Musically, There are two things that I will cause me to basically drop whatever I'm doing and pay attention. First being anything with a banjo, and second being punk music. Put them together to get some nice folk punk and you have the beginning of my Saturday at Bonnaroo with The Devil Makes Three. Since it was an early set, I didn't expected as large of a crowd as the one that had gathered. Since I'd never caught the band live, I was not familiar with the three members of the band by visual alone. But, I did know that Lucia Turino was not present since there were three dashing men in front of me. After the second song, Pete Berhard addressed that very issue by informing the crowd that Lucia, sadly, had a broken arm but would be back with the band in two weeks. The Devil Makes Three is the perfect festival band. Especially for an early in the day slot where many festival goers are still recovering from the night, before lounging on the grass just soaking in talent. A little banjo and a stand up bass can easily help kick start anyone's day.
After an opening set like that I knew it was going to be a good day. So I made my way to listen to the Press Panels, which is where musicians are brought in to answer questions about the industry in an intimate session. Luckily for me, two of my planned "must see" performers were part of today's discussion. Dougy Mandagi from Temper Trap and up and coming artist LP. During the panel Mandagi spoke about Temper Trap's newly released second album and the crowds response to it, in addition to gauging the crowd's reaction to familiar hits such as Sweet Dispostion. After hearing him talk, I was only more sure that I needed to catch their set which coincidently followed the discussion. Making my way to the What Stage, I decided to take this set easy and enjoy from afar in the grass. I couldn't have asked for a better band to experience in such a way. About halfway through the set Mandagi, addressed the crowd informing them that in case they were wondering why the band was playing so many songs they weren't familiar with, it was in fact because they had a new album out. Several fans in the crowd near me commented very positively on this new information. Closing the set with the crowd pleasing Sweet Dispostion was a great way to leave everybody happy.
I took a quick walk over to one of the smaller pop up stages, were I caught another panelist LP. After SXSW she was the talk of the industry for her nonstop playing and amazing vocals. So, I made it a point to not miss out this time. You may be familiar with her song Into the Wild that was featured in a Citi Bank commercial. I think she drew more people than the promoters expected since onlookers were craning their necks and squeezing through the very tight space to grab a peak at the singer. Her vocals blew me away and her presence has such a calming cool relaxed vibe, that carries into the music making listeners accept it and crave more from her. This is a gal that I can see gaining a huge following and playing one of the larger stages in no time.
The next performer was Gary Clark Jr. The festival organizers have several of the main stage acts play other days of the festival on a smaller more intimate stage, The Sonic Stage. This allows more people to get a closer viewing of the larger main bands. This was the case with Gary Clark Jr, I was torn between seeing him a small stage, or waiting until tomorrow and catching him as a main act? I chose to see him today and I am so pleased I made the right choice. This man is a guitar god, or the closest to one I have seen live. His ability to own the instrument is something that is going to keep him in the music industry for a long time. He's already started to carve a name for himself. It's only a matter of time before seeing him in large venues will be the only option. The audience obviously shared my feelings, as well as the MC let the show run over it's scheduled time slot for an encore. (Read our November 2011 interview here.)
Luckily, the next band up was Art vs Science. They were the talk of the day yesterday, as rumors spread that they would be performnig a surprise pop up mini show. Multiple people told me I had to catch their set, and after doing so I can see why. With these guys, it's not an if but rather a when they will get on your radar. These three men, hailing from Australia, took the stage in silver metallic moon suits, looking very magical. Their up beat dance music created an instant party. No one really seemed to notice in the hot sun. With hints of Empire of the Sun mixed with a definitely more electric vocoder sound, they're the perfect band for a great summer time jam, or easily a mash up club dream in the making. (See our August 2011 Artist Of The Week feature on Art vs Science here)
Overall all my Saturday was a pretty free flowing day full of very talented musicians that ran the gamut of genres. Presently finishing up writing this while sitting on the grass in a crowd of several thousands of people, while enjoying the Red Hot Chilli Peppers, an ideal setting to send me into a very busy day tomorrow. Check back tomorrow for the last day of the festival recap.