestly, aside from being a touch nervous about Eli’s synth working properly, I couldn’t have been less nervous. How could I be stressed playing in front of a crowd that was so warm and enthusiastic? I didn’t feel I had anything to prove. I was only focused on having a great time and enjoying such a beautiful moment while it lasted. On top of that, Eli dealt with his technical difficulties beautifully. I was proud of him for being so zen about it and adjusting without a hitch.

 

 

After having a day off to enjoy Bonnaroo, we hopped on a plane and headed back up north to play at Disc Jam Music Festival. I have to give a shout out to our unbelievable road crew for this one.  As soon as our set had finished, they packed up the all the gear and drove all the way from Tennessee to New York so that we could stay at Bonnaroo for an extra day and then fly into the next gig. That just blows my mind. They work way harder than we do to begin with, yet we’re the ones who get special treatment. I won’t lie, I was more than happy to be able to hang out for awhile and then fly in a nice comfy airplane, but I felt kind of guilty about it. The next time a fan comes over to me to shake my hand or ask for an autograph I should just tell them to go get our road crew to sign their stuff instead, because in actuality my job is pretty easy and theirs is unbelievably difficult.

 

 

We arrived at Disc Jam in high spirits, not only from the afterglow of Bonnaroo, but from excitement about playing a festival that’s been so good to us throughout the years. It’s changed locations multiple times at this point, but has managed to retain the same vibe no matter where it’s been held each year. My theory is that it’s truly a festival that thrives off of the people who attend it. I’ve seen so many of the same faces every year I’ve ever played at it that it really doesn’t matter what the location is. The people there dictate the mood and spirit of the event.

 

As I set up my equipment in preparation for our set, I enjoyed the sounds of Electron emanating from the adjacent stage. Those guys have all been doing what we’re doing for years and years, and they’ve been super cool and supportive to us. They’re definitely always a fun hang. The only guy I haven’t talked to too much is Tom Hamilton, but I can safely say I was really impressed with his guitar playing. To be honest, up until recently I didn’t really know he was so good. It’s not that I didn’t think he was good – I just hadn’t checked out much of his playing – that was until a few months ago, when I caught him playing with Joe Russo’s Almost Dead in Denver. Man, that guy can play guitar.

 

As Electron wound down and we started getting into our set, I felt a nice, rare wave of contentment. If I’m being honest with myself, I feel like I always want something else; more songs, more gigs, less gigs, more notoriety, more guitars, whatever. But every once in awhile, I can reach a place where I’m totally happy with where I’m at right then and there. I got to go to that place while I was on stage at Disc Jam, and I really appreciated being there. I was on stage with my friends, playing music that I was happy with, for a crowd of people who were feeding us great energy. I couldn’t have asked for more.

 

 

The set started off pretty standard, with us breezing through a few more abridged versions of songs. Definitely tight, but the real fun was yet to begin. Then, about halfway through the set, we brought up our friend Justin Hancock from Haley Jane and the Primates to play some guitar. Justin goes way back with all of us. I met him in college in a guitar lab, where we bonded over Phish. On top of that, he used to be in a band with Chuck and Eli called Actual Proof, so there’s a lot of history between all of us. We all had a great time playing together, and Justin sounded great. From that point on, I don’t think there a single break between songs. I also don’t think a single thing went according to plan, which is how we want it to be. That’s when the really good stuff happens!

 

Anyhow, that’s all for now, I’m in the van, as usual. It’s a little past midnight, and I’m listening to some Cannonball Adderley. Check him out if you never have. He is definitely my favorite bebop horn player. I may even start my next blog as soon I’m done with this one. It’s not like I have anything else to do! ’Til then, you all be safe out there.

 

Dopa-Blog: The Road Journal of Dopapod – #7 Martha2, “Echoes,” and Slayer

mt jamHey everybody! I’m back at it after a long hiatus from blogging. I guess I just got the bug again and needed some sort of activity to keep me from going nuts on the road. But before I give you the details of last week’s run of shows, I figured I’d tell you about a couple of the more exciting things that have happened so far this year.

First off, I started off the new year by purchasing a shiny new guitar. That’s exciting stuff for me. For any guitar geeks out there who care about specifics, its a Gibson custom shop CS-336 with a non-reverse firebird headstock. For anyone who doesn’t care about what its called, just look at the pretty picture of it below:

guitar

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I was out to dinner with my girlfriend and we stopped into a terrific guitar shop called Lark Street Music. I had no intention of buying a new guitar, but it felt and sounded too perfect for me not to fall in love with it. I spent the following couple days trying to get it out of my head so as not to make a frivolous decision, but ultimately my wonderful, lovely girlfriend told me to stop being a dumb ass and buy it. There’s nothing like the love of a good woman, huh? Anyhow, it’s been my primary guitar for the last six months, which is saying a lot since I’ve sold every guitar I’ve owned in the last 8 years. I named her Martha 2 (Martha 1 is my dog). Also, for anyone who cares, I still have Amelia, my trusty Paul Reed Smith hollowbody II that has been my primary guitar for the last ten years. That guitar will have to be pried from my cold, dead hands. She is however, in need of some TLC and overall maintenance, so I haven’t been playing her too much as of late.

Another highlight of this year for me was our three night run at the Sinclair in Boston. Playing shows and just being in Boston in general is always a big deal for us since we started the band there many years ago, and being there always brings something out of us creatively. I usually try not to voice my opinion of any of our shows. Who am I to let my negative opinion of a show ruin what was a great experience for someone in the audience? And, conversely, I’m wary to think too highly of a show and then get people’s expectations up too high only to have the music not meet it. But I’m gonna go out on a limb here and say that these three shows are some of my favorite shows we’ve ever played. I love the feeling of abandoning a setlist for the sake of creativity and exploration, and I don’t think any of the three shows abided by what was written down. I also felt that every chance we took paid off in spades. I couldn’t have had a better time.

Here’s some of personal highlights of the run:

1- the entire first show

2- Russ Lawton and Ray Paczkowski of Soul Monde and Trey Anastasio Band sitting in with us on “Roid Rage”

3- Playing Pink Floyd’s “Echoes” for nearly an entire hour. It was the only song of the entire second set on the third night.

 

Fast forward to Summer and here we are, in the midst of festival season. This is an exciting yet stressful time of year for any band. Being at a festival with all our friends from other bands feels like a giant family reunion. The hang is just unbelievable. I honestly feel that all the other bands that are sort of in the same teir as us (is that what the kids are calling it these days? “Teir?”) are my best friends. Unfortunately, with all of us always on our own crazy tours we don’t get to hang as much as we’d like to, so we look forward to the hang that occurs backstage at any given festival.

Last weekend was an amazing, albeit insane one for us. We started off by flying to Arkansas to perform at Wakarusa. The set was all right despite fighting through some technical difficulties in the first quarter of the set. We were also using all rental (or “backline,” as the pros say) equipment, which was a bit stressful. But we made it through unscathed to fight another day. I think my personal highlight of the day was that all the water at the festival came in cans, which blew our minds. It felt like we were drinking beer, but we were actually being healthy. Good stuff.

We woke up bright and early the next day for one of the most hectic days of travel I’ve experienced in recent memory. We started off with an hour and a half drive to the airport, and then got on an airplane and landed in Chicago to catch a connecting flight. The layover culminated with our plane arriving an hour late, only to be kept at the gate for an extra hour because the flight crew couldn’t get the door of the airplane to close. That’s reassuring! A door being broken on an airplane is definitely pretty high up on the list of things you don’t want to be broken on an airplane. Dead men tell no tales, however, and obviously I’m alive to tell this one, so I think it’s obvious that the door held up okay. Then once that plane landed at LaGuardia, we hopped in a car and drove another three hours to Mountain Jam in Hunter, New York. All in all, thirteen hours of traveling in one day.

Thankfully, we arrived in time to catch the last half of Robert Plant’s set. He rocked the shit out of that mountain. He still sounds great and his music has aged gracefully over the years. Also, in between songs he told weird stories about young girls walking through the heather with buckets of milk singing “English refrains of old.” I don’t know what the hell he was talking about, but Robert Plant was saying it so it was pretty much the coolest thing I had ever heard.

After that, I walked over to the indoor stage to play our late night set. I’ll admit it was a bit surreal to watch a member of Led Zeppelin and then walk 100 yards and play my own set. That was a pretty cool “pinch me moment.” I enjoyed our set a lot, although I can’t think of any specific highlights. I just know it was nice to play a good long set that allowed us to stretch out. We’ve had a lot of power hour festival sets where we’re off stage before we even know we have started playing, so it was nice to have time on our side once again.

We got finished at 3 am and headed to our hotel to get some rest, but not for long. We were back at the venue at 11 am to get set up for an early afternoon set on the main stage. This was by far the biggest stage we had ever played on, but frankly I didn’t care what the stage looked like; I just hoped that people would get up early and come see us. No one wants to play for an empty ski slope. Fortunately, we had a wonderful crowd as well as a beautiful, sunny day amidst a lush, green mountainous setting. What a beautiful time. Despite our exhaustion from all the travel, we felt really locked in and creative. All four of us were in high spirits and were truly enjoying such a beautiful place to make music. 

I hung out for the afternoon and enjoyed some free beer and food, and then decided to hit the road so I could have some “R and R” before getting back on the road, which brings me to now. We’re in the van, headed to Bonnaroo. My back is killing me and my hair is starting to go gray. Do you guys think Billy Joel would be down to sit in with us? I doubt it. Maybe we’ll ask Slayer…they’re a jam band, right? We’ll see… 

 

Bonnaroo Announces Additions to 2013 Lineup

bonnarooBonnaroo is thrilled to announce several artists just added to the Bonnaroo 2013 Lineup. 

 

Empire of the Sun
Solange
ALO with Special Guests
Polyphonic Spree
Bustle In Your Hedgerow
Black Prairie
Delta Rae
The Rubens

 

Two amazing additions to the Rock N’ Soul Dance Party Superjam:
Larry Graham – Bassist (Graham Central Station, Sly & the Family Stone)
Bilal – Vocalist Extraordinaire

Paul McCartney, Tom Petty, Mumford & Sons top Bonnaroo line-up

bonnarooBonnaroo has released their intial line-up for this year’s Festival which will take place June 13-16 in Manchester, TN.  Topping this year’s line-up is Paul McCartney, Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, and Munford & Sons.

Tickets go on sale February 23 at noon.

 

Full line-up below. More acts to be announced soon.

 

Paul McCartney
Mumford and Sons
Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
Wilco
A$AP Rocky
The xx
Passion Pit
David Byrne & St. Vincent
Pretty Lights
Of Monsters and Men
Billy Idol
Grizzly Bear
Nas
Foals
Amadou & Miriam
Wolfgang Gartner
Wild Nothing
Lord Huron
Deep Valley
Killer Mike
Daniel Tosh
Japandroids
Big KRIT
Jim James
21 Pilots
Macklemore
Ryan Lewis
Stepkids
Beach House
Gaslight Anthem
Local Natives
Dirty Projectors
Baroness
The National
Calexico
Lumineers
Dwight Yoakam
The Vaccines
Holy Ghost
Death Grips
R. Kelly
Alt-J
Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros
Cat Power
Wu-Tang Clan
Purity Ring
ZZ Top
Milo Greene
Boyz Noize
Björk
Matt and Kim
Tame Impala
Animal Collective
Glen Hansard
Futurebirds
Soul SuperJam (Jim James with John Oates, Zigaboo Modeliste (of the Meters), Preservation Hall Jazz Band)
Weird Al Yankovic

 

http://www.bonnaroo.com/

Times they are a-changin’: An in-depth look back at Bonnaroo #11

 

Ten years ago, late on a hot Thursday night, tens of thousands of Phishheads, Spreadheads and other adventurous counterculture-types (and bewildered cross-country truck drivers) parked their vehicles on a stretch of I-65 just outside of Manchester, TN as the people of that town scrambled to figure out a way to cram them all into the first Bonnaroo.

Many people unrolled sleeping bags right on the asphalt as ten hours or more passed with very little forward progress. Backs, necks and legs were stiff and cramped from squeezing bodies and gear into the smallest car possible for a long drive, but spirits were high; the music hadn’t even started but already this was a happening unlike any our generation had experienced before.

 

 

Eventually the cars all tumbled haphazardly into a big grassy field, people started pitching tents and stretching tarps between vehicles and trying to squeeze in a nap before the music began in The Ballroom (The Other Tent in modern parlance). The deck was stacked against us for this inaugural attempt at a peaceful antithesis to Woodstock ’99; the heat was oppressive and the general state of disorganization meant that clean water was sometimes hard to come by, and at certain times the portable toilets were positively overflowing. The closest thing to a shower was to huddle over a spigot as water dribbled out in order to pour pitchers of icy goodness over your head and into your shorts.

Every time an ice truck pulled in, the mad rush was like an autograph line at a Star Trek convention. By Sunday night, lack of sleep, heat exhaustion, dehydration and over-partying had reduced much of the crowd to dozing on the lawn by The Stadium (yep, that’s What Stage) waiting for Trey to come on.

Still, you didn’t see many frowning faces. Many of us had sacrificed a lot just to get there, and more than anything we were counting on The Music to make it all worthwhile, and The Music delivered.

The scene was still recovering from the revelation that Phish may or may not ever play again, as well as the news that Widespread Panic guitarist Michael Houser was fighting a losing battle against cancer; he would play only a few more shows. The community needed to gather together and create something positive in the face of uncertainty, and that’s exactly what happened.

Ten years and eleven events later, that particular community no longer exists. Bonnaroo is a massive neon-lit advertisement for itself, with showers, well-kept porta-potties, tight security and all the popular bands of the day, but this is only a reaction to what has happened in the wider world, as well as what may be an honest endeavor to make the festival experience as comfortable as possible for the fans. We even got an added bonus this year: the most absolutely perfect weather imaginable, unheard of at ‘roos past. With headlining sets in store from Phish and Radiohead, the deck was stacked decidedly in our favor…

 

TOP ⑤ SETS OF THE WEEKEND

 

Bizarrely, this list was incredibly easy to narrow down. Just like every year, Bonnaroo was bursting with great music (and for the love of God, keep in mind: A person can only be in one place at a time), but five artists stood head and shoulders above the rest of the performances that this particular writer witnessed. In chronological order:

 

Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. (Thursday, The Other Tent)

●Unless this show was a fluke, big things are in store for this band.

 

The band’s 2011 debut album It’s A Corporate World is a bright, clever and uplifting collection of pop songs, but it doesn’t exactly scream “killer live band,” particularly since it’s all basically done by two guys. But anyone inclined to scoff at the Wikipedia assertion that “The group is known for high energy live performances” surely hasn’t seen Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. live. Unless this show was a fluke, big things are in store for this band.

After an already solid afternoon of music at The Other Tent, there was a sizable crowd assembled for the men of Dale to welcome darkness with a set that touched on most of Corporate World but featured some significant reimaginings (if you will) of the tunes; in particular, the title track and “When I Open My Eyes” managed to dance the fine line between creepy and uplifting to an Animal-Collective degree. But it was the well-chosen covers that provided perhaps the most moving moments; a nod to Sunday performers, The Beach Boys, yielded a soaring rendition of “God Only Knows” that culminated in a Phish-esque harmonic vocal jam, and a completely unexpected tribute to Whitney Houston (presumably) appeared in the form of a powerful and deferent “I Will Always Love You” interlude that developed out of “If It Wasn’t You…”  The penultimate song was Gil Scott-Heron’s “We Almost Lost Detroit,” which DEJJ has completely made its own, and if you weren’t bouncing gleefully to this anthem you must’ve had lead in your shoes.  By 8:15 on Thursday it seemed like the best set of Bonnaroo might already be in the books.

 

White Denim (Thursday, The Other Tent)

●…a dizzying display of musicianship.

 

We’re not in the business here of giving numerical rankings to the greatness of apples and oranges, so it’s impossible to say whether DEJJ or the band the followed it, White Denim, was better; suffice it to say that there was no better one-two punch of rock and roll all weekend. White Denim released another of 2011’s best albums, D, and many songs from it were woven into the band’s nonstop segue fest in truly astounding seamlessness. The precision with which this band plays its complicated proggy tunes and jams them out puts Denim on a pedestal shared by Umphrey’s McGee and not many others. There are strong elements of King Crimson, The Mars Volta and the more guitar-based strains of Krautrock, definite Zappa-isms as well as eclectic rootsy fare, and the overall blend is frequently intoxicating even on record.

Most bands that do prog this well don’t exactly jam. As such, it was the improv of the set that truly bowled the audience over; it was frequently hard to determine where one composition ended and the next began, as mind-bending walls of noise and full-band noodle soups emerged between nearly every song. It was a dizzying display of musicianship; the tightness of the band and the overall intensity were off the charts as Denim barely gave the crowd a chance to breathe.  The set began with the superb opening trio from the new album and never let up for a moment, dropping jaws over and over.

The myriad of styles gave virtually every music fan something to latch onto; a performance this good reveals White Denim as the rare band that can blend all those styles into something definitively its own.

 

Radiohead (Friday, What Stage)

●…a far cry from the depressive Radiohead of old, but equally moving.

 

Radiohead’s first appearance at Bonnaroo was in 2006, and that show, replete with a generous complement of not-yet-released songs from the forthcoming In Rainbows album, was instantly branded a classic. At that point, the festival was just beginning its transition from hippie-centrism to an ever-increasing focus on indie and alt-rock, so this was a key crossover moment for Radiohead, and word of the band’s live prowess spread to a huge new segment of the show-going public.

Six years later, expectations were through the roof for the most universally revered band in the world. Fans purely hoping for 90s classics were the only ones disappointed.

Should Radiohead play more oldies? Based on this performance, no; if there was a low point to this show, it was “Karma Police,” which can be a great live song but Thom Yorke and company clearly find no inspiration in it anymore, which makes it all the more puzzling that they keep playing it with so many great alternatives at their disposal. This and the band’s single from last year, “Supercollider” (dedicated to Jack White: “We’re not gonna tell you why… but you’ll find out,” quipped Thom), were definite lulls. Everything else was stunning.

Perhaps the most surprising aspect of the show was Jonny Greenwood’s merciless pummeling of his guitar. Much has been made in recent years of the band’s focus on electronics over rock and roll, but despite the dearth of conventionally guitar-based songs, Greenwood found ways to inject vicious licks over and over. His demeanor onstage was that of a man possessed, while Thom played good cop and expressed nothing but gratitude and goofiness. It was a far cry from the depressive Radiohead of old, but equally moving.

Highlights were too numerous to cover, but they included the sublime pairing of the two tracks from Radiohead’s most recent single, “Staircase” and “The Daily Mail,” which are better than almost anything on last year’s The King Of Limbs LP. But the tracks from that album were almost all expanded and improved, augmented by more improvisation than Radiohead has been known for in years past (but still, not much).

“Morning Mr. Magpie” was ten times more intense, even in its relative brevity, with Jonny positively sawing at his guitar. Along this line,  “Lotus Flower” and “Feral” became vehicles for a hyper-danceable sound collage.

The recently reintroduced “I Might Be Wrong” and the recently problematic “Idioteque” sounded incredibly fresh and kinetic on this night, driving the crowd ballistic, and the required “Everything In Its Right Place” featured a beautiful “True Love Waits” introductory tease and a somewhat more organic, expansive exploration at its ending than is usually par.

Thom’s somewhat annoying re-sampling habit has finally evolved into a real vocal experiment, less obtuse and reliant on technology; even without rock, Radiohead has clawed its way back from its digital obsession to a very human sound that’s impossible to classify.

There weren’t any surprises, exactly; only two songs from OK Computer (including the bombastic “Paranoid Android” that ended the show) and nothing from prior albums, but regardless of whether or not the band will ever rediscover any enthusiasm for their oldies, they wouldn’t have fit into this particular model. Radiohead has always been about pushing forward and ignoring the past to an extent, and no band in pop music history has done it so well for so long.

 

Kenny Rogers (Sunday, The Other Tent)

 

See below, under “BONNAROO MAGIC” to read how this set became “emotional way beyond nostalgia.”

 

Phish (Sunday, What Stage)

●…a thoroughly engrossing four-man musical conversation.

 

Bonnaroo always reserves the final headlining slot for jam band heroes in what is now a cursory nod to the origins of the fest. Trey Anastasio has appeared at this festival more times than anyone else, having headlined the inaugural year and most recently in 2009 as part of Phish’s triumphant return from nonexistence.

This band’s reputation at festivals other than those it curates alone has become somewhat of an albatross among hardcore fans; those who crave improvisation generally leave a festival set disappointed or skip them altogether. Still, some had reason to believe that of all stages, What Stage was more likely than the others to inspire greatness. More than any other band, expectations predetermine people’s enjoyment of Phish.

When all was said and done, there wasn’t much to malign about this show. Fans bitched about repeats from the tour’s first two nights, lots of “greatest hits,” and a relative lack of jamming; but in comparison to other festival outings (including Bonnaroo ’09), this was an outstanding Phish show in all respects.

In the modern era, merely trotting out “Tweezer” in the first set and actually engaging in a complete departure from song structure is a strong statement; it wasn’t some mind-bending epic, but it was a thoroughly engrossing four-man musical conversation that began quickly and reached a satisfying conclusion. The first set also ended with a surprisingly interesting take on “Backwards Down The Number Line,” a tune which rarely gets anything but the joyous guitar solo treatment lately.

Set two began promisingly with TV On The Radio’s “Golden Age,” although this modern-day surrogate of “Crosseyed And Painless” failed to take off as a vehicle tonight. The menacing crunch of “Carini” heralded the night’s centerpiece, a gnarly dirge that swiftly separated from normalcy and dove into destructive ambience. It was during this concise exploration that the 2012 (so far) dynamic showed itself: bassist Mike Gordon and chairman of the boards Page McConnell have reawakened to aggressive creativity relative to the past couple of years, while Trey has regained some patience and subtlety, allowing his melodic cohorts to lead jams again.

Drummer Jon Fishman has been frustratingly reluctant to deviate from prescribed beats over the past three years, but he seems to have loosened up in 2012, allowing improv to blossom more quickly into spontaneous creativity. Sure, it’s too bad that he and Mike couldn’t keep the groove flowing as they segued into the first performance of “Shafty” since 2003, but this was still a glorious moment for the assembled fans.

There were brief moments of transcendence in the ensuing “Rock And Roll,” “Light” and even the painfully cane-yanked “Harry Hood,” but there was also undeniably impressive playing during “Alaska,” “Character Zero” and the encore trio of “Show Of Life,” “Julius” and “Tweezer Reprise,” always an earth-shaking climax to a show.

These more tangible blasts of jukebox heroism don’t please tourheads, but Phish didn’t build its fanbase by catering to anything but the whims of its members, Trey in particular, and few in the audience were disappointed by this feel-good finale.

However scripted it may have been, regardless of any potential ulterior motives, it was a rousing rock show with just enough meaty improv to satisfy most of the scattered diehards in the crowd.

 

MILD DISAPPOINTMENTS

 

Red Hot Chili Peppers: Plenty of Blood, Sugar & Sex… but magic?

 

The biggest crowd of the weekend assembled Saturday night for Red Hot Chili Peppers’ headlining slot. Yep, that’s right: not Radiohead. Red Hot Chili Peppers. It seemed unfathomable at first, yet it was quickly apparent that somehow, RHCP aren’t the alt-rock oldies act you might think; they are a very popular band. The crowd was singing along to tunes from last year’s I’m With You as fervently as with any of the older material if not more so. And by “older material,” we’re talking about Californication and Blood Sugar Sex Magic and that’s about it. Unless you count Stevie Wonder’s “Higher Ground,” which appeared on 1989’s Mother’s Milk, the Peppers pulled a Radiohead and completely ignored what many consider to be its classic material. And again, fans will have to grudgingly admit that this is for the best; singer Anthony Kiedis has undoubtedly developed into a decent singer over the years, but he’s lost the ability to bark–much less bite–which pretty much rules out most of RHCP’s 80s catalog. He seems to have shaped RHCP into a “serious” band, which would have been inconceivable even in the mid-90s. And for this reviewer, the new direction just isn’t convincing.

Props go out to new guitarist Josh Klinghoffer, who is obviously determined to jettison the band’s history and make the Chili Peppers his own. He certainly deprived fans of some classic licks in favor of his layered, shoegaze-like approach, but he deserves a lot of credit for asserting his own stylistic voice so quickly. The rapport between him and bassist Flea is obvious, and the two led numerous impromptu jams with impressive energy — even if they were generally predictable. At this point, though, the band might as well not bother with cuts like “Give It Away” and “Suck My Kiss,” because Kiedis sounds silly and disinterested singing them and Klinghoffer clearly would rather be somewhere else during them. But they’ll need to write some better songs some day if the Klinghoffer era has any chance of staving off irrelevance.

 

Punch Brothers: Victim (of the sound guy) or the Crime?

 

Punch Brothers are a really, really good band. Their new Who’s Feeling Young Now? is one of this year’s best albums so far, and their performance at last year’s Summer Camp Festival, for instance, was nothing short of mind-boggling.

The term “progressive bluegrass” doesn’t do justice to what these acoustic wizards are capable of, but on a lazy Saturday afternoon at Which Stage, they didn’t seem to have quite enough energy to captivate the crowd.

This stage had probably the worst sound all weekend, not horrible but it wasn’t dialed in well enough to project the delicate intricacies of Punch Brothers’ music. It was still a good set, and their spot-on cover of Radiohead’s “Kid A” captured everyone’s attention for sure, but either they didn’t muster the fire that they emanate on a good day or they weren’t mic’d properly enough to convey it.

 

A man without his TOOLs: Oh, nineties where art thou?

 

Maynard Keenan co-headlined Bonnaroo in 2007 with his most famous band, Tool, and returned this year with his tongue-in-cheek side project Puscifer. Apparently there was some sort of miscommunication between the band and the Bonnaroo brass, as a half hour rolled by past Puscifer’s scheduled start time before the band appeared onstage. By that point, many curious folks had wandered off, and in the end they may have been better off for it.

Puscifer is as much a visual animal as a musical one, and in broad daylight, the screens and light show were ineffectual. Keenan and co-vocalist Carina Round sounded great, but their onstage movements were tough to discern and the whole spectacle ultimately fell flat.

All of Maynard’s work dares the listener to decide for him or herself how sincere the man is actually being, but the challenge seemed pointless in this setting. Thus far Puscifer has been Keenan’s least intriguing project on a purely musical level, and the theatricality of the performance demands darkness and an intimacy that couldn’t be achieved here.

 

THE MARGINS

 

One odd thing about Bonnaroo this year is that it actually got a little less diverse than its trajectory had previously indicated. The rising popular acceptance of metal and continued popularity of hip-hop have yielded bigger and bigger names from these scenes… until 2012.

Ludacris was the most notable mainstream star in the rap category this year, and although he is well past his peak years on the charts, he was a perfect choice for the modern ‘roo crowd, bringing a party atmosphere that reaches across generations (thanks, Girl Talk!) and can’t fail to bring a shit-eating smile to your face at some point.  At one point, he even led the crowd through a singalong of most of “Smells Like Teen Spirit” in one of the weekend’s biggest WTFs. Too many loud-crowd games hampered the flow occasionally, but otherwise the set was a booty-shakin’ good time.

Late nights also featured some godfathers of modern hip hop in the reunion of Black Star (Mos Def and Talib Kweli) for Friday night and GZA performing his classic Liquid Swords on Saturday night with Latin funksters Grupo Fantasma as his backing band, but after a marathon day, staying up until 4 a.m. isn’t always in the cards, nor is getting from the main stage to the tents in a timely manner.

These cats warranted more accessible time slots, end of story. All told, though there wasn’t a plethora of choices (The Roots also played Saturday at What Stage just prior to the Chili Peppers), on paper at least the quality was top notch.

Saturday turned out to be the de facto “heavy” day (mostly centered at That Tent), with some of the oddest choices possible for the fest and varying results (see also: Puscifer, above).

The day began with Pelican, a superb atmospheric instrumental metal band from Chicago who has veered close enough to Mogwai-esque post rock to attract fans outside the metal world. When people lament that nobody’s come up with a decent riff since the 70s, it’s always a good idea to point them in the direction of Pelican’s excellent 2003 debut Australasia, and while the band hasn’t quite reached those heights since, the new Ataraxia/Taraxis EP contains some of its best songs yet. This career-spanning set was a gut-churning wakeup call for the day, as the twin guitar attack of Trevor de Brauw and Laurent Schroeder-Lebec shook the tent poles with divine sludge.

Later on, it was the hardcore/reggae hybrid of Bad Brains that drew headbangers to the tent. The punk rock review of this set would go like this: They sucked, it was awesome. You would’ve thought singer H.R. had never sung into a microphone before; he was unintelligible, even on the reggae tunes, but the band stuck mostly to its loud-fast material and it was sloppy, blistering and pure fire, as if all the breakups and reformations had never really happened and we were still in the 80s.

Speaking of the 80s: Glenn Danzig was a late addition to the Bonnaroo lineup, making this the final night of his Legacy tour. The man is basically the Steven Seagal of music–totally badass and completely lame. Well, maybe not completely; he might be the least self-aware dude ever to sing punk rock, but his work with The Misfits is pretty much unassailable, and as the set rolled through the various stages of Danzig’s career (Danzig the band>Samhain>Misfits>Danzig solo), it was tough to argue against the awesomeness of most of it. The man is a showman, and that distinctive voice is still intact, and particularly when guitarist Doyle Wolfgang von Frankenstein emerged for the Misfits numbers, it was impossible not to get caught up in the raw energy and the sincerity with which Danzig belted out his classic material. The puzzling omission of “Where Eagles Dare” was the only miscalculation; by encore time there was a sizable moshpit stirring up a cloud of sand to Glenn’s obvious delight, and for the small crowd of headbangers present, this had to be a highlight of the weekend.

 

BONNAROO MAGIC

 

The fragmentation (if not outright disintegration) of the jamband scene has its benefits: Folks discovering other kinds of music is a good thing. But the biggest gaping hole in the Bonnaroo 2012 experience was the collaboration between musicians, something that defined the thing from the beginning and was essentially codified in the Superjam idea. The missed opportunities outweighed the magic by a ton this year, and this more than anything contributed to the overall disappointment felt by many ‘roo vets.

Who could have predicted that Kenny Rogers would account for the most notable guest appearances of the weekend?  No one, that’s who. Rogers may have been a tad oblivious to what was honestly going on at this festival, but his set was a sterling collection of the few songs you know by heart and lots of oh-yeah moments (“What?  Kenny Rogers wrote ‘Ghetto Supastar??’”  “No dude, it was the Bee Gees.”), played and sung with all the charisma you’d expect from The Gambler.

Things got emotional way beyond nostalgia as Rogers sang his inspired take on the John Hiatt-penned “Have A Little Faith In Me,” and then a handful of Manchester officials came onstage to present Kenny with a key to the city; never seen that before at Bonnaroo! But that wasn’t the end; it was time for “Lady,” and who should stroll onstage but the man who wrote the song, Lionel Ritchie? Might as well do “All Night Long” next!

To be honest, the rest of the afternoon was kind of a drag after this impromptu dance party; golden oldies and indie rock don’t have the same kind of pep. But it was perhaps only a little bit of a surprise when Kenny emerged again for the final show of the festival, singing “The Gambler” along with a visibly delighted Phish.

As mentioned, Trey is one of the originators of Bonnaroo, so it was fitting that he, at least, was able to scare up a guest for his band’s set. The disappointing thing was that this was all we saw of Trey all weekend. This is the guy who, in 2006, played a set here with Oysterhead on Friday, opened for Tom Petty with his solo band on Saturday in Maryland Heights, MO and then high-tailed it back to ‘roo for the Superjam that same night. Phish had Saturday off this year, yet no one from the band was interested in popping onstage for a mini-thrill at any point?

Downright shocking was the fact that Flying Lotus played his fantastic late night set right after Radiohead’s and Yorke, a well-known FlyLo fan and collaborator, never showed up. Even on paper this was a loogey in the face of the original Bonnaroo spirit.

The actual Superjam featured, for the second time, The Roots’ ?uestlove on drums, which had been announced in advance (which in itself is a lame development; doesn’t anybody like to be surprised anymore?). He spent the first hour just talking (okay, that’s a gross exaggeration; it only felt like an hour) leading up to the big reveal: D’Angelo! Now, this was surely a coup for ‘roo in terms of buzz and, let it be said, musical talent, but in terms of a Superjam… not so much.

This was basically a second Roots set with some of D’Angelo’s touring band thrown in. The elusive crooner’s first live appearance in the U.S. in twelve years was a big surprise, no doubt. There’s nothing even worth criticizing about the music; it’s just that the thrill of unknown potential pretty much vanished with the revealing of the band.  “We’re tight because we know each other,” ?uestlove remarked, trying to reassure us that this was a jam, which it occasionally was, but all told it was more of a history lecture.

There were other notable late-nighters that were quasi-Superjams in themselves: The Word, a gospel-jamband composed of the North Mississippi Allstars plus John Medeski and Robert Randolph, has played only sporadically since its initial 2001/02 run but landed the midnight-to-1:30 slot on Friday night at The Other Tent.

Medeski popped up again the following night opposite the Superjam with Spectrum Road, a fledgling group comprised of guitarist Vernon Reid, bassist Jack Bruce and drummer Cindy Blackman as a tribute to the music of Tony Williams (got all that?).

But again, playing Six Degrees of John Medeski will turn up so many potentially amazing collaborations between people at Bonnaroo; apparently this just isn’t a hip pastime any more.

The only other notable guest appearance came when Big Gigantic showed up at the scheduled end of Umphrey’s McGee’s late-night set to announce that there’d be a second set following a quick Gigantic interlude to take us all the way to sunrise. It probably wasn’t a shocking revelation to many, but it was evidence of that lost art of giving and then giving some more, doing something that’s not penciled in, and not being afraid to let a friend steal your thunder for a moment. There’s a reason Umphrey’s gets invited back almost every year: the band rises to the occasion every time.

Apparently Umphrey’s is one of the last remaining bands in tune with the adventurous ‘roo spirit; this festival used to be a platform for the special, the unusual, and now it’s just good bands playing regular sets, just like all the other festivals that sprang up in its wake.

This accounted for, it very well may be fact that the Bonnaroo’s inherent knack for maintaining an air of mystique may be gone for good. The remaining constant though, continues to be that  Bonnaroo is and always has been what you make it. There were people — who continue to frequent the summer’s increasing amount of festivities — that swore off the event way back in ’02. Taking all things into consideration and solely in regards to its eleventh presentation, if you were there, you probably made it a good time this year. That is, unless you hate good music, good vibes and pleasant weather.

 

Click the thumbnail(s) to view more photos from Bonnaroo by Rex Thomson / Rex-A-Vision

To catch up with writer, Cal Roach, head over to www.You-Phoria.com or follow him on Twitter

 

 

 

 

(VIDEO) Bonnaroo announces 2012 lineup

 

Today, after months of speculation and twice as many fake poster releases, Bonaroo (June 7-10, 2012) has officially made the wait for its 2012 spectacular well worth the wait.

 

With Radiohead, Phish, Red Hot Chili Peppers, a fully reunited Beach Boys and a large undercard (that includes Alice Cooper), Roo is sticking to the tradition of spanning flavors for most musical tastes as fans are now making decisions about where they will be spending some weekends this summer.

 

Below are the screenshots from Bonnaroo’s site as well as the video announcement, For more information concerning ticketing and all things Bonnaroo click on the images or click here.

 

Superfly Presents and A.C. Entertainment are excited to announce the initial lineup for the 2012 Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival. The 11th annual four-day camping and music festival will be held on June 7 – 10 on the same beautiful 700-acre farm in Manchester, Tennessee, 60 miles south of Nashville. A full list of confirmed acts follows, and more will be announced in the coming weeks. The final Bonnaroo 2012 lineup will total over 125 bands and over 20 comedians performing on 13 stages over four days.Tickets for the event will go on sale on this Saturday, February 18, 2012 at 12 noon EST exclusively at bonnaroo.com.

 

After an unforgettable 10th year celebration in 2011, festival organizers have come back with one of the most eclectic and striking lineups to date, drawing from an astounding range of music scenes to create what is sure to be another incomparable weekend for the ages. The breadth of the programming is consistently innovative each year and has become one of the key signature aspects of this legendary festival, whose uniquely open minded yet discerning and passionate community thrives on its intelligent diversity. A consistent power in music discovery, Bonnaroo once again will expose its fanbase to legends, current favorites as well as new artists who are about to break. Featured acts in 2012 include:  Radiohead, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Phish, The Beach Boys Featuring Brian Wilson, Mike Love, Al Jardine, Bruce Johnston and David Marks, Bon Iver, The Shins, The Avett Brothers, Skrillex, Black Star, Alice Cooper, Feist, Flogging Molly, Childish Gambino, Ben Folds Five, The Roots, Bad Brains, The Civil Wars, St. Vincent, Alabama Shakes, tUnE-yArDs, Punch Brothers, Flying Lotus, Dawes, The Joy Formidable, Das Racist, Grouplove, Gary Clark, Jr., Kurt Vile & The Violators, Big Freedia and more.

 

As the only round-the-clock major U.S. music festival, Bonnaroo packs an unparalleled amount of entertainment options into its four days. The event has offered its attendees the amenities and community spirit of a small city, with 24 hours of activities including a comedy theater, cinema festival, broo’ers festival, silent disco, salon, sustainable gardening lessons, arcade, Internet cafés, restaurants, yoga classes and hundreds of high quality food and craft vendors. Rolling Stone magazine called the 2011 event “epic,” saying the weekend was full of “surprise and wonder.” Stephen Stills of Buffalo Springfield intoned, “If Woodstock were like this, we never would have left.

 

For a preview of this year’s lineup, fans can checkout the Bonnaroo’s 2012 lineup playlist on Spotify via this link: http://spoti.fi/b0nnar00-2012

 

Bonnaroo 2012 Artist Lineup Announcement

Bonnaroo: A Decade of Musical Decadence

 

 

btd_3111.jpgAs the mercury rises on summer’s thermostat, so does the anticipation for one of the most eclectic, outrageous and vetted music festivals around. As of June, 2011, Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival has called the quiet community of Manchester, Tennessee home for a solid decade, and music lovers nationwide couldn’t be happier. Once again, 80,000+ patrons swarmed to the sweltering southern farmland to experience the ultimate party that has been ten years in the making.

While many of the thousands were new to the ‘roo commune, thousands more were back with a heightened sense of excitement to help blow out the birthday candles. Bonnaroo has evolved from a strictly grassroots jam fest, growing to include every type of music imaginable. Just as the jam scene on the whole has interjected the likes of hip-hop, reggae, and electronica, Bonnaroo has opened its mind and arms to include a multitude of musical influences.

For Bonnaroo’s tenth birthday to be the over-the-top musical decadence everyone was craving, a few more friends were invited to the party without abandoning its roots – even including a set that paid tribute to the festival’s name origin, a Meters and Dr. John performance of Desitively Bonnaroo.

Yes, in 2011, the festival subscribed to the old adage, “make new friends and keep the old, for one is silver and the other is gold.”

 

THURSDAY

 

The festivities commenced on Thursday as droves of attendees flooded the grounds to set up the sea of tents for their weekend home away from home before trekking into Centeroo for the first taste of ‘roo ’11.

beatsantique.jpgGreensky Bluegrass was one of the first acts to catch, playing to an upbeat, jumping crowd at the cozy On Tap Lounge stage. Fans came from all around as the group’s energetic musical set snowballed with intensity. Futurebirds, a band on the rise from the notorious city of Athens, GA, performed under the saving grace of “That Tent” in full view of the iconic Ferris wheel. Though the crowd seemed mostly curious at first, it is safe to say that many left as fans, marching to the drums kicked proudly behind the band’s thick guitar lines and stacked vocal harmonies.

When asking the popular question, “Who are you excited to see?” one name that kept emerging was Beats Antique. The up-and-coming trio blasted their audience with a shocking stage show full of electronic grooves, world percussion, and belly dancing…quite the combination.

Sleeping in after the uber late night sets is nearly impossible at this fest. The relentless sun roasts weary eyes and bodies awake as soon as it shines on the horizon. But overall, it is a nice thing to be aroused earlier than one may have hoped, because more musical goodness waits on the other side of the fancy hat-wearing silver Bonnaroo arch.

 

FRIDAY

 

annabelnolaallstars.jpgFriday got cranking early with a hot set from New Orleans Allstars, featuring some of New Orleans’ brightest, who took Manchester for on a brief foray into the Big Easy via the Sonic Stage. The super group jammed intently, playing well off of each other’s technical prowess. The boys covered classics ranging from The Temptations’ “Papa Was a Rolling Stone” to Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Fortunate Son” and Stevie Wonder’s “Superstition;” trading solos and riffs with a faint nod of the head.

Who needs a bass guitar when you can triple tongue any bass line on the sousaphone?  That answer, my friends, is no one. Ben Sollee got the memo, strapped his cello onto his bike, rode down from his Kentucky home and brought a new flavor of political and environmental awareness to a well-receiving crowd. His performances, though full of nuance and gentle gestures, as evident in “How to See the Sun Rise,” moved his audiences at both the Other Tent and the Sonic stage.

Some heavy hitters took to the stage under Friday’s scorching sun. Bela Fleck and The Flecktones, boasted its original 1992 line up and admitted to have been touring feverishly in preparation for this Bonnaroo performance. While playing a live setting of this magnitude is certainly different than strumming in a studio, Fleck and his fellows blew the audience away with both technical perfection and imaginative and emotional heart, continuing to impress the masses of Bonnaroo just as they did in Bonnaroo’s 2002 infancy.

btd_3310.jpgGrace Potter & The Nocturnals have been experiencing the “roo-phoria” of headlining the Bonnaroo Buzz Tour for weeks, and completed the circle of the tour on the most grand of all of the stages, the “What” stage. The group achieved a cool vibe despite the relentless heat, creating an oasis-like respite. Grace and her band, all full of smiles, seemed to be enjoying the shared experience with the large crowd as they rocked all of their most popular hits including “Paris (Ooh La La)” and “Goodbye Kiss.” Grace was clearly taken aback by the experience, at one point commenting to the effect of her disbelief that a “little band from Vermont” has come this far.

Warren Haynes is a Bonnaroo staple, performing in the past with Gov’t Mule, the Allman Brothers, as a solo act and sitting in with many over the years. This year, he brought his most recent creation, the Warren Haynes Band. The group, with a soulful sound that draws musical inspirationi from the likes of Wilson Pickett and James Brown, had those in attendance crooning in sync with Haynes’ gems of old (Soulshine) and new flavors (“Man in Motion,” the title track from the band’s new album).

Ray LaMontagne drew a huge and anxious throng, but the performance fell a little flat in spite of the high anticipation surrounding the set. Herein lies one of the toughest things an artist at Bonnaroo faces…how to transmit its sound and vibe to a vastly larger audience than is par for other tour dates. As LaMontagne stood btd_3599.jpgperched in an odd corner of the stage, he sang from his heart, but offered the crowd little more. Conversely, Florence + The Machinepermeated the grossly overcrowded “This” Tent with pure magnetism that sent shockwaves through the thousands of onlookers.  If you could handle the mass of people, you were pulled into one of the greatest shows of the weekend. The Grammy-nominated group was the talk of the fest with one enigmatic hit after another, including “Dog Days Are Over.”

My Morning Jacket approached the title of Friday’s headliner with utmost seriousness and produced an epic two-hour rock set from the word go. The band opened with (the now standard) “Victory Dance” and didn’t look back, bombarding the ocean of fans at the main stage with gems from its vast repertoire. Though front man Jim James still claims to have the Jim Morrison-esque stage fright, it was anything but evident (save for when he cloaked himself with a cape) as his trance-induced fury percolated and spilled into the loving arms of the tens of thousands that bore witness. After MMJ’s “Off the Record,” “Magheetah” and “Steam Engine” (that came complete with a glowstick war – seriously), if the jury was still out on this group, consider the case closed.

Primus, along with a few giant inflatable astronauts, did what only they do best for their raging group of convinced fans. Frontman and unapologetic weirdo, Les Claypool, is a veteran of the festival world (See Quest for Festeroo), but through the years with various ensembles (Oysterhead, Flying Frog Birigade, etc.) many just btd_3958.jpgwanted to see the love of their adolescent years, Primus. So, in the evolving world of Bonnaroo’s artists, Claypool and the boys of brought that nugget of nostalgia (“Those Damned Blue Collar Tweekers,” “Tommy the Cat”) that the patrons were craving but also injected new tunes from the forthcoming Green Naugahyde (“Jilly’s On Smack“).

After a foray into the Grammy-winning world of Arcade Fire, who provided a solid, albeit predictable, performance that was the source of mixed reviews, it was time to delve into the late night electronic/dubstep world.

Pretty Lights (singularly Derek Vincent Smith – Adam Deitch will no longer perform alongside Smith) produced a true-to-title set, with a mixture of his down-tempo electronica beats and an illusory LED light show. As is standard, the audience who was present lapped it up dub, step, and sinker.

Along the same vein but with an even further heightened attack on the senses, Shpongle Presents the Shpongletron Experience projected a euphoric, psychedelic, and intoxicating trip onto an animated face-like structure towering on the stage. Nothing less can be expected from a musician who prides himself on the dubbing of “Hallucinogenic.”

 

SATURDAY

 

btd_4545.jpgSaturday started much like the previous day, with overheated and overtired patrons coming back to life in the cool spray of the Splash-A-Roo fountain. Proud Tennessee natives Old Crow Medicine Show got going early on the “Which” Stage. Though the group had mic and amp issues, it didn’t shake their jovial mood. They entertained the crowd with friendly banter as they brought their own brand of foot-stomping bluegrass with confidence and power. OCMS, never one to shy away from crowd pleasers, did not let the large mass down, ripping through “I Hear Them All” and “Wagon Wheel.”

Mumford & Sons was a name on everyone’s lips on Saturday. The group played to yet another over-packed crowd, proudly boasting that they have now sweated through two Bonnaroo performances. Each note the British folksters sang was echoed tenfold by their adoring crowd who knew the catalog like their back of their hand (not quite the impressive feat that it hopefully will soon be). The magnitude of “Below my Feet,” “Little Lion Man” and “The Cave” was only surpassed by a traditional rendition of “Amazing Grace” where friends from Union Station and Old Crow Medicine Show joined in.

sci.jpg The String Cheese Incident, along with a dedicated following of their dramatic fans, provided what was possibly the most unforgettable show of the fest. Cheese has partaken in multiple Bonnaroo experiences, including the premiere fest, and did not plan to let its 2011 hula-hooping enthusiasts down. Ever the businessman, SCI ivory-tickler Kyle Hollingsworth made his way to the tents earlier in the day promoting his newly crafted festival beer. Performance-wise, the tour-lightly ensemble opened accordingly with The Grateful Dead’s “Tennessee Jed” that segued into “Rollover.” Later in the set, the always cheeky guys executed some b-boy dance moves in matching orange and white suits to “Joyful Sound” before performing their traditional “Colorado Bluebird Sky” and a cover of the George Michael guilty pleasure “Careless Whisper.”  The crowd mirrored the performance with some campy par-for-the friends-of-Cheese stunners of their own. Dozens of gigantic inflatable beach balls bounced through the lawn, a colossal t-rex hovered overhead, and a human bug-guy flew above it all, suspended by a mass of balloons, creating an epic show indeed.

STS9 and Gogol Bordello completed the night with a large following for each. Whether it was jam-tronica or gypsy punk you were after, you could find it all night long.

 

SUNDAY

 

btd_4950.jpgThanks to a passing night storm that cooled things down slightly, Sunday’s bands brought out an early mellow crowd. Railroad Earth played to a compliant group as they melded traditional bluegrass with classic licks from Gershwin and Copland. G. Love & Special Sauce flowed seamlessly in and out of originals and covers with Paul Simon’s “50 Ways to Leave Your Lover,” “Cold Beverage,” and Peter Tosh’s well covered “Legalize It.”

Sunday also brought out the certified legends. Mavis Staples took everyone to church with her rumbling contralto vocals and her powerful message. She was proud to return to the Bonnaroo stage and fill us with love on a sunny Sunday morning.

Bruce Hornsby performed his newly learned craft of the dulcimer to a small crowd at the Sonic Stage, trying “not to suck.” Hornsby was later joined by The Noisemakers and smoked the piano, taking requests from the crowd at “That” Tent. Bruce talked of “hedgehog” Ron Jeremy sightings while belting out the likes of “End of the Innocence” and many others.

It was at this point in the weekend that diversity was most evident. From NOLA, it was off to see a Southern rock founding father, and from there, it was off to a punk-rock revival.

btd_5475.jpgGalactic’s New Orleans flavor filled the “What” stage, augmented by Living Colour’s Corey Glover, as has been the case for the recent tour. Glover’s virtually limitless vocal range shined while he rapped, riffed, and paraded in the crowd.

Gregg Allman performed his Southern blues brand to swarms of avid fans under the confining “That” Tent, intertwining well-played Allman Brothers classics with tunes from his most recent (and first in 13 years) studio offering, Low Country Blues. It was all the expectant crowd could have hoped for.

The Strokes made a rare stage appearance for a buzzing audience, and front man Julian Casablancas led the raging crowd down an audible memory lane. The guys oozed rock star machismo as they sauntered around the stage and sang songs of old, including “Is This It” and “New York City Cops” and those from their 2011 release, Angles, like “Life is Simple in the Moonlight.” The indie vets performed each with their patented signature sound distinctly and more importantly, soberly in place.

The Superjam Featuring Dan Auerbach (The Black Keys) and Dr. John was a highly anticipated set that exceeded all expectations.  The Preservation Hall Jazz Band and My Morning Jacket’s drummer Patrick Hallahan helped craft the tribute to New Orleans style jazz; ripping through standards like Dr. John’s “Walk on Guilded Splinters” and the NOLA classic, “Iko Iko.”

wp3.jpgWidespread Panic held down their usual spot as the last hurrah of the entire festival. In a year that has seen much public praise for Panic, the city of Manchester did their part and recognized the importance and dedication of the band by awarding the group with the keys to the city. Panic delivered a strong performance to a tired yet satisfied full crowd. The group that helped put both Manchester and Bonnaroo on the map continued to perpetuate the significance of both.

From the first beads of sweat that trickled down the brows of the thousands in attendance on Thursday, the familiar feeling of Bonnaroo was in the air, but with a decidedly heightened expectancy. Over the course of four music-filled, euphoria-inducing, heat-exhausted days and nights, all expectations were overwhelmingly fulfilled.  As the proverbial house lights rose on that late Sunday evening, Bonnaroo blew out the candles on a ten-year celebration well spent. Here’s to another ten years of music, magic, and memories. Happy birthday, Bonnaroo!

 

 

Click the thumbnail to view more images from the fest by Brad Hodge & Brian DeGaetano

 

Widespread Panic joins Bonnaroo line-up

04.17.08 

With the unforunate news of the Allman Brothers pulling out of Bonnaroo because of Gregg Allman’s illness, Bonnaroo has made some major announcements.

Widespread Panic will now close the 2008 festival, headlining the main stage on Sunday evening, June 15.  Furthermore, Jack Johnson will be playing the main stage on Saturday night, taking the slot formerly held by the Allmans.

The festival line-up has also been bolstered by the additions of Les Claypool, Chali 2na of Jurassic 5, Superdrag, What Made Milwaukee Famous, Adele, Grand Ole Party, and The Postelles.


03.19.08

Still more additions to the Bonnaroo line-up:

Tiësto (late night set)
Stephen Marley
Money Mark
The Coup
Wood Brothers
Rogue Wave
Newton Faulkner


02.27.08

Bonnaroo has announced additions to its 2008 line-up:  Cat Power, Zappa Plays Zappa, The Disco Biscuits, MSTRKRFT, and Chromeo.


02.14.08

Bonnaroo has announced that comedian Chris Rock has been added to the festival line-up.  He’ll be performing an hour-long set on the the What Stage.

More announcements to the lineup will be made in the coming weeks.


Just when you thought Bonnaroo couldn’t get any bigger, they have unleashed perhaps the biggest line-up yet for the festival, which will take place June 12-15, 2008.

Headlining will be Pearl Jam, Metallica, and Kanye West, with Jack Johnson, BB King, Willie Nelson, Phil Lesh & Friends, and the Allman Brothers Band also on the bill.  The line-up (to date) is listed below: 

Continue reading Widespread Panic joins Bonnaroo line-up

Bonnaroo sells out…but opens up the Blue Room

Superfly Productions and A.C. Entertainment are proud to announce that the 2007 Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival has sold out in advance. Once again, this year’s allotment of 80,000 tickets sold entirely through the festival’s Web site. 

Set to take place June 14 – 17, the four-day camping and music festival will once again be held on the same 700-plus-acre farm in Manchester, TN, 60 miles southeast of Nashville.

Superfly Productions, A.C. Entertainment and AT&T are also excited to announce that AT&T blue room music will host the exclusive live webcast of the 2007 Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival.  From Friday, June 15th through Sunday, June 17th, fans not fortunate enough to attend this year’s festival, can still take part in the coveted Bonnaroo experience by going to AT&T blue room music (attblueroom.com/music) to see exclusive, live performances from the event. It’ll be the next best thing to being on the 700-acre farm in Manchester, TN.

Artists featured in the webcast include Kings of Leon, Damien Rice, Ben Harper, The Flaming Lips, Wilco, The Cold War Kids, The Brazilian Girls, and The White Stripes.  The final schedule of performances will be available at www.attblueroom.com/music on Thursday, June 14. Webcasts start at 12:30 p.m. ET each day and run through 11:30 p.m. ET.

Following the festival, selected archived performances will be available in the blue room, allowing fans to relive the Bonnaroo experience as well as other moments of this multi-faceted event.  This exclusive webcast experience on AT&T blue room music helps to ensure Bonnaroo’s place as a truly global event.

Finally, festival organizers are pleased to reveal the new additions to this year’s cinema tent.  The Bonnaroo Cinema has been one of the main attractions at the festival since it began in 2002.  The air-conditioned space with comfortable seating has always played host to a wide variety of movies 24 hours a day, including sneak previews of new films, classics, world cinema, documentaries, short films, animated films, and even NBA Finals games.

This year, Bonnaroo is proud to add the “Filmmakers in Focus” series, featuring screenings and interviews with some of the most creative minds in filmmaking today.  Jim Jarmusch will host a showing of his film “Coffee & Cigarettes,” and sit for an up-close Q&A.  In honor of the 40th anniversary of the Monterey Pop festival, director D.A. Pennebaker will be presenting the classic “Monterey Pop” documentary.

Also, Oscar-nominated animator Bill Plympton will participate in a 90-minute presentation about himself and his work.  The tent will also be screening a sneak peak of the new HBO series “HBO Presents Flight of the Conchords” twice daily.