Day Three – This day was difficult to get through. As much as I wanted to see Circa Survive for the 10th time, it was Norah Jones that I knew I had to catch for the first time. I’ve had a huge crush on the jazz-folk singer since her debut, so it was about time to see her perform. If that meant missing both Circa and one of Isis‘ last performances, so be it. The other enemy of Saturday was the heat and humidity. Hitting near record high temperatures, the grounds at Bonnaroo turned into a recipe for heat exhaustion and dehydration.
Braving the heat, I made my way to the Which stage to catch Baaba Maal. It was a pretty entertaining show for the early morning audience. His traditional Senegalese music was full of various kinds of percussion as he sung in his native Pulaar language.
[mp3] Baaba Maal – Souka Nayo Mix (Thievery Corporation Remix) from Afrikya, Vol. 1 – A Musical Journey Through Africa (2006)
Next up was Norah Jones. The thing with Norah is that she is very easy to dismiss due to her very early success and her ever growing middle aged mid-upper class fan base of Adult Contemporary radio listeners. I am not ashamed to say I’m a fan though. Her soothing voice, light instrumentation, and cozy folk charm has always kept me a dedicated fan of her music. All of which was presented that afternoon at Bonnaroo. Playing a few of her hits but still jamming out some of the news tune mixed with Johnny Cash and Neil Young covers, Norah Jones was exactly what everyone expected; a calm and sweet performance for an already exhausted crowd.
[mp3] Norah Jones – I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight from Feelin the Same Way [Single, Import] (2002)
I decided to skip on Avett Brothers to snag a good spot for Dead Weather over at the What stage. It wasn’t an easy decision considering the band is up there on my top 10 shows to check out at some point. However, Dead Weather was a bit higher on that list.
Hosting the main stage again was Conan O’Brien, which was nice for anyone that missed both of his shows at the Comedy tent. It was kind of obvious it was going to be him introducing Dead Weather, since Jack an him are the best of friends.
“Now remember what band it was who brought the rain today!” – Jack White
Now seeing The Dead Weather live was quite the experience. Lead singer Alison Mosshart commands the stage with this intimidating mix of prowess and sexuality. Not to mention Jack White doing his fair share of showmanship. Whether it was him playing the drums, providing the occasional lead vocals, or completely shredding on the guitar, the talent of Jack White was impossible to argue against. It also helped the atmosphere of the set when it started raining as soon as the band kicked off the show.
[mp3] The Dead Weather – Die by the Drop from Sea of Cowards (2010)
I decided to wander back to my friends to watch Stevie Wonder from a distance. I was secretly doubting his abilities as a live performer, mainly because I hadn’t heard much about his recent live shows and he seemed to become this celebrity that you shuffle around from commercial to commercial. All of that disappeared in an instant once he started his set. The man is still on fire. Playing hits like Living for the City, Higher Ground, Sign Sealed Delivered, and Superstition, Stevie reminded everyone that he’s still a strong force in the music community.
About an hour after Stevie, Jay-Z took the stage with a full band. The back drop to his set were these skyscraper shaped structures that would shift and morph into various objects like giant amps, LED lined buildings, and a rotating version of NYC. This is was a nice addition to a dynamite set by the hip hop legend. While playing a fair share of Blueprint 3, he didn’t shy away from his back catalog while adding a bit more to each song (ex. Using a sample of U2’s ‘Sunday Bloody Sunday’ over Heart of the City). About ¾ the way through his set he stopped to thank the audience for their support throughout the years and started randomly pointing out and describing audience members (ex. “I see you guy with Chicago Bulls hat”). He even brought up a girl on stage and had the sea of 70,000 audience members sing happy birthday to her. The thing I noticed most though, was that Jay-Z is above all a prime example of a professional entertainer. He seemed born for this life and profession and it showed through his stage presence.
[mp3] Jay-Z – 99 Problems (Ballard Remix) feat. The Dap Kings from 99 Problems (Ballard Remix) (2010)
You would think that would be enough for some people. Nope. I grabbed a few bottles of water and made my way to check out Deadmau5 at the This tent. I tried to snag a spot for Gwar but I was having flashbacks to this year’s SXSW and decided I was dirty enough. The last thing I needed was to be covered in fake blood and alien jizzim. Anyway, the Deadmau5 set hosted a pretty impressive light show. The man himself stood atop of this giant LED lit cube that would display different patterns and shapes that would synchronize to his music. In addition, Deadmau5 wore an enormous mouse mask that would also display LED light facial expressions that would change and rotate during his set. The crowd ate it up and while the music was straight up electronic dance (a genre I seldom listen to), I enjoyed the show and made for a nice close to my Saturday at Bonnaroo.
[mp3] Deadmau5 – The Reward Is More Cheese from The Reward Is More Cheese (2009)
Going to bed at 4:30am, I was already satisfied with my Bonnaroo experience. I had already decided to take it easy on Sunday with Tinariwen, Japanroids, Calexico, Regina Spektor, and Phoenix.