By Saturday morning we all settled into what was obviously going to be a scorching weekend with little to no sleep at Bonnaroo. When you wake up in your tent at 6am drenched in sweat, you know it’s going to be a Tennessee fire, type of day. Saturday would be spent hitting as many stages as possible in-between finding any shaded spots we could find. The water fountain, located in the center of the festival, would be as in-demand, as some of the biggest performers of the day.
For the first set of the day, I finally caught Grace Potter at the main stage and she was pure electricity. Using every inch of the stage, Potter would dance, flip her hair and high-kick throughout her set of dirty-blues rock. By the third song she strapped on the 6-string and showed us she’s just not a fiery front-woman, but an accomplished musician and songwriter. At one of the artist panels in the media area during the weekend Potter joked that “the first time I played here, they put me out in the parking lot stage,” when asked about her many times she’s played the fest. Well Grace, you made it to the big stage finally, maybe next time you’ll get the headliner spot, you’ve certainly earned it.
Flying over to one of the tents on the other side of the fest, I had to catch the act known as Whilk & Misky, if only for the fact that it kind of rhymes with Pancakes And Whiskey. But what followed was one of the coolest sets of new music I heard all weekend. It was upbeat, fun and really dance-y with a fun tropical vibe. Talking with Misky shortly after his set, he assured me these two cats are in it for the long haul and will be happy to catch them again when they hit NYC.
The Knocks, who I’ve heard many great things about, would follow on the same stage and brought their electro-beats to their many ecstatic fans that horded into the tent. Personally, considering the amazing things I’ve heard about the duo, felt their set fell a bit flat and didn’t quite live up to the massive hype. Festivals can be tricky for any band and maybe this just wasn’t their spot.
After finding a trustworthy person to hold my camera bag, I too jumped into the fray of the water fountain, it was glorious as the dust and sweat washed to the ground. Feeling a bit refreshed, I made my way over to the new music tent and caught The Record Company. I was told before the festival that this was one of the acts I had to see, considering my rock background and they certainly brought the rock with no frills or tricks. In one of the most honest sets of the weekend, the trio really just want to rock out, with some occasional harmonica thrown in. Mixing some blues, garage and a bit of alternative, this is a group that should rise real quick in the coming year.
Back at the main stage, Band Of Horses did their thing. Their mixture of alt-country and rock is always an easy thing to listen to. The new tunes off their latest album which was released last week, were impressive full of color and imagery. Ben Bridwell has never sounded better actually, his voice reaching new levels and was really evident on the massive hit “No Ones Gonna Love You,” which had couples all over the lawn dancing closely as tears fell to the dry earth.
Then the storms came. While they never really did hit the campground, the massive streaks of lightning to the south of the farm, were all the officials at Roo had to see. The friendly staff would tell us “Go back to your cars, RV’s – find shelter and when the storm passes you’ll be let back in.” Not wanting to get electrocuted at a farm at TN, we listened and retreated to our vehicles, drank a few beers, had a smoke or two, and before you knew it a roar would rise from the campground and we hustled back in to catch the last few acts of the night.
Luckily for me, the storm enabled me to catch a good portion of The Claypool Lennon Delirium set that I had been pining for since hearing their first creepy and psychedelic single “Mr. Wright.” Between the two eclectic rockers, there’s a strange place they found somewhere in the ether, and it’s weird as fuck. The set was dripping with odd time signatures, dreamy vocals from Lennon, and the bouncing and rhythmic basslines that we all know and love from Mr. Claypool. While I was only able to stay for a handful of songs, it was easily one of the best sets of the weekend and they even pulled off an impressive take on the Pink Floyd classic “Astronomy Domine.”
Then, one of the highlights of my weekend came in the form of my favorite band, Pearl Jam. Being selected as one of the lucky photographers to be able to shoot them in the pit, was an honor. I felt I didn’t get great shots the month before at Madison Square Garden and was intent on changing that. You can view the full Pearl Jam headlining set and review at Bonnaroo, if you click this HERE.
Article: Shayne Hanley