Overheard at Bonnaroo: "I never thought I would have to fight this hard to take a shit! I feel like an old black man in the '70s!" My moron neighbor who didn't understand why his tent mates didn't want him to poop next to their tent.
Important things I have slept through:
A Weezer concert in 2000.
A presentation in a womens' studies class in 2001
Pearl Jam, Sigur Ros and Chromeo at Bonnaroo 2008
Don't hate me. I hate myself enough already. I blame Jack Johnson, whose laid-back tones led me to nap, thinking I would get up in a couple hours when Pearl Jam started. Then I woke up and it was 2:15 a.m., and well, there went that.
But don't worry, I wasn't the biggest asshole at Bonnaroo on Saturday night. Rightly or wrongly, that title went to Kanye West, who went on 8 hours late (his 8:15 p.m. set was rescheduled to 2:45 a.m. so that his "Glow in the Dark" tour would, you know, glow in the dark.) But more onn that in a bit. Here are some timelier musicians I saw on Saturday:
Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings: 100 Days, 100 Nights is a great album, but Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings are really in their element, live. Jones, who is a tiny lady in her early 50s, took off her shoes and earrings and did her idol and fellow Augusta native James Brown proud with her incredibly energetic antics onstage. She dances! She wails! And then they had to go and cover "What Have You Done For Me Lately." Definitely one of the best shows I saw all weekend.
Abigail Washburn and the Sparrow Quartet: Washburn's mix of Chinese folk music and bluegrass made for a nice mid-afternoon stop, and the talented members of the Sparrow Quarter, which includes Bela Fleck, performed some of their own material as well.
Gogol Bordello: Gogol Bordello is a band you need to be up-close for, and I didn't have time to weave through the crowd to the front so I had to experience them from afar. And from afar, they sounded really tight.
The Avett Brothers: The Avetts' live show is legendary, and their showing at Bonnaroo was my first time seeing them. They lived up to the hype. They're a bluegrass act, but their performance and vocals mirror punk in a lot of ways they always break strings at shows, and you haven't really lived until you've seen a guy playing upright bass almost fall over because he's jumping so hard.
Ben Folds: Sad news: During this year's Bonnaroo performance, Folds retired his cover of Dr. Dre's "Bitches Ain't Shit." Here's a video of him performing it in Nashville. Happy news: The man has been working crowds for years, and at one point he led the audience in a two-part harmony on "Army." It's an old trick I think he's done it every time I've seen him live but the magnitude of the crowd made it more than I've ever seen before. He also played a few songs from his forthcoming album. Based on what I heard, the album might sound a bit like The Unauthorized Biography of Reinhold Messner, Ben Folds Five's final album.
Kanye West: Oh, Kanye. Kanye Kanye Kanye. I (accidentally!) slept through Pearl Jam, Chromeo and Sigur Ros for you. I wanted to be rested when you went on at 2:45 a.m. But then your show got postponed to 3:15 a.m. and 3:30 a.m. And then 4 a.m. rolled around and you STILL weren't on. The crowd was getting antsy. They were booing and chanting "Kanye sucks."
In all fairness, it seemed like technical difficulties were what derailed the performance, not West's ego. I don't envy the poor beleagured tech guys who had to load out Pearl Jam's set after they went an hour over and then assemble the complicated set for West's show.
When West finally went on around 4:30 a.m., the crowd was ready to be won over big time, and I think the Glow in the Dark tour's weird space-hip-hopera storyline was a bit weird to a crowd that would have been perfectly happy with a simpler performance. Aesthetically, the show looked cool but it lasted for little more than an hour. And after such an extreme wait, it was a pretty big let-down.
I'm sure there's some scientific equation that calculates expectation in relation to waiting time. After eight hours, his show needed to be better than kinda cool. It needed to rock my world.
Kanye West lost a lot of fans on Saturday night. We were not honored by his lateness. As we were walking away, one guy near me wondered aloud "Why does he hate us?" And the next day I saw a lot of "Kanye Sucks" homemade T-shirts. In a supreme bit of irony, the performance that was rescheduled for the middle of the night so that it could be seen in the dark was almost entirely illuminated by the rising sun.
(Photos by Brooke Hatfield)
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