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Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival - Manchester, Tennesee, 8/6/2017...9/6/2017

  by L. Paul Mann

published: 12 / 8 / 2017



Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival - Manchester, Tennesee, 8/6/2017...9/6/2017

intro

At the first two days of the prestigious Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival L. Paul Mann enjoys and photographs sets from among many others Luke Combs, July Talk, the Lemon Twigs, Tove Lo, Glass Houses and U2


On Thursday June 8th the Bonnaroo music festival opened the gates to Centeroo, graced with the nicest weather forecast in the events sixteen-year history. With temperatures topping out in the 70s F. and much cooler lows in the sleeping hours it was a nearly perfect day. The weather forecast predicted slowly warming temperatures over the four-day festival, below seasonal averages and a near zero chance of rain. In past years temperatures had wreaked havoc on concert goers, even topping the century mark one year. Other years turned the venue into a rain-drenched mud bath. But it wasn’t only the weather that made for a much more pleasurable experience at this year's Bonnaroo compared to past years. After some missteps last year when corporate giant Live Nation gained control of the festival, the premiere live music event in the country was in danger of becoming obsolete. Ticket sales for 2015 dropped to an all-time low of less than 46,000. It was awesome news for attendees but not so good news for the promoters of the ambitious project. But with the help of classic rock giants U2 on the bill this year along with a robust and diverse four-day line-up, attendance was closer this year to the annual average of 75,000 people. With the exponential growth in festivals across the country, it has become increasingly hard to attract music fans from around the country and the globe to a far away venue, especially one as remote as Manchester, Tennessee. But, despite its growing pains Bonnaroo continues to be the music festival that all other US festivals are measured against. While Coachella has become the largest US music gathering, selling out 125,000 tickets for two consecutive weekends, Bonnaroo continues to be the superior immersive experience, with twice as many stages, full sets for all the performers (one of Coachella ’s biggest failures), collaborative jam sessions, and nearly non-stop music 24/7. Since the Live Nation takeover, there have been some lamented departures for the festival lore of Bonnaroo. Gone are the legendary marathon sets like the six-hour Disco Biscuits set and three plus hour sets by the likes of Pearl Jam, My Morning Jacket and Widespread Panic. There are less of the individual jam sessions and jam bands that have been the hallmark of Bonnaroo in the past. There are more empty slots in the schedule than previous years when it was nearly impossible to keep up with as many as ten or twelve performances at the same time. The comedy and cinema offerings were also greatly scaled back this year, consolidating them into a single tent. Rising prices, including a new camping fee, have also raised grumblings among the Bonnaroo veterans. But the many nostalgic losses to some of the favorite aspects of the festival are outweighed by the vast improvements in the overall Bonnaroo experience. Promoters have invested heavily in the infrastructure of the festival and concert goers no longer have to line up at porta potties for hours in the hot sun. The plethora of portable toilets has been augmented by extensive genuine sanitation facilities complete with vast rows of flushing toilets and running water. The introduction of real plumbing is no small improvement in an environment where most festival goers live in tents for up to five days. In addition to a separate set of the permanent bathrooms in the campgrounds, other permanent structures have been built for live music presentations, chill sights to escape the heat and interactive projects like the new B-Hive. The biggest change to the festival grounds, however, this year is a transformation of The Other Tent stage into a large outdoor stage complete with the latest EDM lighting and sound, including a Bass system that even Bassnectar would appreciate. The massive stage has been augmented with a new beach area called the Oasis. Bacardi offered up all sorts of rum drinks while festival goers lounged on the sandy beach or played volleyball, in full view of the new stage. Dedicated solely to EDM and Hip Hop music, The Other Tent became a focal point for the younger generation of music fans. Day 1 The opening day of Bonnaroo is traditionally a showcase of new music for the most part and this year was no exception. One of the first performers to open the festival was country rocker Luke Combs, one of the few country acts to appear at this year's festival. Judging by the enormous crowd gathered at This Tent for the performance there was no shortage of country music fans in the audience. Coming on the same weekend as the CMA awards in nearby Nashville it is surprising that there wasn ’t more cross-pollination between the two events, with Combs being the exception. But indie rock was the dominant genre in the first day of the festivals. Welles, a 22-year-old grunge rocker from the Ozarks and his blazing band, channeled the energy of Nirvana with their unique take on the genre. In a vent more along the lines of the Bleachers, indie rockers Hippocampus riled up a large crowd as the summer sun began to set on the first day of Bonnaroo. The Turntan, Stitches, Espo, and Beans made up the quirky quartet that connected with a young audience. Just after the sun went down, the Toronto band July Talk played what may have been the most intense set of the day. With the energy of Sleigh Bells, the band is led by vocalists Leah Fray and Peter Dreimanis. The pair bounces off each other like a pair Sumo wrestlers, while singing and playing various instruments. Dreimanis’ throaty lyrics are often compared to the vocals of Nick Cave. July Talk is an exciting band to watch. Hailing from Long Island New York, the Lemon Twigs brought a nostalgic 70’s rock sound to the early evening crowd at Bonnaroo. Fronted by the D’Addario brothers, their over the top trip into glam rock is a welcome journey for those witnessing the show by the talented duo. Singer-guitarist Brian brings a Bowie-like persona to the stage while singer and drummer Michael eerily channels Keith Moon in both style and substance. His drumming alone is a reason to catch a live show by this band. As the evening wore on multiple stages began to simultaneously come alive with new music as festival fans dressed in all manner of proper festival regalia took advantage of the unlimited food and beverage stands that had been expanded to meet any demand. On the tiny New Music On Tap Lounge Brewed By Miller Lite, (Yes, that is the actual name of the stage), the London band Ten Fe played an astounding set channeling the best of 80’s rock. This tiny stage has presented some legendary performances over the years at the festival, including one-midnight performance several years ago by Capital Cities. As the night wore on the music turned funky with the appearance of the nine-piece power funk group Turkuaz. The band had fans young and old dancing. But the young dance fans were just beginning in a near all night dance party with a late night set on The Other Stage, and more intimate sets in the eclectic Snake and Jakes Christmas Club Barn venue and of course, the ever-popular silent disco. As the air cooled to jacket water by the early morning hours, it was clear that many festival goers were on a 24/7 music mission this first day of Bonnaroo 2017. Day 2 Even without the historic first headline set at an American music festival by the iconic rock group U2, the second day of Bonnaroo 2017 would have been an incredible success. The beautiful day dawned under cool partly cloudy skies, while young EDM enthusiasts were still straggling back to their campsites from the silent disco and Snake and Jakes Christmas Club Barn. Temperatures eventually warmed to near 80F but large fluffy clouds were moving through the area kept a lid on the hot summer sun. By mid afternoon all the stages including the two major outdoor, the What and Which stages were in full operation. The alt-country rockers from Canada, The Strumbellas had a large crowd dancing in front of the Which stage early on. At about the same time an even bigger crowd had gathered in front of the biggest What stage for the California pop vocalist Francis and The Lights. His energetic show featured slick dance and acrobatic moves that thrilled the sweaty crowd in the hot afternoon sun. The crowd was particularly thrilled when arguably the most popular single artist at Bonnaroo 2017, Chance the Rapper made a surprise appearance alongside a beaming Frances. The duo played a recently remixed version of Frances tune 'May I Have This Dance', featuring Chance and the crowd went wild. Dance has been a de facto fixture at Bonnaroo since his first appearance several years ago and popped up randomly all over the festival grounds. California rockers Cold War Kids also turned in a well-received afternoon set featuring straight forward rock tunes that the band has honed over the years. As afternoon slowly faded towards sunset the Icelandic Indie rock band Kaleo brought their folksy brand of rock to the main stage. Young girls in tight bikinis techno shorts seemed to swoon at the front of the crowd as lead singer and guitarist Jökull Júlíusson appeared on stage. The band has the same Icelandic feel as the music of Bjork but with a more rock-oriented edge. Swedish pop sensation Tove Lo has come a long way since her first late night appearance at Bonnaroo inside one of the tent stages the first night of 2015. The young singer has become a bonafide sex symbol with steamy nightclub hits and made her way to the Which stage in front of a huge crowd, just as the setting sun bathed her in golden light. The 29-year-old singer has become a sexy veteran performer with an endless array of steamy dance moves and antics. Her grungy electropop band creates a rich dark sound that helps set the singer apart from most other pop singers. The set seemed to be a huge hit with young fans at this year's Bonnaroo. As twilight fell and stars began to appear in the sky, the EDM crowd began to roll out of their tent cities in all manner of festival garb. From astronauts to leprechauns the audience became a living visual feast. The synth-heavy dream pop of The xx from London attracted an EDM following although the band sound is more in the moody rock category. Most of the same crowd migrated to the Which stage for an early evening set by Glass Animals, another English indie band. Their music takes a more psychedelic look at hard rock music, but the sound seemed to please the young EDM crowd as well. Most all the other stages shut down for the next two hours as U2 played their historic set. U2 A few hours before U2 played their first concert as a headline act at an American music festival, guitarist The Edge was honoured by the founders of Bonnaroo at a special presentation. The Les Paul Spirit Award was given to the Irish rocker which is printed annually by the Les Paul Foundation, to an individual who exemplifies the spirit of the late Les Paul through innovation in music and technology. The award was fitting for the master music producer who also spends much of his time involved in fundraising for various charities. By the time U2 appeared at Bonnaroo at 11 p.m., a massive crowd had gathered in front of the huge What stage. The original set was supposed to be similar to the show the band has been presenting on their current 30th anniversary Joshua Tree tour. The scheduled 90-minute set was scheduled to include 'The Joshua Tree' album in its entirety and a few encores from other albums. But at the last minute, the set was extended to two hours much to the delight of the huge crowd. With all the other ten music and performance venues at Bonnaroo shut down for the duration, most of the estimated 70,000 music fans at this year's festival made their way to the historical performance. The band began the set with some of their most classic hit songs, including two of their oldest, 'Sunday Bloody Sunday' and 'New Year's Day'. The band then tore into the eleven songs from 'The Joshua Tree', celebrating the band's love affair with America. Singer Bono interacted with the crowd throughout the night savouring the moments. He congratulated America for their contributions to the fight against AIDS being serious at one moment and then joked, “Thank you for naming the festival after me BONNAROO!” The band returned for an extended encore including a powerful version of 'Beautiful Day'. The encore continued with 'Elevation'. The band then played the song 'Vertigo' for the first time on the tour. Bono dedicated the song to “the great women we know, the women who insisted, resisted and persisted." The two-hour set truly was a unique and historic occasion and yet another feather in the cap for America's most prestigious music festival. Well done, Bonnaroo Day 2 (Continued) Following the massive main stage spectacle of U2 in concert, the crowded mass migrated to the other side of Centeroo for simultaneous sets of mostly EDM and Jam band music. A huge crowd formed for the visual smorgasbord presented by the EDM sensation Major Laser. The group is an American electronic music trio composed of record producer Diplo from Jack U fame, Jillionaire, and Walshy Fire. The group mixes multiple genres into a dance-crazed EDM sound that has captured the imagination of the nightclub crowd across the globe. Their show featuring a stage full of rappers, singers, dancers, and musicians includes well choreographed special effects. Diplo even steals a page from Flaming Lips lead singer Wayne Coyne’s antics of crowd surfing in a giant plastic bubble. At the same time as this late night set that stretched until nearly 3 in the morning, Portugal The Man was playing a jam-laden set of pure jam band rock. The group was joined in a surprise appearance by the charismatic lead singer of Cage The Elephant, Matthew Shultz. Shultz has also been a fixture at Bonnaroo appearing not only with his band over the last several years but also popping up unexpectedly. In 2014 he rejoined the Skrillex super jam. Shultz joined Robby Krieger of the Doors for 'Break On Through (to the Other Side)', with Skrillex running around playing guitar. Shultz channeled Jim Morrison during the spellbinding performance, singing 'Feel It Still' with Portugal The Man and then a cover of the Oasis tune 'Don’t Look Back In Anger'. Cage The Elephant's guitar master Nice Boczkrath also joined in and helped play a drenched guitar jam of a cover of Pink Floyd’s 'The Wall'. EDM and Jam band fans alike were excited by the final live music set of the night which began shortly before 2.30 in the morning. EDM duo Big Gigantic took advantage of the massive new lithe show on the Other stage to wow a crowd of EDM fans. Later members of Trey Anastasio’s Band, Jen Hartswick, and Natalie Cressman brought another layer to the Big Gigantic sound. Photos by L.Paul Mann www.lpaulmann.com



Article Links:-
https://www.bonnaroo.com/
https://www.facebook.com/bonnaroo/
https://twitter.com/Bonnaroo


Band Links:-
https://www.bonnaroo.com/
https://www.facebook.com/bonnaroo/
https://twitter.com/Bonnaroo


Picture Gallery:-
Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival - Manchester, Tennesee, 8/6/2017...9/6/2017


Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival - Manchester, Tennesee, 8/6/2017...9/6/2017


Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival - Manchester, Tennesee, 8/6/2017...9/6/2017


Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival - Manchester, Tennesee, 8/6/2017...9/6/2017


Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival - Manchester, Tennesee, 8/6/2017...9/6/2017



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