What’s up INLE? It’s your old pal, Davidson County Don Corleone, with the second in a series of rambling posts that Cazador was gracious enough to invite me to write.
Saturday at Bonnaroo 2010 was the third verse in the same song; the day was dominated by peace, love, body odor, heat and humidity. I’m told that the heat index reached 105, but as far as I’m concerned once you break through the upper 90s, the only things that really matter are shade, water, and air conditioning.
One of the three was highly plentiful at Bonnaroo, so we were still able to keep trucking along. The crowd was looking worse for wear, and several times it occurred to me that we could be on on a new show called Survivor: Manchester. Spirits remained high, and the dance card for Saturday was totally full, with sacrifices that had to be made.
We started our day of music and frivolity with stroll through the campground in the name of journalistic curiosity. While it did look like a refuge camp, we were able to meet some nice people who didn’t seem to mind the dirt, grime or smell. Humans can adapt to anything, even the Bonnaroo campground. Our favorites were a family of about 8 from Huntsville, AL who brought along a 6 ft. tall pirate skeleton with a sign that said, “Please take my picture!”
On our way back into the show from the campground we witnessed some highly unexpected events; pat down searches. I saw several people both in front of me and the lines around me get stopped for having pot. I was totally shocked, as were they. I think this is a new development for the Bonnaroo experience. Almost every person who was questioned had the same response:
Security Guard -“What have you got in that pocket/knapsack/backpack?”
Security Guard -“No pot allowed.”
Bonnaroonie -“Seriously? Have you been in there? Everybody has pot!”
And on it went. I did see one friendly security guard lady that got into a debate over the substance in one gentleman’s pocket. Once she established that it wasn’t mushrooms, but in fact was a quarter ounce of nugs, she sent him back to the campground to “put some back, a quarter is too much. Then I’ll let you in.”
We finally got to the music at 2:30 without any shade in sight for the Norah Jones set at the Which stage. Her latest album has been in steady rotation for me since she released it last fall, and I was eager to see her live for the first time.
All this excitement and eagerness lasted about three songs in the direct sun, and I wasn’t the only one feeling this way. The biggest cheer the crowd gave was when a cloud drifted in front of the sun for a an all to brief respite from the oppression. She might have put on the show of her life, but I wouldn’t know. We had to go, and we stumbled into a happy Bonnaroo accident.
Our only motives were to 1, get the hell out of the sun and 2. claim a nice piece of ground for the Mumford and Sons set later that afternoon. We were able to do both in That Tent, where Dave Rawlings Machine was just beginning to set up. The crowd was sparse, the space plentiful, and the shade was sublime.
Somewhere deep down I knew who Dave Rawlings was, and I definitely know Gillian Welch, but I was blissfully ignorant of the foot stomping hoe down that I was about to get involved in. For the next three hours, we were immersed in some of the best roots Americana I have ever heard, even if some of it came from jolly ole England.
Dave Rawlings played To Be Young and it was the highlight of the weekend. I was pretty sure it was going to remain so, but I was very wrong. From To Be Young the band transitioned into This Land Is Your Land and the crowd went nuts, turning the old folk song from elementary school into the foot stomping, shout along protest song Woody Guthrie meant it to be.
The band left the stage, and Juelez Santana came over the PA followed by Outkast’s Crumblin’ Erb. And it made perfect sense. Mumford and Sons took the stage and didn’t miss a beat from the Dave Rawlings lead in. Marcus Mumford bantered from the stage about Bonnaroo being the first show they’ve ever played in Tennessee but it felt like home, and just how hot and large the crowd was.
The bar was set high early with Sigh No More, but was continually topped and finally punted over the edge by an all star jam with Old Crow Medicine Show, Dave Rawlings and Gillian Welch playing Wagon Wheel and Roll Away Your Stone.
The vibe inside the tent was euphoric, the energy was positive and abundant, and we went wandering off in search of the next great Bonnaroo experience.
We made it to the What stage just in time to hear the end of the Dead Weather set. Jack White introduced his band, and concluded it with “And I’m Jack White, from Nashville, Tennessee.” And we were proud.
Stevie Wonder came bopping out on stage playing a keytar, and I knew that we were in for another good time. He covered the majority of the hits, while thankfully overlooking most of his 80s bubblegum. I was left longing for Part Time Lover, but I got over it. The sky started to darken, and I began to wonder how this rock crowd would respond to a hip hop show.
Dude from Oasis said I couldn’t play guitar. Somebody should’ve told him I’m a fuckin’ rock star – ”Jockin’ Jay-Z”
And he is. Jay-Z hit the stage with a slow burn, playing my favorite Jay-Z song that you will never hear on top 40 radio, the ominous, menacing Intro from The Dynasty: Roc La Familia.
The Bonnaroo crowd loved it. I should have paid more attention to his lyrics and realized that he is in fact a fuckin’ rock star. He brought every bit of his swagger to the stage, and projected it to the back fence. The hippies and hipsters may not have known every word to his tracks, but they still got down with abandon.
His set list is like a Jay-Z greatest hits playlist on shuffle, with ADD. He bounced from his and Pimp C’s verse on Big Pimpin to a mash up of Heart of the City and Sunday Bloody Sunday that showed the diversity and quality of his musical influences.
All of the hits were represented, but there was a lack of pre 1999 material that disappointed me.
Day 3 at Bonnaroo 2010 covered the entire gambit of musical genres, and was filled with the best performances I have seen from them. That’s probably the best thing about Bonnaroo, people step up and bring their A game, and its all within a quick stroll.
Ed. Note from Cazador: (applauds loudly, wipes tear away, nods slowly) Another tremendous and public “Thanks, y’all” to DCDC and his lovely bride for braving the heat, crowds, traffic and hassle to take notes, pictures, video and the like. You could have just gone and had a good time, but you did that + help INLE in droves. One.