Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Battle of the 2006 Festivals: Bonnaroo lays the smacketh down Coachella

What do you get when you mix the best live band on the planet, jam bands, and some of the hipper bands on the indie rock scene? Bonnaroo 2006? The yearly trek for many to Tennessee this year might be a bit different.

Some of the usual suspects will be attending like parts of Grateful Dead and Phish as well as Medeski, Martin, & Wood and Rusted Root. Music critic darlings like Bright Eyes, Clap Your Hands Say Yea, The Magic Numbers, Devendra Banhardt, Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks, and Death Cab For Cutie will be performing as well.

If this all sounds nice but not enough to tip the scales for you, the promoters had one more trick up their sleeves. The ace in the hole. Radiohead, one of if not the greatest musical act on the planet is headlining with no other performances announced as of yet except for a Chicago park show that never happened due the necessity of that venue being used as a practice space for the symphony. Beck and My Morning Jacket are also confirmed. As for ageless rock icon like wonders, Tom Petty and Elvis Costello will also be attending with their respective bands.

Personally, I would be excited to see Cat Power, Seu Jorge (the sir who covers Bowie tunes in Portuguese in The Life Aquatic), Dungen (who were amazing in an abridged set when I saw them previously."), Gomez (a long time favorite), and Andrew Bird. Besides other obvious choices like Radiohead who I pretty flew to Coachella in 2004 just to see perform.

It's all very enticing. They've even decreased the number of tickets to be sold to prevent overcrowding. Herb Alert of The Vandelles wonders if "there will be a separate camping ground for the hippies?" It's a valid point. The juxtaposition is almost enough to sell anyone to make the trek. Personally, I'm on the fence but leaning against it because of the impending ticket price, somewhere between $150-$250 plus camping fees, the travel and the intense heat that seems to torture festival attendees.

Besides these facts, I've seen almost every band on this list that I'd want to see. But there are three acts trying to push me on the other side of that fence: Blues Traveler, G Love ANNNNND the Special Sauce and the truly ageless wonder Bonnie Raitt. Guess Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers weren't available.

Radiohead
Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers
Beck
Elvis Costello & the Imposters
Bonnie Raitt
Death Cab for Cutie
Bright Eyes
Ben Folds
G. Love & Special Sauce
My Morning Jacket
Cat Power
Gomez
Blues Traveler
Stephen Malkmus & the Jicks
Dresden Dolls
Son Volt
Clap Your Hands Say Yeah
Rusted Root
Devendra Banhart Band
Mike Doughty
The Magic Numbers
Seu Jorge
Dungen
Andrew Bird
Steel Train
Devotchka
-this is not a complete list, just the most notable to me.

On the other hand, there is the usually reliable greatness of Coachella which seems absent. Rumors were a Smashing Pumpkins reunion that hasn't materialised to this point. Last year Coachella marked reunions for the real Gang of Four, Bauhaus, plus Nine Inch Nails getting back on the road and many other. But what jam bands are to Bonnaroo, DJs are to Coachella. And to me, they are both pretty wasteful. But to those who are interested,you will be seeing Daft Punk and Paul Oakenfold headline the glow stick tent.

Coachella has a lot of crossovers from Bonnaroo: My Morning Jacket, Cat Power, Clap Your Hands, Devendra, Dungen, The Magic Numbers, Seu Jorge and of course Damian Marley. Sigur Ros is going to be there. Major plus. Bloc Party and Franz Ferdinand make up the primary UK contingent. Also a nice plus. There are also some nice secondary bands like Mogwai, Animal Collective, TV on the Radio, Wolf Parade, The Walkmen, The Juan Mclean, Metric and Deerhoof.

These are all excellent arists but look at the "What the Fuck List?" semi-headliners. The Yea Yea Yeas are OK, but when they become this super draw. I heard tickets fro their small club show in NYC were going for like $300. When did this happen? Don't even get me started on Sleater Kinney or the Scissor Sisters. Coheed and Cambria just plain sucks. And Common. What is Common doing there? There is a hip hop tent but another boooooooooo. Ditto for Matisyahu, the king of Hasidic reggae.

And then there are the headliners Depeche Mode and Tool. They are both enjoyable acts but are the weakest headlines in this fest's illustrious history I must say. In 2004, I saw Radiohead The Pixies, The Cure, Flaming Lips, Air, Belle and Sebastian, BRMC, Bright Eyes, and Kraftwerk among others. Those are worthy headliners and secondary bands. Depeche Mode and Tool are overrated and not worth whatever the price tag is going to be.

Besdies all this, for every band you want to see antoher band you want to see is guaranteed to overalp, you will never see more than 60% of the bands you actually want to see. And even if you're committed to see them all, then you'll see ten minuteds of eacha nd miss ten minutes running to another stage. Then get heat stroke. And be tired out halfway through day one and sit under a tent with a 4 dollar bottle of water and a sunburn.

Coachella is also more travel for me personally from the East Coast so it must be that much better to sway me and it always has. It is also in the middle of the Palm Desert which while beautifully is unbelievably hot. My comrade on the last trip had his Alarm Clock freeze at 125 from the heat at 9 AM inside of our tent. Coachella has a better overall lineup in quality terms but Radiohead sways the excellence total over to side of Bonnaroo. Honestly, I probably won't make it to either. I just hope for Coachella goers sake that they have a surprise waiting in the wings at the top of the heap for reputation's sake. And I hope Radiohead makes an East Coast stop for my sake.

Related Links:
Bonnaroo Site
Coachella Site

1 comment:

kate said...

yeah so joe, all this talk about who is playing at coachella and not even one mention of madonna? i mean i thought you would have come up w/ some real zingers for that.