Bonnaroo ’08 was in my opinion, better than my two previous festivals with friends (Bonnaroo ’07 and ACL ’07). It was a perfect storm of stellar weather (for the most part), great lineup, and good scheduling on the part of the festival. Overall, I give the festival a 6.5 on the Kyle Scale of Rating (a 9 out of 10 for all you outsiders). Here are my rankings for all things Bonnaroo ’08
Weather – After getting setup, which was a bit of a hassle cause our friends suck, I headed to This Tent, which was definitely the stage of the day for me. I stayed at This Tent from start to finish. The bands that I saw on Thursday were
What Made Milwaukee Famous – I saw WMMF at SWXS ’07 after Ghostland and was impressed with the local austin area powerpop troubadours. Their set at Bonnaroo was better. Not having to play after one of my favorite bands may have helped, but I truly feel like their show was just more energetic, more fun, and 5:45 is just a better start time for a rock pop band than close to midnight.
Superdrag – The Bonnaroo guide had Superdrag labeled as grunge, so I was cautious at best, expecting a filler band before MGMT and Vampire Weekend. While I won’t say I would see them again, I will say I enjoyed their show and consider them as more of an alt rock group with a very goofy bass player who was clearly the face of the band, appearing to be a real life side show Bob.
MGMT – Possibly the show of the day on friday, MGMT paged Zeppelin on some songs, having the feel of a show that everybody in attendance would remember for a long while. Closing with Kids, this show was epic, yet would have been better in a small club such as Warehouse live. Andrew Vanwyngarden dressed like a rock star, and backed it up with his performance Thursday.
Battles – Much hyped, but I was told they were a little harder than I generally like, Battles was my surprise of the festival. After coming on about 15 minutes late due to problems with their looping machines, the noise just kept coming and coming and coming, marked by a memorable performance by their drummer, who, for lack of a better phrase, tore things up.
Vampire Weekend – When I saw their drummer come out looking less like a Columbia grad than a jam band junkie, wearing a Phish shirt, I knew I was in for something. What I got was a show where everyone in the audience knew all of the words to every song (which added to the charm), and an unlikely dedication to Lil Jon and the Eastside Boys. Vampire Weekend proved to be more than capable of playing for more than their first albums 39 minute total, and closed out This Tent on the happiest of notes Thursday.
The Fiery Furnaces – Glockabelle and crew made this show even better than my lofty expectations had hoped. Later on, I saw their Sonic Stage set, which allowed me to get a closer look at the goddess that is Eleanor Friedberger. Afterward, I got to meet them and Matthew and Eleanor were pretty awesome. I got a picture with the Friedbergers and the band signed some things for me and Austin.
Tegan and Sara – The conversation with the crowd was almost as good as the show itself. Tegan was keen on letting us know she was real excited for the new kids on the block reunion and that their family used to be poor, while Sara assured us their childhood wasn’t so awful.
The Raconteurs – good fodder for a nap. The Raconteurs are the epitome of a rock band today, although they really are no match for Jack Whites other outfit, The White Stripes.
MIA – For a last show ever, or any show period, this one will go down as an epic celebration of tacky neon colored clothing and noisy dance music. For an hour and a half, MIA was worshipped in that tent and if it happens to really be her last show ever, which I highly question, it will have been a fitting end.
MSTRKRFT – This show was the best blend of DJ Dance music and rock party.
Superjam – Starting 40 minutes late, the Superjam was going to have to hit hard or be viewed as a disappointment. Les Claypool and Gogol Bordello did their part and made me forget about 40 minutes in the driving rain waiting for an unknown artist.
Against Me! – Despite ending their set a little early and minus a rumoured guest spot from Tegan Quin, the punk rockers from Gainesville made their time well spent.
Gogol Bordello – The show of the festival in my opinion, these guys played and played and when their time was up, they played some more. The passion and crowd involvement made this the most well rounded show of the festival.
Cat Power – I wasn’t familiar with this chick rocker going in, but she left me with a good impression and wanting more.
Iron & Wine – I expected this show to be more chill than it was, but the edge it had made it enjoyable on a different level.
Money Mark – This set was short and sweet and better than I’d expected. Money Mark had been called the fourth beastie boy back in the day, and I’m not the biggest beastie boy fan, so I was cautious heading in, but this show was more comparable to a funkier version of Jack Johnson’s Sleep In The Static.
Chromeo – The blend of visual effects, onstage chemistry, and musical experience put this show in my top 5 for the festival.
Ghostland Observatory – Any description I would have of this show would be a letdown. You would think after seeing a band as many times as I have, it would start to get old. Thankfully, I have not yet fallen victim to this.
Orchestra Baobab – gimmicky African band with a mediocre horn section and so so guitars. Filler before O.A.R.
O.A.R. – Good but not great show, these guys have a dedicated fan base, including a guy who paid 60 bucks to move up two rows just for the show.
Broken Social Scene – Both their Sonic Stage set and their stay at the Other Tent were two of the most fun shows of the festival. From Kevin Drew’s equipment malfunctions to his Kanye West bash to the song these Canadians made in support of Barack Obama’s run for the White House, this show kept people smiling and rocking throughout both sets. Amy Milan is a fox!
Death Cab For Cutie – Although I missed the beginning of the show, it was a good sign that the first song I caught just happened to be my favorite Death Cab song. Their live show had a different feel than the last time, yet still pleasing.
BONNAROO ’08 was better than I’d expected and to date, my favorite music festival. I recommend you give it a go!