Metallica & Bonnaroo

Really now, when you see those two words together, does it really feel right?

Of course not.

As you likely know, it happened last year. Bonnaroo 2008. Metallica played Bonnaroo on Friday night of the festival in Manchester, Tenn.

I was there.

Bonnaroo; a festival that has become one of the biggest summer music festivals in the entire country. Historically, it could not possibly have been more appealing to the jam-band/Phish and Grateful Dead-loving crowd.

So let’s bring in Metallica.

Perhaps the biggest antithesis to the aforementioned crowd. Let’s consider a few of the band’s album and song titles: Kill ‘Em All, “Seek & Destroy,” “Creeping Death,” Death Magnetic, “Until It Sleeps,” “Ain’t My Bitch,” “Die, Die My Darling.”

Not that The Grateful Dead are known for all things positive. Dead is part of their name. But this isn’t about exploring what that band name means. This is about the evolution of a huge festival, and taking a second to think about the humor of its growing-up process.

Esquire Magazine warned that Metallica “will doom Bonnaroo forever.” Read the story here. Writer Jason Notte, of Esquire, is taking more of the anti-Metallica (in general) angle, which is not my point. But it does point out some of the same contradictions-in-crowds that I’m looking at. For example:

“Let there be no question: Metallica will kill Bonnaroo. When they’re done, Manchester, Tenn. will be a post-apocalyptic swath of scorched farmland, burned out VW Microbuses and tufts of shredded hair yanked from hipster beards.”

Check out this progression of past Bonnaroo headliners.

Trey Anastasio and Widespread Panic (2002). Widespread Panic and The Dead (2003). The Dead and Dave Matthews and Friends (2004). Widespread Panic and Dave Matthews Band (2005). Radiohead and Tom Petty (2006). The Police and Tool (2007). Pearl Jam and Metallica (2008). Bruce Springsteen and Phish (2009).

And why did I pay $250, sleep in a wet tent in foot-tall grass and essentially not shower for four days at Bonnaroo 2008?

To see Metallica.

Bonnaroo, keep it up. You’re on track for a true Hippie goal,

Bringing us all together.


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