Editor’s Note: See the bold section for the relevant part. The whole article is actually interesting, though.
Bonnaroo — An Epic Journey Of Rock Excess
By Marya Gates, Sean Manning and Ariel Toft
The Daily Californian — Thursday, June 22, 2006
Editor’s Note: Since 2002, hundreds of thousands of music fans have flocked to a farm in Tennessee for what has arguably become the largest concert on the planet: the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival. This year, Bonnaroo finally gained true legitimacy when three intrepid Daily Cal writers made their way across the nation to see what all the fuss was about. This is their story.
MANCHESTER, TENNESSEE — Thursday, 4:00 p.m.: As we are setting up our tents, our stupid neighbor-tent guys yell “Gatorade! Ice cold beer! Quesadillas!” every 20 minutes. Welcome to the campground.
Friday, 12:30 p.m.: The first full show I see is World Party, an Australian group that is basically what the Rolling Stones would be if they had a new age, sunshiney outlook on life and sucked.
1 p.m.: Andrew Bird took the stage with only a drummer to keep him company, but between the singer’s layering of fiddle, guitar, glockenspiel and prodigious whistling, the Chicagoan soothed a heat-exhausted audience with jazzy cool.
2:30 p.m.: Everyone was pretty stoked when Devendra Banhart turned the mic over to lucky audience member Trent, who performed a song about Saddam Hussein, but the sleepy-looking Banhart’s set felt flaccid and meandering for much of his brief performance.
4 p.m.: Conor Oberst was actually happy during his show. His songs remain as self-obsessed as ever, but at least he isn’t depressed and selfloathing. Towards the end of his show, he is joined by Gillian Welch and Super Furry Animals’ Gruff Rhys, who are both amazing. During the five-plus hours that I sat in the same shady spot (shade is a commodity in the scorching heat), I met some crazy Canadians who were perpetually drinking alcohol and being very jolly.
4 p.m.: Like Wilco, Nickel Creek is a band that has been trying to shed the country label bestowed upon them, so it was a little off-putting when they played an unadventurous set with their bluegrass-era favorites. Bonus points for their cover of Radiohead’s “Nice Dream” and Britney’s “Toxic,” though.
6:45 p.m.: They have given me Death Cab for Cutie, and thus Ben Gibbard, and it was good. A few people leave as soon as they finish playing “Soul Meets Body,” but most people have the good sense to stick it out, and have a nice moment singing along to “Transatlanticism,” either seriously or melodramatically.
11:15 p.m.: Until you have stood in a field in the American South on a summer night for a Tom Petty show with tens of thousands of people and screamed along the lyrics to “American Girl,” YOU HAVE NOT LIVED.
Saturday, 12:30 p.m.: While waiting to see Blues Traveler, I listen to an interview with Les Claypool, who says he purchased his favorite hat in Berkeley. I shout, “Woooo! Go Berkeley!” and receive many a stare.
3 p.m.: Elvis Costello gave the audience some favorites like “Pump it Up” and “High Fidelity,” but this set was mostly pulled from The River in Reverse, his collaborative effort with Allen Toussaint. Highlights included Costello singing Dave Bartholomew’s “That’s How You Got Killed Before” to a Dubya bobblehead with “knob” written on its forehead.
5:30 p.m.: Beck! Puppets! Video featuring Beck puppets wandering around Bonnaroo! Beck singing a cover of “Creep”! Beck’s band eating dinner on the stage! Beck and band member dressed as bears! This was
definitely the most visually entertaining show of the festival.
8:30 p.m.: During the day, it would’ve taken a miracle to calm this rowdy audience, but when Thom Yorke quietly strummed the intro to “Exit Music (For a Film)”, his whispered voice could be heard by a spookily reverent crowd. New songs like “Arpeggi” were welcomed with awed silence, but during Kid A favorite “Idioteque,” the crowd’s screams of “Ice age coming, Ice age coming” nearly drowned Yorke out completely. By the finale, “Everything in Its Right Place,” an incalculable number of glowsticks were flying through the air while the word “Forever” scrolled across the monitor. Truly epic.
8 p.m.: OMFG! Radiohead! I Sang along to “Idioteque,” “Fake Plastic Trees,” “No Suprises” and many, many more. My life is now almost complete. Their new song “House of Cards” is so beautiful. The audience threw their glowsticks up in the air throughout the song, it was surreal.
10:35 p.m.: Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. His name is Thom Yorke, and with the assistance of his bandmates, he is playing “Lucky,” your second favorite song in the entire world. You are crying. You have no words.
Sunday, 6 p.m.: Sonic Youth played all but one song from their new LP Rather Ripped with all off the snarling swagger and noise you’d expect. I just can’t get over the fact that they were stuck in a tent, but Matis-fucking-yahu got to play on the second stage. A guest appearance by Stephen Malkmus on “Expressway to Yr. Skull” was the perfect end for this weekend of rock excess.
Monday, 9:15 a.m.: Most Awesome Bus Driver Ever: “So good morning y’all. I just gotta let you know I’m hung over this morning. I went down to Bucksnort’s last night. And I had me a little snort … So over at the airport, they got drug-sniffing dogs. So if you’ve got anything you don’t want them sniffin’, I suggest you come up here and say: ‘Hey John, why don’t you open up that damn door?’ … and we’ll do something about it. Because, well, been there, done that.
“I ain’t got nothing against the Union, but I do love my Confederate flag.”