From Oysterhead to Radiohead: Bonnaroo Does It Again
As one glances at the artist lineup for the 2006 Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival, I am once again amazed at the ability of the festivals producers to not only consistently book the most eclectic group of musicians, but to also get a diverse array of one offs and reunions, the likes of which ensure a sellout year after year, without succumbing to the sophomore, junior or any other type of jinx one imagines.
One couldve used any number of adjectives to describe Bonnaroo festivals in years gone by, however Bonnaroo has really outdone itself this year, with the addition of arguably the most inspiring, talented, forward looking and progressive band in the world today, Radiohead. Even more so, despite the elementary (and, I might add, completely incorrect) labeling of Bonnaroo has either a hippie or jamband festival, Radiohead and the rest of this years lineup ensure the aforementioned labels can never again be used to describe the festival (or at least one should hope).
Now why is that important? Well, its not really. But what is important, is that Bonnaroo has once again set itself apart from every other festival. Featuring Oysterhead, moe., Phil Lesh, Umphreys McGee, Mike Gordon and The Disco Biscuits, the festival certainly has no shortage of jamband acts. However, with headliners and must-sees such as Tom Petty, Bright Eyes, Bill Frisell, Beck, Elvis Costello, Bonnie Raitt, Ben Folds and Buddy Guy, reducing the festival to a hippie fest does a huge disservice to the vast majority of acts appearing. In fact, a strong case can be made that the jamband acts are clearly the undercard if you will, representing the third or fourth in an individuals list of must-see acts.
Some uninformed individuals might be asking themselves why Bonnaroo would book a band like Radiohead and why Radiohead would agree to play. Well, for those who may not have yet been sucked into the Radiohead vacuum, its hard to describe the band as anything other than a modern day Pink Floyd, even if musically speaking, they are almost nothing alike. But what they have in common is what, underneath, makes Bonnaroo such an incredible festival and Radiohead so appealing to the jamband fan; The desire to look forward, to change and to constantly challenge yourself, and your audience.
And so, not surprisingly, I again must tip my hat to Bonnaroos producers. The number of bands appearing that one MUST see makes the festival a MUST attend. If its not Radiohead, its Stephen Malkus, or Atmosphere (who thrilled fans at Vegoose), or its My Morning Jacket.
Fans are in for a real treat this year. Hopefully, some of them understand exactly how special it really is.