Death Cab, et al. – Bonnaroo Day 1 (6/16/06)

Death Cab, et al. – Bonnaroo Day 1 (6/16/06)

I’ll admit it, Friday wore me out. I hadn’t slept more than an hour and ten minutes since I woke up on Thursday morning, and walking around on the hottest day of the festival eventually took its toll. Fortunately I was able to catch a few acts before passing out at 8PM (and thereby missing Stevie Nicks’ appearance with Tom Petty and My Morning Jacket’s show which was routinely called the “Best Show Of The Festival” by the press members in the media tent). Bummer.

Bright Eyes
The first of two performances that I went into with lower than low expectations. If Conor could barely hold it together when I saw him in an air-conditioned theater full of people who were there to see his band, why would he do any better in 90 degree weather, performing for a crowd that were most likely only seeing Bright Eyes as a by-product of going to see a different band? Maybe Conor had the same thought, because he came out ready to impress.

Aside from a generally more enthused demeanor, Bright Eyes just seemed to go out of their way to put on a good show. There were accordions, keyboards (for “Lover I Don’t Have To Love,” which I was not expecting), and lots and lots of acoustic guitars. Plus, they marked the first instances of what Phil Lesh called “Bonnaroo cross-pollenation” for me, by bringing out Jim James from My Morning Jacket, Gruff Rhys of Super Furry Animals and Gillian Welch.

I don’t know how many new fans their show converted, but the energy they put forth on stage reminded me why I started listening to them in the first place.

Death Cab For Cutie
While I spent most of Death Cab’s set walking around and bumping into people I knew (I think I’d just met Scott from Stereogum and Jeff from Central Village–two of the nicest guys you’ll meet–a couple hours prior), I caught enough of their show to be impressed. “I Will Follow You Into The Dark” stopped me dead in my tracks for the entire song; later I sat down to enjoy the last fifteen minutes of their set, including a wonderful closing choice of “Transatlanticism.” Continuing the “cross-pollenation” theme, Death Cab were joined by their good buddy John Roderick of The Long Winters.

Cat Power and the Memphis Rhythm Band
I didn’t intend to see Cat Power at Bonnaroo. It was a mistake, but one I’m glad I made. The last time I saw Chan, she appeared to be on the verge of losing it through the entire show. But at Bonnaroo, she was totally in control and even appeared to be enjoying herself. I don’t know if it was having the Memphis Rhythm Band backing her up, or just the carefree attitude of the whole festival, but whatever it was, it did a 180 for her live show.

Then it was time to catch almost twelve hours of sleep before kicking off the best day of Bonnaroo. Up next: Elvis Costello, Beck and Radiohead.

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