Thursday, June 18, 2009

live: Bonnaroo

"It's too f*ckin' hot for Santa Claus!"

Midway through Bruce Springsteen's 3.5 hr marathon set Saturday night at Bonnaroo, he descended into the crowd and grabbed posters from fans with song requests scrawled on them. One fan offered a full size picture of Santa Claus to which Bruce responded with the quote above, before he finally relented and busted out a truly inspired rendition of "Santa Claus Is Coming To Town". This was just one unexpected and incredible moment in a weekend that was jam packed with them.

Simply put, the 8th Bonnaroo festival was a marvel in every respect. From the huge and diverse lineup, to the smart stage and vendor layout in Centeroo, to the meticulous organization of the campgrounds and the frequent porta-potty cleanings, it is obvious that the Bonnaroo team is a group of seasoned veterans.

And let's not forget the music! Aside from the epic headlining sets by Phish and Bruce (including an instantly legendary collaboration during Phish's set on Sunday), there was enough music to satiate even the most voracious live music fan. In fact, there was almost too much music, to the point where we had to miss a few acts we really wanted to see or else risk succumbing to exhaustion. Of the acts that we did catch, a few really stood out from the rest: Dirty Projectors, Amadou & Miriam, Santigold, Gomez, Bela Fleck & Toumani Diabate, Jessica Lee Mayfield, Elivs Perkins in Dearland, David Byrne were among the highlights. We also really enjoyed the different atmospheres throughout the festival. For example, on Friday, The Other Tent was African themed; on Saturday it transformed into a Bluegrass hoedown. It's also really neat to be able to see an intimate show with 70 other people in a tent (Where Cafe) and then walk a few steps and be in a field with 60,000+ people watching Snoop Dogg!

The only negative thing I have to say about the festival was that I fear that Bonnaroo may have outdone themselves -- who on earth could they possibly put on the bill next year to top this year's lineup?!?


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