Day Four – I cool breeze swept the Bonnaroo my campground early Sunday morning. This would be the biggest tease considering the Weather Channel was calling for a high of 104 degrees today. This was also the first day I would be able to take shower while camping at Bonnaroo. For every 10 campgrounds there is a shower station. So obviously as the day goes on, the line gets longer. The shower stations are nothing special, probably something you’d expect at any other campground. It’s how you feel once you step outside and the air hits your clean skin that matters. For about an hour I felt like a million bucks. It wasn’t long before I was covered in sunblock, dirt, sweat, and whatever else was drifting through the air at this festival.
Making my way back to Centeroo I stopped at the Which stage to watch the Tuareg (Sahara Desert) band Tinariwen. I was waiting for one of the band members to yell out, “What are you complaining about? We live in this weather! Mwahahaha!!” Dressed in their traditional garments, the band played their music to an openminded crowd of (probably) Ween and Regina Spektor fans trying to get a good spot.
[mp3] Tinariwen – Matadjem Yinmixan from Aman Iman: Water Is Life (2007)
I swung by the This tent to catch an energetic and surprised set by the Japandroids. Who did not expect a packed tent to see them perform. Japandroids made an energetic appearance; jumping and yelling and just straight up rocking the fuck out. It’s their simplistic post punk style that gives sophisticated music listeners something to let loose to, and the crowd seemed to enjoy it.
[mp3] Japandroids – Art Czars from Art Czars 7″ (2010)
I went back to the Which stage to catch a surprising set by Calexico. Calexico is one of those bands I’ve been meaning to check out but never got around to. Their stripped down country-folk style instrumentation was pretty easy to fall in love with and I’m pretty sure I’ll be checking them out a bit more.
[mp3] Calexico – Victor Jara’s Hands from Carried To Dust (2008)
Next up on the Which stage was sweetheart Regina Spektor. I had already seen her at Outside Lands a few years back but there’s something about here shows that burst with honesty and genuine creativity. Whether she was hammering away on the piano and keyboard or rocking out with the guitar, Regina remained playful and utterly adorable.
[mp3] Regina Spektor – Blue Lips from Far (2009)
After Regina I got some food and kind of explored the grounds a bit. Checked out Dropkick Murphys from a distance, watched the Ween fans lose their minds, and ate more Samosas. You could also feel this vibe that everyone was about ready to end this week. There was plenty of talk about leaving during Dave Matthew’s set or even beforehand. The thought of a comfortable bed, non-expensive food, showers, and an air conditioned space were beginning to sound more appealing by the minute.
I caught a bit of Medeski Martin & Woods instrumental jam rock and then made it back to the Which stage to catch Phoenix close the night. I sat a good distance away, as I was done with that crowds and sweat and mud. They sounded great and made me more excited about seeing them again at Outside Lands this year. I’ve always held Phoenix above all the other indie-pop groups that have made it onto mainstream radio (ex. MGMT, Passion Pit, etc). Maybe because they have a few more albums under their belt or maybe it’s their seemingly mathematical style of instrumentation that sets them apart from the rest. Basically it was a joy to see them live and nice way to end this epic festival experience.
[mp3] Phoenix – Lisztomania (acoustic) from Live on KEXP radio (2009)
In conclusion; Bonnaroo is a beast of a festival. Luckily I was able to experience the event like everyone else did. I camped in the sweltering heat, ate my own ‘camp food’ (bacon, hot dogs, pancakes, pop tarts, etc), stayed up until 4am, drank more water than I ever thought I could, got lost going to camp, made a bunch of new friends, smelt like a barn animal, and enjoyed one of the best music festivals around. If you are to go to Bonnaroo, remember that it’s not just about the bands you’re going to see, it’s about the experience itself. The people you meet, their kindness mixed with the community aspect of Bonnaroo make the music simply the thing that brings all of us together and share this unique experience. I can’t recommend it enough.