The Absolute Best Ten Minutes Of Bonnaroo 2011



If any one music festival has established itself as the hippest kid on the block, presenting a heady mix of current big-name acts, hipster-approved up-and-comers, and just enough DJ's to make you relish the sight of someone actually playing an instrument, it is the Bonnaroo Festival.

Kids across the nation gathered in Manchester, TN last weekend to witness ten day's worth of bands jammed into four days. Based on this year's line-up, the emphasis seemed to be on proving to the world that today's musical landscape is just as vibrant, if not more so, than any other that came before. With a music line-up that covered just about every genre imaginable and featured such current heavy hitters as Eminem, Arcade Fire, Mumford & Sons, Ray Lamontagne, and the Decemberists, along with newer acts Sleigh Bells, School of Seven Bells, Deer Tick, and Matt & Kim, to name just a few, we at The Shit find it oh so fitting that, for all of the "the future is now" proclamations, it was a band that had basically broken up before Woodstock that stole the show.

Thus, by the time Buffalo Springfield took the stage around 9:30PM on Saturday night, those in attendance had already been subjected to three whole days of sun, music, more sun, and even more music. The sight of a bunch of guys old enough to be their grandfathers taking the stage may have sent more than a few festival-goers over to the Solar Stage to catch the the Fresh Trix breakdancing troupe, but those who stayed got a crash course in music history and were eventually treated to the best ten minutes the entire weekend had to offer when the band busted into Neil Young's "Rockin' In The Free World".

It was at that moment that the unwashed and tired masses found new energy and united as one to celebrate all the good things about life in these great United States. Even the most jaded soul had to feel a little swept up in the moment, the crowd swaying in time, singing along to every word. As good as Mumford & Sons may have been, they never came close to holding the crowd in the palm of their hand like those tattered and road-weary old farts up on stage were now doing.

Every member of every band that had played, or was set to play the festival, should have been standing stage left taking notes.

For all the hype we are fed each and every day about some hip, new band offering some new spin on rock & roll, or a mega-talented DJ trying to make playing records look difficult, much less entertaining, it is refreshing to be reminded on occasion that everything has been done and, let's face it, much better by those bands that came before.

The fact that Buffalo Springfield could blow the dust off a song that has been trotted out by Neil, and Pearl Jam, and a thousand forgotten bar bands across this great land over the past twenty years, and completely revitalize an exhausted human sea is a testament to the ultimate power of music made before many in attendance were even able to wipe their own asses.

I mean, seriously, you would think that there might be one band over the course of four days, and multiple stages, that would be able to top a near-ten-minute version of "Rockin' In The Free World".

Oh, but you'd be wrong.

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