‘Positively Bonnaroo’ from the Friday Bonnaroo Beacon
‘Nice that the rain isn’t here, we came all the way from Brooklyn to chase it away.’ That’s how Bonnaroo’s first band, Louque started things off and it was right on target: the rain was the biggest single topic of conversation. The forecast had rain through the weekend and if Wednesday was any indication, what was bad was only to get worse. Yet, somehow, some way, the rain didn’t come and the massive amount of production that had been severely slowed got a chance to catch up. David ‘DW’ Wilkes, who’s been onsite since May 12 dealing with shipping and receiving, said ‘yesterday was hectic but thankfully the weather cooperated today.’ Cars, trucks and buses were pulled out of the mud- often for the second and third time- and gravel, sand and boards were moved into place to keep things moving.
As all the stages were still being set up and fine-tuned, Jack Johnson and his wife Kim were cruising around on some bikes they purchased from the local Wal-Mart. ‘Being a musician you take it for granted, just showing up and everything is all set and you just go out and play,’ said Johnson as a massive tractor literally shook the earth as it passed. ‘Sometimes it’s cool to get there and see all the work going into it and see all the guys putting in their time and effort.’ As thousands trickled into the campgrounds and eventually on to the fairgrounds (Centeroo saw a delayed opening), people began slowly poking around the vending area and Sonic Village. ‘You got to give them credit, they had a very hard time setting this up with the weather problems. They did beautiful job,’ said Ixchel vendor Chris Obsourne. ‘I think people’s expectations are higher this year. If there is a problem, it’s from that. It went off so well last year that everyone is expecting a phenomenal show.’
That’s certainly the general sediment: big expectations from the big acts, particularly Neil Young. However, as night fell and the music began, the cheers were frequent and many with not a single criticism to be heard. Bonnaroo had officially started and people were happy to be here whether it be dancing, drinking, eating, swinging, frolicking or listening.
Louque kicked it all off, charming This Tent with its dubby roots pop, while shortly after The Machine, the top notch Pink Floyd cover band, delivered a bevy of the band’s biggest classics despite power being blown mid-set (it was turned back on shortly after). The most appropriate music of the evening seemed to be the hillbilly bluegrass of The Hackensaw Boys as thousands of muddied feet stomped in time to the Southern tradition, hootering and hollering aplenty. Antibalas Afrobeat Orchestra closed out the evening with their horn-driven, hyper rhythmic pulsating sound, carrying on the spirit and militancy of the late, great Nigerian musician Fela TK Kuti.
Some say Vegas is the city that never sleeps. However, for these four days, this temporary city of 80,000 will give it a good run for its money. Obviously sleep-deprived, Superfly founder Jonathan Mayers took a brief moment to take in the music. Turning, with a fatigued smile, he summed up what most everyone was already thinking: ‘Excited for the whole, amazing weekend. No rain today, a little muddy, but it’s going to be an amazing weekend.’