by Sean Maloney
Every Bonnaroo needs a theme, and after starting my slow descent in to beer-drenched insanity — at 10:30 yesterday morning, mind you — my man main Gravy and I decided that this year our theme is gonna be “Wriot Boiz." Mind you, we polished off half a case of beer between the two of us while listening to Gang Green really loud in the parking lot for press check-in. Basically we walked in this piece and set the pace. It's now your responsibility to keep pace, 'Roosters. Actually, don't, because I worry about your safety, and Wriot Boiz are more pro than most folks can hang with. And by “pro” I mean "drunker than shit."
But that was a helluva way to start things off! We made a bunch of new friends, we somehow managed to set up camp, and then by the time we had almost (almost!) sobered up, it was time for the real party to start. And you know what that means: arepas and Mariachi El Bronx! I never actually made it to the Mariachi stage — it was the first night of alumni weekend, you gotta stop and chat. But they set the tone for the night with their joyous Latin sounds. And arepas are just awesome, there's no better way to put it. And maybe it's because I live on Nolensville Road, but nothing makes me feel more at than some Latin music and some Latin food.
Detroit's Danny Brown kicked off this year's hip-hop lineup in fine style, with a rowdy set of big beats and chant-along choruses. It gives me a bit of hope for the future of music that most of This Tent knew all the words to Brown's music industry piss-take “Radio Song," as it seems like a good thesis for the entire festival. There's something about an incredibly catchy “fuck you” to commercial concerns while in front of huge crowd that dissipates whatever bizarrely contradictory Marxist bullshit is floating around in my head. Also, it makes for a good soundtrack when explaining that all you need to be a music journalist is a notepad and some grass, which is a conversation I had at least three times. Don't do it kids, get a real job instead.
I cut out from the J-school frosh crew and over to the Other Tent to catch some of Orgone, the LA funk outfit I first caught on the one of the cafe stages at 'Roo a few years back. In the intervening years I've picked up, oh, pretty much everything they've ever recorded, so walking in to them throwing down super-super-hard on a cover of “Funky Nassau” — one of my all-time favorite tunes — was pretty much all this soul nerd could ever ask for. I even noodled. Oh man, did I noodle. It happens sometimes, and this was one of those. You keep all my punk points, ain't no shame in the Wriot Boiz game. I got back to Danny Brown just in time to catch a rouse version of “Blunt After Blunt,” which obviously was a huge, um, hit with the crowd.
And Yelawolf, who we've seen move up from the basement at Phatkaps to the Mercy Lounge to SoundLand, absolutely fucking killed it. I was nowhere near the stage — there was definitely no making it through that crowd — but being together in a crowd that huge, who knew all the words and were freaking the fuck out, was pretty fucking amazing. “Pop the Trunk," “Daddy's Lambo" and “Trunk Music” all basically got the same reaction that they did in at basement in Antioch except that it was scaled up by about a bazillion times. Shit, even his sing-along medley — which included nods to the Beastie Boys, Skynyrd, Metallica and NWA — was off the chain, a welcome moment of levity in what is otherwise dark and kinda disturbing set. My friends were telling me that he lost the crowd during that segment, but based on the kids freaking out around me, I'd say they're wrong.