Peace, Love, and Metal Reign Supreme
As Kanye West Angers Thousands
Words and Photos by Carl Noone Jr. www.hi-noone.com
Peace, love, and…metal?
Hippy philosophy and jam-band dedication took on a whole new festival direction in 2008 as the Gods of Metal, San Francisco living legends Metallica, joined the ever politically-correct Pearl Jam on the main stage at this year's edition of the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival, held every June in Manchester, Tennessee. Hip-Hop's shining star, Kanye West, however, managed to anger thousands of normally sedate concertgoers by delaying his over-the-top "Glow in the Dark" production from 7:45 pm to 2:45 am, with added delays taking until 4:45 am. Big Hassle spokesperson Steven Trachtenbroit stated, "Delays were caused by the basic strike-up and strike-down between the Pearl Jam stage show and Kanye's production. After Pearl Jam played an hour over, it made the original set time impossible to keep, but Kanye's set design and lighting were based around the sunrise and incorporated nicely into the set."
A near sell-out, with over 70,000 attendees from (a verified) 26 countries and all 50 states, the 7th Annual Bonnaroo Festival suffered no reported fatalities during its reign as the third largest city in Tennessee. "It's in the pantheon of great festivals; up there with Glastonbury, Fuji Rock, and Coachella. But were just here for the schwag, we don't give a fuck about the music!", said Ozomatli jokingly during a press conference. Overall, far less criminal arrests were reported then in previous years, all the while catering to an ever-increasingly diverse crowd that included metal-heads and rappers for the first time this year. "The best part of performing at Bonnaroo is knowing that everyone here is a fan of quality music", said singer/songwriter Matt Morris, who was the very first performer 4:30 Thursday afternoon. From the who's-hot-today-list of American Express TV commercials to the bow-down-and-pray-to-your-master Funk of New Orleans legends, Bonnaroo had a bit of something for everyone this year…and more.
Beginning on Thursday, the juxtaposition of sounds and elements that makes Bonnaroo the beautiful beast that it is immediately began to rear its ugly head as Brooklyn-based Battles performed. The only description for what I witnessed can best be explained by the two young guys in front of me, one saying to the other, "it sounds like they are trying to fuck each other with their instruments!" Nicole Atkins and the Sea belted out all their fan favorites in a showcase of New Jersey-meets-Nashville twang that was just edgy enough to keep an entire tent on the tips of its toes. George Porter Jr., founding member of the legendary Funky Meters, performed an ear-shattering late-night set with his latest group, Porter-Batiste-Stoltz, blistering through numbers such as Bob Dylan's classics "Highway 61 Revisited" and "Like A Rolling Stone" that highlighted his bass guitar virtuosity.
Presenting a set list with NOT ONE SINGLE SONG RECORDED BEFORE 1991, Bay Area monsters Metallica reigned supreme on Friday night, playing a 2-hour-plus set of old favorites that included opener "Creeping Death", as well as "Ride The Lightning", "No Remorse", "Master of Puppets", and "Seek and Destroy", with a 3-song encore that featured "Last Caress". "Its really cool they didn't play "Fuel" or any of the other gay shit", said comedian Brian Posehn later Saturday during a press conference. "Its like I wrote the set list myself, they were really that unbelievable!"
In pleasant contrast, Pearl Jam-mied their way through a 3-hour set of rarities and seldom-performed fan favorites on Saturday night that included the opening numbers "Hard to Imagine" and "All Night", as well as their more popular tunes such as "Betterman", "Black", "Alive", "Why Go", "Evenflow" and "Daughter". They even included a few cover songs by performing "Reign O'er Me" by The Who and "All Along the Watchtower" by Bob Dylan for the emotional throngs.
But it may have been the psychedelic blues of My Morning Jacket that scored the biggest points with festival-goers as their rain-soaked 3-hour late-night excursion included covers by Erykah Badu, Sly and the Family Stone, Kool and The Gang, and James Brown. Ending their thirty-five song set with Motley Crue's "Home Sweet Home", comedian Zach Galifianaks joined the band onstage to sing backup vocals while dressed in drag.
Bonnaroo's legacy will surely leave room for debate, but not one single attendee can ever deny the fact that, and despite what Sigur Ros may have been complaining against during their set, nowhere else on Earth can the swirling mess of sounds, emanating from 3 or 4 stages, at 3 am, while lying in your tent, be so well-received and anxiously awaited upon throughout the coming year.
Ahh. Absolutely Bonnar-iffic.
See all of Carl's amazing Bonnaroo photos at