KW9RUYT3497H The way that Bonnaroo is set up, aside from the silly venue names, is along the lines of one huge venue, one large venue, three medium size venues and many small to tiny venues. The “What Stage” is the largest and it is where all the biggest draws played, at least that was the plan; a few shows overwhelmed the next biggest stage, the “Which Stage.” The first big show I saw was the Beach Boys. Despite the negative review in the USA Today, the Beach Boys were incredible. Like much great art, the artist themselves are often disturbed. Nowhere is this more true than with Brian Wilson. As a harmonic genius, Wilson wrote over two dozen top 10 hits. The music which portrays such joy and innocence is like a treatment for the darkness which Wilson hides. As Penn Gillette pointed out in a Nerdist Podcast, the line “I, I love the colorful clothes she wears And the way the sunlight plays upon her hair,” show no editing, just the kind of almost childlike love that only someone who does not care about what others think can write. This tour featured songs from the album Smiles, the followup to the near perfect album Pet Sounds, that was never released until last year due to the destruction of the band. After years of depression, mental illness and substance abuse, Brian Wilson returned to the band and played live for the first time on tour since 1965. The songs were great and the whole concert was a giant sing-a-long. It was impossible to leave the concert sad.
I know that this is alternative music sacrilege, but I always struggle with Radiohead. There are those who worship them like they are Godsend or the best band since/including the Beatles. While, yes, I can hear their influence in other bands, I have never been a huge fan of their albums. OK Computer and Kid A were great, but not albums I went back to a lot. However, their live show converted me. The trance-like sound coupled with the masterfully complex harmony flowed over the audience. The stage and light show was completely engulfing. There were videos that played of the band playing live making the whole scenario seem like a live music video of an art film. It was incredible.
I like the Red Hot Chili Peppers. One of the first albums I bought was Californication and everything from the music videos to the singles off of the Album were stellar. The show was one, therefore, I thought I would like, but was unsure how much I would know. However, I was impressed at how much I knew. They leaned heavily on their more recent albums, playing many singles from them. They didn’t play much older stuff, except Under the Bridge, and there was a series of about four to five songs in a row that many didn’t seem to know and the audience around us started to sit down. However, they countered this with By the Way. Over all the show was energetic and impressive. As Anthony Kiedis, the lead singer, seemingly undressed song by song, Flea’s energy carried the concert. He was doing more on the bass than most bands could do with two guitarists. The show is worth it to watch Flea shred.
The final show of the festival was Phish playing a four hour set. Of the many bands I saw, Phish was the only one I had seen many times before. Their set was impeccable, though my buddy Scott pointed out that he thought they were trying to play a more mainstream to make themselves fit in better at the fest. However, the show was rewarding to all who went. My wife, only coming to Phish in the last couple years, knew most of the songs. Their light show was amazing as always. They had Kenny Rogers as a guest and played the Gambler perfectly. It was the perfect musical end to the fest; as always, Phish played a half dozen styles of music in the first set alone.