Sunday at Bonnaroo: The curtain falls
Bonnaroo's Sunday schedule was the source of both delight and some frustration. Because Feist conflicted with both The Decemberists and Wilco, two of my absolute favorite bands, I had to miss the Canadian songstress. Sigh. The comedy offerings too were in time slots that made them difficult for me to see. After getting shut out of Demetri Martin and Flight of the Conchords (dammit!) in the afternoon we wandered a bit and then waited for Wolfmother to end in order to claim prime real estate for The Decemberists. This was a good decision.
The Decemberists played one of the most entertaining sets of my festival, right up there with Gogol Bordello with regard to antics and the sheer joy of the performers. Their set was largely made up of their more recent prog-rock material, including several of the longest compositions in their repertoire.
Most exciting to me was when after opening with "Mariner's Revenge Song" they hit the opening notes of "The Tain." Love it, and hadn't seen them play it live in a couple years. That may actually have been my favorite twenty or so minutes of music all weekend.
After surging through each movement of that epic, they kept up the pace with "Crane Wife 3," each section of "The Island" saga and "Crane Wife 1" before playing a few of their more conventional folk-rock songs.
A special moment came near the end of the set, as soul legend Mavis Staples joined the band for a performance of "The Weight" along with Bobby Bare Jr. Staples shared lead vocals with Meloy, and Bobby Bare Jr. contributed harmonies on that song's famous chorus.
After Staples and Bare left the stage the band got a bit goofy, which I found totally endearing. In the middle of "Chimbley Sweep" Meloy and guitarist/etc. Chris Funk proclaimed that they would take part in a jam unlike Bonnaroo had ever seen. This entailed playing each other's instruments, laying on the stage, and balancing things on their heads. They're probably right about it being unique.
The full setlist from The Decemberists at Bonnaroo as I scribbled it down:
Mariner's Revenge Song, The Tain (all), Crane Wife 3, The Island (Come & See/The Landlord’s Daughter/You’ll Not Feel The Drowning), Crane Wife 1, July July!, O Valencia!, The Perfect Crime, The Weight [The Band cover; with Mavis Staples and Bobby Bare Jr.], Chimbley Sweep > jam/goofing > Chimbley Sweep, Ask [The Smiths cover]
The Decemberists - July, July!
After The Decemberists wrapped up, we wandered over to the Wilco show already in progress. We missed the first half-hour, but still got to see a very solid if unspectular set. Of the several times I've seen Wilco, this show seemed to have the lowest level of energy. The two-thirds of the set that I saw was made up exclusively of material since Summerteeth, including several songs from current release Sky Blue Sky.
The band picked it up toward the end of the set, however, with a run of songs that included "Walken," "I'm the Man Who Loves You," "Hummingbird," and "Spiders." Perhaps it was my own bias for the more experimental side of Wilco, but they didn't get me too excited with this set. I'll look forward to the next theater show.
The partial Wilco setlist, minus the first half-hour I missed...
...Shot in the Arm, Via Chicago, Impossible Germany, Sky Blue Sky, Shake It Off, War on War, Jesus Etc., Walken, I'm the Man Who Loves You, Hummingbird, Spiders (Kidsmoke)
If there was an encore, I missed it.
Post-Wilco we headed for the Which Stage to catch The White Stripes. Jack and Meg would be my last act of Bonnaroo 2007.
After opening with a scorching version of "Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground" they plowed through about ninety minutes of material. As one would expect of White Stripes they were raucous, loud, and generally kicked ass. That said, a couple of my favorite moments came when they toned things down. Meg came to the front and sang "In the Cold Cold Night," and I always enjoy hearing "We're Gonna Be Friends" as it was played in the encore. Their cover of Dolly Parton's "Jolene" was also fantastic, as were booming versions of "Icky Thump" and "Seven Nation Army." A very nice way to conclude my Bonnaroo.
The White Stripes - Jolene [Dolly Parton cover; live 5-22-2002]
I'll try to post more pics from the grounds and such soon.