The moon is full, and the music is coming from all angles on a 700-acre farm in my hometown of Manchester, Tenn., where four days out of the year my town becomes the hub of one of the largest musical festivals in the world.
Bonnaroo got the party started tonight with a variety of smaller artists lighting up the tents and the smaller stages while all the festival-goers continued to trickle through the gates. As of late this afternoon, Bonnaroo finally sold out for the eleventh year of the festival.
Being a local, I highly anticipate this time of year. To kick the festival off, I found my way over to the This Tent to watch Yelawolf, a white rapper from Alabama. I had never heard of him until recently and knew only of his song “Let’s Roll” that featured Kid Rock.
Out of no disrespect to him, he wasn’t exactly on my see list. However, one of my friends raved on and on for weeks before Bonnaroo even started, and blared his music anytime we were together.
Before Yelawolf even took the stage, I heard a few songs from artist Danny Brown, who is rapper from Detroit, Mich. I had never heard of this performer, but that is the fun and part of the point of going to a music festival. I am not going to know every act or heard of every band, and I definitely enjoy getting to hear new music and maybe even becoming a fan if they suit my eclectic tastes.
Finally around 8:30, Yelawolf started to play, but I was so far back from the stage Yelwolf was nothing but a dot on a straight line. Being short has no advantages at Bonnaroo unless someone taller than you allows you to sit on their shoulders. Otherwise, you can only dance and listen from where you are standing.
In simple terms, Yelwolf put on a fun show. He burst music from different genres. Being a southern Alabama boy, I guess he couldn’t totally ignore his roots as he sang a little Johnny Cash and Lynyrd Skynyrd. What’s a good concert in the south without a few chords from “Freebird”? Yelawolf finally started playing his own beats again, but not before he contributed the rest of his show to the Beastie Boys.
The rest of my evening was tame as I listened to some mellow music by Soja at That Tent around 10 o’clock. I had only heard of Soja because this band occassionally popped up on my Pandora radio. They have grown on me in the past couple of months with their folksy, yet reggae sound to songs. Their newest album “Strength to Survive” is fairly good, and I got to hear some of their new music sitting on the wet grass with tons of other listeners.
Something about their music must have made people want to dance because all sorts of people were on their feet moving to the music. A couple of different girls asked my friends and I to dance. That’s another perk of Bonnaroo: everyone is so nice. I can’t say I danced the night away or anything, but I bobbed my head from my seat on the ground.
Tomorrow is what I cannot wait to hear. I’m not sure how I will be able to sit through nine hours of work. Between Feist, Foster the People and Radiohead back-to-back, I will be all over place listening to some of the best acts the line up has to offer.