For the sixth consecutive year, the Flyer
has sent me to cover Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival
in Manchester, Tennessee, and as a seasoned 'Roo pro, I can attest that this may be the hottest year since I've been covering the four-day music fest in Manchester, Tennessee.
We arrived around 2 p.m. on Thursday afternoon, several hours later than planned thanks to my partner's RV breaking down on the side of a country road near McMinnville. Thankfully, we had two cars, and I packed an emergency tent.
By the time we set up camp and ventured out into Centeroo (the main festival area with multiples music stages, vendors, and various other attractions, like the iconic Bonnaroo ferris wheel), the sun was beginning to set. We caught a few minutes of Waxahatchee, an Alabama-based indie band fronted by Katie Crutchfield. I'd never heard of them, but I instantly became a fan. Katie's voice has a bit of a punk rock edge mixed with a little indie soul.
We watched a few songs from electronic art-rockers Hundred Waters before moving on to an unexpected surprise — Bully. They're a Nashville-based hardcore punk band fronted by Alicia Bognanno. I'll definitely be downloading some of their music when I get home. By the way, Bully is apparently coming to the Hi-Tone
on November 3rd. It's good scream-y lady punk that gets me in the mood to fight the patriarchy.
On Friday, the brutal heat that would set the tone for the weekend became apparent. We walked around a bit for some daytime shopping early in the day, but I started to feel dehydrated, so we headed back to camp and stayed in the cool shade of our campsite until 5 p.m. That's when we made our way to see GRiZ, a DJ and saxophonist who combines jazz and dubstep. It sounds bizarre, but the end result is something I'd define as trip-hoppy electronic soul.
The breakout surprise for the night for us was Flosstradamus, a duo of hip-hop/EDM/trap DJs who combine samples and hooks of popular songs with their own electronic breaks and flair. They've worked with Juicy J and Diplo, so I knew they were going to be good. But my partner and I were blown away by how much they killed it on Friday night. The DJ pair were combining everything from DMX's "Party Up (Up in Here)" to Bob Marley's "Three Little Birds" to Los del Rio's "Macarena."
We ended the night with a few minutes of music from electronic dance punks LCD Soundsystem, which was playing on the venue's main stage as the big Friday night act. The festival has a "no glowsticks" rule this year, but the party people did not heed that rule. Not by a long shot. There were glowsticks lighting up the night at LCD Soundsystem.
About halfway through their set, we retired to the campsite. I'm pushing 36 and can't hang past midnight these days. But I'll be back here tomorrow with an update on Saturday and Sunday's performance — if the heat doesn't kill me first.