June 13th, 2009
06:14 PM ET

Bon Iver rocks Bonnaroo

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Here’s a quick update from the Bonnaroo Music Festival in Manchester, Tennessee.

So far Saturday belongs to Bon Iver, the project of indie folk singer Justin Vernon, who just wrapped a rousing set of beautiful, soulful melodies mostly off the band’s standout debut album For Emma, Forever Ago, much of which was recorded in a remote cabin in Wisconsin.

I would haven’t necessarily used the term “rock” to describe the tortured singer/songwriter I if hadn’t just seen it with my own eyes. The 4-piece band took the stage with 2 drum kits and a standing snare drum.

Jamaican reggae pioneers Wailing Souls were the first to grace the main stage today, playing a mix of roots and dancehall-style tracks from throughout their considerable career – more than 20 albums released since the 70s – but the highlight was a funky cover of The Doors’ “Love Her Madly.”

And late-Bonnaroo addition - singer, author, and restaurant-chain mogul Jimmy Buffett - played a set of fan favorites with Ilo and the Coral Reefer Allstars. In case you’re wondering, Bonnaroo has plenty of “parrotheads,” and “landsharks” too. Buffett fans came out in force early Saturday afternoon, spilling well beyond the Which Stage field.

A great start for sure, but the night is just getting underway. Still to come – Of Montreal, Decemberists, Wilco, and headliner Bruce Springsteen and The E Street Band before giving way to a late-night lineup including Nine Inch Nails, Ben Harper, and MGMT.

Stay tuned to the Marquee Blog for more updates, and you can also follow my exploits on Twitter.

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Filed under: Bonnaroo • Music
June 13th, 2009
03:48 AM ET

Phish comes 'home' to Bonnaroo

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Bonnaroo, a massive four-day music and arts festival held every June in Manchester, Tennessee, was practically built for Phish, so it felt a bit like a homecoming when the Vermont-based jam band took center stage Friday night, taking its first of two headlining sets (the band plays Sunday as well) well into the early morning hours to a standing-room only crowd.

Seemingly rejuvenated from its five-year hiatus, Phish pulled out all the stops in its first ‘Roo performance, playing classics like show-opener “Chalkdust Torture,” “Harry Hood,” and an epic 25-minute “You Enjoy Myself” (complete with synchronized trampoline jumping). The four-man group also worked in stellar covers of AC/DC’s “Highway to Hell” and show-finale “A Day in The Life” by the Beatles.

Another standout performance Friday night came from the Beastie Boys, who took the stage by storm by playing punk metal before dropping rap classics “Pass The Mic,” “No Sleep Til Brooklyn” and “Root Down.” Their set included perhaps the highlight of the night as hip-hop icon Nas joined the Beasties on stage for a new track – which included a reference to “The Situation Room” news anchor Wolf Blitzer and CNN’s hologram technology.

French outfit Phoenix delighted the hipster crowd who passed on Phish with their irresistible indie-pop – particularly when lead singer Thomas Mars climbed into the crowd during show-closer “1901” off their stellar new album, "Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix."

Over at the This Tent, Flavor Flav and Chuck D brought the noise as hip-hop pioneers Public Enemy delighted an eager crowd with favorites such as “Don’t Believe The Hype” and “Rebel Without a Pause.”

Al Green – backed by a dozen musicians, singers and dancers, schmoozed the audience, throwing stemmed roses to female concert-goers, and coaxing mass sing-a-longs to some of his best-known tunes, like “Let’s Stay Together” and “How Can You Mend A Broken Heart.”

TV on the Radio and David Byrne rounded off a series of fantastic performances on the Which Stage Friday evening.

I knew there would be some artists I would not be able to see, but still I'm kicking myself for not catching these acts:

*Santigold

*Toubab Krewe

*Grizzly Bear

Here’s hoping I have the energy for Girl Talk.

Stay tuned to the Marquee Blog for more updates, and you can also follow my exploits on Twitter.

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Filed under: Bonnaroo • Music • Uncategorized
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