Bonnaroo Manchester, Tennessee - June 11 to 13, 2004
Published Jul 01, 2004Two main stages, three tents, sweltering heat, torrential rain and a serious line-up of artists that has one running back and forth in a vain attempt to not miss any one set, for the third year running Bonnaroo delivered the goods in fine fashion. Day one opened with a Latin twist as Los Lonely Boys and Calexico blazed through their sets and won over somewhat sceptical crowds. The Black Keys played their two-piece blues rock loud and loose, yet looked a little lost and uncomfortable on such a large stage. Wilco, on the other hand, were completely at home on the main stage, delighting fans with their inimitable blend of rock and pop, witty charm and heartbreak. After solid yet somewhat average sets by Bob Dylan and Dave Matthews, jam scene super-group Vida Blue (Phish's Page McConnell, the Allman's Oteil Burbridge and the Meters' Russell Baptiste) busted out the funkiest set of the weekend with the help of the bongos, horns and turntables of the Spam All-Stars. Meanwhile, for those less inclined to shake booty, Praxis were doing their best to completely destroy any brain within earshot of their wild metal/dub experimental fusion. Day two began with the riff-rock styling of Kings of Leon, followed by the smooth indie psychedelia of the always good Grandaddy. Gomez surprised many with a set heavy on '70s-style rock and roll, leaving much of their more melodic material for another day. My Morning Jacket stormed the stage next, head-banging their way into the hearts of the surprisingly enormous crowd with a high octane set that only a near-hurricane could stop. After five hours of rain, which caused many to skip the likes of Steve Winwood, Doc Watson and the Grateful Dead, the skies cleared just in time for a mind-blowing midnight line-up of acts: Ween, Primus, Robert Randolph and the Family Band, Cut Chemist and Danger Mouse. Those who chose Ween were fortunate enough to see the boys rip through three-and-a-half hours of classics and newer material (and were still lucky enough to switch stages and watch Primus play hands down the loudest and longest set of the weekend). Day three began with a split set from Cracker and Camper Van Beethoven, with David Lowery flawlessly leading both bands through energetic, airtight versions of classics like "Low" and "All her Favourite Fruit." Back on the main stage, festival veterans Moe ripped through a set of Southern-fried progressive country jam rock that would have made Phish jealous. Another downpour of rain couldn't stop the funk, as Superjam, fronted by Maceo Parker and the Meters' George Porter, slapped and popped their way through a set that had the soaking crowd grooving. Trey Anastasio brought the festival to a close with the most ambitious performance of the weekend. His first set saw Anastasio conduct the 50-member Nashville Chamber Orchestra through a handful of Phish instrumentals and newer solo material. He followed this with his new band, delighting the crowd with a perfect mix of funk, rock, blues and country, highlighted by spirited versions of Charlie Daniels' "Devil Went Down to Georgia" and Led Zeppelin's "Black Dog." Severely sunburnt and sopping wet, the crowd limped home smiling.