104 David Mitchell, Helen Walsh
106 The Glamour Girls of Bill Ward
106 N*E*R*D, Tortoise
00... Excellent 00.. Recommended 000 Good
109 Battlefield: Vietnam
1 10 David Lynch, Nick Cave
1 1 1 England Expects, Las Vegas
1 12 Armani, Scotti
1 14 Ye Olde Golf Tavern
1 1 6 Montreal
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"airs DVD (Sanctuary) 0... and music festival 11—1 3 June 2004
- ' utdoor music festivals are " strange beasts. For - punters, their success or
1 failure can be down to something as simple as a few scattered showers and can be — depending on your age, constitution and outlook — an unmissable opportunity to witness a plethora ' of live bands in one rural setting or a self-inflicted, gruelling endurance test.
One thing that could help make your mind up one way or the other is Danny Clinch's excellent documentary of the 2003 Bonnaroo festival in Manchester, Tennessee. Here, free-thinking musicians of pretty much every genre descend, as do 80,000 other people, to watch, listen and dance two days and nights away.
But despite a seemingly slick and stylish exterior, Bonnaroo festival is essentially a hippy hinterland filled with good feeling and broadmindedness. Reminiscent of Monterey in musical vision and Glastonbury in the crusty aesthetic (it shares Glasto's eco-savvy outlook and keenness in donating ticket profits to charity), Bonnaroo is musically eclectic and this is something that the film captures perfectly.
Subtitled '270 miles from Graceland' (because . . . well, it is), the two hours of concert footage perfectly illustrates the booking policy at Bonnaroo: every act that appears never play the same song twice. This incredibly broad remit means the festival attracts a varied and, at times, ingenious gathering of musos, groovers and loons. The bill for 2003
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IT'S A RECIPE FOR NOODLING HEAVEN OR HELL, DEPENDING ON YOUR OUTLOOK
ranged from true veteran improvisers like the Dead (formerly From left to right:
the Grateful Dead) and the Allman Brothers to alt.rock Flaming Lips, freaks like Sonic Youth, the Polyphonic Spree, Tortoise and James Brown and the expansive funk of James Brown, the Roots and the 50"“: YOUth
Antibalas Afrobeat Orchestra, who are all captured in the film. A second DVD includes a series of artist interviews, rehearsals and press conferences from backstage.
If your ambitions reach further than the armchair, however, then one option is to head for this year's festival. Bonnaroo 2004 runs from 11-13 June and continues to grow in scale and stature since its 2002 inception. Among the 50 or so acts confirmed are Bob Dylan, Patti Smith, Dave Matthews, Femi Kuti, Damien Rice, Calexico, Grandaddy, Cut Chemist, My Morning Jacket, Ani DiFranco and Burning Spear. Bonnaroo is on remote farm land in the middle of nowhere, so the music runs for pretty much 24 hours over the three days. Also, unlike the traditional notion of everyone except the headliners getting sets of 45 minutes to an hour, bands get anything from one to three hours — the Flaming Lips did a monstrous four hour set in 2003 — giving them space and freedom to explore whatever and wherever they please. A recipe for noodling heaven or hell, depending on your outlook.
Tickets are priced $139.50 (£76.90 approx) and flights via London to Nashville start at around £350. Transfers straight to the festival site by coach from the airport are also available. Despite the distance to get there, sunshine is almost guaranteed as well as a whole new take on the whole festival experience. (Mark Robertson)
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‘. iii/M31." THE LIST 103