Bonnaroo 2008 – Sunday, 15 June

While the weekend was winding down, most people spent time lying under the shade or wandering outside of the shows into some of what else Bonnaroo has to offer. The organizers over the years have caught on to what shows to book for Sunday, and this year’s Sunday lineup was the perfect detox from an upbeat, fatiguing weekend.

Orchestra Baobab

As I made my way in, it looked like a lot of people had already cleared out of the festival — because the second largest stage at Bonnaroo was nearly empty. This could also be due to the fact that their fan base wasn’t exactly in attendance, but this was by far the sleeper show of the weekend. Senegal’s Orchestra Baobab (named after the famous club) took their brand of African tinged Latin music and put Sunday on the map. Being one of the most seminal world music bands since their resurgence in the United States due in part to their reissue of Pirate’s Choice in 2002, the low attendance of this show was near astonishing. Regardless, the boys brought passed their liveliness and spirit on to those that were lucky enough to stumble across the gem of the festival.

Solomon Burke

The same story followed for Solomon Burke, the King of Rock ‘n’ Soul. Everyone in attendance was either just getting out of the sun or over the age of 40, and until Burke’s enormous figure took the stage 45 minutes after his scheduled time — people swarmed towards the tent. Sporting a medley of “(Sittin’ On) Dock of the Bay” and “Mustang Sally” and cuts off his records from Proud Mary to Nashville — old and young alike were all smiles and sing-a-longs. He called for a group of dancers, and a small crowd flooded the stage to dance with the most soulful band of the weekend. As famous festival emcee Beatle Bob said, “This is real soul music, not Kanye West with a computer.”

Solomon Burke – Interview (Bonnaroo)

Broken Social Scene

To close out the weekend, there was a time conflict of Broken Social Scene and Robert Plant & Alison Krauss — so I had to split up the two and catch a taste of both before heading on my way. BSS was a perfect closer for the hipster crowd — the colored Ray Bans were out in full force during their performance dancing along to the groups at time cluttered, yet epic compositions. “7/4 (Shoreline)” was the highlight of the show with the pulsating, constant drum beat awash in Amy Millan and Kevin Drew’s vocals. “KC Accidental” was also on point with its moments of Quadrophenia style guitar duets. [Download Broken Social Scene set]

Broken Social Scene – 7/4 (Shoreline) (Bonnaroo)

Broken Social Scene – KC Accidental (Bonnaroo)

Robert Plant & Alison Krauss were across the way giving the crowd a taste of what could’ve been with their psychedelic folk rendition of “Black Dog” that will leave your mouth watering. Krauss and Plant would trade off and then duet (with moments of T. Bone Burnett at the mic) throughout the performance composed of mostly tracks from their record Raising Sand, sharing the spotlight with complete admiration for one another. Neither have any kind of ego on stage and it shows — the way their voices match is so pure and enduring that one can only hope they share a career together for years to come.

Robert Plant & Alison Krauss

As I cut the day short before Widespread Panic, I was ready to get on my way back to civilization. This year’s Bonnaroo was absolutely different from the five I have experienced before, and that’s why I keep going back. Some are better than others, and this one ranks at the top. All those out there that were worried about what this year’s lineup would do to the reputation of the festival need not worry. This festival is not “commercial” and never will be, so stop telling yourself that MTV and Clear Channel own the thing and making excuses not to go — because where in the hell else can you see this diverse of a lineup? No, it doesn’t have all your jambands, or all your indie rock delights — but that’s the glory of it — there is always something to see, and always something to expose yourself to. Do yourself a favor, make it out next year, and don’t be so judgmental of something different happening. It’s what makes Bonnaroo stand out at the top of the summer festival run.