(The whole ML flickr stash here)
ScottieL has finally recovered and sent in this lengthy & ML flavor filled report from Bonnaroo:
I just got back from Bonnaroo at 3:00 on Tuesday morning, and after a long weekend of listening to music, dancing, partying, and doing everything else there was to do (I’ll call it Roo’ing), I’m still exhausted. Half of me wants to crawl into bed and sleep for a week, but the other half wishes I was still in Manchester, Tennessee. I want to thank my friends at Metal Lungies for giving me the opportunity to attend this festival for the first time, and for a helluva weekend. I have heard things from friends who have attended Bonnaroo in the past, but nothing really prepares you for it until you actually experience it firsthand. In my day-by-day breakdowns, I’ll do my best to review the music, as well as describe some of the other activities, people, and overall unique atmosphere that makes Bonnaroo different from anything I’ve ever been a part of.
We reached our destination of Manchester around 6:00 on Friday morning after a relatively uneventful (I did get a carton of cigarettes for under $30 in Virginia) twelve-hour drive. Me and three of my friends, we’ll call them Dolla Bill, Mitya, and S-Money, were packed into a tiny Honda Accord stuffed with backpacks, suitcases, tents, blowup dolls, etc. As we drove on the main road through town, we noticed signs up outside most of the stores and restaurants welcoming Bonnaroo goers. We had finally arrived.
We met up with our buddy Drosci, who drove down yesterday and had been waiting for us to get there. He told us that his cousin, who helped set up Bonnaroo as well as many other festivals, hooked it up with guest camping passes for all of us. The passes allowed us to camp right by Centeroo, the main area of Bonnaroo. I didn’t realize how crucial that was until later after seeing the distance between the regular campgrounds and Centeroo. Let’s just say it was a hike. We picked up our wristbands at the local Holliday Inn and headed toward our campsite.
As we drove in to the site we were stopped by security guards, who checked to see if we had a guest parking pass. They saw the pass and waved us through. We pulled into the lot and the first thing I noticed was a long line of people waiting to use a shower. Showers at Bonnaroo??I’m really starting to feel like a big shot with these passes. We parked and set up our tents. Now it’s time for the fun to begin! Well, fuck, after a little nap, I’m tired.
I woke up fully energized and ready to kick Bonnaroo’s ass. Dolla Bill, also a Bonnaroo virgin, joined me for a walk around the grounds. Centeroo can best be described as a psychedelic fair complete with an assortment of stages, tents, shops, food stands, a ferris wheel and a fountain shaped like a mushroom (remember kids, just say no). It was still pretty early so there wasn’t any music yet, but the place was alive and there was more than enough going on to keep busy. We passed by a stand called the MLB Road Show, complete with a batting cage and a radar detector to test how fast you can throw. The high speed was in the mid- 80’s. Damn, I didn’t know Jamie Moyer was going to be here! I thought about giving it a shot, but the line was pretty long and I didn’t want to embarrass myself.
I was getting hungry so I grabbed a $10 burrito and wolfed it down. Definitely the worst thing I had the whole time I was there, it would come back to haunt me later. Overall, the food was decent in Centeroo. I recommend the kabobs or the pizza. There’s something about paying $5 for a slice that makes it that much better. If you’re looking for more variety and better prices and don’t mind walking, your best bet is to make the trek up to 3rd street, or Shakedown Street as it’s more commonly known. Shakedown Street is full of vendors selling food, clothing, glass, as well as whatever other products hippies sell. Also, there are just a lot of strange people around, and it’s always good for a laugh. One of my friends said they saw a topless girl get tackled into a puddle of mud by a cop, while she screamed “I want my hoverboard! Give me back my hoverboard!” Unfortunately, there was no hoverboard in sight.
The music after the jump:
I’m sure I’ve bored you enough with my rambling about camping, food, and crazy people so I’ll move on to the meat and potatoes of my review: the music.
Umphrey’sMcgee: I’ve seen them a few times already, and while they are excellent musicians, they never really do much for me live. This time was no different. They’ll get going in a nice groove, then just start playing some prog-metal shit out of nowhere. Not my cup of tea.
Stephen Marley: I’m a pretty big Bob Marley fan (who isn’t?), so I was pretty excited to see what his son had to offer. He had a lot of energy and kept the crowd dancing the whole time. It was nice change from Umphrey’s. He played a few of his dad’s songs, satisfying the legions of Bob Marley fans in the audience. Definitely a fun, entertaining performance.
Les Claypool: If you’ve seen him you know what one of his performances entails. If not, the best way I can describe him is a modern day Frank Zappa. Widely regarded as one of the most talented (and eccentric) bass players today, Claypool has been a staple at Bonnaroo since it’s inception in 2002, playing four of the seven years. He has a variety of projects, most notably Primus, as well as others with the likes of guitarists Trey Anastasio and Buckethead, and drummer Stewart Copeland of the Police. This performance was a treat, as he played with the band from his mockumentary, “Electric Apricot: The Quest for Festeroo.” The movie may be a joke, but these guys can play. The band seamlessly switched between funky rhythms, psychedelic soundscapes, and non-sensical medleys. Needless to say, they were awesome.
The Raconteurs: After getting mind-fucked by Claypool for an hour and a half, me and S-Money decided to catch the end of The Raconteurs’ set. Back to What Stage! (As you probably guessed, we did a lot of walking. Next year I’m bringing a Segway). I haven’t really heard much of their stuff, but I’ve always been a fan of Jack White. He’s just one cool motherfucker. The band played a few songs, including “Steady, As She Goes” and the crowd was loving it. It was refreshing to see a good, straight-up rock and roll band. Another surprisingly good act.
Chris Rock: Definitely the biggest crowd of the weekend. It was cool to see a couple of the members of Metallica introduce Mr. Rock. Guess they became tight backstage, shooting the shit over a fatty. Hilarious as usual, his act incorporated some of his old material with some stuff I’d never heard. He seemed a little bit nervous at some parts, but he played it off well and had the whole crowd laughing the entire time. (Well, besides the inevitable spunions who seemed to be more intent on studying the blades of grass. They’re magical brahhhhh.) I was thinking, this has to be the biggest gig he’s ever had. I can’t think of any other time he’s performed in front of tens of thousands of people. Who wouldn’t be nervous? Respek.
Metallica: Chris Rock returned the favor and introduced Metallica after he was done. I’ve never been a big Metallica fan, but there’s no way I was going to pass this opportunity up. They came out to a crowd slightly smaller than his, probably due to the light rain that started to fall. Unfortunately, right after they came on I started to feel like someone had simultaneously kicked me in the nuts and took a bat to my temple. Must’ve been that burrito. Who’s got my heady Tums? I made it through two of their songs, which were awesome by the way, and decided my best bet was to go back to the campsite and get some rest. My favorite band, The Disco Biscuits, was playing late night and there was no way I was going to miss them, even if it meant missing Metallica, who, according to my friends, were amazing. Fuckin’ burrito.
MSTRKRFT: I woke up feeling much better, and booked it to That Tent to catch MSTRKRFT. Described on their website as, “a shit-hot addition to the global community of sonic warriors currently smashing down boundaries between punk, house, hip-hop, grime, electro, and all kinds of electronic experimentation,” these guys know how to get a party started. The second they started playing, the entire crowd started to get down. (Minus the spunions of course. “These lights are magical brahhhhh.”) They had a bunch of people on stage dancing, and the energy definitely spread throughout the crowd. They played a few Daft Punk covers, which were tight, but they did get a little repetitive after awhile. All in all, it was a fun show, and it definitely set the tone for the ass-kicking the Biscuits were about to give us.
The Disco Biscuits: Alright, it’s time to rage. These guys have been my favorite band since I first saw them back in 2005. If you’ve never seen them, I suggest you do as soon as possible. They are pioneers in the music scene, having created a new style of music known as “trance-fusion,” which is basically an eclectic mix of trance with a smorgasbord of other styles such as jazz, funk, rock, and classical. My expectations for this show were extremely high. I just saw them a couple weeks ago at Starscape in Baltimore, and it was the first time in 14 shows that I left feeling disappointed. At Roo, I was positive that they were going to throw down, and I knew the moment they came onstage and grabbed their instrumentswith a sense of urgency that it was on. I could review this show for pages, but I will keep it short and sweet because I know most of you probably haven’t even heard of them. From the opening notes of “M.E.M.P.H.I.S,” to the last note of “Mulberry’s Dream,” they played like they were on a mission to own our souls. Basically, this was one of the best shows I’ve ever been to, as well as my favorite act at Bonnaroo.
Pearl Jam: Just like with Metallica, I’ve never been a huge Pearl Jam fan, but I still had to see them. They played a lot of crowd pleasers including “Even Flow,” “Betterman,” and covers “All Along the Watchtower,” and “Love Reign O’er Me,” which were good for casual fans like me. Me and my friends were the uber-noobs yelling for them to play “Jeremy.” Hey, it’s a good song… about a kid who goes on a murder spree at school…yeahhhhh. One of the most interesting parts of their performance was Eddie Vedder basically saying “fuck you” to Kanye West. He started to promote his set, then stopped and said, “I can’t do it.” They also played about an hour over their scheduled time limit, which would come into play later that night.
Phil Lesh & Friends: This was my first time seeing Phil, one of my favorite bassists, from the Grateful Dead, one of my favorite bands. Needless to say, I was very excited about this performance. Throughout the entire set, I was incredibly impressed with the tightness of his new band. His current lineup includes guitarists Jackie Greene and Larry Campbell, keyboard player Steve Molitz, and drummer John Molo. It was pretty surreal to be dancing to some Dead classics. The highlight for me was “Fire on the Mountain,” which was unusually uptempo and drenched in psychedelia. Unfortunately, with Kanye’s performance rescheduled during the same time, I had to leave early. Well, that’s what I thought…
Kanye West: Definitely the most interesting performance of the festival, but it had nothing to do with the music. Initially scheduled to go on at 2:15, his starting time kept getting pushed back due to his elaborate stage setup. He finally came on at 4:27 to a barrage of “Kanye Sucks” chants. Without apologizing, or even addressing the crowd at all, he started his show. The show itself, complete with spaceship and huge led screen, was actually pretty good. I heard from a reliable source that he had a 75-piece band underneath the stage, and it definitely showed. Unfortunately, it definitely wasn’t worth the wait and missing other music I could have seen. He finished his set as the sun was coming up, then quickly ran off the stage. More booing ensued. I don’t think Kanye will be coming back to Bonnaroo next year.
Widespread Panic: The last act of the festival for the past two years, these guys blew me away. I’ve never been a huge Panic fan, but I was interested to see them with the addition of new guitarist Jimmy Herring. His addition to the band has definitely added a new layer to their sound, and I was very impressed. Add a surprise sit-in from Robert Randolph, and you’ve got yourself a good fuckin’ time. The crowd seemed intent on dancing their asses off, knowing that this would be the last time they could this weekend. They played until about 11:30, and when they went off the stage it was bittersweet. We had just enjoyed an amazing weekend of music, but now it was over and we knew we would have to go back to reality soon.
Overall, Bonnaroo was everything I thought it would be and then some. I tried to focus my review on music, but some of the highlights for me definitely took place in the Comedy Tent. Every act I saw there was hilarious, most notably Louis C.K. and Brian Posehn. I could write 10 more pages on everything I did, all the cool people I met, and some more stories. It was hard enough just cutting my review down to four pages. Basically, if you’re looking for a weekend full of good music, entertainment, and lots of like-minded people, I would recommend Bonnaroo. I’ll be there next year. Alright, I’m out. Where’s my hoverboard?