Blogging From Bonnaroo: Damien Marley and Nas, Tori Amos, Steve Martin
Houston artist Tyagaraja recently won the Ford Fiesta Team Houston Battle of The Bands, the grand prize of which was a trip to perform at the Bonnaroo music festival in Tennessee. Meghan Hendley, keyboardist/vocalist for Tyagaraja, reports back to us with her tales of the festival. Read Part 1 of her journey here.
After making a pact with the sun and the heat, I headed out to the main field of the festival grounds.
Immediately the smell of Jamaican winds blew sweetly as Nas shouted out: "We've got hope. We're the two Black Obamas, without the drama." Fat chest-shaking bass lines pounded out of the stacks of speakers and Damian Marley and Nas breezed through a collection of songs from their latest album Distant Relatives. The family reference of the album became quite apparent since the two distinct artists pitched vocal lines and raps back and forth with fluidity and spunk. Each song took you to a different chapter of Jamaican music and Hip Hop, from dub step to traditional island dance rhythms.
Photo by Amber Roussel
Later in the afternoon, I split myself between two different sets. The first set being the solo performance of Tori Amos. Her signature elegance and massive Steinway piano dawned the bare stage as a huge audience snuck in to witness. Her airy yet aggressive vocals seduced you in as you took small baby steps in order to draw upon the last breath of each phrase.
The crowd was well pleased with her selection of "Smells Like Teen Spirit" where Tori pushed into the piano keys to create dramatic overtones as her voice wailed during the last chorus. The vibe of the room took a turn for the softer during "Leather". Sultry lyrics and smooth delivery teased the audience as Tori started to stare down certain members of the opposite sex in the audience.
Photo by Mark C. Austin
Leaving the hot cow hide inspired song behind, I skipped on over to catch Steve Martin and the Steep Canyon Rangers tap into the natural Tennessee vibe of pickin' and a pluckin'. Steve emerged on the stage with his signature shock of white hair and a dapper vanilla three piece suit and confessed to the audience, "I can tell you one thing...I'd wish I'd practiced." The comical charm fit perfectly with the bubbling jangle of guitars, banjo, double bass, and fiddle as the ensemble frolicked their way through arrangements of Martin's original music.
Photo by Mark C. Austin
Later in the evening, my group and I went to the main stage to check out Kings of Leon. As we entered the field, streams of twinkling guitars and bright lights introduced us to the "Journey of our generation", as Mike Poulos, bass guitarist for Tyagaraja, stated. One would think that with all the screaming guitar licks and vocals grasping for dramatic heights that KOL would be an emotional highlight for the crowd of 60,000 plus.
Emotion was definitely lacking, for none of the band members seemed to put that extra flare in a guitar strum or even bat an eye when the mood of a song would switch. New songs seemed to have an uncanny similarity to those of John Fogerty and I'm not sure if that is a good thing or not. At least these offenses were somewhat lessened by the fact that they covered The Pixies 'Where Is My Mind'.
Yes. You read that right. At that point, I was done and ready to go loose my mind with The Flaming Lips.
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