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Live from Bonnaroo: Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Santigold and TV on the Radio




(Soundcheck's Carole Giambalvo is in Manchester, Tenn., for the Bonnaroo Music Festival. She'll be sending Bonnaroo reviews from the scene all weekend.)

Now, came Friday’s first real problem: Santigold, Grizzly Bear and the Yeah Yeahs Yeahs had the same set times. Those bums.

I had to see the Yeah Yeah Yeahs above all, though, so we started there. Turns out that they’re every bit as good live as I dreamed they’d be.

Firecracker Karen O. is a real rock star -- engaging, emotional and a little glam. Has she dabbled in theatre, or interpretive dance? The electro-fied Zero (which concluded with confetti canons) and Soft Shock made me think so. She bounced, panted, prowled, wined, held completely still, then flailed as if conducting a symphony. Heads Will Roll, another new track, came off nicely, too.

I wasn’t thrilled that the band opted for more electronic stuff on the new album, but it worked live. Date with the Night, a personal fave, was the finale, and it brought down the house. I was ready to call this set the day’s best, easy, until…

... Santi White did her thang on the opposite end of the farm. No disrespect to M.I.A., but Santigold is the better performer, no question. Formerly known as Santogold (there was some kind of copyright dispute), the hipster hero from Philadelphia threw down sassy rhymes amid bone-shaking bass. It hurt so good.

Pro snowboarder-turned-cheeky rapper Trouble Andrew made a guest appearance too. Are he and Santi still engaged? Anyways, let it be known, for all Santigold’s swagger, she’s super-social and sweet to her fans. She invited dancers to come up (well, “the five best dancers,” she said) on the Switch-produced Creator, which beeped and rattled the tent. Pure dance bliss. Wish I caught more.

Grizzly Bear was done too. And I cursed the Bonnaroo organizers.

Next, we tuned in for TV on the Radio at the “Which Stage." (Did I mention the stages are named the “What Stage,” the “Which Stage,” “This Tent,” and “That Tent” -- kinda confusing, but they provide fodder for lots of who’s on first jokes).

The opening numbers were melancholy, though the heat turned up right around dusk. The band shouted “Bonnaroo!” a few times to stir up more crowd noise. The crowd roared back. Then the band changed the cheer to “Ham sandwich!” Surprise comedians -- love it!

A quilted backdrop of abstract shapes, a red triangle and rainbow decorated the stage. Appropriately, the band played Wolf Like Me* just as the moon made its appearance.

It was uptempo from there. Crying and super-funky Golden Age were bumpin‚Äô with tambourines and percussion giving the tracks extra depth.  A little beat boxing and Andy Griffith Show-style whistling rounded out the set.

Coming up: Bonnaroo after dark! And we catch up with a few Tampa-area Bonnaroo attendees ...

-- Carole Giambalvo, tbt*. Photo: Associated Press.

* Weird happenings during this one: A nearby fan fist pumped a squirrel figurine in the air – some kind of animal sacrifice? And a dude flew in a paper airplane with his phone number – a pretty respectable pick-up move, I suppose)

[Last modified: Sunday, June 14, 2009 5:10am]


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