Last weekend, I got to experience what may be perhaps one of the best experiences known to man (or, at least, one of the best experiences of my life), the Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival in Manchester, TN. It was a weekend full of great musical performances and rampant hedonism (I did not participate in that bit).
I will likely have a few posts on my Bonnaroo experience, but I will start off, logically, with the first day.
The day started out with my amazingly awesome Bonnaroo neighbors (who adopted me for the weekend). We walked around the campgrounds a bit and checked out some of the outside vendors. We ended up at a tobacco pipe dealer where I ran into someone I hadn't seen since high school, go figure.
I then got in line to get into Bonnaroo. I started off my Bonnaroo experience peeking in on Fresh Trix Breakdancing at Solar Stage, They were OK, at best, but there really wasn't anything else going on yet. Afterwards, I got some food and sat down for Uncle Skeleton. I don't remember much about their music, I just remember a lot of people dancing to it. I was there mostly for the fans that spritzed water.
I made way back to the Solar Stage to check out the Kopecky Family Band (I hadn't heard of them before , but my neighbors were gushing about them). On the way, I ran into another person from high school. If I had known this would be a reunion, I would have brought my yearbook to sign. Kopecky was awesome, worth the new experience. Plus, they had a trombone, so I loved it!
After the Kopecky show, I got ready to camp out at The Other Tent since most of the shows I wanted to see the rest of the night were there. My day there started out with Hayes Carll, who was new to me, but had some fun songs. He impressed me by singing both the male and female parts of a song that started out as a duet.
Next on was Karen Elson, the (now ex-) wife of Jack Black. The model showed that she has the chops to hang with the big boys. Her backing band included Jack Lawrence of The Greenhornes and The Raconteurs, but apparently that wasn't enough for some people. There were definitely some shouts of "show us your husband" throughout the crowd. Jack White did not join her on stage, but could be glimpsed backstage, carrying their son.
Next on the stage was Best Coast. Like with Karen Elson, one could glimpse significant others backstage. In this case, it was Bethany Cosentino's musician boyfriend Nathan Williams of Wavves. I was a bit disappointed with the performance. Although the band isn't exactly known for their high production values, the vocals live lost out a bit to everything else. It was still great to see them, Bethany looked uber-cute!
Next up was The Drums, another beachy band with a surfer attitude. Unfortunately, it was also a bit of a disappointment. They don't have great stage presence and the vocals live were a bit...off. The keyboardist, Jacob Graham, was amusing to watch however. He seemed to be conducting himself in the background (I seriously think he was high...very high).
Finally, at that stage, I caught Sleigh Bells. There, I learned my first big lesson on Bonnaroo...be careful who you choose to get in the front row for. As awesome as they were, I had a hard time enjoying the show as I was being pressed against the guard rail. I thought I was going to break a rib, I'm not joking. The band was still awesome, though!
I next headed to That Tent to catch Deerhunter. While I love this band's music, their live performance really surprised me. Bradford Cox, the lead singer and guitarist, seems like someone who would be very quiet and reserved and I didn't think he would have any stage presence. I was dead wrong, he was funny and personable, he made the show that much better. Musically, they held on to everything that makes their work great.
As uncomfortable as it was at times, the first day was a great introduction to Bonnaroo, and it only gets better!