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We caught The Wood Brothers on Thursday night, a treat for all Medeski, Martin and Wood fans. Then we walked from “This” tent to “That” tent to “The Other Tent”, listening for a while to all the artists playing along the way, and headed back to camp to rest up for Friday’s festivities.

Staying out of the sun back at camp until the last possible moment, our Friday started off right with reggae from Steel Pulse. The heat was almost unbearable, but thanks to some misting fans from the dollar store, and dunking our bandannas in the ice from the beer tents, we managed to keep the party going. We caught an old school bluegrass show from Ricky Skaggs and Kentucky Thunder, a few minutes from looney Oysterhead, and decided to give up and rest before Tom Petty. After inhaling massive amounts of water, Gatorade, and Mexican food back at camp, and enjoying our camp shower, we headed back into the venue.

Tom Petty came out rocking, just like he always does, in front of an enormous appreciative crowd. Halfway through his set, he decided to surprise us by bringing up a special guest—none other than the lovely Stevie Nicks! The atmosphere and music was nothing less than magical. They brought us one of those moments that makes being filthy and hot for 4 days worth it all! There was a smile on everyone’s face that I laid eyes on. The throng of people headed over for the late night shows; I saw the band that surprised me most all weekend. I didn’t think I liked My Morning Jacket when I heard them on the radio, but when I saw them live they were nothing short of incredible. I won’t be missing one of their shows again when they come back through Nashville. Then we enjoyed the hip hop sounds of the Lyrics Born/Common/Blackalicious show before we headed back home, running into a parade of Bindlestiff’s Family Cirkus members along the way.

Saturday brought more heat, dust, and beer drinking. We put on our bathing suits and sarongs and geared up for the day’s festivities. Somehow I let my friends talk me into only seeing three Elvis Costello songs and going to check out Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, my least favorite band of the weekend. Sounded like a bad Violent Femmes rip-off, and I heard enough of that in the 80’s. I made everyone follow me to Damian Marley for some funky reggae with beautiful harmonies. How can all the Marley kids be so cool? Jr. Gong almost wore us out before we headed over to Beck.

I have always been a fan of Beck’s music, but had never seen him live. His was the most incredible, innovative and creative show I have ever seen! The show started out with a puppet video, or so I thought, until I realized there were actual puppeteers standing behind Beck. All of the puppets looked exactly like the band members, and they were moving exactly the same way. Even the crazy dancing nerd! At one point during the show, the puppets sat down to eat steaks and drink some wine. Then I realized they were mimicking the whole band, who had just sat down to dinner on stage, while Beck played a solo acoustic set. Then, the band started playing their dinner dishes, tapping their wine glasses, and made a drum circle out of their dinner table that sounded amazing. (Of course, the puppets were playing their dishes, too!) Then, the puppets starred in their own little movie about Bonnaroo, which was hilarious. Imagine tiny Beck puppets running around in the dust making fun of all the hippies they came in contact with. It was a documentary of the puppets’ Bonnaroo experience; they had decided they were just too “high maintenance” for Bonnaroo and sick of smelly dirty hippie and patchouli. As we headed back to camp for a break, I knew that I had just seen the best thing that happened at Bonnaroo this year.

Okay, Saturday night we were all just too worn out. I didn’t even bother going back to the venue for Radiohead, since I could hear it from camp and take a nap. (However, two of my friends went, and they were laughing about a naked guy being carried out of the show on a backboard by security. He had passed out nude right in the middle of everything!) By midnight, when I wanted to head back out to see more bands, everybody at my camp was sleeping, so I decided to do the same. Even at Bonnaroo, sometimes you just have to take a break!

Sunday morning we packed up our camp and headed out to catch Soulive, who were great! Then we saw the beautiful music of the Refugee Allstars of Sierra Leone before catching a rocking Son Volt set. Just like all the rest of the hippies, we headed over to Matisyahu and caught some great Jewish reggae. During moe., my friends decided to leave, since they were flying back to Oregon and Texas the next day. I decided to tough it out, being an old school DeadHead.

I enjoyed Phil & Friends, not so much Joan Osbourne singing with them, but I just couldn’t make it to the end of the show. The weekend was catching up with me. I headed back to camp, just as it began raining. I made it out of Bonnaroo with not a second to spare, since the heavens decided to open up as usual, and turn the area into Mudaroo, just like the past few years. But the bus made it back to Nashville just fine. Now if I can just get rid of all that dust!!!.

www.Dishmag.com / Issue 57 - July 2018
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