Monday, June 27, 2011

Okkervil River Charms and Disarms with Southern Soul

Will Sheff looks like an English Professor as he steps on stage at the Wiltern wearing a sport coat with his strap twisted and his guitar dangling off of his back. Okkervil River emerges to cheers and whistles after the odd act of Titus Andronicus leaves and the unorthodox mosh pit of hippies and hipsters dissipate. The Austin-based band is left with the task to impress a crowd that isn’t easy to budge, and eventually Sheff turns the tide in a moment that captivates with beauty and leaves the audience inspired and engaged.

Okkervil River reminds me of a band that will start playing at a bar without an audience, and an hour and a few drinks later everyone is on the floor dancing and screaming the chorus in unison. Sheff has a unique vocal presence and he reaches with his range and has his moments. As the band wanders through the beginning of their set, it is evident that some of the bigger fans are in the balcony while people on the floor waver back and forth between interest and boredom. Okkervil River offers consistent songs with a range of style and they bring their smiles to work as they go about their business. It’s easy to tell how much they absolutely love playing music. Sheff has animated onstage antics and although he looks like anything but a front man, he showcases style and soul and the band plays a unique rendition of their own brand of southern indie rock n’ roll.

At one point between songs, an overbearing fan screams, “I love you Will!” and he replies, “I love you too nameless voice in the dark,” drawing a small explosion of laughter from the audience. His charm and passion are undeniable and it’s impossible not to appreciate him as a musician. The show changes immediately when he takes the stage solo and plays A Stone, a beautifully written and emotionally sung acoustic melody that touches on everything great about this band. Their simplicity and unique feel grows on an audience that comes alive and gives the band something back. And together, everyone makes it an intimate experience that is felt and appreciated.

Through the back half of their set they time their hits perfectly, playing For Real and closing with Lost Coastlines before leaving the stage. Sheff comes back on to apologize for their late entrance and tells the audience they’re only being allowed one encore. This is met with a chorus of boos, and they choose to play Unless it Kicks and close respectably although screams for Westfall are shouted by the majority of requesters. As they jam out and come together, the rhythm and the backup harmony of this satisfying and simple talent from Austin closes the show in style. A man well into his sixties catches the attention of everyone on the floor as he wiggles around uncontrollably in the balcony and the band eventually notices and takes to him. When the show is over they give him a thumbs-up for his Elaine Bennis moves that signify the feel-good nature of everyone in the building. I wasn’t won over at first, but this band will fight until they make everyone in the house a believer. Their range is undeniable and their style is in a category by itself, giving them a soulfulness that is impossible not to appreciate. And Will Sheff is an unlikely talent who captivates and makes you a fan. He’s the Seth Rogen of Southern Rock N’ Roll.

Post by Rory Maloney

Pictures Provided by Andrew Youssef of Stereogum

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

New Grieves Video

Rhymesayers pumping out joints that make the hip-hop head inside you scream "YES PLEASE."

This is the latest from Grieves.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Twin Shadow Summer Tour

Twin Shadow just played Festival Pier in Philadelphia tonight for the second show of their summer tour post Bonnaroo. They were joining Florence & The Machine, whom they also open for on Thursday and Friday before embarking on their solo mission around to a few festivals both stateside and over seas before returning to the east coast in early September.

Twin Shadow makes its way to Los Angeles on September 21 to The Troubadour where they will play with Diamond Rings. Don't miss Twin Shadow on tour - the Bonnaroo show was pretty solid!

06-23 Boston, MA - Bank of America Pavilion *
06-24 New York, NY - Central Park Summerstage *
06-25 Calgary, Alberta - Sled Island Music Festival
06-28 Vancouver, British Columbia - Vancouver International Jazz Festival
07-15 Louisville, KY - Halfway to Forecastle
07-16 Chicago, IL - Pitchfork Music Festival
07-30 Montreal, Quebec - Osheaga Festival
08-05 Palermo, Italy - Ypsigrock Festival
08-06 London, England - Field Day Festival
08-07 Katowice, Poland - OFF Festival
08-12 Oslo, Norway - Middelalderparken (Oya Festival)
08-13 Gothenburg, Sweden - Slottsskogen (Way Out West Festival)
08-14 Helsinki, Finland - Flow Festival
08-18 Paredes De Coura, Portugal - Parades De Coura Festival
08-19 Lausanne, Switzerland - For Noise
08-20 Hasselt, Belgium - Pukkelpop
08-21 Biddinghuizen, Netherlands - Lowlands
09-02 Gardenstown, Scotland - End of the Road Festival
09-04 Philadelphia, PA - Making Time Warehouse Project ^
09-06 Hoboken, NJ - Maxwell's ^
09-07 Washington, DC - Rock and Roll Hotel ^
09-08 Baltimore, MD - Ottobar ^
09-09 Raleigh, NC - Hopscotch Music Festival
09-10 Atlanta, GA - The Earl ^
09-12 Birmingham, AL - Bottletree ^
09-13 Baton Rouge, LA - Spanish Moon ^
09-15 Houston, TX - Fitzgeralds ^
09-17 Austin, TX - Austin City Limits
09-18 El Paso, TX - Lowbrow Palace ^
09-20 San Diego, CA - Casbah ^
09-21 Los Angeles, CA - Troubadour ^
09-24 Big Sur, CA - Henry Miller Memorial Library ^
09-25 San Francisco, CA - Great American Music Hall ^
09-26 Portland, OR - Doug Fir Lounge ^
09-27 Seattle, WA - Crocodile Cafe ^
10-01 Minneapolis, MN - 7th Street Entry ^
10-06 Boston, MA - Paradise Rock Club ^
10-07 New York, NY - Webster Hall ^

* with Florence and the Machine
^ with Diamond Rings

Monday, June 20, 2011

New Kingdom at The Viper Room Tonight

New Kingdom is rocking The Viper Room tonight. They go on around 10:15, which means you can get super sauced on cheap PBR before they rage it. PBR's are only $2 before 10 pm. Don't sleep. Get thirsty and enjoy some New Kingdom. Videos below...

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Bonnaroo's Last Hours...SUPERGOOD's Day 4

The final day of Bonnaroo started with the painful reminder that my musical vacation was coming to an end. My friend-supplied vintage tent needed to be packed up early as part of our entourage was leaving to recover before work on Monday.

The apathy of the final day was evident in the largely indie rock line-up that featured newcomers like Smith Westerns, The Head & The Heart and Nicole Atkins, as well as more established acts like Beirut, Cold War Kids, Iron & Wine and Explosions In The Sky. The angst could be felt all over the campgrounds and in the sounds emanating from the stages.Classic rockers peppered the line-up too, with Robert Plant & The Band of Joy, Greg Allman and Bruce Hornsby all performing. G. Love & Special Sauce could be added to the mix too as they are, at this point, veterans.

I begin my day attempting to catch The Head & The Heart, but I got sidetracked by Smith Westerns who had been a curiosity of mine for a while. Without any reference points, I enjoyed the rather melancholy indie tunes – nothing offensive, but nothing that was wildly happy and energizing. It fit the mood well enough to keep me from leaving.

As they finished, I wandered to catch the high-pitched sounds of G. Love & Special Sauce at Which Stage, before chopping it up with Erik from Dope on Plastic for a while and meeting some of the principals behind LiveProfile, a music service gearing to bridge the gaps between social media networking and live music events. I was intrigued enough to drag the LiveProfile camp to Galactic on the Main Stage.

The highlight of Day 4 for me was definitely Galactic. Playing Bonnaroo for their ninth time (they’ve only missed it once), they covered a handsome smattering of their library with Corey Henry lending some help on trombone and a new guy (not sure of his name) doing vocals. While new guy was no Houseman – he had some chops and he kept the funk grinding long enough for Stanton Moore to take over.

Moore, at one point, unscrewed his snare and approached the crowd. Perching it on top of his feet he busted out into a street style jam before other members of the band came to his aid with more percussive props. The end result – an impromptu spanking in how to get funky with a limited set.

The people I stood next to, as well as the LiveProfile crew, had never had the pleasures of a Galactic performance and I am pretty convinced they’d become fans for life after what they witnessed. It was a healthy enough dosage of music that I was willing to take a step away for a few to finally pack down all of my things before returning for Dan Auerbach’s SUPERJAM and Game 6 of the NBA Finals.

I packed my bags in my fateful ride and handed out my last handful of stickers before returning to Centeroo one last time for my last handful of shows. I caught Robert Plant & The Band of Joy and Explosions In The Sky first for a few songs each. Both were amidst inspired performances – keeping the crowd that stayed to endure all of Sunday interested.

As the clock approached seven I wandered into the Sports Bar for the beginning of coverage of what I hoped would be the last game of the NBA season. My Cleveland raised blood was boiling at the thought of Lebron James being successful in Miami in year one. Thankfully, much of the crowd that gathered shared my disdain for the man who took his talents to South Beach. Before long, the first quarter was over and I realized I’d missed about half of the SUPERJAM…or so I thought.

Scrambling out of the air-conditioned and comfortable Sports Bar – I made my way to That Tent for what I thought would be a set that was halfway over. What I discovered was the supergroup had just recently gotten underway and that I was in for a healthy serving of Dr. John and New Orleans inspired bluesy jams. Although I couldn’t tell the titles of the songs that were covered, Auerbach and Dr. John, along with their arsenal of talented friends, painted a musical landscape that rivaled the slightly sticky weather with its funkiness and captured the magic of four days of unique musical experiences in less than two hours.

The sun was setting creating a very cool hue. Although the once in a lifetime line-up was cranking out some quality licks, the feeling that the second half was underway again sucked me into the Sports Bar. It was a good decision. The energy level inside the cooled viewing station was stepped up a notch with a handful of Texas natives excited at the prospect of becoming the title town of the moment. “Let’s Go Mavericks” cheers were supported by “F*ck the Heat” chants as Miami supporters numbers shrank amongst the crowd.

The energy in the Sports Bar was a high as I’d seen it all day at the festival and I was enjoying the moment of camaraderie amongst strangers. As the Mavericks lead swelled and the final seconds ticked off the clock – I celebrated with faces I’d never see again before escaping to catch another celebration – Widespread Panic on the Main Stage to close out Bonnaroo 2011.

Quite fitting to have some of the original headliners grace the stage as the tenth anniversary came to a close. Performing a set list filled with crowd pleasers and atypically designed to perhaps draw some new fans – Dave Schools and friends provided some healthy jams for a Sunday evening. I’m pretty sure they even had Bruce Hornsby join them for a little bit as they provided the soundtrack for the departing ‘Roo citizens that included favorites like Tall Boy” and “Up All Night.” The latter was my last song before departing the grounds for a ride to Chattanooga. It was a fitting number as that about described my entire Bonnaroo experience. I can only hope it describes next year too….

Purchase advanced tickets for Bonnaroo 2012 here. They’ve already announced the dates.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Diamond Rings Special Affections Re-Release Party

SUPERGOODMUSIC was lucky enough to attend the Diamond Rings record re-release party for Special Affections hosted by Flaunt Magazine in Hollywood on Wednesday evening. Not having been previously exposed to his music, we were eager to hear what the buzz was all about.

A small stage set up featured a computer, drum machine, keyboard, guitar and a few other pieces of equipment. Where as I thought that Diamond Rings could possibly be a full band (I went in without any prejudices or information), alas, Diamond Rings is comprised of a solo John O'Regan.

His talents for playing a variety of musical instruments, in addition to vocals, are truly impressive. John O cranks out poppy, electro beats that made the entire room dance. Not only does Diamond Rings encompass a fun, dance vibe with his music, he also sings and brings a very emotional and real quality to his performance. Unfortunately, the sound quality was not up to par at this small bar (Paul & Allen) hosting the event and it was difficult to make out the words John O was so passionately singing.

My favorite songs were the ones that included John O playing eclectic guitar over looped keys and electronic beats. Highlighted by great melodies - the compositions showcased his talent and incorporated lyrics that were easier to decipher.

In addition to auditory satisfaction, a Diamond Rings performance is certainly something to be seen. John O dons a sort of 80’s style wardrobe, complete with mohawk, red leather jacket, impressively done makeup and blue nail polish. The overwhelmingly hipster crowd clearly not only enjoyed his show - but also his outfit. I even spoke to a guy who had been following Diamond Rings for over a year and told me that he liked the “underground quality” to the performer.

Despite the fact that people were smoking inside the performance (hello 1998?), it was a very enjoyable performance, complete with a variety of sounds, plenty of dancing and vocals that were sung with a more authentic quality than I’ve seen in a while. Diamond Rings is currently touring, but is definitely worth a look the next time John O returns to the city of Angels.

post by Stephie Bri

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The ROO(t) Down - Bonnaroo Day 3

Day three began like a typical Bonnaroo day does for most - hot, sweaty, stanky and early. Thankfully, my camp locale had running water showers which meant my funk was quickly washed away. It must have seeped into the soil because bands started whipping out their New Orleans funk flavor.

The first act I caught was Black Joe Lewis & The Honeybears at This Tent. Their bluesy funky southern rock was very fitting for Bonnaroo and a welcome way to ring in another hot day.

I caught the Mongolian band Hanggai playing some eclectic folk tunes in The Other Tent before meeting my former tennis teacher at Deer Tick. An elder fan of indie rock, I enjoyed taking in the perspective of a slightly more senior festival attendee (tennis teacher is 13 years older than I am). He was camping with the Total Access Package which, while pricey, sounds awesome. Golf cart service to and from your air-conditioned RV that is fully stocked with your own rider, admittance to prime viewing locations for all shows irrespective of the time you show up and access to a handful of areas backstage. Its a wannabe rockstar's dream. If you have the money - you might want to consider it.

After tolerating Deer Tick (not really my bag), I cruised to the microbrew tent for some of the over 20 varieties of top ale, before checking out much hyped Chiddy Bang. Lucky for us, we came in as they were breaking into their indie rock mash-up "Too Fake" that samples the Hockey song of the same title.

Alison Krauss & Union Station performed at the Which Stage with Jerry Douglas as a guest, and I followed that with a little Portugal The Man in That Tent. They were both fleeting visits before checking out Wiz Khalifa on the main stage.

Hoping to serve as a warm up for Eminem, Wiz rifled through cuts of his Kush & OJ Mixtape, and his first major label album Rolling Papers. While much of the crowd was familiar with the latter, a surprising handful knew the former. "Black and Yellow" was the obvious anchor - arousing the crowd and exciting some recitations.

When time came for Mumford & Sons, I tried to venture toward the Which Stage. Although I'd generally enjoyed their music, I've become a real fan since their private acoustic performance at Wakarusa. Enjoying performances of "Little Lion Man", "Cave" and many others of Sigh No More, as well as a few ones that I believe were now - I took in the show from a perch above a massive audience. The crowd was enormous. Bigger than I've ever seen at Which Stage before. The field of people that amassed suggested that Mumford & Sons should have been on the main stage and Wiz at Which.

The indie folkers blessed the crowd with their beautiful tunes and set the bar high for the rest of the night. I carried the torch over to !!! at This Tent to hear some more pulsing grooves while indulging in some chow from Eat Box in the Food Truck Oasis.

The California originated dance punkers provided a great soundtrack - with a few tracks from my favorite album of theirs, Myth Takes, but I left for The Other Tent after about a half hour to get to Bootsy Collins at The Other Tent. Unfortunately, that experienced extreme delays and, while I patiently waited - it cramped my style on seeing The Black Keys show. Bootsy didn't get going until halfway through the Keys' set - which meant I was missing the boys from Akron because they'll be at other festivals I'm at whereas Bootsy won't be.

Thankfully, I made the right decision. The crowd was chanting for Bootsy (not booing) and spontaneously singing Parliament songs before he got on. And when he arrived, Bootsy threw the funk down! Busting out with three backing singers and some starry eyed glasses, in his glitter-glam jacket he announced without saying it that he was a funk doctor from another planet.

Even Kareem Abdul Jabbar was there to see him get down, along with Ivan Neville, Stanton Moore and handful of other funk fanatics. The crowd roared Parliament lyrics and funk classics back to the band that kept fueling the fire with renditions that went heavy on the bass.

The lighter sounds of another legend, Buffalo Springfield, just didn't keep the fire going as strong after Collins laid his guitar to rest. Although Neil Young and Stephen Stills and Richie Furay really put on a display at Which Stage - it didn't match Collins' fury and was not the best lead in to Eminem. Nonetheless, the one of few Buffalo shows (I believe there were only 6 this summer) was quite enjoyable.

Headliner Eminem found himself sandwiched amongst a bunch of artists that don't really blend well with his styles. Embracing his comeback moment, Eminem attempted to produce an epic moment for his Recovery that just fell a little flat. Although he carried it with his substantial bank of hits, he failed to draw the Bonnaroo crowds energy to levels you might expect for a headliner. His performance overall did not rival Weezy's of the night before and had many opining about how Jay-Z's performance last year really set the bar much higher.

Despite the criticism's, he invited out Royce Da 5'9 to do perhaps the first live performance of "Fast Lane" - the new single penned by him and Eminem as Bad Meets Evil. The vast majority of the crowd appeared to be unfamiliar with the track - but for me it was the highlight of the performance. Royce was inspired and Eminem seemed to have a bit more pep spitting some of the fire that reminded me of his younger days. Perhaps that would have come to bear if Dr. Dre, who was rumored to be in attendance, had taken to the stage - but that sadly did not happen.

Instead, Eminem marched off after a little more than 60 minutes and appeared to be calling it a night. Someone must have intervened back stage because he came out and reignited for another ten to fifteen minutes - but my head was already in another place and that place was on my way to see Scissor Sisters.

The gaymous group were throwing down in This Tent and I wanted nothing other than to be part of the dance party. Excellent choice. Trading in the noodle jams of String Cheese Incident to the poppy dancehall thrusting jams of the Sisters. They recently toured with Lady Gaga off the strength off their 2010 release, Night Work. Songs like "Night Life" went off to a vocal and happy crowd clearly geared for getting down not just for the glamorous queens, but also Girl Talk later on. I raged onward for both.

Gregg Michael Gillis, better known as Girl Talk, through down his poptacular mash ups for the handsome part of an hour and a half (really closer to two hours). Frequently inducing roars from multitudes of fans or the actual singing of lyrics - he kept the crowd going strong and adrenaline pumping drawing a crowd that was similar in size to Bassnectar's the night before.

Gogol Bordello was an artist I indulged live for the first time and it was a trip through multiple sound textures. Without any preconceived notions about the live performance

Sound Tribe Sector 9 really threw it down. To impress new fans, as well as to satisfy their faithful, STS9 played, literally, until the sun came up extending their slated set far beyond its posted 4 a.m end time. Perhaps determined to outlast Gogol Bordello or simply determined to return the 'Roo to its roots of being an all night fiesta - they broke it down with their jammed electro jungle rock.

Army Navy Stomps Familiar Grounds

Last week I managed to haul my exhausted body from Venice and all the way to Silverlake just to see Army Navy play the incredibly small hipster joint, The Silverlake Lounge. Was it worth it? Absolutely.

We rolled up at a quarter to 11pm, just in time to grab a drink at the cash only bar and say hello to a few familiar faces around the dimly lit room. Army Navy took the stage, setting up their own equipment, and seeming entirely pleased to play such cramped quarters. This band has played

Conan O’Brien, contributed two tracks to the movie Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist, and opened for acts like The Dodos, yet these four LA-based guys seemed completely psyched to be playing their own familiar stomping grounds. (If this were Twitter, I believe a “#humblebrag”

would have gone right there.) They were out tonight to be with people who truly appreciate good music, and to promote their new and highly-anticipated album out July 12th.

If you haven’t heard of Army Navy, I need you to stop, take a minute, and give a listen; you will fall in love. Frontman Justin Kennedy’s whiney vocals make you wish he would croon in your ear all day. It’s a good kind of whiney, a uniqueness rarely executed well, except for maybe by the likes of Conor Oberst. If the vocals don’t get you, then guitarist Louie Schultz’s incredible talent and sheepish grin will. The boy can rock a guitar, a keyboard, and backing vocals in one song with an impeccable smoothness that can’t be faked. Drums your thing? By the end of their forty-five minute time slot, drummer Douglas Randall was completely drenched in sweat, and smiling from ear to ear. Their new bassist was really talented as well, though his skills were slightly overshadowed by my companion going on about how cute he was in my ear. Looks? Talent? Check, and check.

They’re a band that has fun with their music, and fun with each other, and this transfers over to the audience. Last week I brought four people who had never even heard of the band before, and by the end of the evening they had all been converted into fans. Army Navy played a perfectly varied mix of new stuff, as well as old stuff. My personal favorite? Their smooth transition from “Snakes of Hawaii” into a cover of “Get Right Back (Where We Started From)”, and then into the hit “My Thin Sides”.

Afterward we went across the street to The Thirsty Crow and sat around with a couple of whiskeys basking in the afterglow of what can best be referred to as Hipster Pop. Their new album is out July 12th and I strongly suggest you check it out. In fact, I suggest you check iTunes and see if you can pre-order it, I know they’re good for it.

Review written by Lauren Lomma @lomfry3

'Roo Day Two!

Awaking to the feeling of frying like bacon in my own tent, I knew I was camping at a music festival. It just so happened that festival was Bonnaroo and it was my first morning waking up in Manchester. After a much-needed shower and some phone juicing, press orientation was my first scheduled activity within Centeroo.

A great place to see who is doing coverage for the weekend and meet some other scenesters from around the country, I chopped it up with old friends and made a few new ones (shout outs to Eric with Dope on Plastic) before doing my first scheduled interview of the weekend with Kerry from Superfly.

The co-founder of Bonnaroo, and curator of the new Food Truck Oasis had a lot to share about the chow, as well as a discerning palate. What I learned, and more on the food we sampled, will come in a follow up post that focuses on the improved eating options at Bonnaroo. The soundtrack to our meal was the talented Sharon Van Etten. Not someone I’d planned on hearing – but certainly glad I did.

Unfortunately, I missed Jessica Lea Mayfield and Graveyard, both of whom I’ve heard good feedback about. But, honestly, I was letting all the food truck grub soak in before catching the original line-up of Bela Fleck & The Flecktones. An initial plan of seeing it live got diverted to the Sports Bar on the basis of the head index alone – the air conditioned Sports Bar provided welcome refuge from the heat as well as an opportunity to get updated on the fact that the Heat lost game 5 to the Mavericks.

Despite group encouragement to see the gorgeous and talented Grace Potter & The Nocturnals, I was persuaded by the possibility of more air conditioning in the Bonnaroo Comedy Theatre. Lewis Black was the MC, but really just an introducer of some up and comers – Tim Minchin, Kathleen Madigan and Hannibal Buress. Minchin and Madigan had me laughing out loud frequently, but Buress lost me early on. Madigan’s crowing moment was a joke about DUI laws being based on nationality. Priceless. See this lady if she is in your town, but wear a diaper because you might pee your pants.

I emerged from the AC’d hilarity oasis to the sounds of Matt & Kim booming from This Tent. A substantial crowd had gathered to see the energetic duo and I got swept up in the frenzy. Making my way close to the front of the stage – I got to hear Kim boast about how great the festival was before reminding women to never forget vagina wipes and urging guys to generously apply Gold Bond. I wish I’d caught those quotes on audio. True words of wisdom. The duo then busted out into “Lessons Learned” – the song for which they recorded a music video naked, follow by some amazing renditions of their indie culture, pop friendly music, including hits “Daylight” and “Cameras.”

The massive Matt & Kim crowd were getting pretty rowdy and the energetic, especially when Kim handed out some balloons to the crowd. But, the enthusiasm unfortunately turned the tent into a baking inferno and I needed water, cold air and some deodorant once their show was over. Thankfully they left me just enough time to head to camp and swoop back for Atmosphere.

By far one of my favorite live performers – Atmosphere, or more particularly the MC known as Slug and his band that features producer/DJ Ant, rarely disappoint and Bonnaroo was no exception. The Minneapolis group’s expansive catalog lends itself well to live performances and ensures that no Atmopshere (or Rhymesayers) performance will be the same. Slug commanded the This Tent crowd with relative ease – weaving through classics from Overcast to God Loves Ugly, When Life Gives You Lemons to The Family Sign.

While it is strange for me to leave any Atmosphere show early, I’d heard good buzz about Givers, an indie rock outfit from Louisiana who were performing on a much smaller stage – the On Tap Lounge. The crowd that gathered was not insubstantial, and when I approached the stage – I quickly realized why.

The entire band had tremendous energy; the lead vocalist literally appeared to be reaching to the depths of his body to pull out their riveting performance (several times his eyes rolled to the back of his head so all you could see were the whites). Givers were not only my delightful surprise of the day, but for the entire festival. I’m sad I missed their most recent L.A. performance and only hope that they return sometime soon…

Givers @ Bonnaroo 2011

Givers gave way to the much hyped L.A. indie artist Hanni El Khatib. Having seen Hanni before, I took it as a cue to regroup at camp and catch some rest for the long night ahead. After brief visits to performances by Ray Lamontagne (Which Stage), Florence & The Machine (This Tent) and My Morning Jacket (What Stage), I was ready for Primus on the Which Stage.

If you’re familiar with Les Claypool’s catalog – you’d know him as the genius behind Primus, as well as several other bands. His versatility is impressive and the Bonnaroo performance of Primus united him with the same people he performed at the ‘Roo with in 2004. Here is a video, posted by audioperv, of their performance.

Primus’ performance was stellar as usual - the band paraded through many of Claypool's penned fan favorites. Their bass heavy groove gave way to the sounds of Arcade Fire, who had people descend toward the main stage on parachutes. Not quite the spectacle of lights with bulbs inside them from Coachella, but still kind of cool. Nonetheless, having seen them in Indio, I didn’t feel inclined to indulge their entire set in person. Instead, I enjoyed some of it from the comfortable chairs in the press/guest hospitality area. I needed to ensure my feet had the stamina to endure the action packed post midnight performances from Lil Wayne, Big Boi, Bassnectar, Pretty Lights, Ratatat and Shpongle.

It was easy to tell when Arcade Fire was finished because I could almost immediately hear the bass drone emanating from This Tent where Bassnectar was slated to perform fora few hours. The crowd was massive - too difficult to penetrate to get to the press area for a few minutes. People had even climbed the rafters of This Tent and dangerously perched themselves above the crowd for prime viewing. Lorin Ashton captured the crowds energy and threw it right back at them.

From 'Nectar I planned on going to Lil' Wayne - but I'd misjudged the time and realized that I could catch a few Big Boi songs first. I stumbled onto a funky rendition of his #1 single "The Way You Move," before he dropped the Outkast classic "Player's Ball" from Southernplayalisticadillacamuzik. Check out a video of the show from Audio Perv below:

Having seen Big Boi in February, I quickly obtained a dosage of some favorites and knowing I'll see him again later this year - I dashed to Which Stage for my first ever Weezy F Baby show.

Mannie Fresh was at the festival and on stage (as well as Wayne's lil brother) - and they provided some support on a variety of Wayne's hits including "Go DJ," produced by Mannie Fresh. From "Lollipop" to "A Milli" off of Carter III to newer songs like "Swagga Like Us" and "6 Foot 7 Foot" - Lil Wayne rocked the crowd - many of whom knew the lyrics. Wayne continuously reminded the fans of three (really two things) - his love for God and that he is nothing without the fans and that he is nothing without you (meaning the Bonnaroo crowd). For someone whose graced the front of Rolling Stone and had an album that went triple platinum when many artists of good pedigree can't even break gold - they felt like humble words and, in comparison to Eminem's attempted massaging of the crowd the following night, much more genuine.

Weezy ended and sent me to Pretty Lights who allegedly had a new lighting installation, but no drummer (disappointing). While I very much enjoy Derek Vincent Smith's music - the addition of a live drummer to his electronic themed hip-hopish beatathons was one of the things that made his shows so special and epic. The energy (and beat) were more raw and natural. Opting for an easier set-up (not so much of a soundcheck required without a drummer) - Pretty Lights delivered a bunch of his fan favorite cuts as well as his latest remixes (the Radiohead and Nirvana mash-up was pretty sick). Unfortunately - a lot of the tunes sounded almost identical to his recordings, as if he was not doing anything behind his facade of lights and elevated platform. The absence of effort was confirmed by the fact that for what seemed like more than half of the show - Derek's hands were above the decks and visibly not touching anything. Perhaps that flew past much of the crowd due to their intoxication level - but come on least pretend like you're doing something back there. Especially if you're going to ditch the drummer. While the lights and production were dope - they were not enough of a substitute for the absence of effort or drummer Adam Deitch.

In part due to my disappointment and in part because I've seen PL at least ten times, I darted to Ratatat at The Other Tent and luckily caught a few greats like "Seventeen" before briefly watching Shpongle and his Shpongletron Experience before heading to bed.

Up soon....our final two days at Bonnaroo and special coverage of the Bonnaroo cuisine scene.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Before It Wears Off…Bonnaroo Day 1

Its early on Sunday, the final day of Bonnaroo X, which has really taken the cake for best outdoor music festival in the United States in 2011 so far, and quite frankly, I don’t think it will be topped this year.

Music is already being played (I’m pretty sure its Widespread Panic’s soundcheck) and the empty fields strewn with debris tell a tale of an amazing night before. Before visiting Day 3, or Day 2 for that matter – lets return to how it all began.

The first day of Bonnaroo X was a smashing success by all of my standards. From top to bottom efficiency and offerings were improved over last year and my SUPERGOOD experience begin as it should, in super good fashion.

Traveling via red-eye to Nashville – I ended up hitching a ride with two ‘Roo rookies who were looking for some people to fill their car. It just so happened my driver was a former contestant and winner on Who Wants To B e A Millionaire? Great conversation on our journey to Walmart, Alco÷hol purveying establishments and gas stations ensued. It culminated with a departure at the Holiday Inn, where I picked up my press pass and joined a mash up crew of videographers, photographers and festival volunteers.

The first beer was cracked around 2:30 p.m. The delicious Fat Tire dripped down my throat as the beads of sweat forming on brow puddled on my glasses. The future, as the sun, were both very bright at the moment. Little did I know my supplied tent was not such a simple set up.

Rocking a tent that’s older than I am….which I think qualifies as vintage – myself and friends erected a structure that might collapse if you took a leaf blower to it. My sleeptime sweatbox was nonetheless standing and it was time to celebrate. Beer 2. Tecate.

Encouraged by campmates – I left to go to see Hayes Carll at The Other Tent. After getting turned around, I ended at Futurebirds. Not bad. Not incredible. It didn’t really grip me too much. What did grip me was the microbrew beer tent featuring over 20 microbrews. Totally up my alley. Totally supergood and just in time for Beer 3. Sweetwater 420.

After getting a little more hydrated and getting my bearings again between That, This, The Other and wherever else an active stage was, I finally found Hayes Carll. After indulging a song or two at That Tent – I set out to check out River City Extension.

Drawn in by a song sounding curiously like early Rusted Root, I entered the periphery of This Tent for RCE to avoid what appeared to be some looming ominous weather. Gusts of wind and overcast clouds were the pretext to a curtain of darkness appearing off to the west. Thankfully, that was all avoided.

I paraded to Freelance Whales who wove through some indie rock that, like many bands these days, appeared to melt a variety of styles. I was impressed enough to stick around for brew 4 (Coors Light) and to note that I’d make sure to circle back to this band down the road. I advise you do the same.

School of Seven Bells performed after them, and that was my cue to leave. Despite their success in 2010, I’m simply not a fan. Rather than be a detractor, I set out to see an act I’d seen before and liked – The Knux.

The Knux certainly brought the party – from “Cappuccino” to “Bang Bang” they performed their hottest tracks from their initial release Remind Me in 3 Days… and then stuck in a few from their forthcoming follow up, including the debut of some material and their lead single “She’s So Up.”

Needing a breather from the heat and the crowd, and wanting to return to the campsite, I unfortunately missed most of Band of Skulls and J. Cole, both of whom I heard had spectacular performances. But, the temporary time out was necessary to catch my breath for the acts high on SUPERGOOD’s watch list – Twin Shadow and Childish Gambino.

Playing back to back in This Tent – the two up and coming solo artist spearheaded bands performed beautiful sets respectively. Twin Shadow chartered new territory in the indie rock arena, while Childish Gambino exemplified why an actor turned rapper is something to keep on the look out for. Crushing cuts from mixtapes, as well as cult hits like “Lights Turned On” “Bitch Look at Me Now” and “Freaks and Geeks.” Backed by a full band that featured a talented violinist, Donald Glover sang, rapped and performed for a crowd that was apparently his largest audience ever. His enthusiasm and excitement were repeatedly acknowledged by his admissions of how “fucking great” Bonnaroo is.

I could’ve easily retired on the strength of Gambino. Nothing was going to top his energy – but the drone of Beats Antique’s drums sucked me in and a gravitational force pulled me to The Other Tent. Their grimy jungle beat jams kept me moving for a few songs – but exhaustion ultimately won out and Day 1 of Bonnaroo was done.

Apologies for the absence of pictures, but I promise they’ll be up next week. There are lots of press competing for internet bandwidth here and, in the interest of community and time efficiency – I’m not uploading and posting pics/videos until I get back to civilization.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Ten Reminders for Bonnaroo X!

This year's Bonnaroo is going to be something special, I can feel it in my bones. With a line-up of unprecedented caliber, a bevvy of food trucks and microbrews and a sold out festival - all the ingredients are in the mix for something epic.

But, before we jump into the madness in Manchester - lets visit a quicklist of ten DOs and DONTS of Bonnaroo X.

First the DOs:

1. Remember to bring sunscreen and remember to re-apply frequently. Its like frying bacon out there in the open summer sun of Tennessee.

2. Free your mind...and the rest will follow. Not to bite on some old En Vogue lyrics, but seriously, Bonnaroo is a festival to grow your musical horizons and take in something new. The line-up this year is spectacular - boasting heavy hitters from many subgenres as well as up and comers. Do your best to see at least one new act because that is part of what festival culture is all about - discovery!

3. Tweet @bonnaroo. Its always more fun to get the community involved and you may make some new twiends.

4. Sample the culinary delights and libations. Bonnaroo and Superfly really went all out on whats necessary to please not just the ears, but also the palate. Kerry Black (Bonnaroo co-founder) pulled out the big guns This year brings the FOOD TRUCK OASIS and the BROO-ER's FESTIVAL. Attemdees should get a handsome serving of regional fare from great food trucks like Miami's gastroPod, Pot Kettle Black from South Carolina and Petro's Chili and Chips from Knoxville, Tennessee. The brew portion boasts at least 21 microbrews including popular Blue Moon, Sierra Nevada and Abita, as well lesser known purveyors of ale like Brooklyn Brewery, Sweetwater Brewing Company, Lazy Magnolia Brewing Company, Highland Brewing Company and more!

5. Drink lots of water. The sticky heat can leach a lot of it out of you and you don't want to get dehydrated.

6. Leave your mark, but not a footprint. Make your presence known and tag the walls bordering Bonnaroo with your cool designs...but clean up after yourself if you do.

7. Check out the comedy. The line-up is pretty stacked this year - with a live version of The League being a real highlight. Not only will you get to laugh in the comedy tent - but you can cool down too. Its one of the spots with air conditioning on site.

8. Do visit shakedown street. It is part of the culture and the vibe. Even if you could avoid it because you're VIP - its still worth checking out if you want the full 'Roo experience.

9. Stay until the end. In year 10, you never know what might happen on the final night.

10. Last, but certainly not least, do attend the SUPERJAM with Dan Auerbach (The Black Keys) and Dr. John. The blues, rock and funk that will emanate from this session is certainly going to be great and will likely feature a host of great musicians!

On to the DON'Ts:

1. Don't be irresponsible. Consume what you consume - but do it safely.

2. Don't forget your belongings. Remember what you're bringing with you. Despite people feeling the love at festivals, my experience is a lost item is a lost item. That said, Bonnaroo does have a lost and found.

3. Don't fall asleep in the sun. Find some shade - there is plenty of it around and waking up to a wicked sunburn is not a good recipe for comfort.

4. Don't get dehydrated. This goes along with the DOs of drinking water - but seriously. Dehydration will drain you, make you sluggish and might result in you missing that late night set you were pining for...

5. Don't miss the SUPERJAM. 7:00 pm on Sunday in That Tent.

6. Don't bring glass of any kind. If its not for your optics then the glasses aren't allowed. Buy a cube of pseudo-water instead if you like ale (they have microwbrews on site) and put your alcohol in a listerine bottle if you like the hard stuff.

7. Don't miss Jovanotti. This guy is legendary overseas, but is getting his shine midday on Saturday at The Other Tent at 3:45 pm. I was the DJ at his sold out show at The Viper Room last summer and the Italian crooned an amazing cover of Snoop. You won't be disappointed.

8. Don't forget to be courteous to the volunteers and staff - they do make this whole weekend possible.

9. Don't forget to pick a meeting spot for you and your crew. There is a strong likelihood of getting lost, draining your cell battery and/or having different interests in music than the rest of your entourage so make sure you pick a convenient location to reconvene.

10. Don't let the weather get you down. With potential thunderstorms looming and certain humidity, there is no doubt that weather conditions could be more ideal. But, it is a festival and part of the unpredictability and the potential for bad weather is what gives the event such unique energy. A torrential downpour could lead to the most epic rock set of all time - so don't let the weather take its toll on your spirit.

and, of course don't forget to enjoy yourself! See you in Tennessee!