Aug 25, 2009

This summer I had my concert itinerary in place, starting with the Eric Clapton and Arch Angels concert at the Royal Albert Hall, onto to the Wanee Music Festival in Florida, and ending with Bonnaroo. It was my first time at Wanee, and the festival – tailormade for a blues and guitar fanatic like me – made for some of the best live experiences I’ve had till day. Not to mention I was spoilt with backstage access making acquaintances with the likes of Warren Haynes and Derek Trucks. A happy camper, having more than satiated my appetite, I almost considered skipping Bonnaroo this year. Besides I had attended the Bonnaroo music festival last year, and as Wanee had blown me off my feet I feared the Bonnaroo experience would fall pale against it. But as was destined, I did not act upon my instincts and stuck to the itinerary. And I am only glad for not having let this one pass, realising eventually that sometimes first impressions are actually not the last.

Last year I was camping out at the site, though this year I chose to stay at a nearby hotel. But at the festival, It was déjà vu of sorts as everything was set up almost exactly the same way as last year, from the stages to people’s lodgings it was endearing as it felt like coming back to something familiar. More aware of my surroundings I manoeuvred through the vast expanse celebrating art, with much more ease. Also surprisingly, I did not expect such a huge turn out, I was anticipating a smaller turn out owing to the recession; Fortune magazine has the logistics – a fifteen per cent increase in the audience this year at Bonnaroo. So I guess music is definitively a very defensive sector in times like these.

This years crowd pullers on the line up were undoubtedly Bruce Springsteen and Phish. Though the Springsteen experience didn’t resound for me, playing most of his new numbers there was this sense of dispassion that drained his performance. Perhaps it was the whole Phish craze that dominated the audiences, also considering Phish was to perform twice, Springsteen perhaps didn’t feel on top of things and the dynamics between the audience and him didn’t spark that magic Whatever it was the Boss seemed to be taking a break from being the show stealer. Though recalling memorables from this year’s edition I have to hand it to New Orleans based blues musician Allan Toussaint and his troupe, whom I had the pleasure of meeting backstage afterwards. Though this years show stoppers were the Beastie Boys who slammed the most addictive groove at Bonnaroo, and had fans and non fans hooked all alike, they actually got this party started. Surprisingly, even Snoop Dogg and Erika Badu figured in my list of stellar performances. And amongst new favourites and discoveries I have to make mention of Grace Potter and the Nocturnals and Mars Volta. Potter charmed me instantly with her blues distinction and her raspy vocals, and this one is sincerely a recommendation to all those blues fans looking for something refreshing within a contemporary mould. Having the good fortune of hanging backstage, we caught glimpses and brushed against the who’s who at the festival, for instance meeting this guitarist form the acclaimed Moe and Peter Buck from R.E.M just casually passing us by, the air was crackling with celebrity. I also caught up with an old friend, Corren Capshaw, manager of bands like the Dave Matthews Band and Phish, also a co-owner of the festival, Though the highlight for me was when Warren Haynes performed his version of Radiohead’s ‘Creep.’ This second impression hit me harder than the first. If I make it for the next edition, Bonnaroo would be like that compulsory visit home every year for me.


MD sign_medium

Reference link: