By Anna Rozenberg, Daily Arts Writer
Published June 11, 2012
Space technology may not be advanced enough to get you to another world, but there’s always Bonnaroo. As soon as the 700 acres of land in Manchester, Tennessee is in sight, it’s clear Bonnaroo is its own bubble separate from reality.
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While performances are essential to any music festival, there’s an endless supply of attractive features for Bonnaroo-goers to enjoy. There's early-morning yoga, movie projections, comedians and food that range from classic carnival bites to gourmet foods and vendors selling New York City’s famous Crif Dogs.
Sprinkled throughout the site are also non-food vendors where any hippie or techno junkie can find what they’re looking for, whether it be by creating a personal pow-wow drum or by picking out jewelry with crystals designed for LED lights to shine through.
But what sets Bonnaroo apart from Lollapalooza or the Detroit Electronic Movement Festival aren't the tangible things one expects to find at most festivals — it’s the other-worldly atmosphere.
On the eve of Bonnaroo 2012, after thousands had already pitched their tents and sparked fires, a hum of “Bonnaroo” swept through the grounds like a wave at the Big House made of voices.
As we sat on the back of our car that night eating Wheat Thins and awaiting our turn to join the hum, we looked out to see people lighting and releasing paper lanterns into the sky, like balloons of fire.
Bonnaroo was going to be one hell of a ride.
The Kooks performed at Which Tent Thursday afternoon and provided the perfect summer soundtrack to Roo’s blue skies. Even from the far side of the stage, the Kook’s instruments and vocals were in perfect balance and they transitioned from song to song so smoothly you barely noticed.
As the British indie band jammed, the crowd swayed and danced. A nearby couple were swing dancing. The gentleman pulled in his girl for a quick kiss to the beat of one of the opening numbers.
“So, yeah. We’re the Kooks from, uh, England,” frontman Luke Pritchard said as he addressed the audience for the first time before jumping into “She Moves In Her Own Way.”
The Kooks were more than comfortable on stage and their casual attitude with the crowd only added to their music’s relaxed vibes.
But Roo offers far more than indie. The Dirty Guv’nahs, a southern rock band with wide-ranging influences from R&B to ska, performed three times throughout the festival.
While their performances weren’t as polished as old-timers like Radiohead, their enthusiasm and genuine rock persona charmed the pants off the crowd, making them a name to remember.
The Dirty Guv’nahs’ lead vocalist James Trimble said the band formed by accident, starting as only a hobby when the members were studying at the University of Tennessee together.
Trimble said, in 2009, after attending Bonnaroo for four years during their time at UT, they got to perform on the stages they were used to watching.
“(It’s) what I consider to be the kick-start moment of our career as a full-time band,” Trimble said.
Their invitation back to Roo this year allowed them to showcase new songs from their upcoming album planned for release this fall.
Trimble said while playing at smaller venues like Ann Arbor’s own Blind Pig — where he said The Guv’nahs will hopefully be returning to sometime in the upcoming year —is enjoyable, an exciting part of festivals like Bonnaroo is reaching the ears of new listeners with their music.