I woke up Sunday afternoon feeling weakened and on my last limbs, to say the least. I suppose this is what I get for partying ’til sunrise at the techno tent with a mixture of Deadmau5 and Gwar supporters.  Not too many people I know can admit to that, but I’m still not sure if it was worth it just to tell the story to my grandkids one day.

Regardless, this is Day 4 of Bonnaroo and it feels like Day 4, which isn’t a bad thing. I’ve been to one and two day music festivals before and I’ve left those yearning for another day or so to experience the atmosphere, but there’s no way I could do more than four days without running into the law of diminishing returns. The jokes about the tent and stage names are now getting stale and so is the smell. But take my word for it, the energy and my excitement (despite my hangover) has not dissipated. I’m looking forward to Sunday as well as wrapping up an unbelievable experience. I am not, however, looking forward to driving home.

By the time I put myself together and got to Centeroo, it was already late afternoon. I took the time to look at the vendor tents and check out the merchandise. I often think about what this festival must do for the local economy. Some businesses must turn their profit for the whole year, jam-packed during Bonnaroo week.

While walking around, I listened to bits and pieces of a few acts such as Ween and Against Me! before I settled on the Zac Brown Band. I know nothing about country music and rarely listen to it, but I wanted to check it out. After all, I am in Tennessee. If you visited me in New York I’d buy you a slice (side note: trying to order pizza down here is a lost in translation situation. I get blank stares when I ask for a plain slice. It’s almost as bad as the taste).

Zac Brown Band was an entertaining act. There was a relatively older crowd there, though plenty of twenty-somethings too, and they all seemed like they were having a blast just singing along, wearing their cowboy hats and enjoying themselves. Though I would most likely disagree with most of this band’s fans’ political agenda, I do agree with their overall enthusiasm and participation. I don’t know how to rate this band since I am unfamiliar with the genre, but the songs seemed catchy and the lyrics weren’t elementary; there obviously was thought put into it. They even did a cover of “Devil Went To Georgia,” a song by the Charlie Daniels Band that I always enjoyed. Bravo.

Next up was French-based Phoenix. I really wanted to check these guys out for months. The last year has been a huge increase in popularity for them.  I was interested to see how they would respond to a bigger stage, but in the end, Phoenix played a very mechanical set.  They sounded how I would expect them to, what I’ve heard from their studio work, but nothing more.  No playing to the crowd, no extra bursts of energy. I’m not sure how Phoenix’s live performances translated on a smaller stage, but on the Which Stage at Bonnaroo, I left unfulfilled. It was similar to the feeling I had after the Kings of Leon set yet maybe a small step above.   There are some bands that create great studio work but never can channel that same creativity live. I hope Phoenix doesn’t become that type of band. I’m rooting for them.


And last but not least, was Dave Matthews Band, chosen to close out Bonnaroo 2010. I’ve seen DMB live a bunch of times, so I knew what to expect. Their performance was exactly what I’ve seen before. Nothing more, nothing less. It was Dave, and take that as you will. They didn’t enchant me nor did they disappoint me, yet the hordes were charmed (see photo). They ended the festival on a nice note as the sun-reddened patrons, little by little, headed out of the Manchester, TN farm.

I loved my Bonnaroo experience. So many parts of it were fantastic and I definitely will be back. For now, I have a long drive ahead of me back to civilization. But I have wonderful stories to tell for years to come. I’m glad I finally took the plunge and made the trek down to this magical four-day experience on a large farm in the middle of Tennessee. And for those who have never encountered this experience, I implore you to get there.–Chris Dino/photo of Phoenix, Dave Matthews crowd via allsongs at flicker