Bonnaroo is a lot like camp, you hang out with friends, create memories and have the greatest summer alive and when it’s time to say goodbye you don’t want to accept it and it can be sad. But those frowns get turned upside down when you realize it’s less than a year away from returning to the friendly confines and get the chance to rekindle friendships and make new memories.
Now that the sappy stuff is out of the way, let’s get to the meat and potatoes that was Bonnaroo 2012. First off flying in Wednesday night was the best move of the festival which besides getting to roll in to the grounds during daylight, I got the opportunity to enjoy a full Thursday and what a first day it was.
Over the course of the four days I exhausted myself trying to squeeze in as much music as possible. And at the end of the day, that was a tough task and personally I feel I fell short and should have squeezed in more but ultimately my body didn’t agree. I did however stay true to my top three to see: Dispatch, Alabama Shakes and Black Star and those were three shows I got so much joy out of. Dispatch was over a decade in the making for me and the fellas were enthusiastic, having fun and straight up rocking the way I imagined. Alabama Shakes reconfirmed to me what I have been preaching; amazingly talented, rock and roll has a new voice and Brittany Howard may be one of the most charismatic musicians in the business. And Black Star, a true honor to see some of hip-hop’s finest share the stage and just own the night.
As for the rest of my thoughts on Bonnaroo 2012, here we go:
A Breakdown of who I saw each day
Feist (did an impromptu set on Which Stage to prepare for her regular gig), Fort Atlantic, The Dirty Guv’nahs, Rubblebucket, Mariachi El Bronx, Danny Brown, Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr., Kendrick Lamar, Marina Orchestra, SOJA and Phantogram (just tidbits walking by), Alabama Shakes, Big Gigantic, CHERUB
Shahidah Omar, Electric Guest, Michael Kiwanuka (he ended 15 minutes early so only heard one song), Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings, Two Door Cinema Club, Caitlin Rose, Afrocubism, The Avett Brothers, Foster The People, Radiohead, Black Star, Major Lazer, Umphrey’s McGee
Charles Bradley, DAWES, The Temper Trap, Flogging Molly (one song), Oberhofer, Santigold, Childish Gambino, The Roots, Dispatch, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Superjam, (gulp) Skrillex
Sister Sparrow & The Dirty Birds, ALO, The Black Lips, Honey Island Swamp Band, GROUPLOVE, Mac Miller (Beach Boys was too crazy had to watch from a TV!), Kenny Rogers, Bon Iver, Machines Are People Too, Phish
My First Show: Feist (impromptu set)
My Final Show: Phish
My Moment of Joy: Seeing a throng of people overflow This Tent for the Alabama Shakes and watching them in amazement as they owned opening night at Bonnaroo. Want to try and capture the energy? Click HERE to download their set from Bonnaroo!
Best What Stage Show: Phish – are you kidding me, besides having Kenny Rogers come out to sing “The Gambler,” the jam band legends did their legacy well.
I did also love The Avett Brothers show, those fellas are so damn good live.
Best Which Stage Show(s): Dispatch and Childish Gambino. Dispatch were on fire and had an aura of happiness that was contagious with the crowd. Gambino didn’t allow technology malfunctions to derail his time in the spotlight and a major upgrade from the tent last year.
Best Tent Show: GROUPLOVE (see below)
Best Side Stage Show: DAWES at Sonic Stage – after thinking it was going just be a “30 minute set and play some songs,” Taylor Goldsmith wasn’t shy about letting the packed legion of fans know “ you made this like a second performance at Bonnaroo” which in turn granted fans an encore after the show was well over! Wild stuff.
Best Overall Show: GROUPLOVE – there is something about this band that I feel and it gets me to the bone every time I see them live. I love their story, their music, the way they approach shows, how sincere they are and yeah, they are damn good musicians. The crowd was lively; the band was energized and together formed a beautiful hour of music euphoria.
Biggest Surprise: Marina Orchestra – no idea going in and left loving this band craving more.
Best Legend Show: Kenny Rogers (even if I did miss Lionel Richie coming out to sing with him).
Random Moment(s) Of Awesomeness: Seeing Kenny Rogers come out on stage to sing “The Gambler” with Phish; Flea taking a moment during RHCP set to reel off all the bands he had the chance to see and how awesome Bonnaroo is.
Overall Stage With The Best Performances: Got to go with the main one, What Stage, this year was packed with supreme talent that did not disappoint.
Most Entertaining Show: Rubblebucket – this show had it all, sick horn section, rocking lead singer, robots (yes really) dancing in the crowd courtesy of the band and all this happening on the Solar Stage!
2nd place – Mariachi El Bronx which was not only amazing but I love this hardcore punk turned mariachi band. Best part was lead singer Matt Caughthran finding a way to dedicate every song to someone and to see the sheer joy about performing at Bonnaroo.
Most Disappointing Moment: Missing a plethora of bands I wanted to see just based on schedule conflicts – Alice Cooper, Hey Rosetta!, The Civil Wars, St. Vincent, Kurt Vile, Trampled By Turtles, to name some
Next Big Thing: Electric Guest and GROUPLOVE (Alabama Shakes have already arrived)
Giving it a shot: I did two things I said I wouldn’t, caught some of Skrillex’s set and took in Bon Iver (actually found a song I like, “Skinny Love”)
Top Party: Superjam, c’mon were talking about ?uestlove bringing D’Angelo out! First show in the US in 12 years and man did he sound good.
Oddest Show That Was A Blast: Danny Brown
Funky Good Time Show: Charles Bradley
Band I Was Sad To Miss: The Civil Wars
Best Intro: Do my intros to friends going to see a band they never heard of count?
What Would Have Been Great: a fifth day to see some more of the acts
Top Roo Rookie: Dispatch, yeah the seasoned veterans played their first Roo and boy was it special
Top Moment: The entire crowd at What Stage singing “Under The Bridge” during the Red Hot Chili Peppers show.
Best Festival Eats: Amish Bakery Doughnuts
Best Broo’ers Beer: Starr Hill Brewery Amber
Best Place To Cool Off: the RV
Biggest Waste of Time: anything that involved a line (again)
Shocker Of The Festival: Not too many surprise guests as expected
Worst Part: Scheduling conflicts
Clutch Move: Native Rain Boots, comfy and convenient to deal with the mud on Day 4
Tip For Next Year: Walmart is so close to the campground, don’t buy more than you really need, you can always go back for more, we did this year and it saved us close to $1,000.00.
More Tips: drink water, more water, sunscreen is your second best friend after water, if you see someone struggling give them a hand or find someone, Ben & Jerry’s is still my favorite thing to eat at Bonnaroo.
Photos coming soon, stay tuned!