Bonnaroo 2009: Wrap-Up And Final Thoughts

Now that I’ve finally gotten over my Bonna-flu, here’s one last post to talk about what I took from this year’s shenanigans. The Bonnaroo guide book talked about the weird familiarity that Bonnaroo becomes after several years of attending, and that definitely struck me this year. The place now certainly feels “like going back to the neighborhood where you grew up as a kid”. But this installment still managed to be a unique experience from every other. Outside of the hurricanes Thursday night, I think this was the best weather this festival has ever seen, and I feel the constant cloud cover really helped the energy overall stay strong through the last night. The vibe is always fun at the ‘roo, but I felt like this year there was a little extra electricity in the air with the crowd. Having Radiohead on a lineup is pretty awesome, but I think in the end this year’s event will be most remembered for having the strongest top to bottom lineup.

I think you could find a rather large collection of music journalist/blogger types that would agree that Animal Collective‘s Merriweather Post Pavilion, Grizzly Bear‘s Veckatimest, Dirty ProjectorsBitte Orca, and St. Vincent‘s Actor are all legitimate contenders for album of the year and Bonnaroo showcased all four artists within a matter of hours. This lead me to ponder some things and I came up with a few observations. First, Brooklyn, New York is the undisputed new music mecca right now. Atlanta has some cool stuff going on, but Brooklyn is the center of the universe. Also, I think harmony, particularly vocal harmonies, is a musical concept that is going to be on a hott trend for the years to come. Complexity, nuance and classical notions of musicianship are also concepts that I believe to be on the upward swing right now in the direction indie pop music is taking. There are plenty of exceptions and even healthy pushback against these trends in this “any flavour you like” internet world, but there is a renaissance going on and Bonnaroo is one of the best places to get a real glimpse at it.

Another contemplation I had over the festival was the state of jambands. Ten years ago, for better or worse, Jambands were probably the most popular underground music scene (except maybe raves) and Bonnaroo wouldn’t exist without its ties to that culture. This year, outside of Phish headlining, the fest was sparse in typical jambands. Not that the neo-hippie culture is going to die away any time soon, but it has waned to just a fringe group these days. I can’t think of one major jamband that has emerged into popularity in the last five years. There isn’t much left except nostalgia and drug use, which still has its place. Watching The Mars Volta and Wilco on Saturday got me thinking about the concept of Jambands 2.0. Musical improvisation is an ideal that will always find an audience, but these days bands that employ it must also be decent songwriters and mild experimenters to get attention. Thus, I think sometime in the near future we are going to see a flood of bands that jam out but don’t adhere to similar, genre-type limitations. The Grateful Dead were an extremely avant-garde band, and when that scene completely lost that sense, it shriveled away.

Overall, Bonnaroo 2009 was everything I hoped for, and now I’ll be counting the days down until next year.

Random Bonnaroo 2009 things:

Ticket sales were up this year (over 75,000), but short of selling out.

A dead body was discovered after the festival, bringing the all-time death-aroo count to Seven.

As always, Largehearted Boy is keeping up with every set from the fest that you can download.

Some videos of Triumph The Insult Comic Dog at the fest:

Wilco “Impossible Germany”:

MGMT “Weekend Wars”:

The Mars Volta: “Roulette Dares (The Haunt Of)”:

Girl Talk Finale:

Bon Iver w/ Elvis Perkins “I Feel like Going Home” (Yo La Tengo cover)

Portugal The Man:

Phish “Farmhouse”:

Slideshow of the Bonnaroo 2009 sights:

Day 1 Coverage
Day 2 Coverage
Day 3 & 4 Coverage
The Female Festival

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3 Responses to “Bonnaroo 2009: Wrap-Up And Final Thoughts”
  1. Kristin Says: June 25th, 2009 at 9:14 am

    I loved my 1st Bonnaroo and I can’t wait for next year! Thanks for the recap!

  2. kimb Says: June 25th, 2009 at 10:27 am

    fucking hilarious…i miss it soo bad..rothbury wont be the same without you davy =[

  3. Taylor Northern Says: June 25th, 2009 at 12:44 pm

    Davy, I like your articles on Bonnaroo, but when you say in your closing statement, “Thus, I think sometime in the near future we are going to see a flood of bands that jam out but don’t adhere to similar, genre-type limitations. ”

    What do you mean?

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