This is going to be the hardest post of them all I think. Saturday was a day of choices for me. I would love to have seen some of the other performances but there are only so many places a gal can be at once. Now that I learned that handicap access was not just for wheelchairs the world is a different place.
It rained a lot Friday night and Saturday morning which was not the biggest motivator to get moving. But I tool advantage of the rain had an impromptu shampoo to the laughter of the folks in my camp area but why on earth would I drop $7 on a shower when there is perfectly good Tennessee rain water coming down.
We were feeling a little sluggish but got in to see Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings. I followed the signs for the access seating and to my shock we were escorted to seats in front of the stage, slightly to stage left. Can someone explain to me how musicians can wear suits and not sweat while they are performing. Is there some secret or are these guys just that damn cool? I like this group on my I Pod but I LOVE this band in person. Great energy as Sharon told us about her Tina Turner dress and its inspiration to make her shake. Shoes kicked off on stage for some good dancing. Her version of “What have you done for me lately?” puts the perspective of a “grown woman” on the song that I always felt was kind of a complaining lyric before. Of course 100 Days, 100 Nights and I ain’t nobody’s baby, yikes! By the time this set was over there was no sluggishness left, we were ready to go.
Almost as much fun as watching this smooth performance was watching the sign language interpreters that were working it. In the handicap access sections there are sign language interpreters when needed. These folks know everything. Of course, they can’t tell you they have the set lists as well as the lyrics to all of the material that is going to be performed. They live interpret intermittently, when performers are talking between songs, etc., but they couldn’t possibly interpret all of the lyrics in live time. The energy put out by the interpreter was just as high as the band. Amazing to watch.
As the tempterature continued to increase I was off to see Ozomatli. I don’t know how to describe these guys. Socially active, politically outspoken, those describe philosophy not music.
In a 2007 NPR interview, band members Jiro Yamaguchi and Ulises Bella describe Ozomatli:
|“||You drive down Sunset Boulevard and turn off your stereo and roll down your windows and all the music that comes out of each and every different car, whether it’s salsa, cumbia, merengue, or hip hop, funk or whatever, it’s that crazy blend that’s going on between that cacophony of sound is Ozomatli, y’know?|
These guys play like crazy. It’s the kind of music that makes me think of a block party or a big cookout in the park. It’s music made for moving and dancing. One member (Justin Porree I think) was on crutches but seemed to hold up well. They play funk and reggae and latin and you name it. They have guitars and horns and lots and lots of percussion. They’re a blast and if you have the opportunity, go see them. Beetle
Well I talked about the interpreter at Sharon Jones, this one might have her beat. Ozomatli performs in Spanish and English, sometimes in the same song. So, not only does this interpreter need to be bilingual but they need to be able to sign in both English and Spanish!
The Avett Brothers were next on my schedule and one of my must see bands. The best description I can give or have heard is bluegrass punk but even that doesn’t seem appropriate. Four guys with LOTS of talent, a couple of guitars, bass and cello. Cello? Yup the hardest working cellist at Bonnaroo. The guys also wound up on keyboards and drums. They played loads of songs including The Ballad of Love and Hate, Die, Die, Die If I am Murdered in the city (really, really moving song about family and love, despite the title) Salvation Song. Not a doubt in my mind that I will see them again as they were very possibly one of the best shows of my trip.
I caught the last three or four songs that BB King did and he and Lucille sounded damn good. BB said something that stuck with me. He said that he would hear reports or see signs saying BB King’s last concert and that “Nobody has asked BB”. Maybe the proximity to Bo Diddleys death made that stick in my head. The weather started to cool down a bit and people started to stake out a spot to see Jack Johnson.
I like Jack Johnson, I listen to him at the office and couldn’t really see why one would see him in concert, he’s so damn mellow. Well that mellow is why you see Jack Johnson. He played a good set, actually seemed nervous from time to time, goofing up a lyric. Eddie Vedder came out and sang Constellations with him which was really nice. The one thing I thought I was going to see more of than I did was cross artist collaboration. There was mention of Jack using Jimi Hendrix’s wah wah pedal and trying to get that right. It’s interesting to watch the crowd during his show. This huge crowd starts to chill and the space just really starts to cool down. The time of day was perfect as well with the sun going down and the moon coming up, great mood.
Pearl Jam – Wow, I don’t even know what to say. These guys played for three hours of solid straight, tight music. I think this is where I finally lost my voice. Eddie Vedder said “I never thought that a farm in the middle of Tennessee would remind me so much of Amsterdam Holland. But I would not be surprised if you all told us to Fuck Off in Dutch” (close if not exact). They talked about not playing tours for a while “for good reason”. It wasn’t until I came home that I learned In the summer of 2000, nine fans were trampled during Pearl Jam’s performance at Denmark’s Roskilde Festival. The band seemed really overwhelmed by the size and energy of the crowd which just continued to feed the crowd and so on and so on. I have a colleague who met his fiancee at a Pearl Jam concert and they have been known to go and follow the band. Now I understand.
Pearl Jam setlist Encore 1
Hard to Imagine WMA
Corduroy Betterman/Save it for later
All Night Black
Why Go Life Wasted
Elderly Woman…Small Town Crazy Mary
Who You Are
Severed Hand Encore 2
Half Full No more
Animal Release Me
Reign O’er Me Encore 3
Do the Evolution All along the Watchtower
I don’t think even the interpreters had all of these songs listed but they worked their butts off as well. No one could possibly know that this fantastic show would be blamed for a musical disaster by a mediocre hip hop artist but that’s another post.
I was pretty worn out by this point. My husband was off to try to catch Lupe Fiasco and Talib Kweli and I figured I’d just wander around, maybe catch a few songs from Phil Lesh and friends. Before I knew quite what was happening or frankly what the hell I was listening to I was standing outside of the That tent and listening to Sigur Ros. Reportedly this is an Icelandic quintet although I counted 4 string players (violins, etc), 5 brass players (including a sousaphone/tuba), guitars, keyboards and percussion. I couldn’t understand a word they were saying and I didn’t care. The tent was teeming, overflowing with thousands of people inside and outside the venue. The music was beautiful and it was another example of what I hoped Bonnaroo would be, an opportunity to be washed over in sound.