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Ruminating about Bonnaroo
Ruminating about Bonnaroo
06/11/12 at 05:54 AM by Gregory Robson
I spent at least 10 hours watching Bonnaroo live streams/feeds this weekend. It happened by accident. I turned it on Friday night to see Radiohead out of curiosity. I turned it on about 20 minutes into the set and boom, wouldn't you know Thom Yorke and crew suck me into their vortex. I was mesmerized, I could not turn away.

I figured it would end there.

But then Saturday afternoon came around and I saw that El Mariachi Bronx was playing. So I figured, why not? Everyone has been buzzing about this band. So I watched. I tried to like it. I was sorely disappointed. They looked utterly bored. I wanted more. I wanted to see another Radiohead. But Saturday came and went and I was out and about and doing things.

And then Saturday...[read more]
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08:23 AM on 06/15/12
Jeremy Aaron
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If you think the streams are engrossing, try being there. It's seriously a one-of-a-kind experience. It was my first time at the farm, and it will probably be my yearly vacation from here on out. I saw four of those sets and about 24 others and had the best time. A few things I saw that stood out to me:

Trampled by Turtles: I caught the end of their set after coming from The Avett Brothers'. They did a cover of Arcade Fire's "Rebellion (Lies)" and everyone was singing along. I'm always struck by these "moments of solidarity" or whatever. Here's a bluegrass band and their fans dig Funeral. It sometimes seems like any sense of monoculture in the music community doesn't really exist anymore, but I enjoy being reminded that that's not necessarily the case.

Dawes: I usually can't be bothered with thoughts like this, but listening to a band like Dawes makes me lament how major music distrubution channels today bring to mainstream attention the most obnoxious artists at the expense of everything with any sense of subtlety. Their music is just so broadly palatable, and the audience they drew for their set covered the widest set of demographics of any non-headliner I saw. And they killed it. Their Eagles-esque California cool should make them a household name; unfortunately that seems to require ear-splitting blast beats nowadays.

Phantogram: I had seen them a few times locally before Eyelid Movies came out and the hometown crowd didn't even know who they were. That couldn't have been much more than two years ago. It was pretty cool to see the national following they have now and the huge eruption from the crowd when the first few notes of "Mouthful of Diamonds" rang out.

And I couldn't help but draw contrasts in my mind between Radiohead and the Chili Peppers as headliners, both artists I have enjoyed to varying degrees over the years. There may be a band in the universe that can put on a spectacle like Radiohead did Friday night, but they are definitely not on this earth. And they continue to push themselves forward much to the delight of pretty much everyone. They can perform a set, essentially ignoring all their early hits and even performing a few songs they haven't recorded yet, and it's somehow more satisfying this way. Even after two decades of recording, where this band is headed is still more important and thrilling than where they've been.

A dozen years ago, I was way more into Californication than Kid A, and I still think it's a pretty awesome album. But it became pretty clear from their set that, despite the fact that they are still a prominent chart presence, interest in the Peppers has a lot more to do with nostalgia and the fact that they are icons than any real current relevance. No one in that crowd wanted to hear "The Adventures of Rain Dance Maggie" or "Look Around" more than they did "Under the Bridge" or "Soul to Squeeze". And if they wanted to perform any as yet unrecorded material, we pretty much know already what it would sound like. They are without question a talented band, and I enjoyed their set a lot, but it sort of struck me that they are now a few years past their use-by date.

I could probably go on and on forever. The whole thing was a total blast for four days. I can't wait to do it all again next year.
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