June 13 - Day Three.
Saturday started off like any other day at Bonnaroo: a little too hot and a little too early. It seems that our luck with the weather was starting to run out as the tent was too hot to sleep in by 9:30. So, not really awake but not asleep, I made breakfast: Ramen and peanut butter and jelly. The breakfast of champions. We finished up just n time to head over to the cinema tent and catch the tale end of Blame it on the Fish, the Primus movie. It was nice because a) I love Les Claypool, b) it was dark in there and c) it was air conditioned. With those three thngs combined, I couldn't miss it.
After the movie we headed over to The Which Stage, to see the 12:00 show of Bonnaroo's surprise guest: Jimmy Buffett. Seeing Jimmy Buffett was definitely fun in a novelty kind of way. First, I grew up on Jimmy Buffett. Songs like "Volcano" and "Cheeseburger in Paradise" were songs that were played in the road-tripping minivans of my childhood. It was a great noon summer concert, a laid-back, light-hearted show to start off the day. While the older spectators in attendance (and there were quite a few) were pounding liquor drinks and doing the mashed potato, I was more content sitting and relaxing in the mist tent, listening and reminiscing about times past, while Mr. Margaritaville covered "Brown-eyed girl."
I wanted to see Rodrigo y Gabriela, but they didn't start for another couple of hours, so I went out in search of cheap food. My tastebuds had been dulled by Cup-o-Noodles, and I needed variety. Walking down the main shopping area outside of Centeroo, I saw it. Shining like a beacon in front of me is a sign, a sign so beautiful that angels must have written it: World Famous Garlic Grilled Cheese Sandwiches. $1. At a festival where a beer is $6 and a pack of cigarettes ran you $15, something that cheap is hard to come by. Overwhelmed, I bought five, ate two, and wrapped up the rest and put them in my backpack.
Saturday was a relaxing day, because outside of Of Montreal, there was nothing that I was dying to see until the late-night shows. This allowed me to relax in mist tents at the back and listen to the bands without standing up with all of the people at the front. So, this is what I did at Rodrigo y Gabriela and Gov't Mule. Both were good shows (including a cover of Radiohead's "Creep" at the Mule show), but I had seen both of them before.
Of Montreal was a band that I was interested in from the start, because they are a band that I have grown to like a lot lately, especially their album "Hissing Fauna Are You The Destroyer?," but I didn't know how well their act would translate to a live stage. I was not disappointed. An Of Montreal concert is almost like an improv musical theater performance, with multiple costume changes and theatrics sprinkled throughout their show. Kevin Barnes and co. were decked in out in their trademark glam-rock garb, and the projector behind them was wild as they played songs mostly off of newer albums like "Skeletal Lampings," but really shone during old favorites like "Party Crashing Us Now."
I went over to check out a little bit of The Mars Volta at The Which Stage. I only have the album "Frances the Mute," which is a little outdated, so I was interested to see what the Volta had to offer. An hour later, I felt like my brain had been put through an egg beater and had to leave. They put on a good show with a lot of energy, but I didn't know any oft he songs that they were playing, so I left. I swung by This Tent and saw The Decemberists put together a great closer: Heart's "Crazy On You" that got a huge response from the crowd. While I wasn't there, I hear that The David Grisman Quintet put on a great show, with Fishman and Gordon from Phish making guest appearances.
Next up: The Boss at The What Stage. To be honest, I didn't even stay for the whole Bruce Springsteen show. Yes, Bruce Springsteen has historically been a great live act, but I had to keep in mind what I had come to the festival to see, and Bruce Springsteen was not that high on the list. I was much more excited for the Nine Inch Nails and MGMT shows, so I left before the Bruce Springsteen finished, went back to the tent and got some Gatorades so I could pull through for the next three and a half hours. So, I headed over to The Which Tent to get a decent spot for Nine Inch Nails' 1:00 show.
I will say that Nine Inch Nails was incredible. Their lights were mind-boggling, and Trent Reznor really knows how to perform. He made one mention about how Bonnaroo was going to be Nine Inch Nails' last US tour date before their much-publicized hiatus ("It just dawned on me that this is our last show ever in the United States. Don't be sad. I'll keep going. But I think I'm going to lose my mind if I keep doing this, and I have to stop.") in between screaming into the microphone and throwing his guitar against the back wall. As a person who only had a superficial knowledge of Nine Inch Nails, they made me a believer. Highlights for me were "The Hand that Feeds," "I'm Afraid of Americans" (David Bowie cover) and the closer: "Hurt." A lot of people in attendance were claiming that this was the highlight of the festival, and it was definitely a close second to Phish night one for me. It is a shame that such a great band is slowing down, but it was great to see them go out with a bang, and I am proud to say that I was there. A hefty 20 years after their debut, "Pretty Hate Machine" in 1989, Nine Inch Nails is finally getting some well-deserved time off.
Dazed, I headed over to That Tent to catch the synth sounds of MGMT. I got to the show a little late (because of the NIN show) but got there for the good stuff. Again, I was pretty exhausted, so I would definitely be interested in seeing this band again (especially since I had just been blown away by NIN), but the highlights for me were seeing "Time to Pretend" lead right into "Electric Feel," two songs that have been slowly permeating the college party scene. I didn't know too much about this band going in but I was excited to see them, and they did not disappoint. It was just a fun late-night show, and I will definitely be listening to more MGMT after this weekend.
I hit the hay at about 4:00 Sunday morning, happy about my five hours of sleep that I was about to get. From everything I heard Ben Harper put on a good show and moe. went deep into the night, but I am happy with the way my Saturday turned out.
Stay tuned for a recap of Sunday, including great shows by Andrew Bird, Snoop Dogg and the final Phish show.
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