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Old 06-13-2007, 06:50 AM   #1
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Preview: Eleven picks to take us to Bonnaroo heaven*


By Andy Smith, Editor

While the best thing about Bonnaroo for some may be the addition of the seven dollar showers in general camping, most will agree that it’s the line-up’s potential for pure levitation. The only bad thing about the ‘roo—besides the heat—is that you can never see all the shows you want, no matter how hard you try. Here are eleven shows I sure hope to catch, although when I write again on this site next week, it may be a very different itinerary I share. For more detailed dispatches from Manchester and digressions of a cultural variety, consider reading my Blogaroo at

Thursday, June 14, 2007

The Black Angels
This Tent (8:30 - 9:30)
What makes this music so psychedelic? “It’s not just one thing; it’s everything. It’s the sound, the layers,” maintains lead singer Alex Maas. But it could be the guitars. Plastering the wall of sound from a bucket of muddy tricks, versatile axeman Christian Bland is a prophet of the pedals who does for growling guitar effects what Darth Maul did for the light saber. From wah-wah to fuzz to the “thick and creamy,” he works it with his feet and fingers, jacking your ear into the bloody machine where synapses melt on a sacrificial pyre. An animated ex-advertising major who left grad school for the nomad’s life, he’s endearing and amicable in person. But once onstage, Bland builds blisters on the brain, dosing up the ambiance of Alex Maas’s howling Jim Morrisson-meets-Gibby Haynes testimonials. Perfect for kicking Bonnaroo into gear.

Troo Music Lounge (11:45 - 12:45)
A recent radical and refreshingly positive discovery, Dubconscious provide a dance-friendly focus to welcome the first midnight of the festival. Hailing from Athens, Georgia, this band drops infectious reggae grooves to shake the bones before the brain even realizes it’s reciting lyrics about an enlightened and loving approach to social transformation.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Drops of Water (eco folk music)
Solar Stage (10:30 - 11:15)
The crunchy ethics of Planet Roo have never sounded so sweet. Have your morning coffee (fair trade, of course) when Ashley Ironwood takes the stage and witness the quiet revolution.

Gillian Welch
The Other Tent (3:45 - 5:15)
I finally got to see Gillian Welch and David Rawlings last month, opening up for Bright Eyes at the Ryman. The voice of the goddess made mainstream on the O Brother Where Out Thou soundtrack

The Nightwatchman
That Tent (4:30 - 5:45)

Tom Morello Rages On! With the One Man Revolution, our former Rage Against the Machine and Audioslave guitarist Tom Morello isn’t doing anything that hasn’t already been done by Woody Guthrie, Pete Seeger, Phil Ochs, Steve Earle, Utah Phillips, or Casey Neill. Of course, most rage fans don’t follow politico-fueled folk, and for them, Morello will hopefully be a gateway drug.

Just as much as some headbanging rebels need agit-folk, the folk scene needs that hard edge. In that spirit, we’ve rarely seen the rock star likes of Morello lay down his plan for universalist upheaval via songwriting soul in such spirited fire to join the cause of the oppressed to the call of popular music. Recently, Bruce Springsteen got close with the Seeger sessions, but those were cover songs and not that political.

Every picture I’ve seen of Tom Morello in recent years—here’s always wearing the IWW cap. How many fans at Bonnaroo this week have ever heard of the Industrial Workers of the World? May Tom teach us some radical labor history that we need for the present!

Manu Chao Radio Bemba Sound System
Which Stage (6:30 - 8:00)
Late afternoon is the perfect time a day for such agit-salsa dancefloor subversion Made for the ‘roo, this set will surely have the people dancing into dusk.

What Stage (9:00 - 11:30)
Some of the hippies are scared. Some people just don’t get it. The rest of us will immerse ourselves in a swirling baptism of bass, guitars, and drums, seeking psychedelic, prog-metal solace in an ear-bleeding symphony, a sweeping ocean of noise.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

The Flaming Lips
Which Stage (12:00 - 2:30)
The whole line-up is like a dream, and when I heard that the dream would come true back in February, I had to wonder which late-night set would steal the festival and become the stuff of legend. While some people are putting their money on John Paul Jones and the “Super Jam,” I’m sticking with Wayne’s world. Without sounding too derivative or dated, the Lips ride a holy thread made of streamers and confetti, craftily connecting the dots between the legacies left by the musical likes of Pink Floyd and the culture-jamming social mischief of Merry Pranksters. A perfect Bonnaroo band, the Lips pack humor and doubt with mythic decibels and convey earnest artsy ambition with a communal and convivial spirit.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Mavis Staples
The Other Tent (1:00 - 2:00)
Let Mavis Staples be your Sunday services as her soulful wails of redemption and resistance kick off our last day on the Manchester farm.

Elvis Perkins in Dearland
This Tent (3:00 - 4:00)
Earlier this year, I saw Elvis Perkins in Dearland open up for My Morning Jacket in Denver, Colorado and witnessed mellow magic. At times sounding like Nick Drake’s proxy from the great beyond, the lyrically sad son of Anthony Perkins could put out the sun with his dark narratives, but with Dearland and Dear fans, we can keep the body above water and beyond wanton blues.

Check out the complete Bonnaroo schedule and so much more at
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