Missed Music

Music you didn’t know you needed…until now.

Bonnaroo 2010 recap: Thursday and Friday

Well, it’s been a long week away. I apologize for the long delay between posts, but I was at Bonnaroo since Wednesday last week and I have been incredibly busy since I got back so I just haven’t had time to post. Like last year, I wanted to recap some of the bands I saw. Ah, Bonnaroo. It’s a 9-hour drive from my town to camp in the dust or mud, depending on the week’s weather. In spite of this, the crowd is young and beautiful, the scene is relaxed and peaceful (I’ve been to 5 or 6 Bonnaroos now and still have never seen a single fight), and the musical lineup is unparalleled. I love going.

The stages are What Stage, Which Stage, This Tent, That Tent, and The Other Tent. Thanks, guys.

I started out Thursday by catching The Entrance Band. They hit the crowd with psychedelic roots rock. Some of it was bluesy, and some had a frat party feel. The music was rough and heartfelt. On the binary scale, they get a 1. Check out this single, ‘Lookout!’ if you’re interested.

I went from there to Baroness. I have written up Baroness in the past and was excited for their show. There is a lot to like about this band and they did not disappoint live. The sound was complex and heavy with a melodic core, bristling with major power chords and minor arpeggios. Check out ‘Grad.’

Next I caught Local Natives. The Natives achieve a full sound with several multi-instrumentalists, allowing them to put up 2 drummers or occasionally 2 guitarists at need. They play energetic hard pop and every note is sung with accompanying harmony vocals. Their indie-pop sound was pretty good, and I made a note that I was reminded of the Talking Heads. Check out this single, ‘Wide Eyes.

I didn’t catch all of the Natives and left to hear some Manchester Orchestra. Their studio stuff is often kind of mellow, but live their sound was dominated by heavy pounding guitar and usually screamed vocals. They were surprisingly good. Here you can hear the album version of ‘I Can Barely Breathe.

The last show I saw Thursday was Blitzen Trapper. I was really excited to see this show, because their 2009 release was fantastic. Sadly, I must report I was a little disappointed in their live show. The energy I was looking for wasn’t there. There also wasn’t great variability in their songs and after a while they started to all sound the same. I definitely recommend you pick up “Black River Killer,” though. This was followed by a long walk back to camp, a beer, and a sleeping bag.

Music began Friday at noon with a show by Trombone Shorty. A friend of mine saw him at Jazz Fest (I was there also, but missed Shorty) and told me not to miss his set at Bonnaroo. That suggestion was right on target. Trombone Shorty is a virtuoso on his instrument. My brother plays trombone and I know enough about the instrument to recognize some of the things he was doing are extremely difficult. His band played tight funk and he had several great horns accompanying his trombone. Great set. Here’s a live performance.

Next I took in some from the Carolina Chocolate Drops. These guys are a surprising Appalachian bluegrass three-piece. Banjo and fiddle with percussion provided by spoons, jug, or just beatbox. The female banjo player has a tremendous voice and I really enjoyed their set. Give a listen to this one for a taste of what they do.

I went to see OK Go not exactly reluctantly, but with low expectations. I have seen some of their brilliant videos (treadmillsRube Goldberg,  etc.) but to be honest I only liked a couple of the songs off their albums I had heard. Their live set changed my mind. They completely won me over. You could hear the energy and intention behind the songs when they performed them. They did some cool stuff, too, like bringing out a table loaded with hand bells and performing a song with all four of them singing and playing the bells. That isn’t easy; clearly they rehearsed it a lot. I liked their songs and the way they approach their music. I’ll be giving their albums another listen.

I dropped by Tori Amos on my way to another show but could only stay for one song. I only like a handful of Amos songs anyway and I find a lot of her breathy, melodramatic songs kind of annoying. That’s what she was doing when I blew through her show. On I went.

You may not be aware that Steve Martin is an excellent banjo player. In fact, he won a Grammy in 2009 for Best Bluegrass Album. I caught his bluegrass set with the Steep Canyon Rangers. The music was great, for the most part (I wasn’t crazy about the children’s song he played, but then I wasn’t the target demographic). He is a talented songwriter – all the songs they played were penned by Martin – and he and the Rangers played a tight set. Martin’s patter was funny too. You can take the comedian out of the comedy club, but… “It has been a long time dream of mine to play bluegrass at Bonnaroo,” he said. “Tonight, I feel one step closer to that dream.” Here they are tearing it up on the Orange Blossom Special.

I have seen Michael Franti and Spearhead several times and I caught their set again this year. Franti is a relentlessly positive force, a great songwriter, and a compelling performer.  If you have a chance to see his show, check it out. Like chicken soup, it’s good for what ails you.

I have a friend who inexplicably hates Kings of Leon. He says it’s pop crap, though I suspect he only says that to mess with me. They headlined Friday night and I watched their show. It was definitely NOT pop crap. The Kings put on a really great rock show. Their new album is fantastic (I ripped all but 2 of the songs) and they have honed their live show. It was a great set and I will catch them next time they come to my town.

I caught a few minutes of Daryl Hall/Chromeo (yes, Daryl Hall of Hall and Oats). There was a terrible triple conflict at midnight so I only gave them 2 songs to grab me. They didn’t. I went over to see Akron’s own Black Keys next. I love the Keys (and I’ve written them up) and they were rocking the field as expected. Still, I had to leave to go see The Flaming Lips performing Dark Side of the Moon. The Lips didn’t open with Dark Side, however. Their first set was all Lips songs, which was great because I didn’t see much of their show last time they were at Bonnaroo and it was extremely cool to see them doing their thing. The live show is a spectacle. The thing was they took the stage at midnight and Wayne Coyne promised that they would do a few Lips songs, take a break, and come back for a second set of Dark Side. After every song, Coyne would say, “We’re just doing a couple more, then we’ll do our second set.” I began to realize that with no one taking the stage after the Lips that night, he could continue doing that until, say, 2:30 AM, launch into Dark Side at 3:00 AM, and wrap up at 4:00 AM. With the sun making tents unbearably hot and impossible to sleep in after 7:00 AM I could potentially be wrecked for Saturday. At a little after 1:00 AM I gave up. A 30-minute walk back to my tent already had me getting at most 5 hours of sleep with at least 14 hours of concerts facing me on Saturday. I loved their set of Lips music, but I had to bail on Dark Side. Probably a huge mistake, but Bonnaroo is a marathon, not a sprint.

On a side note, I feel compelled to ask who are the people who litter in a field they want to hang out in tomorrow? I just don’t get that. I managed to do the entire 4 days without leaving a plastic bottle anywhere but there were hundreds of drink cups and bottles strewn all over fields and under trees every day, often by people who you know want to hang out under that same tree tomorrow. It just doesn’t make any sense to me.

It was a great couple days of music and tomorrow I will post about Saturday and Sunday. There was some exciting music those two days, so stay tuned.

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June 17, 2010 - Posted by | Alternative, Blues, Country, Hard Rock, Jazz, Metal, Popular, Rock

3 Comments »

  1. It’s funny how each person has such different musical taste…I’ve heard nothing but good things about the match up of Daryl Hall and Chromeo…are you sure you were at the right show 😉 but then you did say you gave them only two songs to win you and it seems the Black Keys were more your style so I’m hoping that’s just personal taste…
    They were amazing on Live from Daryls house
    Check them out on http://www.livefromdarylshouse.com/index.php
    The classics mixing with the new can’t go wrong there

    I agree with the side note…after all these years and music fests some people should know better.
    Sounds like a good time all the same

    Comment by Buffy | June 19, 2010 | Reply

    • I have heard some of the stuff online and it is cool. Their ‘I Can’t Go for That’ is outstanding. I caught their first two songs and neither one made me sit down. Granted I didn’t give them much of a chance and the bar was pretty high with what they were up against. Thanks for the link. I hope some of my readers go check it out. It’s cool stuff.

      Comment by missedmusic | June 19, 2010 | Reply

  2. Ahh! I didn’t know Steve Martin was there. How fun!

    I can’t wait to hear about Stevie!!

    Comment by Jenn | June 21, 2010 | Reply


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