Bonnaroo Day 3 – First Impressions

What a curious day at the festival, containing multiple highlights (Sigur Rós and B.B. King) and one of the lowest moments (Kanye)

Sigur Rós

Competing with MMJ for my personal highlight set at Bonnaroo. Resplendent with beautiful and moving moments, ethereal and visceral, distant yet warm and welcoming. Oft conjuring images of the tundras of their native Iceland, they create music with a distant yet familiar feel, almost akin to a déjà vu of a memory of love or beauty from a past life. Visually electrifying with elaborate accoutrements and unexpected images, such as the all-white-garbed, small marching band or the rearrangement of core members on the stage into specific sections as if a split orchestra. Now one of my favorite performances, epic in scope and fully captivating.

Abigail Washburn & the Sparrow Quartet feat. Bela Fleck

This was one of the most impressive sets musically all festival. While lacking the breath-taking, indescribable “wow” factor of the late-nighters, the gorgeous folk music made up for it. Tromping all around Americana and Chinese influences, the set was arresting in its beauty; Washburn’s voice was one of the most memorable of the festival.

B.B. King

A legend along with Willie Nelson, at 82 years old, he still manages to captivate and endear, as well as occasionally tear it up with great blues riffs.. Chris Rock remarked “what black man over 50 doesn’t hate white people?” BB King springs to mind, spreading a good-natured gospel of music and mutual love and respect.

Pearl Jam

Another band that is clearly full of veteran performers with tight performances and good showmanship. Still, you couldn’t help but wonder: how much longer should bands like Pearl Jam (with some admittedly excellent rock songs “Better Man,” “Sex Type Thing”) go on playing those same songs with little else interesting to offer listeners? The problem is that any capable garage/grunge/rock band could play their songs as long as they ran a recording of Vedder’s voice.


A pleasant surprise to the bill, forming a trifecta of metal along with Metallica and the Sword. Extremely tight outfit, beautifully executed, jarring changes between passages in songs, furious, transportive, expansive.

Kanye West

Starting nearly 2 hours late, shifting set time on multiple occasions to facilitate a ridiculous space-scape prop in his new stage show. The gist is that he is some sort of lost, wandering spacefarer trying to make his way home. It is as ridiculous as it sounds, and I refused to indulge his infamous ego. Hearing the intro track narration, I can only imagine how cockamamie the whole set was. And I heard something about having sex with his space-ship…that’s an exhaust port, Mr. West.

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One Response to “Bonnaroo Day 3 – First Impressions”

  1. Scrivener says:

    Sigur Ros was definitely the highlight of the whole festival for me. Even more so now that the band has released the new US tour dates and the closest they will come to Atlanta is Chicago. Given how frequently they tour, Bonnaroo might be the only time I ever see them live.

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