Jeff Sweatman

#Bonnaroo 2013 – Thursday Corner recap!

Well here we are, at Bonnaroo 2013!  Another sold-out affair in Manchester, TN (80,000 strong)…some of the highlights of Day One included:


left Cville a little before 7am, hit a couple of strong thunderstorms on the way near the TN/VA border (which seems to happen en route in that same place every year) and finally got into the radio compound around 4pm.


first band I saw was right in the middle of the action at the intimate New Music On Tap Lounge…Houndmouth sounded rough & ragged, but in a good, charming way


caught the last couple songs from an Athens, GA outfit called Futurebirds.  Apparently they played a farewell to R.E.M. tribute show in their hometown when that band called it quits, and Mike Mills joined them onstage for “Don’t Go Back To Rockville!”


Really felt like The ‘Roo got started this year when JD McPherson got everybody revved up in That Tent.  He’s a great showman & what a band!


Haim was excellent in That Tent from 7:30-8:30…I caught the last half of so, right when the band noticed a young (maybe 6 or 7 years old) fan holding a sign while hoisted atop someone’s shoulders…the bass player then went into the crowd & brought the kid up on stage to watch the next song from that vantage point!  You could tell, esp. after that moment, Haim was really psyched about being able to play Bonnaroo.  The 3 sisters that make up Haim (who usually play bass/guitar/keys, respectively) then closed out the set with some high-energy drumming…not exactly a typical ‘Roo drum circle, but I’ll take it!


Wake Owl played a solid and well-received set at the New Music On Tap Lounge, and then it was over to That Tent for Django Django!  They kept talking from the stage how thrilled they were to be in TN (they are esp. fond of the TN accent, which was funny coming from someone with a very thick British accent), and it was an overflow crowd checking them out from 9-10pm.


Caught a bit of the rockin’ duo Japandroids and the throwback classic country/rock of Jonny Fritz before splitting time between Alt-J and Allen Stone, both of whom really took advantage of what is really a cool showcase time, esp. for newer acts that have been building up strong followings over the past year or so.  By 11:30 when Alt-J went on, and midnight when Allen Stone took the stage, I’d guess virtually all the crowd has arrived and are VERY ready to see live music, after however long their journey to get here might have taken them.


Came back to the radio compound to record a few quick updates for Brad to use on-air Friday morning, and then back out into the fray for a bit of The Vaccines (who I could seemingly hear from a mile away), Capital Cities (who had folks packed into the too-small-for-them-now New Music On Tap Lounge) covered Madonna’s “Holiday” and did a reprise of their new smash hit “Safe & Sound” to close out the set, urging fans to wave their shirts in the air (presumably like they just didn’t care).



On the way over to ALO, The Polyphonic Spree had crashed the party with a surprise set on the Cinema Stage, including some new material & a bunch of Rocky Horror Picture Show songs!!  So much fun, and so glad I randomly stumbled upon this at the very Bonnaroo time of 2am!  I will forever associate this band with Rocky Horror & Funnel Cake!  The band performed right next to a Funnel Cake stand, and on my walk back to home base after the ALO/Jack Johnson experience, most of The Polyphonic Spree were hanging out (easy to spot in their coordinated outfits!), enjoying some post-show powdered sugar treats (which I usually call Elephant Ears, but that might be a Midwest thing).

ALO was billed “with special guests,” one of whom turned out to be (surprise!) their longtime fan & pal, Jack Johnson!  “I’ve been a fan of this band since I was 18!” he said in-between singing “Girl, I Wanna Lay You Down” and revving up a few of his own tunes.  Famed photographer Danny Clinch came out too, playing harmonica on a song or 2.  And by that time, it was around 3am, and I was working on about 2 hours sleep all day anyway, so it was time to call it a night!


Catching up with radio friends from around the country, some of whom I only see yearly or every other year here, is always superfun, and while I was chatting with Keefer, a radio legend who gave me my first full-time gig in Missouri in the mid-90s after I grew up listening to him in Central IL, I happened to notice Jack Johnson (sporting a shiny full head of curly hair!) coming towards us.  Jack actually looked over towards me & I kinda waved (as if I know him personally or something, ha!) and he actually came over & greeted us, acting at first as if he did know me!  He quickly realized I wasn’t that person, and I sheepishly introduced myself, but he was super nice!  Keefer is the one doing all the backstage interviews this year, so they kinda laughed that they had already met, no introductions needed!  For lack of any other conversation topics, I asked Jack who the other guests were going to be with ALO (at this point it was still a couple hours before their set), and Jack (probably thinking,”what, I’m not enough of a special guest?” lol) didn’t really reveal too many details…just one of those random, once-in-a-Bonnaroo experiences!


Some of the radio/media folks were a-buzz when Sir Paul McCartney soundchecked a couple of Beatles tunes in the late afternoon on the main stage (which they don’t really open up for concert-goers til Friday).  A couple of sneaky pics made their way onto Facebook, so I tried to re-post on my Facebook page as I saw them…Android phone & I are having some tech issues when it comes to posting pics with Tweets, but other than that, just trying to do what technology will allow down here on The Farm!


p.s. I’m getting lots of great pics, but WordPress doesn’t seem to want to upload them right now.  Will try to do Facebook instead I guess later today!  You can check out some cool, official photos here, thanks to Music Allies (site updated thru the wknd).  And many sets are being streamed live online, thru including Sir Paul’s set tonight!

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