Here's my summary of the weekend:
- I have never been a Tool fan. I get that it's good music, and that Maynard is a clever sonofabitch, and that 10,000,000 Tool fans can't be wrong. It's just not my aesthetic. But after seeing that show and all his crazy lasers and the energy that came out of that stage, I will seriously consider going to see them again if they're in town and I don't have to sell my firstborn into white slavery to afford a ticket. They were that good.
- I loved the Decemberists show in spite of the Degrassi Junior High crowd that talked through the whole fucking show. The whole fucking show.
- Gogol Bordello is a must-see if you are ever within 6 hours driving distance. Think Ukrainian folk music meets French punk meets crazy-with-an-eeeeeeeeeeee frontman who literally crowdsurfed on top of a ginormous bass drum while singing "think local, fuck global" for a good 5 minutes. Good times, man. Good times.
- Ash is a damn good masseuse. She tenderized my airplane-and-camping-sore back so well on Friday that I was very upset to have missed her on Saturday night for round two.
- It is possible to wash all parts of your body in privacy (if not comfort) with a Nalgene bottle, foaming Dial soap (big ups to Sabine for buying that instead of the regular soap), and a portapotty. I know because I did each day and was very glad that I did.
- I set foot in a Wal-MART for the first time in 6 years, because I had no other shopping choices. I'm proud to report these pertinent facts:
- It was before 8 a.m.
- We bought a case of Miller Lite (no glass at the festival + shopping at WalMART = no good beer choices) and
- Two loaves of bread (we almost got wonder bread, but realized that that would mean eating wonder bread for the next three days and the joke just wasn't that funny)
- Sunscreen (the TSA's 3 oz limit on liquids + the fact that we don't check luggage on the way anywhere + hot, sunny days in the forecast made this mandatory)
- It was in Tennessee
(Yeah, that's all so surreal and effed up that no punchline is necessary.) Related redneck moment: I took a photo of a "no guns allowed" sticker on the way into the Chattanooga Airport as we were leaving. (No joke.)
tool fucking rocks. that's all i have to say. and maynard is my boyfriend. great show, smallish crowd because all the hardcore hippy jam band types high-tailed it to their campgrounds, lasers and prog metal, what more can you ask for? you want more? how about tom morello sitting in for a jam?
top two maynard quotes: "i smell patchouuuuuuuuliiiiii" right before the first song, and "i just took a shower... (pause) jealous?" in the middle of the set.
john paul jones is a total slut. he flew in for the superjam, then sat in with everyone and their mother. i'm pretty sure he was the "also special MF guest" at our campsite breakfast on saturday. seriously, i heard "ladies and gentlemen, please welcome the legendary john paul jones" at least three times, and i know i missed some. and yet wolfmother, which was almost embarrassingly zeppelin-like, did not feature him at all. hmmm...
my favorite find last year was balkan beatbox. because of them, i blew regina spektor off to go see gogol bordello saturday afternoon. i still think i might hate their music on CD, but live they are freakin' amazing. like BBB, their energy is off the charts. loudest crowd all weekend.
i still don't know how to describe the police show, mainly because it's kind of a jukebox kind of thing. they don't have any new music, they're not going to give you a crazy jam, they're too big to do covers... so you basically kinda go for the kick of seeing them up close, and to hear the songs you love performed live (sort of like putting money into a jukebox and listening to your favorite songs on it). plus, having never seen them live during their heyday, it's impossible to tell you how good they are compared to that. so i will make some observations:
- i had a great time, which must be said before i start nitpicking. sting and copeland are in great shape music-wise, obviously i expected that from stewart because i saw him last year with oysterhead, but sting surprised me. very little rust if any at all (again, it's hard to compare because i have no other data points). both way into it, relaxed, looking like they were having fun. andy summers did a very good job, but he looked like he was in labor out there, very serious, no interplay with the crowd at all, almost like he couldn't afford to let loose, but i asked happy and she told me he was a smug prick back in the day, too. : )
- as far as the setlist, again, they played all the songs they had to play, except for "don't stand so close to me." (WTF?) no surprises, which is kind of a letdown when you're in the middle of seeing so many bands all trying to impress you with weird out there stuff, but it's the way these shows go. what were they gonna do? no sting songs, either. that was not at all a surprise. it's probably written into the contract. : )
- very tight set, no jammy meanderings, no extended solos, just the standard 15 second guitar solos. never really saw stewart break out and go crazy, which was a little disappointing, but again, i don't think of the police as a jammy band. the songs were sparse, mostly faithful to the original arrangements, and very tight. it didn't look like a band that split up for 25 years and just reformed 5 months ago.
- andy summers has not aged gracefully. sting is in fantastic shape. at one point i asked happy how old he was, and without taking her eyes off the stage she just said "old enough." not even joking. then, at the end, stewart told us sting was going to get naked for us, then stripped him from the waist up and they played a few more songs. at one point the big screens showed a shot of him from the side... um... the ladies very much enjoyed that one (he was wearing tight trousers). ash: "oh, that's nice." these are things i figure you need to know. : )
- my main complaint (other than not playing "don't stand"): the show was scheduled for two hours, and they were on stage for an hour 40, and that includes everyone running off two separate times and coming back for encores. i mean, they're older, they've not been together for all that long this time around, so it's understandable, but the whole crowd was like, "excuse me?" seriously, we all thought there was more and hung around until they started breaking everything down. i think if they had done "don't stand" we probably would have figured that was it, but because such a big song is missing and the show is short, you think "ha ha, ok, you got us, come out for the last encore."
- they did NOT fly puffy in for "every breath you take." i mean, they're not even trying. : )
right now, i have no idea what i saw. i need to go back to my t-shirt and reminisce (this is why every year i get the shirt with all the bands on it). my top shows were tool, gogol bordello, and probably the police, but there was a lot of other stuff. wilco was great, but it was sunday late afternoon and i was fried. it was perfect music to just lay on the grass and collect yourself. i really liked it, and i'd have a hard time telling you how good they were ...
the other shows i saw (i pulled up the schedule online):
white stripes - very tight, great music, but after 45 minutes you get tired of the one song. especially if it's sunday at sundown, you're exhausted, and there's dust everywhere.
ben harper (special guests JPJ and ziggy) - brotha was tiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiight. never seen before, and that's a damn shame. his cover of "dazed and confused" with JPJ was amazing. his cover of "get up, stand up" with ziggy was also very, very good. our group did not have a joint ready for "burn one down." i don't think we'll be allowed in next year. : )
lily allen - caught about 20 minutes to half an hour because of conflicts. great fun. she's like the female equivalent of The Streets last year, the token white british trash-talking poppy rapper, except she didn't hit on people's girlfriends during the show. the equivalent of streets' "don't you wish your boyfriend ate your p**** like me" was a song about men with short dicks. gotta love the brits. : )
michael franti and spearhead - typically upbeat, hopeful, "i'm not the same michael franti who wrote hole in a bucket and dream team" type stuff. loved it as always, and still i wish he'd remember the hip hop roots. it's not like i'm asking for "television, the drug of the nation" here, people. like some guy wrote in the bonnaroo saturday paper, it's not bonnaroo until you hear michael franti yell "how you feelin'?" you know, except for last year, when he didn't show. : P
girl talk-gov't mule-flaming lips-galactic - happy and i decided to meander during saturday's midnight to 3am slot to avoid falling asleep at any one show. girl talk: liked the music, but not for a concert. definitely worth checking out for home listening. mule: we listened to three songs and headed over to check out the lips, and we never made it back. probably my biggest regret all weekend, other than completely spacing out on tom morello's acoustic set (i forgot he was the nightwatchman). they had it going the fuck on. the lips: i didn't like them before bonnaroo, and i still don't see what the big deal is. got there, listened to yoshimi and one other song, and left to check out galactic. heard the vaseline song as we walked away. i guess it's just not my thing. i was also very tired during this whole meander. people raved about the show the next morning, but no one mentioned the music at all. it was all about wayne coming down from heaven on a spaceship in a bubble. galactic: they were awesome, but after 3-4 songs we were just ready for bed. heard them jamming alone, plus mr lif and chali 2na. apparently gift of gab, lyrics born, and a couple of other rappers were also there. probably JPJ as well. : P from the campsite, sasha and digweed sounded awesome (did i mention the sweet ass camp ash and them got for us?)
apparently, rodrigo and gabriela were a-mazing on thursday, just so you know. we got in friday morning. which reminds me: if we do this again next year, i am flying into chattanooga on wednesday and getting my proper rest. seriously, friday was a struggle.
panic - we only saw the first half hour or so, and then we were ready to get back to civilization. it was panic.
manu chao - this was good, i forget why we left a little early, but it wasn't for lack of a good time. it was much more high-energy than i was expecting, even the slower songs on the records they amped up into some sort of punky-ska frenzy (like "desaparecido" and such). definitely want to check out again.
the decemberists - oh my god, you will never believe who sarah is going out with, mike. nuh-huh. uh-huh! no way. yes! and she's totally letting him get to second base. what a slut. nuh-huh! uh-huh! you're not serious. i am too so serious! on and on and on. this year's winner of the radiohead memorial "i wonder how mad all the people around me would really get if i threw a beer at that fucking 13-year old." i think this was a great show. just not loud enough. nowhere near loud enough. definitely checking them out when they come to san diego. anyone who wears a full seersucker suit on stage with 95 degrees and 156% humidity has my undying admiration.
bob weir and ratdog - i left after the decemberists finished, walked over to where bob was, listened to three songs (including "come together") and high-tailed it back to where happy was saving a shady spot for the white stripes. it just was too hot and i was afraid of sunburn, i could feel my right arm heating up. i wanted to stay though. he was rocking. on my way back, i stopped at a portapotty, and there were these three kids in front of me, probably about 18-21, full-on hippie jam band gear on (the beard, the bandanna, the tie dye, everything), talking about the schedule, and one of them goes "so who's on now" and the girl says "bob wire... and... (looks at the schedule)... ratdog." most depressing bonnaroo moment so far. even worse than getting "sir'd" at sasha last year. and no, i didn't mispell weir, she said "wire."
franz ferdinand - happy went, i stayed at the main stage to watch the end of ben harper because he was just smoking (kinda like the oysterhead-death cab conundrum last year). aparently a good show.
damien rice - very mellow, i thought he was really good, but we were kinda at the back of the crowd and he was getting drowned out by fountains of wayne. those guys sounded like they were rocking.
kings of leon - the typical leo comment would be "i liked them better when they were called the black crowes," but you know what? they were awesome. they had speaker issues, a power outage, a freak rainstorm, and they still rocked. i actually think i like them better than the crowes. they are very similar though, down to the lead singer's voice and the fact that it's a family band. apparently, though, they seem to get along fine and no one's married to kate hudson.
wolfmother - i liked them better when they were called led zeppelin. still a good show, but the similarities were a little embarrassing. does it make sense if i say they're 97% zep and 3% europe? am i even allowed to say that?
DJ shadow - awwwwwwww yeah. next year, start on time, and skip the 15-minute speech at the beginning about how you're not in this for the money and neither are 90% of all bands. just get on stage, shout "lars ulrich is an a-hole" into the microphone, and start spinning. once he got started he was on.
pete yorn - a great way to start out our sunday. great afternoon show. i blew john butler off to go to this, because i've seen john 4 times in the past two years. did not regret this at all.
STS9 - typically solid STS9 show while we were there. spent most of the first half of this late night show enjoying the company of the other folks in our party. left early to check out shadow. i hear the ending was wild...
cold war kids - first show we went to friday. spent the first 20 minutes trying to make it past security at the gate, then either listened for a couple of songs, or maybe we just listened while we were at the gate and decided that was enough. unremarkable. we chose to leave early to stake out a good spot for...
brazillian girls - seriously, what are these guys on? and where are they from? the US? brazil? didn't the lead singer say she was german? her accent sounded german. spent the rest of the weekend trying to get their lyrics out of my head so i wouldn't be singing them at work today, especially the one that goes "p**** p**** p**** marijuana" over and over. ah, shit, there it goes again. happy and i skipped paolo nuttini to hear the end of their set and make it to the main stage in time for KOL. someday i may listen to paolo and regret that, but so far i'm happy with that decision.
history made: for the first time in six years, no les claypool in one form or another. : ( though apparently the movie theater tent (don't ask) was showing a movie of his he sent along.