Review - 270 Miles From Graceland: Bonnaroo 2003

Artist: Various Artists

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You want to hate "Bonnaroo" -- all those college kids play-acting like hippies in the Tennessee sun ... ugh. The first year, it was easy to hate the festival, as it was squarely focused on the jam-band movement; despite occasional forays into hip-hop, the kids were there to see The Dead, dude. The festival's sophomore year, however, was different. The film crafted by photographer Danny Clinch is easy evidence of that. The considerably more diverse lineup meant a somewhat more diverse audience, and Clinch's knowing camera captures the crowd vibe in all its silliness, sanctimoniousness and surreality. After all, when you book Sonic Youth, Widespread Panic, My Morning Jacket, the Allman Brothers, James Brown and all these other folks on the same bill, you're gonna get some interesting shots. The best moment on the film comes before SY's performance of "Bull In the Heather," when a young, burlap-clad patchouli-pusher slurs: "Oh man, I really wanted to see Sonic Youth, but I was too fuuuuucked up, man." It's this unromantic willingness to expose the event that makes "270 Miles" such a charming film. Clinch's artful cinematography lends an elegance to profoundly inelegant moments and, most importantly, blithely accentuates the power of the weekend's music.

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