I’ve been putting off writing day 4 but I can do it no longer. I have to assume that it is a way of holding on to the time. Sunday morning was hot. No other word to call it. Sunday was the hottest day of the festival and we had the least cloud cover so it hit about 95 degrees and we felt every one.
I was off to the Which stage to see Orchestra Baobab and figured I’d go a bit early and catch Rogue Wave. The Which stage was the same place that we saw Sharon Jones and company and they have great accessible seating. Well, that seating is not quite so great at 1:30 in the afternoon when the sun has been shining. I took a seat and nearly burst into flames.
I caught about the last 4 Rogue Wave tunes and they were really good. Good enough for me to want to check
I moved back to grab a piece of shade, something to drink and listened to Orchestra Baobab. These guys are Senegalese and have been doing this for years. They’ve got a good sound but for whatever reason it wasn’t really working for me. I think the Sunday blues were kicking in. It was hot and I was cranky. I wandered around for a bit and was wandering over to What stage. The more I walked and listened to people the more I was hearing about the Kanye West fiasco (as opposed to Lupe Fiasco who my husband saw and reportedly put on a hell of a show).
I got over to the What stage about the minute they opened the area. There was a mad rush and running of folks that had me pretty confused. I guess this was about 3:15 ish. The What space is huge and there’s not much shade and we were all roasting. So I grabbed a corner using the shade of a nearby fence to help cool off. In front of me were a couple of hundred folks, all sitting in the shade and behind a rope. Well, we started talking and it turns out that these kids were set to be in the pit for Widespread Panic. Now, Panic wasn’t starting for another five and a half hours! That’s when I had the pit system explained to me.
Bonnaroo uses a “double barricade system” that is used in most festivals in Europe. The rush of folks running in turned out to be divided into three groups. A group on the right that wanted to be in the pit for Yonder Mountain String Band, a group to the left that wanted to be in the pit for Robert Plant and Allison Krauss and a second group on the right, further back that wanted to be in the pit for Panic. The deal is that the pit is cleared after every act so you have different people in the pit in each show. So if you want to be in the pit (right in front of the stage) you decide who you want to see the most then you run your ass off.
Yonder Mountain were really cute and they played their butts off. The set list is below. They told the audience that last year they were on a small stage and this year not only were they on a huge stage but they were opening for Robert Plant and Allison Krauss. They deemed the performance The Brownpants Sessions and assured all of us that they did have extras with them. Then the hoe down began. It amazed me that despite the heat hundreds of people were just dancing and singing and basically having a blast. The band introduced themselves and said “We’re Yonder Mountain String Band, we’re on time and we plan to play they whole set” which brought waves of cheers and applause. Who’d have thought there was a huge crossover between YMSB and Kanye? More of the magic of Bonnaroo. Great set, great jamming and improvisation by some guys who are quite expert at their craft. “We’re Yonder Mountain String Band, give us the latenight slot, we can glow in the dark”, more cheers, an encore with Crazy Train (yes Ozzy) and the set was over. Great way to spend a Sunday afternoon, any Sunday. Set list follows.
Out Of The Blue
East Nashville Easter
Damned If The Right One Didn’t Go Wrong
Rain Still Falls
Steep Grade Sharp Curves
Follow Me Down To The Riverside
Catch A Criminal
Encore: Crazy Train
Robert Plant and Alison Krauss had a good crowd, a little more than I think I expected Sunday night. They played a great set with Robert Plant proving that he is a rock star. Allison Krauss has a unique and delicate voice that can really fill a space when she opens up. I wish they had been in a tent rather than up on that massive stage as the music feels like it would be better set there.
Set List: Rich Woman Leave My man Alone Black Dog Sister Rosetta Through the Morning So Long Goodbye to You Fortune Teller In the Mood, Black Country Woman, Bon Temps Roulez, Trampled Rose, Green Pastures, Down to the River, Nothing, Battle of Evermore, Gone Gone Gone, E: One Woman Man
One of the most interesting and heartening things I saw during all of Bonnaroo occurred during this set. Ms. Krauss performed Down in the River to Pray and the field got quiet (as quiet as that many people can) and everywhere I looked people were singing along. This massive group of people, each unique in their origin and appearance, tattooed and pierced, preppy and gearhead, hippie and rapper. Everywhere I could see was this large group of people singing along to a gentle hymn. There is evidence of citations to this song back to 1843 and interestingly they are cited in both black and white church records (uncommon for the time). Anyway, with no religious context there were thousands of people, in a field, led by a lovely woman in a moment of peace.
Jake Shimabakuro is an experience in himself. A young, fifth generation ukelele player who can plan ANYTHING you can imagine on that little thing. The shame was that he was up in a tent by the portajohns playing between acts. He was well attended so maybe people either found him on purpose, or heard him and followed the sound.
And so the night started coming to an end. Widespread Panic played and after a while we headed back to camp. We were wiped out though neither of us would say it. We wandered through Centeroo amazed at the amount of things that had already been broken down and informed that Centeroo would be gone by 1 am. We walked back to camp pretty quietly, tired and full of music. I’d do it again next week of I could.