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Jonathan Suttin

Bonnaroo Backstage Blogger



Bonnaroo In My Rear View

Had a great time! Thanks Triple M! I'll post a few parting thoughts later today or tomorrow.
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Macklemore Takes The Stage

Nuff said.
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Here To Help

One small detail I like about Bonnaroo ... the security people's shirts say "Safety" and “Here to help". They seem well-trained and they do the things security folk do ... but I like the emphasis on safety and that they're doing these things to help. I think it changes the dynamic a bit.
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Reflections On Jack Johnson At Bonnaroo

The Jack Johnson show last night was terrific. He'd been coming just to hang out with other musicians, maybe do a late night jam with friends in ALO. Very low-pro, as Jack said. That changed when Mumford had their medical emergency and Bonnaroo asked if he would headline.
While he's been recording new material with his band, they haven't performed in over a year and haven't been practicing the hits. He was quoted in an article as saying that there were only two festivals he would be willing to risk being unprepared in order to help out - a bay festival in California and Bonnaroo. Our as he sang in the song about his weekend that he wrote Saturday morning ... "What the hell, it's Bonnaroo."
I think in the story of the improbable headliner, I may have found some of the unique spirit of Bonnaroo. A community of musicians that really care for each other. And a crowd - many of whom surely traveled specifically to see Mumford - that warmly welcomed an artist that put together an intimate set for a roomful of 80,000 friends.

Note: The photo is of Jack Johnson at Bonnaroon 2008

 
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I Mean, The Music Is Nice...

Still no mag. This is as close as my phone zoom can get. The dancers are sparkly. Bjork has a dress that looks like duct work from a dryer vent. The hat face thing looks like a cross between bubble wrap and pinhead from Hellraiser. Which could all be really COOL. Just hard to say when we can't SEE it.
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On The Rail At Bonnaroo

We waited at the main gate for over a half hour. A dozen safety full were poised to open the fences. Three on horseback provided back up. When they opened them up, it was a speed walk at first. Upon seeing that another, distant gate had opened, all bets were off... everyone started running.
Bear in mind that most festival-goers are college age. With the natural athleticism of youth. I'm not and have not. As I jogged-ran-wheezed, Eli would look back and slow up for me. I may have pulled something. Ugh.
Anyway, we made out all right. We weren't in the first 100 or so for the mosh pit. We needed that status to be on the rail that's right next to the stage ... and we didn't want to be in the mosh pit if we didn't have a rail to hold onto. So, we drifted over to the second rail. A bit too the left and back, but still excellent.
All this was NOT for the 12:30 show. They're playing now and I still don't know the name. We're here on the rail hours early for Macklemore. (If you happen to not be familiar, YouTube "Thrift Shop" and "Same Love." Now. I'll wait.)
That'll be the last show of the weekend for us. The trailer is cleaned, stowed and attached to the van. Electric rewired and all lights are operational. When Macklemore finishes, we go straight to the van and ... Hit. The. Road.
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Bjork Is A Little Boring Tonight At Bonnaroo

The blog title says it all. We're nearly an hour in and they've yet to fire up a camera to put her on the big screen. Unless you're in the first 100 feet, you can't see her cool costuming or her dancers/backup singers. Meh.
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Nas at the What Stage at Bonnaroo

Not sure if this is postable, but it's a more than 360 panorama.

Click here for the full image.

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Another Form Of Camping At Bonnaroo

Here's the theory. We'll camp here all day and see Gov't Mule, Nas, Björk and Jack Johnson. Not sure we'll have the stamina, but it's worth a shot. We're seated in comfy bleachers courtesy of Triple M, and food is close by. I suspect that most of the assembled thousands don't know that Jack Johnson is a last second sub for Mumford and Sons. Their bass player just had surgery for a brain bleed in the last day or so and they had to cancel. We only heard through materials in the Guest tent.
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Meditations On McCartney

No pic to share with this post. I've just been thinking about the McCartney show last night. My expectations were admittedly low. My focus for years has been discovering new music, not dwelling in the past. And while the Beatles stand apart as the most influential band in rock history (and arguably the greatest), it was just ONE of the Beatles. And he's, like, a thousand years old.
But as the nearly three hour show progressed, I started to connect and reconnect. Yes, it felt like suffering when he said "here's a new one" or played a cover. (That's NOT why we're here!) And I rolled my eyes at the Wings tunes. In the end, nostalgia tackled me, sat on my back and made me say uncle. I really enjoyed singing along to great songs I know by heart. (La la how their life goes on!) And that was Paul Freaking McCartney up there on stage! Right there! He told stories I hadn't heard before ... He wrote Blackbird in hopes of comforting and inspiring the students desegregating schools in Little Rock. (All your life, you were only waiting for this moment to arrive.) Maybe y'all knew that. Was news to me.
That sort of intimacy in a crowd of 80,000 was impressive. I forgave him a late misstep - an over the top Live and Let Die complete with pyrotechnics and fireworks - when he promptly answered with a sincere Hey Jude. I gave in to the sentiment, and it was a highlight of the festival so far.
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