[FESTIVAL] Bonnaroo 2012 Recap + Videos
BONNAROO 2012!!! What an amazing experience we had. This was my first year headed down to the legendary Farm for four days of camping, music, and festival fun. The atmosphere was electric when we arrived and began setting up camp, and it’s hard to describe the feeling you get when the gate keepers strap on your wrist band and you’re let into the wilderness that is Bonnaroo for the first time.
In case you don’t know, Bonnaroo is located on a massive 700-acre farm in Manchester, Tennessee. For four days and nights, the impromptu camping area becomes Tennessee’s 4th largest city, with an estimated 100,000 people flocking to what is known as The Farm. I know it’s something I’ll never forget and I wish all you could have been there to share the experience. But that’s not the case, and I’ll try and do my best to sum up a bit of what my first Bonnaroo experience was like.
Walking onto The Farm for the first time is an overwhelming experience. Trying to take in all the sights and sounds coming at you from all directions is exciting and makes you want to run around like a little kid. But we spent the time walking around and catching some evening bands on day 1. Moon Taxi was a group I had not heard before, but they rocked a great performance that set the tone for the rest of the weekend.
Comedy Mutant (Brian Posehn, Pete Holmes, Kyle Kinane, Ali Wong)
I was told that it was a must to stop by the comedy tent at least once while at Bonnaroo, so that’s exactly what we did. You might recognize Brian Posehn as the big, orange-haired guy from The Sarah Silverman show. Overall, the show was very hit or miss. Some acts had me falling off my seat laughing, while others made me want nothing more than to throw my beer in their face. But not a total failure.
A must see for Bonnaroo’s first night closer, the Alabama Shakes started rocking early before slowing things down a bit halfway through their set. It was my first time seeing this group but I wanted to make sure and catch Big G, so I left early.
And leaving early ended up being a phenomenal idea, because Big Gigantic tore the roof of That Tent. Big sounds from the duo drew in the dancers early and kept them there late, throwing in a mix of DJ Fresh’s “Louder” that absolutely blew the roof off. I went to bed very satisfied and excited for the rest of the weekend.
The Infamous Stringdusters
I had only just heard of these guys before Bonnaroo, and one of the girls I went down with told me I had to go check them out. I did and couldn’t have been happier. These guys rocked some great bluegrass music and made a perfect start to the second day on The Farm.
Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings
One of the kids we went down with works for Indie Shuffle and had made sure that we caught this group in the afternoon. So glad we went, because Sharon Jones rocked it! Bonnaroo is such an amazing festival because of the variety of music available to festival goers. What a tasty funk and blues treat we were served that afternoon.
Two Door Cinema Club
Two Door played one of the better sets of the day, jamming on all their big hits and getting the crowd hyped early in the day. The shade under This Tent was a perfect retreat from the intense heat of the sun and a great escape into the energy of songs like “Something Good Can Work” and “this Is The Life.”
I didn’t have much at this show, just passing through and sat to listen for a moment. But you don’t need much time with Luda before you hear a good jam. “Move Bitch” and “Bluberry Yum Yum” were my favorites here.
I was in a different state of mind for the beginning of this set and didn’t manage to stay long. But St. Vincent rocked out the first half of her set in all her rock star, crazy haired glory opening with “Marrow” and “Cheerleader.”
Foster The People
By far one of my favorite shows of the weekend. Mark Foster has truly evolved into a rock star and played the part on stage. Running from one instrument to the next, Foster The People pumped out all their big hits and did it in style. I have to also touch on their stage setup, as it was out of this world, literally. Let me try and describe this 30 ft. sun that contained an LED face that changed colors and moods. If that’s not trippy enough, a man dressed in a space suit with a flaming head would come out of it’s mouth and randomly throw paper airplanes at the band. Shit was crazy. Crazy good.
Strongly touted as the best show at Bonnaroo this year, Radiohead completely out did themselves with the phenomenal sounds and stunning light show. The performance was really out of this world, and the crowd was absolutely loving every minute of it. The spinning jigsaw puzzle of lights that constantly shifted positions was perhaps one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen.
Another one of my favorite sets of the weekend. Diplo and Switch blew the roof off This Tent Friday night, banging out huge hits while ordering everyone in the crowd to get naked. At least 5 different times the duo ordered shirts off while playing a range of music from dubstep to electro to reggae. After berating the head security guard on stage, Major Lazer blew past their curfew for their encore. It wasn’t until their dancers had retired to the dressing room that they finally decided to leave the stage. Well done guys!
By this point, we were exhausted. But I had never seen an Umphrey’s show and everyone was talking about them. So we decided to stay for a couple songs, which ended turning into half their set. Rocking some incredible guitar riffs, Umhprey’s jammed until the early morning hours, helping the sun rise with a little pep in it’s step for Saturday.
Charles Bradley and His Extraordinaires
Man, this band has soul! Another phenomenal afternoon set had me grinning from ear to ear by the time Charles Bradley was done performing. It’s hard to describe the emotionally driven set he gave to the crowd that day but he gave one of the most humble and loving sets all weekend. The legend even came out to the crowd and gave hugs all around after the set.
The Temper Trap
I didn’t have much time to stick around and see these guys, but I wanted to make sure to catch a couple of their songs. They brought in a good sized crowd to the What Stage in the afternoon but it was the evening performances that I was really looking forward to tonight.
I hadn’t seen Santigold since Lollapalooza 2009 and was very excited to see what she was gonna bring to the stage. And I wasn’t disappointed as she jammed out to her new music as well as classics such as “Creator” and “L.E.S. Artistes.” Her costume changes were also noteworthy, as they were as dramatic as her dancers.
Watching ?uestlove behind the drums is like watching Michael Jordan drive the ball to the basket. He’s a master at what he does and The Roots put on an excellent show. Playing right before RHCP is a big spot to fill, but they rocked out to all the big hits and even had a Salsa dancing dog come on stage after their set for a bit of ass shaking.
Red Hot Chili Peppers
Waiting in line for the front row of Chili Peppers is an intense thing. You’re not garaunteed a spot, and its a lot of pushing and shoving to get where you want to be. Unfortunately we waited in that line and didn’t get into the pit area. Even worse, we lost half our group in the battle. But how can you really complain when one of the greatest rock bands ever is performing in front of 100,000 people. I don’t even have to tell you how amazing their set was. Their new guitar player seemed to fill in seamlessly and Flea was in the zone rocking his bass all over the stage. Ending the show with “Suck My Kiss” and a little jam session was the perfect cherry on top an amazing Day 3 on The Farm.
I missed Grouplove’s set at Lollapalooza the other year and was really upset about it. But I had a chance to redeem myself with their afternoon set on Day 4. The perfect band to blow away the Sunday morning clouds, Grouplove rocked This Tent while we played a bit of volleyball and sweat out some of the alcohol. “Naked Kids” and “Tongue Tied” were spot on and it was a great start to the last day at Bonnaroo.
The Beach Boys (Brian Wilson, Mike Love, Al Jardine, Bruce Johnston, David Marks)
There was no way I could allow myself to miss The Beach Boys, especially with Brian Wilson back on board. I almost couldn’t believe the atmosphere at the What Stage as I was listening to one of the legendary groups of rock n’ roll jamming to all their classics. As if it couldn’t have been a better show, the boys of the beach sounded absolutely perfect in harmony, hitting every beautiful chord in the process.
Ben Folds Five
Bonnaroo 2012 was only the second set the trio of Ben Folds Five had played together in twelve years and they absolutely rocked the house. I couldn’t have been happier with the set list, jamming to all my favorite Ben Folds classics such as “Kate,” “Army,” and “One Angry Dwarf and 200 Solemn Faces.” The group seemed on spot and I would highly suggest going to see them when they roll through town.
I was told the last show on the Which Stage was always a bit special. Everyone knows it’s the last show before the final performance so it’s an all out rocker. And The Shins didn’t disappoint, rocking the sunset into the ground and making my last Which Stage performance a very memorable one.
I was only able to catch a couple of their songs in passing, but I had high hopes for their set. Unfortunately I must have caught them at a bad time, because I was a little disappointed with what I heard. The botched cover of “Me and Julio Down By The Schoolyard” didn’t help them much either. Hopefully they will perform better at Lollapalooza.
By this point in the festival we were spent. But it’s always worth it to take the extra 15 minutes to catch one of the greatest jam bands around. While walking out of the festival for the last time in 2012 we sat to listen to Phish and take in the atmosphere one last time. It was a great decision, too, as Kenny Rogers made an appearance and sang “The Gambler” to our absolute delight.
Bonnaroo 2012 was an absolute success in my book. I couldn’t have had a better experience and thank everyone who worked so hard all year to put the event on. I cannot wait to get back to The Farm next year and do it all over again!
To catch more video from the festival, check out Bonnaroo’s YouTube Channel.
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