Who and New
For it’s 16th outing, everything at Bonnaroo seemed to go just right. Right out of the gate we need to talk about the weather. This was the most temperate that I have ever seen the Farm, with the heat only really encroaching on the last day. We are talking about a festival high temperature of 86 degrees. That’s relatively unprecedented. The lack of extreme heat perceptibly eased the general survival tension that often hangs over things at about two in the afternoon and frankly made the festival seem to fly by. In addition to the excellent weather, the lineup was very well balanced and the schedule didn’t really have any dead spots, which kept us moving from stage to stage at a pretty rapid clip. My favorite bits of Bonnaroo have always been the early afternoon rising band sets and the late night to early morning established sets. The headlining sets are always fun, but they, by definition, seem to lack a bit of the spontaneity of the other shows. Headliners are always bound by the size and diversity of their audiences. Whereas when an amazing group like Warpaint ends up scheduled against Chance the Rapper what might have been a relatively crowded show becomes an intimate experience.
The Who and New Music on Tap (NMOT) Stages were on point this year. I would say that I easily spent about half of my time in Centeroo bouncing between these two stages. Several performers who have been on my radar this year were all performing to intimate audiences. The list is pretty impressive: Two Feet, Mt. Joy, Charlotte Cardin, Blossoms, Jay Som, Alekesam, Urban Cone, Malcom London, Backup Planet, Baskery, Flint Eastwood and Ella Vos. Each of these groups is poised to take the leap up to a tent in the coming years. Two Feet kicked things off by drawing a tent-sized crowd to the Who Stage for an electric Thursday night performance. The show served as a sort of impromptu release party for his new ep Momentum, which was released the next day. The title is appropriate as I don’t seen Bill slowing down any time soon. Jay Som was another group that seemed to have an unstoppable force propelling them along. Their record Everybody Works already seems destined for my top ten list this year and the performance at Roo just cemented that fact. Melina Duterte has a remarkable stage presence that enrapt the fans at NMOT. Everything about this group aches of effortless joy, they are having a blast and so is everyone else by extension. Flint Eastwood was a revelation Sunday on the Who Stage. A literal revelation in that she came out with the attire and ardor of a preacher straight from a Flannery O’Conner story. The Detroit-based singer has spoken about the importance of connecting with her audiences and that was on full display out at Bonnaroo. We’ll be seeing a lot more of her down the road. Blossoms was another band, like Two Feet, that strained at the confines of the Who Stage. These British rockers were simply outstanding. This is a band that has already developed a rather large following in England and they proved why out at Bonnaroo. I love watching performances at the Who Stage draw people in from the road. The Blossoms managed to double their crowd by the end of their set purely on the strength of their magnetism. Their blend of rock and new wave works perfectly. They hit the stage and went right into a magnificent set. On Sunday afternoon local favorites Sweet Crude took their turn on the NMOT stage. It’s nice to see this excellent group expand their national exposure. The crowd was suitably blown away by the explosive performance. Finally, I want to talk a bit about Urban Cone. The Swedish power pop ensemble absolutely destroyed the NMOT stage. The group held their own Saturday afternoon dance party and it was wildly successful. Based what we heard out at fest, I am eager to hear their new record.
This is a small taste of the excellent new music out at the Farm this year. Next week we’ll take a look at some of the more established artists and the late night sets.
To Do This Week
Tonight you have to check out Girlpool at Republic. Their new record is simply outstanding and their growth as a band continues. Tomorrow Free Fridays at Tips continue with Good Enough for Good Times and the Lost Bayou Ramblers are at the Maple Leaf. Saturday Deacon John is at Tips. Tuesday check out the Wimps at Siberia. Wednesday the Jacuzzi Boys are at Gasa.
To Listen This Week
- New track from Lorde via Youtube
- Paul Simon releases a recording of his Central Park concert with the original Graceland musicians via CoS
- Another excellent new track from Waxahatchee via Youtube