To whet your whistle while we compile the massive JamBase Bonnaroo review, we bring you a few choice "Top 5" moments from the Bonnaroo music festival. Below we find picks from Sound Tribe Sector 9's Zach Velmer, The Slip's Brad Barr, Jerry Joseph of The Jackmormons, Velour Records' Sean Hoess, Hard Head Management's Jay Bau, An Honest Tune's editor and publisher, Tom Speed, as well as picks from The Kayceman, Geoff Harrison and Andy Gadiel from JamBase.
The Kayceman | JamBase Head Writer
1. Neil Young bringing it harder than I ever imagined he could. Truly amazing, guitar distortions, calling up the devil, and raging for hour upon hour. Not to mention "Cortez," "Like A Hurricane," and a funny as all hell nod to Spinal Tap with a "Stonehenge" reference.
2. Widespread Panic's reworked version of "Imitation Leather Shoes" with JB's possessed red eyes peering at me over the screen.
3. Drive-By Truckers rocking harder than anyone, showing Bonnaroo exactly what a Southern rock band should be. Capped off by the destruction of their guitars with lead man Patterson Hood spitting on the ground while he declares, "Hell no we ain't happy." ("Hell No I Ain't Happy" appears on the new DBT release, Decoration Day.)
4. Sound Tribe Sector 9 blowing the minds of countless new fans and playing the most cohesive show I've seen by them, concluding in epic fashion with Mike Gordon sitting in for the encore.
5. The psychedelic mud ground that made me feel like I was walking on the moon and forcing hallucinations.
Zach Velmer | Drummer, Sound Tribe Sector 9
1. Playing in front of that many people (the numbers are still being debated, but we are speculating between 10,000-20,000 people) and the energy that was reciprocated between STS9 and audience, what a treat and a blessing. And of course Mr. Gordon was an honor, I must say.
2. Getting to see Tortoise and Neil Young as well as some other great artists and chatting with a couple of them.
3. The whole vibe and how harmonious the festival was for that amount of people.
4. The air conditioned backstage for artists.
5. How the ground was kinda mushy and floaty, kinda like the moon would be... never seen anything like it.
Brad Barr | Singer/Guitarist, The Slip
1. Kid Koala doing "Moon River" before Neil Young's set with a huge moon hanging over the crowd.
2. Giving Wayne Coyne (lead man for the Flaming Lips) this strange stuffed beaver we've been carrying around on our tour bus. I figured if anyone would appreciate it he would. And to top it off, when I saw him later that evening (after their amazing late-night set) he was holding it under his arm.
3. Our set. The amount of people and energy was amazing. I thought we played really well and it was everything I could have hoped for. The audience was amazing.
4. Michael Franti & Spearhead's set. Mixing folk, hip-hop, political/spiritual songs in a way that everyone can relate. Getting everyone to forgive themselves and get a real honest release from everyone, especially me.
5. My last choice is a tie between watching people have sex in the grass while Jason Mraz played a Christina Aguilera song, and watching this naked guy try to get backstage at Neil Young's set. He had a towel around his waist and was trying to reason with security and at one point his towel fell off and he tried to get back using force... I was rooting for him.
Jerry Joseph | Singer/Guitarist, The Jackmormons
1. Finding a tequila bar at four in the morning in the raining muddy parking lot with my friends Stinger and Kevdog.
2. The Red Bull tent at hospitality.
3. The Roots.
4. Flaming Lips playing "Breath."
5. The Polyphonic Spree
Jay Bau | Hard Head Management
1. The Polyphonic Spree. This band blew me away. I had heard about them being 25 people deep and wearing robes, etc. Sounded a bit contrived and gimmicky. Not at all. Their "sunshine-pop" has a lot similarities with the Flaming Lips, but the only "props" they rely on are the band itself. The musicianship, the choir and the actual songs all combined to make a phenomenal performance... I need to see them again as soon as possible to confirm that they were really as good as I remember.
2. Flaming Lips. The Lips melted minds in one of the late-night tents on Saturday. First time I saw them on this tour and had heard mediocre things about their recent Roseland show ("too short... and more about the gimmicks than the music"), but I thought they were excellent. I think the Lips set was a great example of how bands at Bonnaroo can't help but feed off of the unreal energy coming from the crowd... Especially in the tents. The Lips, Spearhead, the Spree and Drive-By Truckers all proved this. The crowd's energy demands next levelness and the bands deliver.
3. Naked Dude at The Meters late-night. We're hanging out behind the stage at the "This Tent" when all of a sudden we see this chubby dude with nothing on but glazed eyes and a Kool-Aid smile. He was gonzo. He proceeded to climb the fence into the backstage area and to the shock and dismay of everyone witnessing this spectacle; he leapt off the top of the jagged fence with surprisingly agility. He was quickly escorted out of the area by security. A few minutes later, someone comes running out of the tent screaming, "He's back and now he's on stage!!!!" This was at the same time that I was going back in to check out the music and luckily narrowly avoided having this dude pushed into me by security as they escorted him out once again. All we could say the next day was "that fence... the wrongest thing I've ever seen."
4. Warren Haynes acoustic. A Sunday morning sermon was in order. A really heartfelt show to a great crowd. Some of my favorite originals - "Glory Road," "I'll Be The One" - and some excellent cover choices - "Lucky," "Stella Blue," "I've Got A Dream To Remember," "To Lay Me Down" and more. The "Soulshine" featured Vusi Mahlasela from the movie Amandala ("the South-African Buena Vista Social Club"). His phrasing is definitely unique but his voice is simply gorgeous.
5. Neil Young. Foregoing the setlist they've been using on this tour so far, Neil &
The Horse played a long set strictly made of favorites and played them with a passion which could not be ignored. "Cortez," "Powderfinger," "Sedan Delivery," "Hey Hey...," "Down By The River," "Roll Another Number," and others. The "Like A Hurricane" had super spacey, jammed out intro and outro... I think it was about a half hour long. Neil at Bonnaroo proved why he's "The Legend's Legend."
Sean Hoess | Velour Records
1. Flaming Lips. Plushies, balloons, strange in-your-face camera and simply amazing pop tunes, not to mention some very credible Pink Floyd covers. Low budget production with high-end effect. Funniest thing was that the Lips were totally shocked to see how much the crowd loved them; art-pop suddenly taking over the jam scene?
2. Neil Young. This guy has more energy than all of the Rolling Stones put together. Voice and playing sounds as good as it did 30 years ago, and at fifty-something, he’s still more experimental than anyone else on the whole festival. And he has the best guitar tone around.
3. The Polyphonic Spree. Whether they’re a religious cult masquerading as a band or a band masquerading as a religious cult or a chorus masquerading as The Beatles, they’re dope.
4. Kaki King. A bit self-serving, perhaps, but honestly, how many solo acoustic guitarists can whip a large crowd into a total frenzy? The wow-factor there, from technique to songwriting, is totally unrivaled.
5. Bonnaroo. I still might not know how to spell it, but cheers to Superfly and A/C Entertainment and the DMB and Phish organizations for figuring out what no one else has: that with perfect organization, it’s possible for 80,000 people to self-police, experience diverse musical talent, and simply have a good time. I could go on, but anyone who was there knows it’s the best festival in the US.
Geoff Harrison | JamBase Marketing & Band Development
1. The Roots -> Widespread Panic -> Flaming Lips -> Medeski Martin & Wood. How can you top that?
2. The Slip - This band gets better every time I see them. From Brad's Flamenco guitar playing to Andrew's ferocious drumming to Marc's nimble bass lines, The Slip adds a new dimension to their sound and style every time I see them.
3. Michael Franti & Spearhead - Such uplifting music, they had 5,000 dancing in unison.
4. Jack Daniels - Tennessee Whiskey. Kept me rocking at the JamBase booth all weekend.
5. Tortoise and Sonic Youth - This indie rock brought a new flavor to my weekend. Both bands use space and noise to create innovative sonic palettes. Hopefully the Jam communities' associations with ground breaking bands in other "genres" can move people past their labels and focus them on the music.
Tom Speed | Editor, An Honest Tune magazine
1. Widespread Panic's "Kudzu Version" of "Imitation Leather Shoes."
2. The uninhibited joyous glee of The Polyphonic Spree.
3. Overhearing Junior Ruppel of the Jackmormons, while talking to fans
through the backstage fence, tell a security guard, "Take this thing down.
We're not that kind of band!"
4. SuperJam (featuring Dr. John, Mike Gordon, Stanton Moore, Luther Dickinson, and more)!
5. Playing in the fountain (on the first day... it got pretty nasty by day three).
Andy Gadiel | Consciousness Optimist
1. The Polyphonic Spree - "Follow the day and reach for the sun!"
2. Flaming Lips - "Hey everybody, come on into the tent, The Flaming Lips are gonna play!"
3. Neil Young - "Cortez Cortez."
4. Kaki King - "Blissful Resonance."
5. The Slip - "Moroccan Jam."
This has been a little appetizer for all you waiting the JamBase Bonnaroo review. Keep your eyes peeled as we continue to put together the most comprehensive Bonnaroo review anywhere.