As far as concerts go, I’m only enough of a critic to place artists into two categories: performers I’d want to see again & ones I’ll probably skip the next go ’round. I got to Manchester yesterday in the late afternoon, getting straight to work on stuffing envelopes and basically helping with whatever people need to get done. It’s hard even to be in this town without getting a little nostalgic, and luckily many of my “I’d-see-them-again” artists are back this year. Some Bonnaroo ’11 acts that might fall into this category:
- First up, Grace Potter. It’s no secret that I’d switch places with her if I could, and I guess you can trace my girl-crush back to when Paste filmed with her in 2009. I didn’t know much about her, but I knew she was wearing a pair of yellow heels I’d been eyeing at Anthropologie for weeks, and that she managed to look (and sound) like a rock star even in the sweltering, sweaty weather. To top it off, she’s probably responsible for my kind-of-delayed Bob Dylan phase, because naive-19-year-old-Dacey went right home after filming “I Shall Be Released” to download a ToTaLLy RaWkiN’ gRaCe PoTTeR sOnG, only to realize it was actually a cover written by one of the greatest songwriters of all time. Obviously I love Grace singing other people’s songs (few can cover Grace Slick and get away with it, #justsayin), but her surprise collaborations with everyone from Gov’t Mule to moe. as well as her candid performances are what make her worth seeing (again).
- As an ATLien, it’d be a crime if I’d never seen Big Boi in concert, and it would be even worse if I wasn’t siked to see him again. Antwan André Patton has set the bar pretty high for himself; The last time I saw him, it was a “secret show” at the Shriner’s Temple in Atlanta, and it was exactly as great as it sounds. I arrived to a sea of people crowded outside who were brought together by a few tweets and a common craving for a free performance (and an open bar). It was over capacity by the time we showed up, but thanks to my sweet-talking friend, we found our way inside. Every person in the room knew every word to every song: I didn’t even realize I knew so many OutKast/Big Boi songs until that night. When he closed with “Kryptonite,” you could see all the Atlantans in the building going nuts. That being said, if you see Big Boi and you’re disappointed, you just weren’t in the right city at the right time.
- Next on the “I’d see them again (and again, and again)” list is Mumford & Sons. Despite my doubt and internal struggle at ‘Roo last year over missing the Avett Brothers show at the same time slot (I’d caught a smaller version earlier in the day, after all), I showed up for the Mumford set and was awestruck from start to finish. Marcus Mumford, from that moment on, had a new stalker. They even had Dave Rawlings and Gillian Welch up for a round of “Wagon Wheel,” which is definitely a safe song choice in Tennessee. You can still stream the entire performance on NPR; I may or may not have re-lived it
hundreds ofa few times.
I caught Mumford & Sons again for their sold-out show at the Valarium in the fall, and I’ll end my gushing with this: they play every venue like there’s 80,000 people in the audience that are as energetic as they are. You have to respect that.
- Now for the obvious: GirlTalk. The first time I saw Gregg Gillis was at Bonnaroo 2009, when I watched as a fellow “Pastern” interviewed him. Later that night, she and I inched our way up through the preceding Phoenix and Crystal Castles shows in the hopes of landing a prime spot for the mash-up star’s late night set, and although I was muddy, exhausted, and blazing hot, it might have been the most fun I’d ever had. Flash forward to Moogfest 2010, when I somehow wound up onstage for his performance. It was the perfect preface for his latest album, All Day, which would become my #1 work-out/long-drive/studying soundtrack. If you add it up, I’d say I have every reason to still be excited to see GirlTalk, whether I’m in the crowd, on stage, or even behind the camera.
- One artist I’m still mulling over is JEFF the Brotherhood: they came into Paste for a performance last summer. Their slot is during the first 30 minutes of fest’ headliner Arcade Fire next week, but I’m curious to see how JTB has grown and developed. Since last year, they’ve gotten a lot of love from Rolling Stone and continued to get attention from CMJ & SPIN. I vividly remember JtB’s advice to “aspiring musicians,” during the Paste interview, actually: They said, “If you’re going to do it, don’t do anything else.” More specifically, save on the rent money to “move out of your apartment and tour all the time.” I liked that; it was simple and somewhat idealistic. I think I can sacrifice a few minutes of Arcade Fire and see what 12 months of not paying rent can get you, right?