Brad Holtz here, back from Bonnaroo, in what has become an annual summertime tradition of music, mayhem and the occasional hangover.
2012 marks my 8th Bonnaroo experience. Every year, I imagine it will be my last. But I keep going back again and again – with no regrets. If you think back at the early roots of America’s marquee music festival, jam bands ruled. Over 11 years however, Bonnaroo has diversified into a festival experience for fans of all sorts of musical genres. In one weekend, we saw it all. Hip-hop (Childish Gambino), folk (Punch Brothers), the next generation of southern rock (Alabama Shakes), a newcomer who sounds stunningly similar to Bill Withers (Michael Kiwanuka), arguably one of the biggest bands the world has seen in the last 15 years (Radiohead) to arguably America’s greatest rock band today (Red Hot Chili Peppers). Bonnaroo means a little something for everyone.
If you experienced Bonnaroo for the first time this year, you were definitely spoiled by the weather. With daytime highs reaching the low to mid 80s (under low humidity) and nighttime temperatures hovering around 60-65, countless folks who have experienced not-so-favorable-conditions remarked that this was, far and away, the most pleasant Bonnaroo experience, from a weather standpoint. After the first day of my first Bonnaroo weekend (2004), I had never felt filthier, having never experienced the level of MUD we saw. Heat, humidity and dust ruled 2011. This was just about perfect…
You never know who you’re gonna run into at Bonnaroo. While watching Santigold on Saturday afternoon, Beach Boy legend Mike Love swung by to catch some of the set and was nice enough to pose for photos with a few fans. Hollywood A-listers Kristen Bell and Dax Shepherd showed up and caught a number of live performances. We even saw Ludacris hanging out in the backstage radio compound. For one weekend in June, a 700-acre field in the middle of nowhere is transformed into the world’s musical epicenter. And people from all walks of life soak it in.
Personal highlights? Hands down, the Red Hot Chili Peppers put on the best performance of the weekend (perhaps I’m a little biased, as I love the band but have never seen them live). Newcomers Alabama Shakes certainly didn’t disappoint (they’ll be playing a sold-out ‘TTS show at the Vogue on July 31). British soul/folk singer Michael Kiwanuka made his Bonnaroo debut and it was eerily reminiscent of Ray Lamontagne’s debut in 2004. (Check out my backstage interview with Michael).
Thanks for hanging out with us over the weekend. We hope we were able to bring some of the excitement of Bonnaroo back to Indiana. For backstage interviews, blogs and photos, be sure to explore more from the Blogaroo.