MONDAY, JUNE 21, 2010|
[One week later, senior hallucinogen correspondent Reuben Meltzer reflects on the showerless, four-day festival known as Bonnaroo.]
This year more so than other years it felt like there was more smaller bands I wanted to check out rather than big ones I HAD to see. Due to the large amount of bands that I wanted to check out and the fact that I was shooting the new episode of "The Moment" down there, and contracted what I like to call "Hulk Foot" my time to check out bands was drastically cut down. I was able to see about half of the bands I really wanted to check out, and the ones I saw all put on a sick show. But by far my favorite would be The Flaming Lips do Dark Side of the Moon.
I almost didn't make it to their set cause that was the same night I contracted the "Hulk Foot." It was about 3 hours before The Flaming Lips went on with their normal set that my feet started to swell and hurt terribly. They hurt so bad that I couldn't even stand on them and I had to get carried to the medic tent where I writhed in agony until they kicked me out of the tent and the pain started to somewhat subside. My friend came and escorted me back to our campsite to where, miraculously my feet, for the most part, stopped hurting. All the while I heard The Lips go on with their normal set, and I was sad I couldn't be there. I got back to the site put my own shoes on and headed to Which Stage. As I was walking I could hear The Lips perform "Do You Realize" and I knew I wouldn't make it for their first set. I did make it in time for their whole set of Dark Side and it was not only one of the most incredible things I've heard, but also one of the most incredible things I've ever seen. Never before had a light show made me feel like I was tripping my face off when I wasn't even stoned. It was a beautiful experience. During "Money" Wayne came out with his usual giant balloons to throw out into the audience but before he threw them out he exclaimed to the audience that "there's real fucking money in these balloons." There was another point when The Lips pumped immense amounts of smoke into the crowd and turned on these lasers that bounced off the smoke in the sky like rainbows.
For the most part I didn't see very many full sets because I was busy running from one performance to another. I did catch a lot of Stevie Wonder's set which was pretty phenomenal. Apparently Stevie had nixed his entire set-list which confused the hell out of his band, he seemed to play what his heart told him to play. His smile was ear to ear as he hummed notes and asked the crowd to hum them back, he spent at least 5 minutes doing this. Its always fun to go to a live show, but its very infrequent to feel the level of joy I felt listening to Stevie Wonder.
Jay Z also put on a great show. He just seemed like he was just having a ball up on stage doing his thing. He was having so much fun getting thousands of people to say "jigga what, jigga who" that he forgot we were outside and kept referring to the field we were in as a building.
For the most part there was a great sense of people being glad to play at Bonnaroo. Everyone seemed ecstatic to be there. Some people seemed like they might have been stoned out of their mind (Jack Black and Jack White to name a couple), and other seemed to express themselves in the most bizarre way. Take Rivers Cuomo for example. He ran around the stage like a monkey climbing on the rafters and everything. I saw Weezer only one other time and at that show Rivers seemed very subdued and professional. He barely spoke to the crowd let alone dance around like a monkey, but at Bonnaroo something got into him and made him act like a 12 year old with ADHD. He was supposed to play part of a song with Julia Nunez because her twitter followers insisted upon it. When she came out with her ukulele and began to play she was out of tune. Rivers stopped her playing and ripped her a new one for being out of tune. The girl was practically in tears. It was severely awkward. Later in the show Rivers stopped singing part of one of his songs and made one of his band mates sing the rest of it. The band mate seemed taken back and surprised by this action, but sang it anyway. Despite the strange performance Weezer did put on a great show.
There was a great moment during Langhorne Slim's set where a 12 year old kid ran up on stage and danced around with the band. After the song finished Langhorne said that, that kid coming up on the stage and dancing was one of the most beautiful things he'd ever seen. I completely agree with that statement.
Another great moment of some of the smaller acts was during Imelda May's set at the small area of Cafe Where. She played to an audience of maybe 100 people or so. The majority of which were seated. By the end of her set there was about 200 and everyone was standing and dancing, it was pretty incredible to see the progression of her energy feeding out into the audience.
I also really enjoyed Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zero's set even though I was only there for 4 or 5 songs. There was a point when the front man for Edward Sharpe went out into the crowd and sang in the throngs of the audience. They had a great stage presence and had great energy.
On day one of the festival The Dodos introduced some of their new songs for the first time which was great to hear. Also Here We Go Magic got together for I think the start of their tour since their new album came out and really jammed out on some of their songs. Especially the 14 minute version of Fangella, which was surprisingly loud as f-ck.
Late on Saturday night I was able to check out a bit of Gwar and Deadmau5's sets. Which might have been my second favorite part of the festival. Its crazy to be able to walk 5 minutes from seeing some death metal to watching a crazy electronica light show. Gwar was a blast, there's really nothing like seeing people get eviscerated on stage and having blood (in all different colors) spray out onto the audience, there was even a part where Gwar's front man ripped off Micheal Jackson's face. It was good disgusting fun. There was so much fake blood that when people washed themselves off in the Bonnaroo fountain they turned the water red. I then walked over to
Deadmau5 where I layed witness to a Daft Punk esque scene of dancing hippies draped in glowsticks and crazy light show set up where a man in a mouse mask that was shaped similarly to the Radiohead bear mixed his own style of electronica. He mixed at an altar of light behind which there were columns of LED lights that lit up in intricate patterns. It was crazy and I wish I could have stayed longer, but my "Hulk Foot" was coming back and I needed to lie down.
I ended the fest with Phoenix. My feet were hurting pretty bad by then so I spent most of the time sitting, but they did play a great set, and seemed very pleased to be there. I think it was "Fences" that they played and said that they didn't play frequently and asked the audience to please not leave if they fucked up, but they didn't fuck up and it was a great time filled with red balloons that were thrown out into the audience. Overhead clouds began to roll in above the stage and the sun began to set behind us shining the most radiant of colors on the clouds above, and it was the perfect way to end the fest. -reuben meltzer
[Stay tuned for Reuben's Bonnaroo-centric episodes of "The Moment"!]