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Bonnaroo bands create celestial atmosphere

Jack White, left, Patrick Keeler and Jack Lawrence, right, of The Raconteurs perform at the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival in Manchester, Tennessee, Friday, June 13, 2008. (Alex Marsh/McClatchy Interactive/MCT)

Manchester, Tenn.—There may very well be no place on earth that’s more heavenly for a music and pop culture junky than the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival.

From seeing your favorite band to dancing to techno music in a giant crowd, there’s an activity for everyone. In addition, the silent disco is one of the cleverest things I’ve ever seen.

At the silent disco, concertgoers pack into an open-air tent, put on headphones that blare the music the deejay is spinning, and dance. Anyone who isn’t taking part can’t hear the music. It’s a hilarious thing to watch if you’re not participating, and it’s great for late-night hours when people have returned to their campground and are trying to get some sleep, too.

Wearing Indian headdresses around the concert and camping grounds seems to be a major playful trend at American music festivals this year, but who’s complaining…they’re fun to look at and they build character. In fact, many festival-goers make them at home. If a headdress isn’t your style, there is a plethora of vendors that are open till 2 a.m. that offer anything from tie-dye skirts to hand-weaved hammocks.

This place is a hippie’s paradise. Everyone in the camping community is generally about peace, love and enjoying the festival. And that’s not to mention the seven hour Woodstockesque highway backup to get to the concert site.

As for the music, nothing says pure vocals nowadays like live indie music at Bonnaroo.

Los Angeles band Local Natives played some indie folk slow jams for a clapping crowd Thursday evening on their song “Shape Shifter,” among a whole set full of other perfectly performed songs. As expected, they finished with their single “Airplanes,” and with the most beautiful harmonies, they absolutely killed it in the most fantastic way.

On another stage, Manchester Orchestra’s slightly country hard rock sound seemed to impress fans as well.

The Temper Trap also blew their audience away with their performance of “Sweet Disposition,” that disgustingly catchy song from the film 500 Days of Summer.

Meanwhile, Blitzen Trapper sounded so much better live than on their new album, “Destroyer of the Void.” The band Constellations also stepped up their game to deliver quite a lively, danceable set at the Budweiser tent.

On another note, one artist chose to entirely insult and inconvenience his audience, just as he did in April at the Coachella Festival in Indio, CA. Wale came on stage 30 minutes late. It’s one thing to be late by accident once in a while, but it’s entirely another thing to purposely keep your audience waiting unnecessarily to imply prominence.

Wale’s backup band appeared unsure of what to do to put the crowd at ease. The delay was obnoxious.

“Mirror, mirror on the wall, who’s the realest of them all?” Certainly not Wale. I will, however, commend him on the way he worked the crowd when he performed “Chillin’,” but it just wasn’t enough to have made his horrid set worth the wait.

The day finished with somewhat of a musical disappointment, but there’s so much to look forward to on the second day of the festival.

Reach Lenni at

To catch more coverage of the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival, visit Lenni’s blog “The Remix” at

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