Posted by: hankwillenbrink | June 23, 2009



We started off Day 3 with Rodrigo y Gabriela – the Mexican flamenco-inspired guitar duo – whose famous cover of Metallica make Apocalyptica look like pussies.  It was nice to see this group on the huge What Stage where the camera could pick up the nuances  Rodrigo y Gabriela’s guitar playing, which is virtuosic to say the least.  The constant surpise at Bonnaroo was groups doing more with less.  And this duo is the poster child for such excellent musicanship.  Even at 3pm on a steamy Saturday, Rodrigo y Gabriela managed to blow minds.  Well, those that were ready to be blown and not still passed out from Phish the night before.


Bummer, of Montreal.  Total bummer.  The psychadelic surreal of Montreal sure did put on a show, but most of us didn’t see it.  Crammed into This Tent, Kevin Barnes and co. opted to bring their whole theatrical act on the road.  Unfortunately, if you weren’t at the front of the stage, you couldn’t see what was going on.  Not only that, but the sound was fuzzy and the psychadelic jam that I was stoked to have turned into a “what is going on up there?” “What song is this?”  I’m sure a ton of people had a great time at this show, but I was too far back and too put off to get down.  Hopefully seeing them in a different atmosphere will put a better spin on my of Montreal live show experience.


I’m a Wilco fan.  Have been from way back.  And though I was disappointed by Sky Blue Sky, I’m sticking by my band.  Like the Beasties, Tweedy and co. have a long, varried career to play out live and do a damn fine job doing so.  Rollicking through oldies but goodies like “Jesus, etc.” and “Misunderstood” while mixing in a few new tracks from Wilco (The Album) like “Wilco (the Song),” Wilco (the Band) payed attention to their past by honoring the future and vice versa.    You may say what you want about the recordings, but Wilco is and always has been a live band.  In this set, Nels Cline shone more than living up to the second-man billing formerly played by Jay Bennett and Jim O’Rourke.  Tweedy – in Dylanesque attire – played the sage songwriter and as long has he has this band, he can keep living up to the clothing.


This is going to sound like the most obvious statement ever:  The Boss is amazing live.  Don’t listen to your 20-something friends who think irony grows on trees and scoff at the idea of seeing Springsteen live.  Springsteen is incredible.  He’s like a fucking national monument.  You know it’s there.  People tell you it’s impressive, but until you finally see it, you have no idea.  It’s never about him.  When Springsteen comes into the crowd it’s about the crowd.  He doesn’t stand on the railing so you can see him better or to serve his ego.  He stands there so he can sing directly to you.  Pulling requests (!) from the audience, Bruce and the E Street Band amazed at every chord turn.  Like TV on the Radio, for this group it’s all about heart.  Musicality is a byproduct, something to give voice to the enormous work and effort in each song.  It’s working class.  It’s a day job.  It’s unbe-fucking-lievable.


Stay tuned for this band.  Great live set capped off by “Tightrope” from the Dark was the Night Comp, Yeasayer sold me on them being more than another goofy keyboard band.  They were quirky, tight, and with some of the most original vocals I’ve heard in a while.  Yeasayer has my money already on the line for their next album.


N: I shot over to NIN for a bit during the Yeasayer set (after “Tightrope” from the Dark Was the Night comp.) and it was absolutely packed.  They didn’t play the main stage, so people were shoulder to shoulder all the back until Trent was the size of a one inch nail.  Combine that with the smoke and strobes and it was almost impossible to see anything.  I worked my way up as close as I could get, but gave up with the interest of the safety of my camera in mind.  I’ve seen them before, so I wasn’t super upset about not getting in close for a few songs.  Why they didn’t play the main stage (it was empty during the set), I have no clue.


N: On my was back from the NIN stage, I passed MOE. playing with full light show (see above).  I have a feeling this is where all the Phish-heads (is that an accurate name for Phish fans…or all they called Phans?).  I didn’t stay long because I wanted to get back for the end of Yeasayer, but waht I was was pretty epic for a relatively small stage show.



N: Best set at Bonnaroo 2009.  Everlasting love and respect for the person who comments below with a link to audio from the set.  I can’t find it anywhere.

H:  Yeah.  Seriously.  I thought this was going to be 2 guys and keyboard.  I ddn’t know I’d have my mind blown.



  1. Glad you enjoyed Bruce–it was my 41st show and as excellent as ever.

    Very sorry I missed MGMT though! I crashed hard after Ben Harper.

  2. Here’s some videos that have pretty good audio quality from MGMT’s set, which as you said was freaking awesome, if you were up close the sense of community between the audience and band was unparalleled, not to mention they improvised a ton and played every song perfectly. Trust me though Of Montreal was almost on that level too if you were up close they were insane.

    theres more on youtube too.

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