No matter what the temperature is when you are heading to Manchester, Tenn., it always feels 10 degrees hotter when you're standing in the middle of the shadeless farmlands that make up Bonnaroo.
The four-day music and arts festival being held from June 11 to 14 will feature plenty of great music, along with the heat and porta-johns. This will be my third "adventure" out on the Tennessee plains, and each time I leave, I wonder why I put myself through such torture. There's only one answer -- the music.
Getting to see such an amazing collection of musicians all in one location is an opportunity that's difficult to pass up, despite the lack of indoor plumbing and endless dust and grime that creeps into every crevice.
BONNAROO TIP: Instead of filling a cooler with ice, freeze your bottles of water. They defrost quickly in the heat and will help everything stay cold just a while longer. And stay hydrated!
One of the things that draws me back to Bonnaroo each year is the opportunity to check out bands I've never seen live before, or some I've never even heard music by. After all, bands usually start at noon, play full sets of anything from an hour to three hours and the music doesn't stop until 4 a.m.
Some buzz artists this year that I haven't seen before but I'm interested in seeing live include Janelle Monae, Bon Iver, TV on the Radio, Animal Collective, Grizzly Bear, Phoenix and Heartless Bastards. Two years ago, I saw sets by Cold War Kids and Rodrigo y Gabriela that made me an instant fan. Last year, it was Grand Ole Party and Back Door Slam.
I've heard enough about Girl Talk's 2007 performance, that I'll be sure not to miss his late-night set (2:15 - 3:45 a.m.) this time around. Nine Inch Nails is performing in Charlotte on Friday, but the group will also be performing a late night, 1 to 3 a.m. set out in Tennessee on Saturday/Sunday.
The sad part is that I'll likely miss some acts that I want to see due to scheduling conflicts, or hindsight thinking, "Why didn't I go see them?!?" When I look back at the 2007 schedule, I notice that I missed The Black Keys. When I look at 2008, I missed Gogol Bordello and Iron & Wine.
BONNAROO TIP: There's no way to see everything, so you have to make a trade-off. You can see a little bit of a lot of bands, or longer sets of fewer bands. It's a tough decision.
Here's a taste of some of the bands I'm planning to see:
Thursday, June 11 -- Janelle Monáe, The Knux, Zac Brown Band
Friday, June 12 -- Tift Merritt, Animal Collective, Grace Potter, St. Vincent, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Al Green, TV on the Radio, Beastie Boys, Phish, Phoenix, Public Enemy, Girl Talk
Saturday, June 13 -- Heartless Bastards, Bon Iver, Raphael Saadiq, Rodrigo y Gabriela, Jenny Lewis, Of Montreal, The Decemberists, The Mars Volta, Bruce Springsteen, Nine Inch Nails, Ben Harper and the Relentless 7
Sunday, June 14 -- A.A. Bondy, Citizen Cope, Erykah Badu, Andrew Bird, Okkervil River, Snoop Dogg, Band of Horses and Neko Case
And I didn't even mention the names -- Which Stage, What Stage, That Tent, This Tent, The Other Tent -- which can turn the festival into one big Abbott and Costello routine.
If you want to keep up with my progress through the festival, you can do so online and via Twitter. I'll be posting blogs with short reviews, photos, setlists (when I can get them) and any other information each day from the festival at qcvibes.com. I'll also send out Tweets when I have a signal (phone service is sometimes sporadic) -- you can follow me at twitter.com/jhahne.