Horray, more music! Day 2 of Bonnaroo got off to a great start with Dungen at the That Tent. It's quite a trip to hear thousands of people singing along in a language they don't actually understand. Lots of people knew the words, few actually knew what they were saying. Regardless, the energy and presence of this band always impresses, and they left the early risers in high spirits to take on the day. After them were Gothamist pals Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, who played to what we assume was the largest crowd they've been in front of that was the most unfamiliar with the songs. We actually had people ask us "Who is Clap Your Hands whatever whatever?" For the first time in over a year. This touches on one of the great things about the festival. Even though the lineup skewed more towards the indie scene than in previous years, the majority of the crowd was still there for the major jam bands. This put bands like CYHSY in a position to show off their talents in front of musically open minded people who may not have otherwise have gone to see them. Their set was marred with technical difficulties, which was a shame cause it hindered the flow a bit, but nonetheless, once the songs came out, the crowd was bouncing along and enjoying themselves as expected. That’s what we always like to see.
After walking by and catching a brief glance at both Rusted Root and Damian Marley's sets, we settled in at the Other Tent for Amadou and Mariam, who were the surprise of the weekend. We knew they were good, and had liked the album from what we heard, but finally seeing it translated live was really exciting. The entire tent was dancing around and absolutely loving it, including our new day 1 hero Jim James from My Morning Jacket (proof!). We don't usually pick up on stuff like this on a first experience, but the guitar work displayed by Amadou was really impressive. Some of the most jaw-dropping instrumentation we saw all weekend.
After that we made our first trek over to the Main Stage to settle into a good spot for Beck and Radiohead. We had a hard time wrapping our head around Beck's set, but that seemed to be what he was going for. Got the feeling he was more interested in messing with our heads than entertaining, but ended up doing both. The theme was that the whole set was accompanied by Marionettes that sang and played along with the band. One of the highlights was a video interlude with the puppets wandering around Bonnaroo. Lots of amusing bits at the expense of the hippies. He did a few covers during his dinnertime set (where the band sat at a table and ate while he played solo) including the Flaming Lips 'Do You Realize' and the band he was opening for's old hit 'Creep'. The whole thing felt like a joke we weren't really in on, but I'm sure that was the point. Beck's clearly a smart guy, and knew how to push the crowd's buttons just the right way.
Following him was the real headliner of the entire weekend, Radiohead. They were pretty spectacular. Even given the fact that we were half a mile away from the stage, the enormity of the band's sound reached us without much effort, and we were completely wrapped up in it. They reached back for some old hits like Fake Plastic Trees and The Bends, as well as a handful of new ones they've been previewing on this most recent tour.
Our night didn’t end with Radiohead, However. Once they were done, we headed over to the comedy tent to try and check out old Gothamist friend Aziz Ansari and a troupe of UCB improv comedians. We were shocked and thrilled to see the line to get in was already about 1000 people deep. The UCBers opened with a frantic and amusing bit about being the Bonnaroo safety squad, followed by a 20 minute stand-up set by Aziz, which included his bit about googleing his name and having the embarrassing Gothamist interview snippet come up, as well as an amazing story about finding himself at a bizarre R. Kelly afterparty in LA. For anyone concerned, Aziz’s comedy clearly translated to beyond the below 14th street crowd, and we were thrilled to see him knock the capacity crowd dead. Badass, indeed. (Note: He's playing our comedy show next week at Pianos! We don’t expect Radiohead to open for him at that show, however.)
Finally, after the jokes were done, we headed over for a late set of one of our favorite live acts, The Dresden Dolls. Their Goth/Punk/Cabaret set worked exceptionally well in the Other Tent, and their stunning stage presence and blistering emotion was impossible to ignore. They played for a little over an hour, but were the one band we wished could have played longer. Only Two days, and Bonnaroo has already spoiled us.
You can check out pictures from Day 2 here. We’ll be back tomorrow for the Day 3 wrap-up.