WPG-“Roo”: Bonnaroo 2011 Recap Day 2

Friday, Day 2 of 4. Vids and photos–check ’em out!

The Sword [That Tent, 3:30-4:45 PM]
For a change of pace I decided to check out heavy metal band The Sword. The crowd was actually really surprising, ranging from dads to women with their heads tatted up (yes, tattoos on shaved heads). Ten minutes before the band was to start their set the crowd broke out in chants of “Sword! Sword! Sword!” The energy was palpable and before the mass of people broke into hysterics The Sword walked on stage. Their insanely thrash-friendly instrumentals had everyone, literally every single person including the dads, head banging. “The Chronomancer I: Hubris” started the slew of tunes The Sword played off of their 2010 album Warp Riders. Sometime around there a mosh-pit formed BUT it was more of a mosh-pit turned hardcore dancing pit turned hardcore skipping pit. Once The Sword played “Sea of Spheres”, off of their 2007 split EP with Swedish band Witchcraft, the band really flexed their talents. Kyle Shutt, the band’s guitarist, was rocking so hard that his shoulder-length blonde hair was completely drenched in sweat. Frontman J. D. Cronise, on the other hand, was looking rather clean-cut and his vocals at times really reminded me of Kings of Leon’s Anthony Caleb Followill. Before playing their last song “Winter’s Wolves” off of the band’s debut album Age of Winters, Cronise pointed out a six foot tall man with a very blonde mohawk who was basically running the pit and exclaimed, “This one is to help you stay cool! Think cold thoughts!”. – Natalie Wontorczyk

Lewis Black, Ted Alexandro, Eugene Mirman, & Tim Minchin [The Bonnaroo Comedy Theatre, 4:30-5:45 PM]
Bonnaroo is an experience that wouldn’t be complete without getting slightly sunburned, waiting in a mile long line to use a portable toilet, or visiting the Comedy Theatre. The Comedy Theatre, an air conditioned oasis on the Bonnaroo grounds, is the home of funny during the festival. This year featured comedians such as Ralphie May, Kathleen Madigan, and Donald Glover. But on the second day of Bonnaroo, people were lined up for hours waiting to see comedic genius, Lewis Black. Black was welcomed to the stage with well deserved applause and jumped right into his set discussing among other things, the festival and, of course, politics. The respected comedian opened the show to laughs when he mentioned the Bonnaroo campgrounds, pointing out that, “America is the only place where people would pay to live like a refugee.” The crowd was well warmed up, after Black’s bit about how he would endorse Sarah Palin if she were to run for president – the president of farmville. Where she could tend to the farm and keep a dilligent eye on Russia from her property. Following Black’s opening set, was Ted Alexandro, the once elementary school music teacher turned comedian. Alexandro’s set included bits about speaking fake chinese, the La Bamba song, and the Tampa shoe licker. A decent performance, though it seemed to drag a bit; until, Alexandro mentioned his time as an elementary school music teacher. Alexandro relayed for the audience the time when he taught 4th and 5th graders how to play the ever so annoying “Hot Cross Buns,” which scored huge laughs. Following Alexandro was Eugene Mirman, who was absolutely hillarious. Mirman mostly talked about his Jewish heritage and kept the jokes constent, which kept the show up beat. However, the show took a turn for the worst as Mirman asked Jon Benjamin, the voice of Archer from FX’s hit show of the same name, to join him on stage. The two were not prepared and seemed awkward together, which resulted in scores of people walking out. A trend that continued as the fourth listed comedian, Tim Minchin, took to the stage. Minchin began with by taking off his shirt, turning it inside out and then calling it a smock; likely the highlight of his abismal performance. Lewis Black came to the shows rescue, wrapping it up with some Jersey Shore jokes, a bit about apple store clerks, and his Droid phone. But if anything could be taken away from the show it’d be Black’s last bit of advice, “If you’re gonna fuck things up, have fun doing it.” Well said sir; well said. – Aubrey Morse

Wanda Jackson [The Other Tent, 5:45-7:00 PM]
The legendary Wanda Jackson. Man, can this women rock! It isn’t a surprise that a crowd assembled super early to see the first lady of rock ‘n roll do her thing. The tone was pretty much set once her full band (including Jack White’s own horn section) began sound-check dressed in black suits with white shirts and red silk handkerchiefs. The crowd was not only welcoming but adoring, the first (and only, thus far) sign I saw read: We Worship the Ground You Rock On. The span of ages present was another indicator of Wanda’s star power, and from the cute little granny to the little girl groovin’ to what Wanda later called “the new 50’s generation”. Her band all yelled “Wanda!” and she emerged on stage, wearing a red top and black pants and just looking adorable. I shouldn’t need to mention Wanda’s powerhouse vocals and sometimes gritty, sexy voice. When she started her set with “Riot in Cell Block #9” there was not one person not swayin’ to the beat. Before every song she sang it was story-time with Wanda Jackson (every topic came up from Elvis to God), and it was extremely enthralling. Before performing “I Betcha My Heart I Love Ya” where her yodels sound like angels, she put her hands on her hips and said “I got more guts then talent” and dove right in. In tribute to Elvis, who she toured with right out of high school and dated briefly, she belted out a rendition of “Heartbreak Hotel”. Although Jack White wasn’t present, she played a few songs that White had a hand in including “You Know I’m No Good” and “Shakin’ All Over” that had Wanda Jackson moving like the sex-pot she still is. Even after finishing an encore (“Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On”)and walking off of the stage the band continued to play and the crowd simply could not stop dancing. – Natalie Wontorczyk

My Morning Jacket [What Stage, 8:00-10:00 PM]
Although these guys formed in 1998 they really haven’t been as popular as they should have been until pretty recently. They played Bonnaroo a hand full of times, including their famous four hour set in 2008, but it wasn’t until this year’s that they got a big enough stage to encompass their powerful sound. As a live performance, MMJ fans are apt to say they are the best live band in America at the moment (and one told me exactly that, several times). It’s no wonder that dedicated fans made up an impossibly huge crowd, swallowing everything the eye could see. Front man Jim James immediately had everyone’s attention when he walked on stage with white boots (possibly furry white boots) and a beard that might only be rivaled by Sam Beam’s (Iron and Wine front man). The sun just started to set and there was a slight breeze, just enough to blow everyone’s hair back (adding to the gentle yet powerful feel of MMJ’s presence). Once Patrick Hallahan began drumming to the beat of “Off the Record” everything was in motion for a phenomenal show. James had his eyes shut for a majority of the performance, totally focused, and when the entire band turned to face Hallahan on drums the crowd reveled at being let in on what seemed like a private and raw jam session. James paused between songs and commented on how many times the band has been at Bonnaroo “but this is the first time on the main stage”. MMJ’s big sound was perfect for such a huge venue and once the sun went down completely cell phones, cameras, glow sticks (even a seven foot tall glow in the dark pole), were everywhere. “A sea of humanity,” quipped Hallahan before jumping into a few tunes from It Still Moves, entrancing thousands of people with every word. It wasn’t until “Holdin’ On To Black Metal” that MMJ really showed the extent of their far-reaching talent. It’s no secret that Circuital, their newest album, produced tunes that are perfect in an arena type setting and without fail “Holdin’ On To Black Metal” sounded so perfect I couldn’t believe it was live. The Preservation Hall Jazz Band joined MMJ on stage for “Dancefloors” and just after the climactic performance of “One Big Holiday” para-gliders sprinkled what looked like glitter into the sky causing everyone to question reality. When Hallahan thanked the crowd he was legitimately breathless and, without a doubt, so was the mesmerized crowd. – Natalie Wontorczyk

Arcade Fire [What Stage, 11:00-12:30 AM]
Almost the whole crowd that assembled for My Morning Jacket stayed put, still totally in tune with the music that hung in the air and the glitter that was still pouring down. And then, almost jarring me out of my nice, happy little coma Arcade Fire’s intro video began to play and the always lit Bonnaroo sign over the huge stage went black. Seconds later, 2011 Grammy winners for Album of the Year step out and “Ready to Start” appropriately begins to play. The band’s presence is not only musically huge but actually literally huge, with its members and multiple instruments taking up the whole stage. The group continued to play tunes off of The Suburbs, rolling from “We Used to Wait” to “Month of May”. Obviously it won them a Grammy for a reason and the group played like a well-oiled machine, catering toward the huge crowd with their crazy energy. Win Butler was in his usual garb (tight pants, button-up with rolled up t-shirt sleeves) but Régine Chassagne, married to Butler, in her darling, glittery dress was easily as charismatic especially during the encore performance of Neon Bible’s “Wake Up” and The Suburbs’“Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)”. Before “Sprawl II” began Butler simply said, “This is a love song, let’s do it!” It was an insane ending to an unreal night, Chassagne danced around the stage with reckless abandon and twirled around batons of colorful ribbons while Sarah Neufeld, violinist, jumped around so much so that it was a miracle she could continue playing. The whole band gave every song every bit of energy they had and when Butler closed the night he said what every single person in the sea of people was thinking: “And that’s how you fucking do it!” – Natalie Wontorczyk

Lil Wayne [Which Stage, 1:30-3:00 AM]
Around 1:30am, a police report sounded over the audio system at Which Stage, that stirred the masses into a frenzy. The report seemed a fitting introduction for Lil Wayne, who has his own history with the law. But, like only Lil Wayne could, it seems he has put the past behind him and is looking forward to the future which includes a new album due out in August. As he walked onto the stage, Lil Wayne was welcomed with applause fit for a king. The first few songs to get everyone up included “Bill Gates” and his own rendition of “Look at Me Now.” Then, Wayne outlined the three most importamt things he wanted the crowd to know about him; which are as follows: 1.) I believe in God 2.) I ain’t sh!t without you. 3.) I ain’t sh!t without you! The rest of Lil Wayne’s set was chalk full of hits including, “A Milli,” “Single,” “Lollipop,” and his own rendition of “Bed Rock.” Along with the classics, Lil Wayne debuted a couple of new songs off of his upcoming album Tha Carter IV, including “Reality Check” and “How to Love,” which really had the crowd throwing their hands in the air. After a few plugs for his new album, (dropping everywhere August 29) the expansive playlist was filled with about two minutes of every song that kept the show going into the wee hours of the morning. But the night was topped off by a finale performance of “6 Foot 7 Foot,” which had the crowd on their feet, atempting to follow Lil Wayne’s unstoppable flow. – Aubrey Morse

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