Music Director Spak’s Top Ten Moments of Bonnaroo 2015

Top 10 Moments from Bonnaroo 2015

Story, photos and video by: Anthony Spak | @spakdaddy

Music Director and Bonnaroo rookie Anthony Spak traveled ten hours down I-75 to Manchester, Tennessee for a weekend of music and arts. Here are his ten best moments from Bonnaroo 2015. 

1. My Morning Jacket at What Stage

I remember being introduced to My Morning Jacket late one summer night in my grandma’s living room. I was in eighth grade and was prone to staying up until four a.m. every night watching videos on MTV 2. The demon disco feel of they’re song, “Touch Me I’m Going to Scream Pt. 2” and its creepy, corresponding video hooked me in and I’ve been a fan ever since.

But this Kentucky band’s sound can’t be summarized with just one song. Their two-hour set Saturday night on the main stage showed off the band’s many faces: the hippie-dippie sway of “Wordless Chorus”; the pleasant Americana harmonies of “I’m Amazed” and “Evil Urges”; the hillbilly head bangers of “One Big Holiday” and a few of the best tracks from their new album, “The Waterfall.”

Singer/guitarist Jim James was in rare form, hitting his signature oddball falsettos on “Wordless Chorus” and “Touch Me I’m Going to Scream Pt. 2.” In between songs James, with his long hair tucked back behind a black towel like a hooded monk, would raise his fist up into the air to give the crowd a thumbs up, doing his part to “radiate positivity” as was printed on many a tie-dyed Bonnaroo t-shirt.

Though My Morning Jacket has played Bonnaroo a half-dozen times since their first appearance in 2003, they still performed with the vigor of a new band trying to make a name for themselves at a big festival.

2. Kendrick Lamar at What Stage

“Last time I was here, y’all was at an eight. Tonight, we gonna turn up to 20,” Compton rapper Kendrick Lamar told an excited Friday night crowd.

Right out of the gate, Lamar threw the hungry crowd a bone with “Money Trees” and “Backseat Freestyle,” two bangers off of 2012’s “good kid, m.A.A.d. city.” Most knew the beats and bobbed in time. Most knew the words and sang along, pointing fingers guns towards the stage at the point in “Money Trees” when a deep, ominous voice from the recording proclaims, “The one in front of the gun lives forever.”

On “m.A.A.d. city,” Lamar kept repeating the line, “If Pirus and Crips all got along/They’d probably gun me down by the end of the song,” hammering it into the crowd’s head in an extended version of the song that last at least ten minutes, with break in between. From the end of the set to the end of the festival, you could usually hear someone nearby in the line for the bathroom or the water station singing that line to themself quietly.

A few songs from “King Kunta,” Lamar’s sonically and socially complicated new album, made the set list, but not many. The title track, “Alright”, “I” and a beautifully stripped-down vocal duet of “These Walls” with Anna Moon, who sings on the album version, were performed. I was hoping to hear more from “King Kunta”, but perhaps a huge headlining festival appearance was not the place to perform those less digestible songs, compared to the radio-ready rap of his previous material.

3. Sweetwater 420 Extra Pale Ale

Sweetwater 420 was the best beer on tap at Bonnaroo.

Sweetwater 420 was the best beer on tap at Bonnaroo.

Bonnaroo offered many food options for guests, but the drink selection was slim for festivalgoers. Miller Lite and Coors Light were the main domestics available, with tents dedicated to each beer. As for craft beer, a few were offered at the beer tents but one in particular stood out.

Listed as an American Pale Ale (APA), Sweetwater 420 Extra Pale Ale was my favorite beer that was found cold and on-tap on the farm. At 5.7 percent alcohol by volume (ABV), this brew had a bite to it but also carried an enjoyable, sweet flavor. Dark, but not too dark, this was the perfect beer to grab in between sets or before the long trek back to camp for the night.

Compared to the domestics at $7 for a 16 oz. cup, this beer was also reasonably priced. At $7 for a short 12 oz. and $8 for a tall 16 oz., I didn’t mind paying a little extra for a tasty beer on the go.

4. Mac DeMarco at This Tent

Thursday night was a rough night. Our van left OU at 11 p.m. on Wednesday night and ended up at our campsite in Pod 10 twelve hours later. After some rest during the day, I stumbled my way out to a few shows at night that I was impressed with.

Canada’s favorite gap-toothed goofball Mac DeMarco has been a favorite of mine since I first heard those woozy jazz chords at the beginning of “Ode to Viceroy” two summers ago. I had seen him and his band, with Pete Sagar still on guitar, once before shortly after “Salad Days” was released and was eager to see my favorite current melody maker again.

After a lengthy sound check, the band began, but their sound was still off. The bass was non-existent and then overwhelmingly loud after a change. The drums were muffled and turned down so low in the mix that the proper snap and crack of Mac’s songs wasn’t properly felt. That being said, DeMarco’s voice rang out well across the crowded tent, mostly full of teenagers smoking weed.

DeMarco recently announced a new mini-album, “Another One,” that will be released in August. I was hoping to hear songs off of the new album, at least “The Way You Love Her” which is the first single, but Mac and co. didn’t play anything past 2014’s “Salad Days.”

The set was great for a DeMarco show, but that’s what bothered me as I left the tent following the usual “Still Together” closer that ended with a ten-minute crowd surfing session: Mac DeMarco has become a one tricky pony. Most go to a show expecting him to play his hummable, three minute slacker rock tracks, make bad-mannered small talk in between songs, close the show with his signature ballad, “Still Together” and come back out for an encore, usually a vulgarized version of “Enter Sandman” or “Taking Care of Business.”

Mac DeMarco is a one tricky pony. The set felt formulaic and I left wondering whether or not Mac and his band are tired of playing the same set everywhere they go.

That being said, he is still my favorite one trick pony.

5. Courtney Barnett at This Tent

Before Mac DeMarco, Australia’s Courtney Barnett warmed up This Tent with songs from her excellent new album, “Sometimes I Sit and Think, And Sometimes I Just Sit.” A smash hit at college radio, Barnett’s album is one of most solid pop rock albums made in recent memory and the songs transitioned well on stage.

Courtney Barnett at Bonnaroo 2015.

Courtney Barnett at Bonnaroo 2015.

Charismatic and energetic, Barnett could be seen head banging and shredding her guitar parts at center stage for most of the show. A delicate version of “Depreston” gave way to a crowd sing along; a beautiful, communal moment that you would expect from a festival like Bonnaroo.

There wasn’t any glitter or glowsticks, but what Barnett’s set did have was soul and energy. Keep an eye on her in the future.

6. D’Angelo at This Tent

D’Angelo was one of my few “must-see” shows at this year’s festival. After finding fame in the 90’s R&B scene with his song “Brown Sugar” and then more than 10 years without a release, “Black Messiah” was released in the very last few days of 2014. The album’s perfect mix of soul, funk, rock, hip-hop and moments of political commentary made for one of my favorites of last year.

The singer’s appearance at the legendary Bonnaroo Superjam in 2012 alongside The Roots’ ?uestlove was his last time at the festival. This year, D’Angelo came to the stage at 2 a.m. with a new band and a new batch of original songs.

What transpired was one of the tightest, funkiest sets of music I’ve ever seen.

D’Angelo started off the night slow with “Ain’t That Easy,” “Really” and a few other more relaxed numbers. The pace quickly picked up with “The Charade,” a dance-y song that deals with racial and social unrest, and didn’t stop until the show ended an hour later.

At this point in the set, the band started to extend the songs into funky, stop-and-start explorations that shifted moods and tempos at the drop of a dime. D’Angelo, smiling and clapping his hands above his head, was the conductor, calling out for hits from the rhythm section like a modern day Otis Redding.

After such a long lapse from recording and performing music, it was good to see one of the all-time great soul singers on stage and enjoying himself along with a crowd full of Bonnaroo night owls.

7. Random old man singing on a truck top stage during Florence and the Machine

During Florence and the Machine’s set on Sunday evening, an older man was seen singing obscure glam-rock/hip-hop songs on a roof stage of a truck outside of the Centeroo entrance.

One angry volunteer at a nearby General Store threatened to throw a ripe orange at the singer in an attempt to make him stop singing so she could hear Florence and the Machine.

At the time of my departure the man was still singing and no oranges had been thrown.

8. Flying Lotus at The Other Tent

While most of Bonnaroo was preoccupied with EDM sensation DeadMau5’s set on the main stage, an equally gifted electronic act was playing across Centeroo in one of the smaller tents.

Cosmic and complicated, Flying Lotus is known for his psychedelic hip-hop instrumentals that have appeared everywhere from Kendrick Lamar songs to the black screen bumpers on Adult Swim. His most recent album, “You’re Dead” from 2014, was a smash at college radio and contained some of his most experimental music yet.

Fly-Lo’s set was more psychedelic than I expected. A backdrop of swirling colors and subtle lights added a mystique to the DJ, who also raps under the Alias Captain Murphy. There were times in the set when the DJ came out from behind his mixing station and did some rapping, but the highlights of show were old Flying Lotus classics like “Do The Astral Plane” as well as appearance of Dr. Dre’s “Let Me Ride” and Kenrick Lamar’s “Wesley’s Theory.”

9. Golf cart cab rides for $5

After an exhausting day of walking from stage to stage, dancing and drinking barely enough water to maintain consciousness, I was tired. There was nothing more grueling than making the mile and a half journey back to camp at three a.m. from Centeroo. A few nights, I caved an went to my wallet for help.

Our driver Ivan's cart signage.

“Premium Tip is the Dope” reads our driver Ivan’s cart signage.

Golf cart cab services are an actual enterprise that exists and they were on the farm for the festival. For $5 up front, one of the cab drivers could drive you through the weirdness that is Bonnaroo at three in the morning (shirtless women offering you drugs, overflowing porta potties, wandering young men offering you texts for religions you’ve never heard of, to name a few).

My cab driver Ivan from Russia was polite and talkative. Here is a picture of a sign on the passenger side of his six seated cart.

10. Freddie Gibbs and Madlib at The Other Tent

A friend of mine told me my sophomore year of college that I had to listen to Freddie Gibbs because he was one of the best in the game at the time. Like a snob I ignored him and missed out on one of the most critically acclaimed rap albums of 2014, Freddie Gibbs and Madlib’s “Piñata.”

By Sunday, most of the festival attendees were tired from 2-3 days of partying and seeing music. But Sunday, June 14, 2015 was Gibbs’ 33rd birthday and the Garry, Indiana rapper was down to party. “I’m high and drunk as hell,” Gibbs said on stage while drinking from a bottle of Patron to Madlib, his DJ counterpart. “Play whatever you want, I know all the songs.”

Madlib’s beats were atypical, using sparse rhythmic blasts of gun shot and police siren samples to drive songs, rather than fully-fleshed out instrumentals.

Gibbs’ flow was extremely vulgar but always in time, despite his birthday celebrations before and during the show.

While most were getting a spot secured for Florence and the Machine, one of hip-hop’s most charismatic rappers performed a very vulgar, very enjoyable set as the sun began to set on Bonnaroo.

Communication and Journalism Career Panel

Join Iota Eta, Oakland University’s chapter of the National Communication Association Honor Society, for a Communication and Journalism Alumni Career Panel.

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Hear from Oakland University communication and journalism graduates, including our very own Faculty Adviser Marty Shafer, who are working in various careers about their path to success.

WHEN: Friday, February 13th 12-1pm

WHERE: Lake Superior B

The event is free and open to all students. Contact Professor Erin Meyers at emeyers@oakland.edu with any questions.

WXOU NEWS: New Oakland University snow emergency policy

By Lauren Barthold | @bylaurenb

11.21.14

With the changing weather comes policy change on campus.

Effective immediately, Oakland University snow emergencies will be announced when three inches of snow falls or is forecast.

When an emergency is declared, parked vehicles must be moved to designated areas. These areas include the Ann V. Nicholson and Matthews Court student apartment lots or the covered parts of the P-29 and P-32 parking garages.

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Cars that aren’t moved before 10pm will be impounded and left to the owner’s responsibility. When in effect, emergencies will run from 10pm to 6am.

The Oakland University Police Department says anyone who plans to leave their car on campus for an extended period of time should leave them in the designated areas in the event of a snow storm.

In an exclusive interview with WXOU, OUPD Chief of Police Mark Gordon said “It’s going to be a strict policy, but one we feel best protects the safety of our students driving and parking on campus as well as from injuries from falling.”

To sign up for the emergency alert system, visit the OUPD website.

 

 

War of the Worlds on WXOU

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Every year, Rich Luzenski of Cinema Serenade (Wednesdays 2-4pm) hosts a reenactment of Orson Welles’ “The War of the Worlds” radio drama in celebration of Halloween.

The original drama was broadcast live over CBS Radio airwaves on October 30th, 1938. The program, which consisted of a series of news bulletins, lead listeners to believe there was an alien invasion occurring in America.

WXOU will recreate the drama this year on Wednesday, 10.29 2-4pm. Or is Oakland University really being invaded by aliens? Listen live on 88.3FM or click “listen” above to find out!

Hear last year’s reenactment here:

WXOU War of the Worlds 2013 by Lauren M. Barthold on Mixcloud

Hillary Clinton visits Oakland University

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By Lauren Barthold | @bylaurenb

Photos by Timothy Pontzer | @timothy_pontzer

The former First Lady, Secretary of State, and Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton stopped by the O’Rena Thursday, October 16th to endorse U.S. Senate candidate Gary Peters and gubernatorial candidate Mark Schauer.

Hillary Clinton at OU: Annie Meinberg Speech by Wxou on Mixcloud

Hillary Clinton at OU: Richard Bernstein Speech by Wxou on Mixcloud

Nearly 3,000 people packed into the sectioned off arena to watch the rally where numerous Democratic candidates and leaders joined in for support. It was after Lieutenant Governor candidate Lisa Brown spoke when Peters, Schauer, and Clinton took the stage to “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” around 6pm.

Hillary Clinton at OU: Clinton Introduction by Wxou on Mixcloud

Hillary Clinton at OU: Clinton on Women by Wxou on Mixcloud

Following Clinton’s speech, which touched on education, equality, and other “hard choices” (A plug for her latest book), she walked along the front row barrier signing autographs and taking selfies with attendees.

In the last week, Clinton has traveled to Chicago, Denver, Las Vegas, Louisville, and San Francisco endorsing other Democratic candidates.

WXOU was the only radio station in Michigan to broadcast the event live.

American Foundation for Suicide Prevention Rochester Community Walk

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Last year in the United States, 39,518 people died by suicide—more lives than war, murder, and natural disasters combined. And the annual suicide rate has been steadily rising for over a decade.

WXOU is proud to be a sponsor of the first ever AFSP Rochester Community Walk on Saturday, 10.12 1-4pm at Stoney Creek Metro Park. Donations will fund research to find better ways to prevent suicide, education programs to raise awareness in schools and workplaces, advocacy initiatives to support public policy that makes mental health and suicide prevention a priority, and support services for survivors of suicide loss.

For more information, visit afsp.org/walks. #endsuicide

WXOU Alumni Weekend

In conjunction with Oakland University’s homecoming celebration, WXOU alumni will hit the airwaves Friday, 9.19 to Sunday, 9.21 with all of your old favorite shows! Regularly scheduled programming will not be interrupted.

Friday

4-6pm: “Turning Down the Bro” with Kyle Bauer
6-7pm: “Friday Night Groove” with Roosevelt Belton
8-9pm: “Bell and Whistle Party” with Marty Shafer and Emily Cutlip
9-11pm: “The Erik Anderson Program”

Saturday

8-9am: “The Oval Office” with Mike
9-10am: “Out of Bounds” with Adam Swensen
10am-12pm: “Drinking, Women and Tragedy” with Justin Lee
4-5pm: “The Graveyard” with Justin Rumenapp
5-6pm: “Technology Today” with Chuck Kanouse
6-7pm: “A Face for Radio” with Phil Berard
7-8pm: Ryan Z
9-10pm: “On the Real with EJ and Porkchop”

Sunday

5-7pm: “Star Sail” with Paul Piazza
7-9:30pm: “The Weekly Serving” with Andrew Grieve

WXOU Alumni Weekend Promo by Wxou on Mixcloud

Happy National Radio Day!

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August 20th is National Radio Day, and to celebrate we’re giving away a pair of Iggy Azalea wsg MAGIC! tickets. All you have to do is fill out the form below, and let us know why you love WXOU!

Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival 2014

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Reviews by Lelia Cotton | @rhymeswtequila

Interviews and photos by Lelia Cotton and Matt McCormick | @mccmatt

7.18.14

The Rockstar Energy Mayhem Festival may be the heaviest of heavy metal tours this summer has to offer. The main stage had some of the biggest names in the metal game, but it was the smaller stages that truly stole the show. The Coldcock Whiskey Stage was headed by bands like Suicide Silence, Miss May I, Mushroomhead, local band King810 and more.

Suicide Silence Interview by Wxou on Mixcloud

Mushroomhead is known for their wild performances and they certainly drew too large of a crowd for such a small stage. Easily, Mushroomhead deserves a spot on the main stage. 2014 is their 21st year as a band and it’s one to remember. This year alone they have brought back some of the original gang as well as some new key guys. Now, they have three lead vocals.  This is especially important as J Mann has officially rejoined the group just three months ago, after working on their latest album together.

Mushroomhead Interview by Wxou on Mixcloud

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The Righteous and The Butterfly just dropped in May 2014 and has already acquired quick success with Billboard and Hard Rock charts. Skinny claims that getting on those charts was never the goal, but “the people have spoken”. He also claims that this album was their “most honest effort” and they all naturally vibed together. After sitting down together, he said the key to their longevity success was that they’re not rockstars, their artists and they don’t take themselves too seriously. J Mann joining the group after a decade of being gone was not something they had planned, it just fell together perfectly. Their cohesiveness showed clear in the performance as it went off without a hitch. They completely owned the stage with their commanding persona and intensity of the water flying off of their drums. The large crowd was almost too excessive for the stage, as well as their vigor. In comparison to some of the Mayhem lineup, Mushroomhead are legends. They have been in the game for quite some time and their fandom showed so.

Miss May I and Mushroomhead, both from Ohio, brought in big crowds to the Michigan theater. This year was Miss May I’s first tour with the Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival. Like Mushroomhead, they has also just dropped an album, Rise of the Lion. Rise of the Lion The band got to work with Michigan’s own, Terry Date, who helped produce their album. Terry Date is known for producing albums with bands like Pantera and Deftones. Their set was filled with a heavy style of melodic metalcore riffs. The crowd was lively, taking the heat by any means possible. Rise of the Lion has shown their diverse sound with all new melodies mashed with their original thrust. The fast paced riffs and clean screaming provided the fans to be satisfied. It’s safe to say Miss May I delivered.

Miss May I Interview by Wxou on Mixcloud

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Overall, it was the Coldcock Whiskey Stage that owned the day. As far as reak metal bands go, the smaller stage was was completely packed with true metal bands. This lineup left the stage stacked with metalcore sounds and heavy breakdowns. This stage alone claimed the energy of the crowd and the Mayhem altogether.

Korn Interview by Wxou on Mixcloud

Avenged Sevenfold was the main headliner for this years Rockstar Energy Mayhem Festival. While at DTE in Clarkston, MI this Thursday and they brought a whole new level of rock to the amphitheater. The heavy metal music echoed all the way to the very back near the Hilltop Bar.

Avenged Sevenfold (A7X) was hands down the best performance of the night, earning the name of a headliner easily. The dramatics of the warm to cool lighting and fire play truly set the tone for the act. The set list was a perfect mixture of old and new, keeping the massive crowd on their feet the entire time. They opened with “Shepard of Fire” from the latest album, ‘Hail to the King’. Followed by “Nightmare” and the 2005 hit, “Bat Country” off of their third album ‘City of Evil’. The army of a crowd chanted every single word to the older, yet still familiar, tune.

As they were going into their next song of the night, lead vocalist, M. Shadows told a story of why Avenged loves Detroit. He went on to say that when they were first coming around with their second album back in 2003, ‘Waking the Fallen’, no one knew who they were and no one would play their music on the radio. However, one radio station, who remained nameless for some reason, in Detroit was playing it. Shadows went on to say that they will never forget that and will always love Detroit for having great taste in music. With that being said, they wanted to dedicate the next song to Detroit. However, as he was devoting the next tune to our beloved city, his mic went out. Thankfully it was only momentarily, and he continued to introduce their dedication of “Hail to the King” to Detroit. The crowd erupted, as the tune is the #1 single off their latest album.

During the rest of the set it became apparent that after all these year, Avenged still can rock. Shadows baritone vocals have truly evolved over time. Often you hear of bands who do not sound the same or as well when performing live. This is not a problem Shadows has to worry about. Kind of funny for a guy who had apparently lost his ability to scream after a throat surgery in 2003, that never happened. This was a ridiculous rumor that was spread after the band had finished Warped Tour 2003. With that being said, in the ten years after, his vocals have matured with a harsh yet clean vocal feel.

Shadows introduced “So Far Out” and attributed it to the late and great James “The Rev” Sullivan. Sullivan was the band’s drummer, vocalist, and songwriter until 2009 when he unexpectedly passed away due to an overdose of Oxycodone, as well as Cardiomegaly (enlarged heart) that may have played a role in his death. The theater was lit up by the sole light of cell phones and lighters from the stage to the top of the hill. The mellow echo of the lyrics felt meaningful and at that moment if was apparent just how many fans still loved these guys. Which is no wonder why the band won  the “Most Dedicated Fans” award at the Revolver Golden Gods Awards last year.

A7X finished their hour and half long set with a mix of jams between their albums, on a high note. Along with a  three song encore that wooed the crowd with the flames and powerful, show ending drum solo.