Sunday Bonnaroo Beacon: Synchronicity
There is that point at the high peak of a jam where a musician finds a way to reach beyond ones skills and bring everyone just a wee bit higher. After Fridays colossal highlight reel leading to Tools Main Stage gig and the Superjam featuring Led Zeppelins John Paul Jones, Saturday delivered its true moment of transcendence. On the 40th Anniversary of the Monterey Pop Festival, the Police continued their triumphant return to the stage with a two hour show covering a wide variety of their classic hits. Keeping to his word about lifting the Police to an A-game level at Bonnaroo, Stewart Copeland managed to pull out all the stops as he played drums and percussion sitting, standing, jogging and jumping.
The day began like a litany of future superstars as Dr. Dog tore through an incendiary set of post-garage psychedelic rock in This Tent. Regina Spektor was overwhelmed by her Roo turnout on the Which Stage; the scene was hot, boisterous and emotional as her performance radiated from the strong communal reception. Gogol Bordello, meanwhile, was all dark side of the soul with a cavalier and infectious stab at performance art as a musical form via an Eastern European setting. John Paul White wooed an intimate crowd in the Troo Music Lounge while beaming Thom Yorke vocals through a reading of ELOs Cant Get It Out of My Head.
Not to be overshadowed by their younger brethren, Hot Tunafeaturing two Monterey Pop fest alumni Jack Casady and Jorma Kaukonenoffered 100% genuine old school blues in the Other Tent while Warren Haynes played a solo acoustic set at the Sonic Stage while quipping that he began guitar at the age of seven and started with [Haynes played the Smoke on the Water riff] and then learned [he vamped on Louie Louie.].
Speaking of tales of birth and traditionthe afternoon press conference featured Flaming Lips frontman Wayne Coyne and Bob Weir in a panel discussion which turned lively when the two spoke of the legacy of the music festival. If I wasnt playing at Bonnaroo, said Coyne, Id still want to be here. Its an adventure. Weve got to live it with some sort of intensity and it is easy to get inspired here.
Weir was equally forthright about Bonnaroo and a poignant and timely question was asked about the Grateful Deads appearance at the Monterey Pop Festival. It was the first rock n roll festival, said Weir. The party backstage was pretty damn wonderful. We had some fun jams including one with a guy in a headband. This kid plugs in; we clicked immediately. The kid turned out to be Jimi Hendrix and a legend was born.
With that in mind, Saturday continued its own path towards legendary status as Dublin, Irelands Damien Rice blanketed the crowd with his warm brand of acoustic tapestries.
The Hold Steady had more than a few raising their eyebrows as a large crowd embraced the banddouble neck Gibson guitar, piss and vinegar vocals and a cutting-edge indie hard rock tone that was the last stand on their American tour, according to lead singer, Craig Finn. He mentioned that it was good to see so many familiar faces, which furthered the curiosity about a band that has a small tribe following them around from town-to-town. Sound familiar? Perhaps that attribute is no longer the sole property of the jamband circuit. That ethereal dynamic was apparent also in the Firecracker Jazz Band performance in the Bonna Rouge tent as Dixieland came to Tennessee with the proper velvety ambience including some old fashioned NAwlins humidity. Meanwhile dragging entire continents along in his large muse bag, Xavier Rudd had his own version of musical topography with an amazing combination of Euro deep house sounds, traditional Australian outback music and various fringe Western rock strands.
The unique esprit de corps together with what was and what could be continued as the puzzle pieces started to finally fit together in the festival matrix. A complicated amalgamation of a festivals diversity based upon an echo of the Monterey Pop Festival came into view. Like so many things in life, the activity revolved around a childrens game (which somehow seems appropriate since Sunday is, indeed, Fathers Day.) What had to have been the worlds widest, most elongated Frisbee toss was taking place outside the Art of Such N Such late in the afternoonabout eight people in a football field-length rectangle encompassed a huge patch of grass while throwing the disc.
Once in a while, someone random would join in and suddenly, the thought that a massive, improvisatory game of Frisbee was going to cover the entire festival grounds appeared possible. It didnt need to happen; but the thought that it could mean that seeing Hot Tuna after Regina Spektor alongside Ziggy Marley guesting with Ben Harper betwixt Ween, Spoon and Keller before the big Police reunion extravaganza prelude to the UFO landing at the Flaming Lips midnight show leading to Luther Dickinson, Bob Weir and John Paul Jones sitting in with Govt Mule after Galactic gathered a calvacade of MCs to share a stage made a heck of a lot of sense. If the 1967 Monterey Pop Festival was the prototype for bringing diverse acts together in a multi-course sonic buffet then Bonnaroo 2007 updated the template to include a few new chapters in a grand musical tradition.
Report by Randy Ray