...okay so one 18 hour drive, a totaled car and a few calls to the Amherst Comcast Internet guy and finally it is time to reveal the exciting Sunday Bonnaroo recap. Cue the enthusiasm.
Okay so Sunday was a slower day, the schedule was toned down an octave or too and the set list featured mostly bands with the required relaxing melodies to soothe the hordes of guests all sore from three days of camping on the hard ground. The day's sets were varied featuring such elder statesmans of rock as Robert Plan, there his new muse Allison Krauss as well as a host of younger favorites like O.A.R. and Death Cab for Cutie.
BROKEN SOCIAL SCENE
Hanging out in the SPIN tent, I was fortunate to come across the Canadian indie act BROKEN SOCIAL SCENE who were there to play exclusive acoustic tracks for the SPIN website. The two members of the band were decked out in vintage guitar troubadour style with scruffy beards and even one in a perfectly tacky fisherman's cap. The band then booked it over to the SONIC STAGE, on of the more intimate stages at Bonnaroo for a shorty half hour set. The SONIC STAGE gives festival goers the opportunity to catch thirty minutes of a band that they migt not have time to go see later. It also gives die-hards a chance to see the band twice within the same day, and once at a smaller stage. There they went for their first set of the day, and following about ten minutes of unscripted guitar noodlings they got help from fellow songstress AIMEE MANN. The duo had trouble filling the extra half hour of set time as the band's full hour and a half set was still half a day away. Despite his however, the two tried to get the crowd going with a somewhat misguided chant of "put down the bong/ and vote for Obama." The message seemed a little taboo and even still was not entirely stadium caliber singalong material. Needless to say it probably won't be adopted as the official campaign theme song.
ROBERT RANDOLPH'S REVIVAL
Not sure what exactly Mr. Randolph is trying to revive but from his high energy set I'd be guessing its the gospel tinged blues rock of his youth. The elder Randolph armed with an array of musicians on stage had fun in the summer heat rocking out to rollicking tunes often devoid of even the most simple lyrics. However the light sound was perfect for the summer afternoon drawing more people than the shady tent could hold.
With world influenced rockers VAMPIRE WEEKEND and MIA having already performed it was time for Bonnaroo to add a dose of cred in the form of one band that hail's directly from Africa's own Senegal. The group began touring in their homeland twenty years ago before going the way of many of today's bands like The Police and Van Halen with a bitter breakup followed by a revival years later. In the band's traditional African styling one could hear the influences on these new artists, from the bongo drums to the high pitched guitar rhythms which worked themselves into feverish patterns perfectly befitting the day's themes of rest and relaxation.
YONDER MOUNTAIN STRING
Yonder Mountain String can be best described as an experimental bluegrass jamband whose style seems to call upon but remain unrestricted by these definitions. The band hardly broke from their playing to banter with the audience only stopping to thank the faithful for arriving. The band's bluegrass style featuring a chorus of mandolins and banjos set the stage perfectly for the following act whose music attempts to find inspiration in similar genres.
ROBERT PLANT W/ ALLISON KRAUSS
The act may carry the moniker Robert Plant with Allison Krauss however the best description of the band's sound would have been to reverse those two around. Many came out to see the much talked about collaboration between the 70's rock God Plant and bluegrass songstress Krauss. However the songs live seemed to have a limited collaborative feel. Plant often was relegated to a backup role while Krauss took the reins on a host of songs which were hard to differentiate. Even a slowed down version of "Black Dog" seemed unable to jolt the way that classic song should.
DEATH CAB FOR CUTIE
Passing by the late afternoon O.A.R set I could hear the last bars of their reggae acoustic rock mish mash floating over the crowd on my way to await the set from Indie mainstays DEATH CAB FOR CUTIE. Though the band seems like an unlikely choice for a festival concert their late almost sundown set time seemed like the right fit for their delicate songs. The rockers were surprisingly mobile on stage as they worked their way through cuts like "The New Year" with enthusiasm recreating the soundscape of the song in all its studio glory. Elsewhere the band played a hit heavy set leaving hardly a hit unplayed as they went through "Title and Registration," "Soul Meets Body," "The Sound of Settling" and atmospheric new single "I Will Possess Your Heart" in all of its nine minute glory.
SOUL STEW REVIVAL ft/ DEREK TRUCKS
With the ALLMAN BROS set canceled due to illness, the only chance at the festival to see the young guitar hero TRUCKS was this intimate tent performance. The second generation rock and roller, though only 27, already has a band with his new bride SUSAN TEDESCHI and the two make quite a pair onstage. TRUCKS showed a guitar prowess befitting of someone twice his age, never up showing any of the other musicians on stage. Like an expert ball handler the guitarist knew when to pass for the assist which he did often letting the percussionist and pianist have their fun before finally resting his slide against his red guitar. TRUCKS' solos mixed slide guitar rhythms that blended the intensity of post-punk guitar playing with all the wailing of his father's pioneering American blues sound.
With the sounds of this southern blues rock band spiraling out from the main stage, I walked through the days wreckage of water bottles and other debris out to my car and tent which were unfortunately still blocked by the car's of others still out enjoying the festival. However given the chance for a much needed rest and an early exit for the nearest shower I was happy to skip the band as they were clearly audible from the campgrounds which unlike the main stage, are equipped with chairs and food.