I have just returned from Bonnaroo 2009 in Manchester, Tennessee. Here is a recap of the amazing four-day music festival.
Three buddies and I embarked on a 15-hour drive down to Tennessee, which turned into 22 hours because once we were only a few miles away from the venue, the traffic begun. Yeah you did the math right… 7 hours of traffic….7! We kept ourselves entertained by jumping out of the car and getting every 18-wheeler to honk for us… Hilarious! So after a few hours of that we were told by the cops to get back in the car and wait. So we killed the rest of the time in the car.
And then we FINALLY made it! We get into the camp grounds and proceed to put up our tent and get to know the people around us. Then we headed into the concert area where I proceeded to go see a rapper named Murs. I checked out Murs for about 25 minutes and he was quite good. He got the crowd going and everyone was having a good time while he performed. I left there and headed over to the Comedy tent to see what was going on there. Luckily, I had gotten there just in time to see Janine Garofalo as well as three other comedians that were all pretty funny. Then I went over and checked out another rap group called People Under the Stairs. These guys knew how to do it! They really got the crowd going, and put on a great show. I was exhausted at this point so I headed back to the tent and passed out.
The next morning I woke up at 8 a.m., which was a problem because none of the music started until noon. So I walked the grounds and got a better feel of the layout of the stages and where the venders were. Then I popped into the Cinema tent which was playing movies 24 hours a day. There were probably 12 people in this 1,000 seat tent and I joined them and watched this documentary about The Clash.
The movie got done around 10 a.m. and I walked over to the DJ Scratch Academy. This was a State Farm sponsored booth where you got free lessons on the turntables. I was so pumped to try this out! And seeing as I was in the concert area so early I was first on line for when it opened at 10:30. So I got in there and after about 30 minutes, I learned a good deal about scratching. It was awesome. They even gave me a CD copy of what I sound like.
At 12 noon the music started but there weren’t any bands I was dying to see, so I checked out this band called Gomez. They were okay. Not really my cup of tea but definitely watchable. They had a pretty big following so that made it entertaining. Then I went back to the Cinema tent to check out this movie called Cold Souls with Paul Giamatti. That movie was great and I recommend checking it out if you get a chance. After that I went to check out the Yeah Yeah Yeahs who were just mildly entertaining, but they were followed up by TV on the Radio, who was quite fantastic. They had a ton of energy and kicked some major butt on stage. Then it was time for the finale of the night, The Beastie Boys! Man oh man did they put on a show! They came out like a storm of fire and continued to rock for a solid 2 hours. Nas even joined them on stage for a new song coming out on the upcoming album. They were by far the best performance of that day. Later in the night I checked out Public Enemy and they were hilarious and entertaining. They spoke a lot against the government in-between their songs, but when they were performing it was really good. Flava Flav is a lot of fun to watch on stage and he really steals the lime light away from the rest of the group.
On Saturday morning, I woke up early again and went to another movie in the Cinema tent. This movie was a documentary about the one man group called Girl Talk who happened to be playing there this past weekend, but I unfortunately had to miss them. The documentary, which I never caught the name of, was really interesting and will be officially released later in the summer. Then at noon I went to see a band called Chairlift who you may know for having one of their songs on an Ipod commercial. They were a lot of fun to watch and their songs are very catchy. Then I went back to the Comedy tent to see Bonnapoo, a Triumph the Insult Comic Dog event with several comedians and a special guest appearance by Rilo Kiley. The comedians were quite good but Triumph was very flat and hit or miss with his jokes.
When that finished, I made my way over to one of the smallest stages (which it is actually just on grass) to check out a guy called Dan Dyer. He simply blew me away. I was lucky enough to get right against the fence to watch him along with only about 50 other people. He is a soul/southern rocker who is really quite amazing and I hope he has a very fruitful career. Because I liked him so much I bought his CD right on the spot and he autographed it for me and thanked me for coming to see the show. After that I ducked back into the Cinema tent because it had gotten extremely hot outside and I caught a couple short films followed by the beginning to some documentary about being happy. That documentary wasn’t so great but I only watched that to get out of the heat and stay cool. Once I had my fill of being happy, I went to check out Wilco, who are quite good live, but not really what I’m into. Their music is just too laid back for a festival and honestly, it’s not something I’d even go see in concert. But they did sound very good and make great easy listening music.
Then it was time for the one and only Bruce Springsteen! I had made my way down to the front of the stage for Bruce. I was so close, he sweated on me! And man oh man did he sweat. Bruce played for a solid 3 hours, and when I say solid I mean he did not take more then 10 seconds in between songs. That guy has more energy then a woodpecker, and he sounds a lot better too. He took requests at one point and actually played a Christmas song, “Santa Claus is Coming to Town.” I laughed and sang louder to that song than anyone else in the crowd. It was awesome! At this point in the festival I thought nothing could top Bruce (by the way I should mention I’m not a big fan of Bruce, he just put on such a great show that he blew me away) but then I went to see Nine Inch Nails. This was their last performance ever in the USA and they put on one hell of a show. They played everything and went 30 minutes over their time limit. They really let the crowd get what they deserved and we gave them a standing ovation for like 15 minutes after they had finished. It was phenomenal and sad because we’ll never get to see them perform again.
On Sunday, the last day of the festival, there really wasn’t much music I wanted to see so I checked out back-to-back comedy events. First up, there were a few people from the Daily Show: Rob Riggle, John Oliver, Wyatt Cenac, and one of the producers, all extremely funny people. We were blessed with a pre-recorded video from John Stewart himself, plus a guest appearance from Kristin Schaal (Mel from the HBO series Flight of the Conchords). The second comedy show was “Michael and Michael Have Issues,” starring Michael Ian Black and Michael Showalter as well as Aziz Ansari, who was by far the funniest comedian I saw take the stage during the whole festival. After that I checked out the last 20 minutes of Coheed and Cambria who were pretty good, then I topped off the whole trip by going to see Snoop Dogg. He was quite funny and also entertaining to listen too.
Overall the festival was a ton of fun! There were no big disappointments and I really had a good time. I can’t wait to go again next year.