My Friday at Bonnaroo Featured Animal Collective, Grizzly Bear and Beastie Boys, but Al Green Wins
In a day full of musical highlights from The Low Anthem, Animal Collective, Santigold, Grizzly Bear, Lucinda Williams, Beastie Boys and David Byrne, the most memorable came during Al Green's set on the big What Stage, when we broke into "Let's Stay Together." Hitting impossible high notes and sliding onto his knees, Rev. Al showed that his time in the pulpit has been just fine for the soul. He looked mighty dapper in his dark suit and tossed roses to pretty girls in the front the front rows.
The day began with a traffic-free drive up from Atlanta just in time
for The Low Anthem at the Sonic Stage right next to our Paste tent. As
much as I love this band, their quiet tunes meant that I could hear as much
of Gomez across the festival grounds as of Ben Knox Miller's whispered vocals. The departure of their drummer didn't help, but Oh My God, Charlie Darwin is still one of my favorite albums this year.
Animal Collective didn't suffer from being too quiet, though they were at their best when playing songs like "My Girls" instead of noodling between them. Their electronic jams suited the venue, though, with Phish headlining later in the night. Their latest, Merriweather Post Pavillion is another of my Top 5 records from the first half of 2009.
Santigold put on a great show in That Tent, with a pair of dancers in glittering gold. No kid started a huge dance party on the lawn this time during "Unstoppable," but the crowd was already into it. The crowd was also into Grizzly Bear, whose meticulously crafted songs translated surprisingly well live.
After Al Green, I chose food over TV on the Radio having seen them recently, but they still sounded great from a distance. As I started to head to Beastie Boys, I heard Lucinda Williams singing one of my favorite songs, "Joy," and got pulled into This Tent to see the rest of the show—which sadly was done after one song, AC/DC's "It's a Long Way to the Top."
My night ended with a pair of big shows—The Beastie Boys rocking a stage set up with a series of cages. The nostalgia factor was high when they played "No Sleep 'Til Brooklyn." David Byrne was equally fun, with a half-dozen choreographed dancers in all white. I realized last night that his speaking voice reminds me of Dustin Hoffman. It was a great—if early—finish to a great night. Kevin and our interns made it all the way through Girl Talk, but I enjoyed my night's sleep.