Festival Coverage

Bonnaroo in Review

Last year was my first Bonnaroo, and I knew as I left the arch still dazed by Explosions in the Sky’s performance that I would return for the 2012 installment. And it didn’t disappoint.

Being a little more well-versed this year in what to bring (water water water water water..and glowsticks) we packed up the car and headed on the 9-hour drive to Tennessee.

DJ Kligz made some killer flower crowns for everyone:

Thursday, Centeroo opened before any bands started, so we explored the not-as-music-related activities:

Once the music got going, we checked out Rubblebucket at the Solar Stage. If you’re a triangle native, you may be familiar with them from Shakori Hills or when they opened for Tin Can Sailor at The Pour House. Funky and dancey, they put on one of the most fun shows all weekend. Word around the farm was Feist went to oneof their performances during the weekend too.

Next, I pretty much stayed at The Other Tent: The Cave Singers, Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr., White Denim and Phantogram. The crowd was absolutely massive for all of these – we luckily had a spot on the right side up against the fence for most of this though. Sing-a-longs and long jam sessions kept the crowd happy.

Friday was packed with some of my favorite performances of the weekend.

At the Kooks, we ran into DJ Bex in front of Which Stage. They were as fun as you’d expect them to be and covered old songs as well as tunes from their most recent album, “Junk of the Heart (2011).”

I hopped over to That Tent to see Ben Howard – easily one of the best feeling concerts of the weekend. I realize I put Tune-yards on the back burner for this (still caught the last 30 minutes of their set, which included “Gangsta,” “Bizness,” and “My Country”), and I don’t regret it one bit. If you haven’t listened to Ben Howard, you should. The crowd was mesmerized and the band’s instrumentation was beautiful. Ben, I love you.

Two Door Cinema Club, who played at This Tent (these names aren’t confusing at all, right?), had a crowd so large that is was backed up to the Mushroom fountain – where paint-covered patrons cool off and attempt to get faux-showers. We went to see Laura Marling instead, who is as beautiful as you’d expect with effortless and smooth playing. After our ice-filled bandanas melted, we claimed some space at What Stage for The Avett Brothers. Their opening song was “Will You Return” which I couldn’t have been happier about. They play both slow and fast hits throughout their performance, as well as covered two Doc Watson songs. As NC natives, there’s no doubt he was a big influence on them.

As with any music festival, you should always check out the bands a little off the beaten path – hit the smaller stages and tents. Jukebox the Ghost followed The Avett’s performance at the Destination Escape Tent. The band’s energy was contagious. They not only played songs off their June release “Safe Travels,” but also did a super fun cover of “I Will Love You Forever.”

And there was no way I couldn’t reminisce about middle school and stop to dance when Ludacris played classics like “Roll Out,” “Move B*tch,” and “Stand Up.” Apparently there was also a life-size Justin Beiber cardboard cutout floating around the crowd, too. Foster the People had an equally large crowd, backed up to the point you could hardly see, despite the single big screen on the side of the stage. They had a cool set up though, with lights, neat backdrops – oh, and at least a two-story inflatable ghost monster thing that came out during “Pumped Up Kicks.” There was a mad rush to What Stage in preparation for Radiohead’s 10PM performance. They had puppet lights set up, which were moveable LED panels that changed position with each song. This was an iconic performance, and after Thom Yorke dedicated “Supercollider” to Jack White with a cryptic message, we can only wonder what’s next for them.

Saturday Agenda: Charles Bradley and His Extraordinaires, The Temper Trap, Punch Brothers, SBTRKT, Mogwai, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Alice Cooper, Superjam (?estlove with D’Angelo), Skrillex

We waited in line for the pit for The Temper Trap, giving us a front and center view of the show. Not to mention watching Charles Bradley was a great start to the day with his feel-good soulful tunes. Seeing The Temper Trap without colorful lights was a little odd to me,  but they still did the water-filled drum solos they’re known for. Drawing a lot of the songs from their self-titled June release, they still hit on most of the favorites from their previous album “Conditions (2009)” (“Drum Song,” “Science of Fear,” “Down River,” “Sweet Disposition”).

Punch Brothers were somehow dressed in suits. While they looked classy, I can’t fathom how they weren’t dying. The heat was as bad as last year by any means and I believe stayed under 90 the whole weekend, but I still think anyone wearing long sleeves was a little insane. Seeing them perform, regardless, made me respect them a lot more. I’m fairly sure Chris Tile (mandolin, vocals) can rock harder and play faster than most speed-metal guitarists.

Switching from bluegrass to electronic, we moved over to SBTRKT, the London-based DJ.  Usually I’m not a fan of seeing electronic music live for the musicianship – I expect them to press a few buttons and dance around with a hint of emceeing. This was different. Moving all around the stage with his collaborator Sampha, they really made it something to watch to. There was even a drum set for a song or two.

Their final song came and Kligz and I pushed our way to the front as fast as we could. If you know me, you know I love post rock, and if you love post rock, you love Mogwai. Around since 1997 (“Mogwai Young Team”), they’ve made their heavy mark on the genre. And being from Scotland, they don’t frequent the US very much. Needless to say, I was ecstatic. The only thing that broke my hypnotic trance during their stellar performance was a band of Teletubbies that danced to the front of the crowd, hugged everyone, and left. Hashtag Bonnaroo.

Just when I thought my mind had recovered from their show, Red Hot Chili Peppers started. As a side note, I should say RHCP were one of the bands that my parents and I all enjoyed, so it was one of the go-to’s growing up. I’ve probably listened to “Californication (1999)” more than any other rock album and Flea has been my favorite bassist since I knew what one was.  This show is partially why I’m just now regaining my voice.

I promised my mom I’d see Alice Cooper. It was cool, and everything you’d expect at an Alice Cooper show – eyeliner, studded jackets, raised drumset, cocky pacing around stage. He’s still got it.

I don’t have pictures of either of these, but the Superjam and Skrillex finished the night. The Superjam was killer, Roots drummer ?uestlove led the jam, with originals and covers ranging to Zeppelin. This was prematurely interrupted as soon as Skrillex turned on his computer, radiating bass from the What Stage to the Mushroom Fountain in front of This Tent. It was a weird place to be, the intersection of two polar opposite types of music. We gave in and went over. In a raised platform, Skrillex was illuminated by a huge LED screen behind him and it rained glowsticks everytime the beat dropped.

As soon as we got back to our camp, it started raining – very atypical for Bonnaroo. The rain continued until the next day, misting on and off for Sunday.

I found a band I hadn’t heard of on Sunday – Sister Sparrow and The Dirty Birds. Brooklyn-based with nine members, their sound is a blend of rock, ska, blues and soul. We saw Fruit Bats (lovely, as always) and Grouplove (it was too crowded to see them, which took away a lot of the splendor of their performace), and I wish I would have seen The Black Lips. While en route to other concerts, they sounded like a lot of fun. We endured what we could of Mac Miller (sorry if you like him – not my cup of tea at all.. but he had a big backwards neon hat-wearing crowd that was really into it) to get a good spot for Ben Fold Five. This was their second show after reuniting as a whole band. They were all smiling from ear to ear, and Ben snapped some pictures of the crowd. Between songs were some silly stories and comments about their weekend. They played so hard Ben broke a string – on a piano. When does that happen?

The last show I saw of the weekend was The Shins, who followed BFF. Besides being surrounded by hardcore fans, we also spotted some celebs, like McLovin’ and other artists from the weekend. Beach balls flew around, everyone danced, and somehow the webstream made it look like it was sunny outside. Maybe that’s just another effect The Shins have.

All in all, amazing weekend.

See you next time, roo.

New Album Review

‘Limbs’ starts off slow, makes a promising finish

88.1 WKNC’s Pick of the Week 2/23
By Seth White, WKNC DJ Goof

Since their  2003 release Hail to the Thief and their departure from Capitol Records, Radiohead has broken away from the typical formalities of releasing an album.

Radiohead doesn’t release singles, and rarely mention that they have anything near completion. Then one day they say they have a new album coming out, and four days later you have it in your lap.

The King of Limbs is Radiohead’s eighth full-length album, and finds them once again polishing off the direction they have been heading in since the release of 2000’s Kid A.

In Kid A, they wiped away the guitar-driven rock band persona they developed in their first two albums for something much more abstract. They experimented with scattered percussion segments, looped vocals and ambient noises that can easily leave the listener lost at first, but rewarded in the long run.

Limbs starts out much the same way with “Bloom.” The song skips and buckles with spattered drum beats and an off-kilter bass line that slowly grows. Finally, Thom’s reverberating vocals reel you into the bigger picture.

Although “Bloom” is entertaining, it is nothing the band has not tried before on Kid A or Amnesiac, and is probably the lowlight of the album. “Morning Mr. Magpie” is the same. It’s better than the first track, but lacks the excitement expected when one hears Radiohead.

Limbs really starts to pick up speed in the third track. “Little by Little” is an energetic number that recovers from the dullness of its predecessors.

“Feral” is the most outlandish track on the album. It is an instrumental piece comprised of fast-paced, high-pitched drums, consumed by overwhelming bass and synth notes. Much like the rest of the album, it has a constrained, claustrophobic sense of urgency.

“Lotus Flower” is the album’s dominant force. It is catchy, beautiful and reminiscent of the 90s band Massive Attack. “Codex,” the following song on the album, is an elegant slow-burner that  quickly diminishes this excitement. The band seems to take a page out of Bon Iver’s playbook for “Give Up The Ghost”. Thom’s vocals are at their prime here. They are haunting and calm, soothing and fearful – a brilliant dichotomy that truly makes Radiohead the world-renowned band they are.

The album ends on a high note with “Separator.” This song is much less controlled than the rest of the tracks and is riddled with perfectly-placed overlapping vocals. Unlike the restless feeling given off by most of the previous tracks, “Separator” comes across as much more optimistic.

Although Limbs starts off slow, it gains speed and makes a promising finish. As with most Radiohead albums, it needs countless listens to be fully understood. It takes time to appreciate it for what it is.

88.1 WKNC Pick of the Week is published every Wednesday in the print edition of Technician, as well as online at and

Music News and Interviews

SoundOff16 The Dodos/Kurt Vile

In this episode of SoundOff we question the legitimacy of Radiohead’s Newspaper edition of The King of Limbs, discuss the efforts by Indie artists to support Japan, and review new albums by Kurt Vile and The Dodos.

Listen to episode 16.

Music News and Interviews

DJ Ones’ Five Music Facts from the past music week

1. At SXSW Jack White unveiled his newest idea, the rolling record store. The record store on wheels, which sells Third Man Record albums, t-shirts, and other paraphernalia. (via Third Man Records)

2. Damon Albarn of Blur and Gorillaz fame, is set to star in a musical that he himself wrote. The play will be performed in London and will be based around a 16th century spy, John Dee. (via BBC)

3. It has been confirmed that there will be a collaboration between Radiohead frontman, Thome Yorke, and Doom. Not much else is currently available about their upcoming project. (via Pitchfork)

4. The Mountain Goats are doing their part to help raise money for Japan following the tsunamis. The band, which is currently auctioning a one track demo on ebay. All proceeds go towards helping Doctors Without Boarders. (via Pitchfork)

5. TV on the Radio have announced that bassist and keyboardist Gerard Smith has been diagnosed with lung cancer and is currently undergoing treatment. (via TV on the Radio)

Music News and Interviews

SoundOff13 James Blake

After talking about the surprising album release by Radiohead, we recap the Grammys and review the debut album of James Blake.

Listen to episode 13.

Music News and Interviews

Radiohead Surprise with Album Release on Feb 19

There has been much speculation over the next Radiohead album. The band has been insanely successful at keeping their next project under wraps since the start of their follow-up to In Rainbows. Following the “pay what you want” model of their previous album, Radiohead announced on February 14 that The King of Limbs will be distributed digitally Saturday, February 19. What has been deemed as a rather extraordinary packaged version of the album will be available in early May. Although there is a wide lack of information about what the album sounds like, what the tracks are named, and how long the album is, audiences will know as soon as it hits the tubes on February 19.

Music News and Interviews

DJ Ones’ Five Music Facts from the past week

1. Japandroids are set to re-release two five-song EPs that were recorded before the band’s breakout album “Post Nothing.” The songs from both the “All Lies” and “Lullaby Death Jams” EPs are going to be compiled to form “No Singles.” The album is set to release May 11th, courtesy of Polyvinyl. (via Pitchfork)

2. Last fall, after playing a set of shows for the first time since 1994, Sunny Day Real Estate is set to release new material for the first time in 15 years. Although no recording time-line has been scheduled just yet, the band is hard at work at creating new songs. (via Billboard)

3. After the release of her acclaimed “IRM”, Charlotte Gainsbourg is scheduled to complete a two week North American tour. Although (sadly) there are no shows planned for North Carolina, she does plan on playing Coachella (for all you summer festival junkies). (via Pitchfork)

4. In a recent article in The Chicago Tribune, The Strokes have announce that they will be headlining Lollapalooza this year. Alongside that information, frontman Julian Casablancas has contemplated that “I think it’ll (the new album)be out in September.“(via Chicago Tribute)

5. Radiohead has confirmed that an email that had been circulated by a large number of fans, was a hoax. The email in question detailed that the next release from Radiohead would be called "Tehrangles.” A spokesman for Radiohead said to NME, “Most of it is made up and there is no album or album title.” (via NME)

Music News and Interviews

DJ Ones’ Five Music Facts from the past week

Vampire Weekend Courtsey of Casey Miler

1. Vampire Weekend’s Ezra Koenig has revealed that the inspiration for Vampire Weekend’s next album, Contra, comes from both the popular 1987 Konami game and the Nicaraguan rebel groups. He added, “I did have a moment where I stopped and thought, ‘wow, everybody my age, when you say "Contra,” thinks of the video game, and everybody my parents’ age thinks of the counter-revolutionaries in Nicaragua.“ via (NME)

2. Singer Jarvis Cocker received a honorary degree from his hometown’s university, Sheffield Hallam. In regards to receiving the he said, I’m called a doctor now,” and, “Don’t worry, I won’t open a surgery. But I guess if you are a songwriter maybe I could have some kind of musical surgery. via (NME)

3. Animal Collective has revealed plans for their follow up to this year’s album "Merriwether Post Pavilion”. The five-track EP, which is titled Fall Be Kind, is set to be released for digital download on November 23, with a CD and vinyl version set to be released in December. via (NME)

4. !!! drummer Jerry Fauchs has passed away after an elevator accident in Williamburg, New York. The 34-year-old died after attempting to leap to safety from the elevator to the fifth floor of the building. via (NME)

5. Peter Gabriel (formely of Genesis) is set to have orchestral covers of bands including Bon Iver, Radiohead, and Arcade Fire. Althogh no dates have been officially announced the album is set to release some time next year. via (Pitchfork)