By the end of the day on Saturday, I’d seen and heard over twenty bands of music’s finest. White Rabbits and People Under the Stairs were the heroes of Thursday’s lineups, but the festival and its patrons were just getting their feet wet. With a merciless thunderstorm late on Thursday night, the feet of every Bonnaroo-er were not just wet, but downright slopped with mud. Nobody was fazed. Crowds were wild and packed for a hypnotizing Animal Collective ; thousands were cutting up the lawn with funky dance moves when New Orleans’ Galactic brought the noise… and the 10 minute horn battle; they swooned and screamed for Al Green , adorned in a proper suit and holding a bouquet of roses. In James Brown fashion he addressed the crowd, flirted with some Betty’s in the front row, then commanded “BAND!” and the spot-on quintet ripped into a hip-shakin’ funk number. The Mars Volta brought as much energy as anyone so far, brought new life to rock improv, and brought a new drummer who wins my percussionist of the day award.
The sun continued to sizzle, the crowds continued to down the local microbrews, and Friday was long from over. Increasing crowds made their way to David Byrne , whose combo of musicianship and showmanship was almost unrivaled. Piping hot back up singers and dancers joined him on stage, and participated in the choreographed band dances. Then when everyone thought they’d seen it all, he leaves the stage and reappears wearing a tutu. They hadn’t seen it all anyway though, because they hadn’t seen the Beastie Boys . Picture them as good as you’d think they’d be, and then try to imagine something better. Even with a few structural hiccups in the music, the Beasties stole the show for me… with Mix Master Mike taking the title of best individual performance. I would’ve liked to hear “The Sounds of Science” but hey, when they bring out Nas to do Paul Revere and a few others, you really can’t complain.
My legs and liver had had enough at that point so I went back and tried to catch some Zs. I managed to get more in than usual and woke ready for another day of a non-stop talent party.
Next up, Ambler 2 with his lens on the day. Enjoy ya’ll…