Bonnaroo Music Festival

Written by on July 15, 2010 in July 15, 2010, Live Reviews - 1 Comment

Bassnectar - Lorin Ashton - 2010 Bonnaroo Music FestivalWhile the annual summer trip to the Bonnaroo Music Festival has been a tradition for many, this year it seemed that more people than not were attending for their first time.  The lineup for the 9th Bonnaroo Music Festival, while as diverse as any year at Bonnaroo, did lean away from the jam bands.  Headliners ranged from alternative rock from Kings of Leon to hip hop superstar Jay-Z.  Also headlining the festival was the Dave Matthews Band and a welcomed appearance by the Motown mogul Stevie Wonder.

Jay-Z (Shawn Corey Carter) put on a truly entertaining and engaging performance including performing Empire State of Mind with Bridget Kelly filling in for the pregnant Alicia Keys.  Jay-Z’s stage set entailed a 40′ or so high digital screen that spanned What Stage (main stage) and during Empire State of Mind, the background was lit to resemble signature buildings of the skyline of New York City.  After his performance, Jay-Z took off his sunglasses to “see” the crowd better and then picked out many from the audience to speak to them directly and indicated he saw them all rockin out to his songs giving details.  He then invited a girl from the audience who had written on her shirt that it was her 19th birthday and then had nearly 80,000 people sing Happy Birthday to her.

BonnarooStevie Wonder brought on a large group of African drummers.  Stevie Wonder was in great spirits and performed on keyboards, piano and a wearable keyboard which had strapped over his neck.  After performing Stevie spoke to the crowd to explain that those who kill in the name of God are actually cursing God.

A new edition to Bonnaroo this year was the Lunar Stage.  With DJ’s scheduled for performances that began at 4am., the Lunar Stage was the place for the late night ragers.  Getting off to a busy start on Thursday night on Lunar Stage, Dieselboy busted out a bass based electradelic experience.  Afrojack and Sharam also performed on Lunar Stage.  The DJs were seamlessly switching between sets so the music never stopped.  DJ Lee Burridge performed well past 6am into Saturday morning leaving many stranded without sunglasses after sunrise.

Friday afternoon, The Bridge performed funky rock with a touch of blues at the Troo Music Lounge joined at one point by Stevie Wonder’s awesome persussionist, Roslie “Lady Tambourine” Washington who threw down moves and grooves on the tambourine that many had never seen.

One thing missing from Bonnaroo this year was the rain, while it stayed hot, it was nice that there was very little dust in the air.  With over 80 scheduled performances on Friday alone, there was a lot of picking and choosing to do.  Bassnectar (Lorin Ashton) blew up This Tent Friday night with a packed house spilling out into the fields to hear tracks from his EP released in March, Timestretch.

Walking through Centeroo, one would find countless places to eat including plenty of pizza joints that all had delicious pie.

Ween performed on Sunday on Which Stage to a crowd basking in the sun.  Ween really rocked out basking crowd with the whole band pouring sweat.

Other bands performing spanned the genres, bluegrass, electronic, reggae, rock & roll, folk and more.  Comdian/musician Steve Martin was featured with the Steep Canyon Rangers.  Steve Martin shared his skills on the banjo but also cracked a few between songs.

The Sonic Stage in Centeroo featured many of the performers who also had scheduled sets on larger stages.  This gave attendees a second opportunity to catch bands that were missed while catching an earlier simultaneous performance show on another stage.  Providing an intimate concert experience, the Sonic Stage was a great place to see your favorite bands up close and personal while others just stopped in or chilled at the shaded lounge just off the side of the crowd in front of the stage.

Bonnaroo’s staple mushroom water fountain was painted rainbow colors this year and the Ferris Wheel had psychedelic lights that created a seemingly endless array of patterns entertaining many bright eyed kids after dark.

Dave Matthews Band closed down main stage on Sunday night. The band was highly energetic with a full set of horns, lights, smoke, screens and synthesizers and was great time for the many who stayed the four days in Manchester, Tennessee to experience the 9th annual Bonnaroo Music Festival.

All Access Magazine photographer David Oppenheimer has 9 years of Bonnaroo photos archived on his website.

Review and photos by David Oppenheimer