John Mahar's Blog

Education, Spanish, Travel, Poems, Bonnaroo reports, and more.

Thursday, June 18, 2009


I avoided the mud, I schmoozed with the hotshots, and only once entered the refugee camp of ticket-holding bonnaroo-ers. Since my sister works for AC Entertainment, I got a guest pass. This meant free stuff, sidestage access, and even more fun than it would have been anyway, and that would have been a fine boot-stomping good time as well. I saw a lot of bands, and heard the buzz on a lot of others. What follows is a quick guide and myspace music site link to some of the standouts. Many of these bands are established, some are just beginning to be popular. I noticed that one of my favorites, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, have over 11 million hits on their myspace music page. Obviously they're bigger than some of the others I'll mention. Happy browsing. Links to foto sets below from Laura and Tim. As we were getting the tour from Laura on a golf cart, a girl came over and asked, "Where is the Internet?" Laura quipped, "it's everywhere." More humor came from the constant Abbott and Costello routine of the stage names. This Tent? No, That Tent. Which tent? No, the Which Stage. What? No, not the What stage, The Other tent.

Friday I started out with some hangout time with my cousins Paul and Tim, their friends Jesse David and Fernando, and my sister. So I missed Katzenjammer, which got rave reviews. I also missed the Dirty Projectors, another band all the cool kids were talking about. At 2pm Laura and I wandered over to Vieux Farka Toure, a band from Africa that I like to put on in the background when guests are over. Live Laura and I weren't in to it. We moved on to Animal Collective, which I did not enjoy too much. They were electronic indie, I guess. I missed St Vincent and Grace Potter next--I caught a bit of Grace Potter Sunday. She's awesome. Seems like southern soulful Bonnie Rait a bit, but she's from New Hampshire. I saw Dirty Sweet for a few minutes in the next time slot, and they were fun rock. But I was blown away by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. This is a must see show. Find where and when they're coming near you and go. I missed Santigold, which a lot of people were talking about. She's compared to MIA.

I went to see good ol Ani Difranco, and I was not dissapointed. She was fun and happy and political and everything I wanted. I skipped TV on the Radio to see this, which my crew enjoyed. Next we were on to the Beastie Boys and David Byrne. The Beasties were old and kind of fun, but kind of played out it seems. They were on the main stage, and a LOT of folks were there. David Byrne was next, and we couldn't get over what a difference experience makes. So many acts here were new, maybe a few years touring. He has been around so long, and you could tell. Hell of a show. Next Public Enemy (boring pre-show posturing drove me away), Femi Kuti, and I went home - missed Crystal Castles and the late-night shows(Girl Talk, Paul Oakenfold). Femi Kuti was friggin awesome. An old young man, he was a sermonizer, director and inspire-er. His show is just like his dad's was--dancers, big brass section, plus a normal rock ensemble. Good times. Some guys were so messed up on drugs here that they were standing around with their mouths open, looking up at the stage like they didn't understand what was going on. I was dancing like crazy.

Saturday was nonstop. No breaks, even after only a few hours of sleep, I was up and at-em. I started with Elvis Perkins, which is americana goodness. I missed the SteelDrivers, which was a bummer, and, again, Katzenjammer. You can't see it all. To state the obvious. I rested for a while with the homies and at 3 went over to see Rodrigo and Gabriela. Highly recommended. Duo from mexico, they play classical guitar mixed up with some flamenco and rock styles. Gotta see to believe the things they do with two guitars. I missed Bon Iver, whom even MORE people were talking about than the others I mentioned before. I went on to Jenny Lewis (awesome, one of my favorites), a few minutes of Wilco (fine and dandy but not for me) and the Decemberists (disappointing, majorly) and then we met up to go to see Bruce Springsteen. Again, experience matters. He killed it. Never having been a huge NIN fan, I decided I'd check them out for a few minutes. They were so unbelievable rocking that I had to stay for the whole show--until 3 am. They finally played a song I knew, head like a hole, but I didn't even care cuz I was enjoying it so much anyway. That was it for me, and I regrettably missed Ben Harper and MGMT.

I woke up in the ridiculous heat of a stuffy tent in the sunshine. Couldn't go back to sleep even though I needed it. Only the AA Bondy at noon was keeping me from going into Paul's RV and sleeping some more. i saw a few minutes of Cage the Elephant afterwards, or before, I don't know. They seemed fun, crazy screaming rock. I saw Julia Nunes, very fun, funny, zany good times. Clever and sweet. The next show was one of my favorites, Okkervil River. Their albums aren't super fun, but live they gave it all they had. Jason England came and joined me, and we checked out Merle Haggard (fun), Snoop Dog (smokes weed every day, I guess--he apparently until yesterday thought he was playing Bonnarroo NEXT THURSDAY), Band of Horses, the Dirty Guv'nahs (man, if you like the Black Crowes...) and Neko Case (not as fun as I thought it would be). Jason and I finished out with some PHISH (oh yeah). THe clown with the ball, rolling his hands around it as if it was floating (and doing a bad job) had an expression on his face like he was doing the coolest thing in the world. And he wasn't even that good at it. Drugs. I'm sure. Anyway, it was as annoying as I thought it would be, although the music was better than I expected. Just the audience is annoying.

So we drove to Nashville and jammed with some of Jason's friends. And that was it. Do it if you can, go to Bonnaroo, before you die. And check out Tim's pictures and Laura's pictures.


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