Ok! Wi-Fi is up and running, but we’ve been running for hours now! Let’s start with the weather – HOLY SHIT it is unbelievably beautiful. Bonnaroo is notorious for air that is so hot you can pop popcorn and so sticky, the dust kicked up around the site sticks to you and provides better protection from the sun that SPF 100. But not this year, oh no, it is in the low 80′s with barely a hint of humitity. It is perfect this year.
Luckily, that doesn’t the mean the music has cooled off. If Bonnaroo is notorious for the hot air, it’s more famous for the hot sets the artists play when they hit this amazing farm in Tennessee. So far, it’s been all it’s ever been and more.
While it’s impossible to see everything, the Eleven crew has been rolling around hitting up as much as possible. From the blistering electronica of Big Giagantic to the rootsy soul of Alabama Shakes last night led straight into today, the first full day of music. I started my day at “This Tent” for a really great performance from tUnE-yArDs. Merrill was all smiles when she hit the stage to a huge, adoring crowd that kicked off the show by chanted her name after warm cheers and applause.
From there it was straight over to “The Other Tent” to catch the end of the Infamous String Dusters who are quite possibly the most exciting NewGrass band on the scene right now.
At Bonnaroo there are always tough decisions to make. With so much great music happening in so many places at the same time, sometimes you have to miss something. For me, it was Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings. I was sad, but Sam Bush cheered me up quickly and Fitz & The Tatrums proceeded to tear the roof off “That Tent” with what has so far been the set of the day. The Avett Brothers came up next on the main “What Stage”, but before we made it over there, we stopped into “Planet Roo” just in time to catch the aforementioned Infamous Stringdusters (in their second of three shows today) pay tribute the late Levon Helm with their version of “Up On Cripple Creek”. The Avetts continued the tributes with an accapella song taught to them by the recently deceased Doc Watson – “Down By The River To Pray”.
Luckily, I had a minute to drop in and file this post. There will be more to come all weekend and while I’m at it, I’ll try to keep track of how many times our city of St. Louis is connected to the events here outside Nashville. So far, I’ve had a couple Schafly APA’s at the “Brooer’s Tent”, The Stringdusters dusted off the John Hartford classic “Steam-powered Areoplane” and Sam Bush…well…he’s a big Cardinal fan, so that’s OK!
The headliner on night one was Radiohead and they showed, once again, why they are possibly the best band in the world. Radiohead last played Bonnaroo in 2006 and that show has become legend amongst their fans. Legend even has it that Thom Yorke even said at the time that it was one of his favorite gigs they had ever played. The 2012 edition might not have been their best ever, but it was as mesmerizing and as fun as ever. Simply stated, Radiohead “gets” what Bonnaroo is all about. Bonnaroo has always been about the music and they responded by playing the longest set of their current world tour, clocking in at almost two and a half hours long. Like the rest of the tour so far, material from their newest album “King Of Limbs” made up a big chunk of the set, but they reached back for classics like “Paranoid Android” and “Karma Police” from ’95′s “OK Computer” as well as material from “Kid A” and “Amensiac” like “Everything In It’s Right Place” and the highlight of the show “You and Whose Army” which featured some very cool and very creepy video of Thom’s eyeball on every screen.