June 21, 2013 5 comments
Bonnaroo came and went like a silent fart in the wind. It was my fifth time attending, last time being in 2011 when I vowed to never return to the festival due to multiple factors – mostly involving the crowd. The lineup was too good to pass up this year, and when I got the email saying that I was approved for press credentials, it was decided that Bonnaroo would be my one festival of the summer – and what a weekend it was. You never know what’s going to happen or who is going to collaborate, and it seems like anything is fair game on the farm in Manchester, Tennessee.
Here are my top 5 favorite moments from the memorable weekend.
5. Weird Al joins Portugal. The Man on stage
One of those “Who the f—just came on stage oh wow that’s Weird Al” moments. During “So American” the polka enthusiast snuck on from the side of the stage to do what he does best, and the crowd receptively cheered him on in the process. Though Weird Al may be well past his prime, not a single soul around me was complaining about the special appearance.
Note: I got the privilege of seeing PTM perform a minimalistic set earlier that day in the press tent, and the performance was one of my personal highlights of any Bonnaroo ever. With their latest album Evil Friends under their belt, it is shaping up to be a big year for them.
4. HAIM brings child from the audience on stage
Never understood why parents insist on bringing their little ones to a music festival, especially one with extreme conditions like Bonnaroo. That being said, while enjoying a good HAIM concert, I noticed a child no older than 5 on his dad’s shoulder clutching on to a sign that I couldn’t read at the time, but later found out said “KISS ME ESTE”
Of course, the bassist had to oblige and jumped off the stage to fulfill the little kid’s request. As an added bonus, she even brings him on stage to help perform “Send Me Down” after hugging him for minutes. One of those moments that made everyone in the audience go “Awwww”
Lucky little man (via Billboard)
3. Capital Cities Dance Party
It was the last show of the first night at Bonnaroo. After two hours of sleep in a parking lot the night before, it was to my amazement that I was ready to watch yet another performance at 1am. While waiting for Capital Cities, there were times when I wanted to say “forget it” and walk back to the camp but the packed shoulder-to-shoulder crowd waiting for them to come on would forbid me to do so.
So they come out to an energetic performance of Pink Floyd’s “Breathe” to warm up the crowd. A few songs later, with my legs still feeling like Jello, they do a dance routine (requiring twirling and square dancing) that the audience would have to follow up with multiple times. In a packed tent where one could barely breathe, it was, again, impossible for an oldie like me to sneak out for the simple sake of being able to sit down.
That being said, props to Capital Cities for reviving the miniscule energy I had before the show. Because everyone was so into it, if one person wasn’t doing the dance, the whole tent knew and the individual would be frowned upon until they stepped up. The show that I was about to miss ended up being a highlight for the weekend. Whereas most bands will try to involve the audience by measly claps, these guys really know how to throw a dance party.
2. Fireworks during “Live and Let Die”
When Paul McCartney was announced to be on the farm, it was immediately apparent that this would not be just any ordinary set of his. There’s something enticing about seeing a legend like him in the middle of nowhere as opposed to an arena with a bunch of drunken adults.
BOOM. Fireworks. Mostly from behind the stage but there were extras going off in the audience area too. Everyone was marveled with smiles and the lights glowing in their eyes. A special moment that will not be soon forgotten by anyone who was there.
Superjams will forever have a special place in my heart ever since the first time I attended one back in 2007. Back then, it was ?uestlove, Ben Harper and John Paul Jones jamming out to Led Zeppelin anthems. This year, there were three Superjams but only two stuck out as being worth seeing.
Hip Hop Superjam w/ Lettuce
The first one of the weekend was the first ever Hip Hop Superjam at Bonnaroo. It featured funk group Lettuce as the backing band with DJ Jazzy Jeff and Chad Hugo. The performers were ScHoolboy Q, RZA, Solange, and most of the other Wu Tang members filling in EARL’s spot due to his illness.
Q had the crowd going ham for his two songs: Habits N Contradictions’ standout “There He Go” and “Collard Greens”, which was performed the first time since being released a few days before the show. The crowd around me seemed to know the words and “yawks” were heard all throughout the set.
After a drunken RZA performance, Queen Solange enters in with her soulful rendition of “Killing Me Softly” and completely slays the exact same crowd that was screaming “Shimmy Shimmy Ya, Shimmy Yay” minutes before she hit the stage. Lighters were in the air, beautiful voices (including mine) were heard during the sing-a-long, and everyone under the tent was one big happy family.
Since EARL was a no show, it was up to Method Man & Redman to fill those shoes and did so quite nicely. Hip hop will always sound better whenever a backing band is involved, especially one as funky and talented as Lettuce. After all of the rappers were done, Lettuce didn’t want to leave the stage, nor did the audience want them to.
The first ever Hip Hop Superjam ended up being a success. Didn’t think it could get much better until the next night..
Jim James, John Oates and the Preservation Hall Jazz Band (+ Special Guests)
Admittedly missed most of this Superjam, but the best parts happened when we arrived for the last few songs then encore. Minutes after R. Kelly’s interesting solo set a few thousand yards away, he was wailing Sam Cooke covers on the Superjam stage with a cigar in hand. Billy Idol comes out for the T-Rex classic “Bang A Gong” then Brittany Howard came out.
Yes, Brittany Howard of Alabama Shakes, who did not perform at Bonnaroo this year brought her soulful voice to the Superjam tent. The crowd erupted during “Satisfaction” and she closed it out with a resounding version of Sly &The Family Stones “I Want To Take You Higher.”
I am surprised more festivals haven’t integrated the concept of Superjams in their lineups. It makes for unexpected collaborations and challenges the artists to come up with a setlist that will blow minds in the audience. Though the artists get a few days to practice together, on stage it seems like they’ve been collaborating for years.
Did you go to Bonnaroo? Let us know if you had a favorite moment too!