So here we are, another year in the scorching hot sun of Manchester, TN for one of the country’s premiere music outings, Bonnaroo 2007. After a day of mild sun poisoning, a trip to the EMS tent and one of the more exuberant, diverse days of music I’ve ever had the pleasure of attending, I ponder how I survived and begin to wonder if my body will put up with two more days of my assault on it.
After making the 40 minute plus haul from my tent, I attended the first press conference of the day- featuring a Q and A with Michael Franti to Dierks Bentley. Frankly, Franti was the only artist who provided insight into the ethos of the Bonnaroo experience. When asked what interesting artists Franti had met at Bonnaroo over the years he responded, “people you meet that are the most interesting aren’t always other musicians,” but rather audience members met while wandering around.
Soon after, I headed to THIS tent to catch the heavy, percussive interplay of Tortoise, which proved to be the highlight of the day. Watching veteran musicians like Jeff Parker and John McEntire weave in and out of each other’s textured rhythms is something younger, instrumental outfits ought to take note of.
Then around 4pm came the oddest pairing of musicians (and comedians) imaginable: Richard Thompson, ?uestlove, Lily Allen, Warren Haynes, David Cross, and Nathan Willet from Cold War Kids. I will cover these press conferences more extensively in my overview at the close of the weekend. Stand out moments included David Cross giving Warren Haynes shit about jam bands and dirty hippies and Lily Allen ACTUALLY showing up sober.
After the concert ended, the sun apparently took me out of commission, as I was carried away to an EMS tent as result of passing out from heat exhaustion. No food mixed with excessive of beer and whiskey (in that order) and 90 degree don’t add up well. When I came to consciousness about half an hour later, I wasn’t exactly sure where I was. So I got up feeling rather refreshed and walked out of the EMS tent with less concern for my health than for the music taking place.
Over the course of the next couple of hours I managed to squeeze in segments of several artists . A few notable moments: Gillian Welch and David Rawlings cover Ryan Adams’ “To Be Young,” Lily Allen putting on an above average performance reminiscent of circa-70s British rock steady, Manu Chao‘s variety of international rhythms and The Black Keys guitar screaming louder than Tool, who I can hear right now.
So as I sit here sipping my flask of whiskey and listening, I’m also watching the two people sitting directly adjacent to me. One must have taken a handful of downers and the other seems to be on a heavy psychedelic trip, to the point where his blood-shit eyes are bulging out of his malfunctioning skull. Meanwhile, a security guard stands five feet away, laughing with his buddy about a guy that urinated on his cabbage plants. He says, “No wonder the cabbage has been scarce this year.” This ladies and gentleman, is Bonnaroo in a nutshell. Day One, accomplished.