Bonnaroo: Day 1

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Bonnaroo: Day 1

I’m writing this on the morning of day two a little foggy and dehydrated. Grandpa Gear’s backpack and planning paid huge dividends. My expensive inflatable chair was a godsend. I was able to have a cat nap yesterday in relative comfort.

We saw:

  • Tortoise–Great set, never seen them but had listened to them for years. Great headphone music for working. Really tight set that fit perfectly the chaos of arriving at an event where tens of thousands of freaks and geeks are feeling it. I was a bit worried they’d be stuck exploring the outer realms of B-flat minor, but they kept changing it up and keeping it interesting. They reproduced their album tracks better than I had imagined.
  • Kings of Leon–I gave up seeing Hot Chip (we saw them claim their luggage and gear at the Nashville airport! Tall geeks!) for the good of the group. My interest in Hot Chip was mostly technical; how they make the music with their machines… watching tech bands without chemical help isn’t the most fun. During the Kings set, the PA went out for half a song, but the band played on and the energy from the crowd was kind of sweet and nice.
  • Micheal Franti & Spearhead–I had last seen them when they opened for Foo Fighters (I missed them twice in San Francisco when they played Free Mumia events) and was not disappointed. The crowd fed off the positive energy and it was a nice palate cleanser. It was actually fun. I think I may have gotten a contact high.
  • Lily Allen–only caught a couple of songs, mostly so McQueen could snap a few pics for his daughters. She’s good, but live her voice wasn’t quite as strong. I would imagine that trying to sing in the heat is a huge issue for anybody, so I’m willing to cut her some slack. I should probably be a little more brutal, but that doesn’t seem to fit the energy of Bonnaroo.
  • The Black Keys–Hadn’t seen them live and the southern fried sounds were definitely a crowd pleaser. It’s always amazing to see a stripped down act (lineup=guitar and drums) blow it out. We didn’t stay for the whole set, as McQueen wanted to see Dierks Bentley. His knowledge of New Country is a little frightening.
  • Dierks Bentley–I’ve got a shot of a couple who wouldn’t have been out of place at the first Woodstock. On acid and dancing non-stop, even in the breaks. Apparently Bonnaroo took some heat for having Bentley in the line-up, but based on the crowd size and response, was not a mistake. I’m not a huge New Country fan, but it was a nice way to end our first day.

We didn’t stay for Tool or the bands that followed, including a 2 a.m. set from DJ Shadow. We realize our age and the limitations of the fifth decade. Better to save up for today, where we are hoping to catch:

Old Crow Medicine Show
The Hold Steady and/or Fountains of Wayne
Franz Ferdinand and/or Ween and/or Spoon
The Police
The Flaming Lips

There is no way possible to see every act. We’ve got some hard calls to make today; I hope we choose wisely. Yesterday was a nice intro and despite being initially overwhelmed by the crowd and the scope of the event, we survived nicely, retiring to a pretty good Mexican place near our motel. Who knew you could find good Mexican in Tennessee??

Also published on Medium.