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.

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