Overheard at Bonnaroo: "Next time I see Ben, I'm going to punch him in the face." A disgruntled camper whose tent mate had apparently committed a punch-worthy offense.
Friday at Bonnaroo was glorious! I saw the best set I've seen so far! But then it started raining and poop mud emerged from every portable toilet. I saw several bands yesterday and there were so many I wanted to see that I didn't catch many full sets so here are some wee tiny reviews:
Drive-By Truckers: Patterson Hood and Co. started Friday off right their sound was strong, the crowd was really into it, and the band's fierceness totally filled the enormous stage they played on.
Jose Gonzalez: His set was super-chill he sat in a chair onstage, and many in the audience took a similar laid-back, lay-back-on-a-blanket mentality. And luckily for me, he closed with his cover of Massive Attack's "Teardrop."
Tegan and Sara: Although their set was plagued by technical issues like several bands on Friday, actually the banter between twins Tegan and Sara Quin won the audience over.
The Fiery Furnaces: Part of the beauty of Bonnaroo is that there is a diversity of venues. Huge acts like Pearl Jam and Willie Nelson obviously play huge stages, but several smaller stages offer a more intimate experience. The Fiery Furnaces played one of these smaller stages (after playing a much larger tent earlier in the day), and I thought their sound made an interesting transition in live performance. Live songs sounded rawer than the album versions, but still had a distinct proggy, experimental sound. Here's the music video for their song "Tropical Iceland."
Eleaor of the Fiery Furnaces
The Felice Brothers: I'd heard of this rowdy the Band-esque act, but never heard them, and they had the crowd eating out of their hands. At one point, they invited about half the audience onstage, and any band with a washboard player is gold in my book.
People dancing onstage with the Felice Brothers
The Swell Season: This was the best set I have seen thus far at Bonnaroo, and I wouldn't be surprised if it's one of the best I see all weekend. I'm a huge fan of "Once," the movie musical that won Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová an Oscar for their song "Falling Slowly." Here, the twosome was backed by members of Hansard's band the Frames, and from the first song Hansard and the audience were keenly attuned to each other. Hansard might be the most charismatic frontman I've ever seen live his freakish vocal range is complemented by animated onstage antics and a heartfelt approach to his craft that you can feel from the back row. Here's a link to their cover of Bob Dylan's "You Ain't Goin' Nowhere" from the I'm Not There soundtrack.
Rilo Kiley: I think the new Tall Guy At Concert Wearing an Obnoxiously Large Hat is Tall Guy At Concert Who Won't Stop Taking Pictures of Jenny Lewis, Like A Total Stalker. Despite this obstacle, I really enjoyed the band. They seemed to pick up steam about midway through the set, and they played a good mix of old and new songs. Also, Lewis can rock a onesie like no other frontwoman working today.
M.I.A.: I actually didn't see M.I.A., because I took as truth a rumor that she had canceled. Then I heard "Paper Planes" when I was walking around later, and I wanted to punch somebody in the neck.
Chris Rock: I had to get my computer back to my tent when it started to rain Friday night, so I didn't see all of Chris Rock's mainstage comedy performance (if I recall correctly, this is the first time a comedian has played Bonnaroo's biggest stage). He addressed the irony of a black comedian headlining a hippie festival, thankfully if he hadn't, it would have been an enormous, purple, patchouli-smelling elephant in the room. In recent years, Bonnaroo has really made an effort to integrate hip-hop into its lineup behold, Kanye West is headlining tomorrow night but from my vantage point, its participants are still mostly white. There wasn't a single black person around me during the Chris Rock show. But, sociological implications of his set aside, Rock killed. I'd heard some of his material before, but his scathing take on the Bush administration obviously went over really well with the Bonnaroo crowd. (On the rising price of oil since the United States invaded Iraq: "If I invade IHOP, pancakes gonna be cheap.")
Metallica: Things you can say as fact about a Metallica concert if you heard most of it from your tent:
1) It was loud!
2) There were pyrotechnics!
3) It rained!
4) "Unforgiven II" still kinda rocks!
My Morning Jacket: The rain was still coming down, and the out-of-doors were pretty miserable, so I only caught about an hour and a half of the band's three-hour set. I apparently missed Metallica's Kirk Hammett guest on some songs, but I did catch them perform a smooth cover of Erykah Badu's "Tyrone," so I think I'm the winner here.
(Photos by Brooke Hatfield.)
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