I knew how my last day at Bonnaroo was going to begin with Black Box Revelation and end with The Staves, who we interviewed here last week. However, everything in the middle was fair game. Regardless of where I ended up, I knew I’d find awesome music at any stage.
Knowing where I had to be was one thing, but getting to a stage at the crack of dawn, at least by Bonnaroo standards, was a challenge. As a steady drizzle came down in the camping area, I was awakened by the familiar sound of BBR's guitar. Initially I was afraid I’d had slept through my alarm, but fortunately, it was just a quick soundcheck and I had ample time to hustle over to see the Belgium outfit’s early set at That Tent.
I’d recently become very familiar with the duo’s music. I knew what to expect and was pleased to see I wasn’t the only one to wake up for this early set. There were several Belgians in the crowd, proudly waving flags. The rest of the crowd wasn’t as ready for the heavy, gritty rock that came out of the boys at such an hour. But once the audience realized what was happening, they gladly joined in by dancing and clapping along to the music.
After that wake up call, I made my way to the Miller Lite Popup Stage to catch a bit of Fly Golden Eagle. I decided to check out these guys after I saw their name on the Bonnaroo bill, and they ended up filling the psychedelic stoner rock slot on my itinerary. While the crowd size for these guys wasn’t overwhelmingly big, those that had decided to come were into what they heard.
Next up were The Antlers. Chilling in the somewhat muddy, damp grass, I enjoyed hearing their soothing, almost trance like songs. Hearing them was one of my favorite moments of the festival. The way they layer their sounds, which gradually builds to form an epic meshing of noise was a crowd-pleaser.
As I headed towards the press area, I decided to avoid the crowds trying to grab food on the main paths so I ended up passing by the Miller Lite Great Taste Stage. As I was passing through, the sound of San Diego-based outfit Silent Comedy welcomed me. These guys were great and know how to energize a crowd, connecting with one member at a time. The best part of their set was their version of what seemed to be a church hymn. Some people knew the words of the song and sang along, but everyone else was still able to enjoy it too, especially when Joshua Zimmerman jumped into the crowd while continuing to play his guitar.
Leaving Silent Comedy, I knew it was my last chance to get in some good people watching and take in the ambience of the festival before catching the last act on my itinerary: The Staves. This trio of sisters caught my attention a couple months ago and I couldn’t have been happier to see their names in the lineup. They opened for Bon Iver on his recent U.S. tour so it was only fitting that Bon Iver’d be playing as I walked back over to the Great Taste Stage.
From the moment The Staves took the stage, their amazing personalities shined brightly. While the songs lend themselves to a more calming, harmonized vocal style, their witty banter with the audience showed that their demeanor is loose and comedic. Banter aside; what stood out was the music. Having heard songs such as “Mexico” and their most recent EP, Motherlode, I had become fond of them and recognized their talent. However, it wasn't until I heard them perform live that I understood how special this group was.
There’s a certain angelic quality in the vocals that engrosses when you’re in the same place as these women, that takes you to a faraway place. This set was one of the lasting memories from what was an already terrific festival.Finally I made a mad dash to my car so I could catch a plane and get home with an hour to spare before I had to get back to reality, eagerly daydreaming about what next the music festival this summer has in store for me.