Check out Live Music Blog’s 2012 Bonnaroo Playlist (5 HOURS!)
It’s that time of year when my heart starts to race during random intervals throughout the day and night, propelled by my childishly-expectant subconscious, the season when my adrenal glands swell up like pregnant dinosaurs in humming anticipation for one of the greatest music and art weekends on earth. If you’ve ever swept yourself away in the Tennessee heat of this glorious weekend, then you know what I’m talking about, and if you have yet to indulge the experience, you’ve still probably heard of it, of the mysterious legends that it’s promulgated over the past eleven years -- that’s right, it’s time for the enormously gracious, historically loving and awesomely lovable Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival.
This year is as ripe with weird, rap, funk and punk as ever, including a back-for-more performance by the demigods of exploratory sound, Radiohead, some beat-spilling, poetic crowd-controlling provided, in part, by Black Star, a bit of soul-saddling ebb and flow from the likes of Dumpstaphunk, Soul Rebels, and Charles Bradley, as well as the recollected thrash-conduction of Danzig Legacy performing The Misfits. And I can’t leave out this year’s oh-so-generous portion of Comedy, led at the helm by the cramp-inducing hilarity of Aziz Ansari. So if you’re looking for one genre, your appetite will surely be filled, but my bet is you’ll want a taste of it all, and all shall certainly be there for the tasting, because this year the experts behind this Bonnaroovian abundance of joy have conjured a primordial soup that, after a few magical spoonfuls, will send your spirits soaring.
The best thing to do whilst you’re hurdling yourself around in crowds of tens-of-thousands of sweaty patrons, or walking nearly a mile from your tent to Center Roo, is to ride the waves of camaraderie, absorb the propelling vibrations from the sacrosanct acreage of the Farm, and dip yourself slick and sweet into the genuine nature of the festival. Another thing, be absolutely sure not to sell yourself short -- even though the heat of the day can take its toll, make sure to get a nice slice of the night, howl at the watchful luminescence of the moon, and rave like madman. Did I mention the Ferris wheel?
Ultimately, you should get into the Bonnaroo groove in whichever way suits you best, because this experience belongs to you, and while you’ll share it with your buddies who make the trip (in all senses of the word), and possibly with those initial strangers who will end up your greatest pals, together wielded by the fires of Major Lazer, Skrillex, or whichever artist happens to tap into your soul, this Bonnaroo is yours for the taking.
And also yours for the taking is this pretty little (non-exhaustive) list of 10 must-see acts of 2012 that will surely amp up your ear-hearts.
1. Moon Taxi -- That Tent, Thursday from 8:30 -- 9:30
After the release of their newest album, Cabaret, this Nashville-based rock gem is ready to peel your eyelids back as they conduct their Thursday night, explosive fit of musical ingenuity. The show is prepped to be an energy-driven parade of culturally-fused rock and roll, inspired by the band’s expressive capture on artistic freedom and consciousness. Get yourself to Centeroo in plenty of time to catch this act, and get ready to dance like lightening to the melodic storm of Moon Taxi. Also, check out the band’s brand new Daytrotter Session here.
2. White Denim -- The Other Tent, Thursday from 9:45 -- 10:45 p.m.
Have you been craving the need to move your body uncontrollably, to throw a fit and wreck the immediate air around you by dancing and yelling like a lunatic to the graceful, electric shreddings of some ethereal noise-machine? In other words, do you want to f***ing party? If the answer is yes (and I’m sure it is), then bring your body to The Other Tent on Thursday to fill your party-prescription, and spring into action with the eccentric, time-defying vibrations of White Denim. A four-piece union of tricky rock masters, White Denim has been able to accomplish what few bands can do these days, by combining the enduring notions of heart-melting psychedelia with the grit and grind of old-fashioned garage rock, and on top of that, they perform like flawless Jedi on the live stage. Make it to this show on Thursday, and get yourself ready for a multi-dimensional landslide of sweat and mess and fun.
3. The Alabama Shakes -- This Tent, Thursday from 11:30 -- 12:30 p.m.
As if the Thursday night schedule wasn’t already unbelievable, the Roo experts threw another tasty bone into the mix, in the form of these soul-soothing, hair-raising sound pilots, The Alabama Shakes. With the incredibly emotional album, Boys and Girls, fresh under their belts, The Alabama Shakes have been taking the country on by a sonic storm. The crushing licks, the sky-ripping vocals, and the crashing rhythms that this five-piece has brilliantly engineered will surely send your body and mind into a whirlwind of poignant commotion, so use that brain of yours to advise your legs to move you to the This Tent on Thursday night, and let the grooves commence.
4. Soul Rebels Brass Band -- What Stage, Friday from 1:00 -- 2:00 p.m.
All you lucky 2012 Bonnaroovians, welcome to the perennial world of New Orleans funk, where the past is always part of the present’s weave, and where the tradition of brassy horns and the new age wave of hip-hop have come to live in heart-throbbing harmony. The Soul Rebels Brass Band is a fundamental part of the Crescent City’s musical atmosphere, and their presence at the Farm will do nothing but lift you up and set you free in a typical le bon temps roule sort of way. Venture to the What Stage on Friday to get the day started off with the Soul Rebels, and get a wholesome taste of the way brass is supposed to be played.
5. Radiohead -- What Stage, Friday from 10:00 -- 12:00 a.m.
Back for more in 2012, Radiohead will make it second Bonnaroo visit, after their 2006 show, their longest set on record, that powered a decade’s worth of raw musical entertainment. The band has clearly expressed their fulfillment from the previous Bonnaroo scene, which should tend to support the notion that they’ll be ready to make another huge impact this time around. (Watch the whole Bonnaroo 2006 set here in two parts).
Expect to hear some new material, too, as the band has given their early audiences some special debut tastes of songs, such as “Identikit” and “Cut a Hole.”
6. The Word, Ivan Neville’s Dumpstaphunk -- Friday late night at The Other Tent from 12:00 -- 3:00 a.m.
Feautring John Medeski, Robert Randolph, and the crew from North Mississippi Allstars, The Word will get the bluesy rock and roll to a juicy start at The Other Tent on Friday night, tangling their reckless rock abandon with a few dashes of dance-inducing funk. And to keep the vibes going seamless and steady, Ivan Neville’s Dumpstaphunk will take the epic night to the next level of funk, all the way to FUNK-KAY, soaking the crowd with a righteous array of southern sound and motion. Get ready to dance yourself into a fiery bliss, but don’t worry, the Saturday morning soreness will wear itself out.
7. Charles Bradley and His Extraordinaires -- What Stage, Saturday from 1:00 -- 2:00 pm
Inspired by the Godfather of soul, James Brown, Charles Bradley has overcome the odds of tough circumstance and created an album so full of soul that it’ll swallow your heart whole and send you into a hypnosis of groovy sways and swirls. Filled with raw talent and the prevailing desire to entertain, Bradley’s act is sure to demand your awe and attention. And when Bradley croons the blues, his voice is like the locomotive to a desperate train rolling thunderously through the days and nights of a collective human conscious, something you do not want to miss this year at Bonnaroo.
8. Mogwai -- This Tent, Saturday from 7:00 -- 8:30 pm
Get ready for an instrumental mind-blast, as these Scottish rockers will lure you into their psychedelic realm and keep you there with their entrancing punch of crunchy triumph. Mogwai’s ambitious, ambient risings coupled with their intensely precise plunges are something to behold, so get over to This Tent on Saturday and make the unforgettable and unworldly journey.
9. Delta Spirit -- Which Stage, Sunday from 12:30 -- 1:15 pm
Hailing from San Diego, this unconventional five-piece will spin you through riddles of musicianship, incorporating everything from orchestral drums to trashcan lids in their live performance. Playing Which Stage on Sunday, Delta Spirit will deliver their spiritual trapeze of lyrical revelation, grabbing the audience by the metaphysical arms and swinging them in an auspicious convection of furiously pleasing sound.
10. The Antlers -- That Tent, Sunday from 3:30 -- 4:30 pm
Let your tears wear smiles as the voice of lead singer Peter Silberman burrows itself into the marrow of your bones and fills you with a sweeping inner breeze, propelling those sweet, sweet tears of joy. And don’t forget about the hypnotically calculated aura of instrumental accompaniment that surrounds Silberman’s devilishly angelic voice, the amalgamation of which will force you to leave your worries forgotten among the world outside of That Tent on Bonnaroo’s mega-packed Sunday. Bonnaroovians, do well by yourselves and become a part of this poetic derangement of the senses, conducted by The Antler’s immense visionary power, and have some sun-stricken fun loving yourself for it.