Bonnaroo has been known for its collaborations since its inception. Though most of the festival’s cross-pollinations have taken place on one of the festival’s multiple musical performance spaces, Thursday some Bonnaroo alumni collaborated in the festival’s Comedy Theatre. During her comedy set, Margaret Cho invited out Brendan Benson to play the song “Baby I’m with the Band” with her. Though Benson was not formally booked at the festival, the Nashville-area resident was onsite to film a video with Cho. He has played Bonnaroo in the past as a member of The Raconteurs.
Below Margaret Cho looks back on her previous trip to Bonnaroo
What were your expectations prior to your first trip to Bonnaroo?
I honestly didn’t know what to expect. I have been to countless rock shows and been on many tours but I had never been to an honest to god rock festival where people immersed themselves in music for days on end. I expected to get lost!
What were your initial impressions when you arrived that first year?
I thought it was amazing and peaceful and thrilling. It was like camping out with all your favorite rock stars. I was totally impressed by the Phish show, which was the first band I got to see. The entire audience not only knew all the songs, they had little clapping routines and call and response stuff – much like “Rocky Horror.” The audience was so much a part of the Phish show you couldn’t have the show without them. Also all the Phish fans were super cute and nice and in hindsight I realize they had the best drugs. One thing for sure, if you don’t like a Phish song, you are shit out of luck, because that’s a good 35-45 minutes at least.
Describe the music that you found most moving or enjoyable at your first Bonnaroo.
My favorites were Of Montreal, who smashed an electric guitar old school rock and roll style at the end of their amazing, unitarded, glam and then some set and Andrew Bird, who brings grace and eloquence with every note and riff. Kevin Barnes ended up playing on my record at Jon Brion’s insistence and after about a year of solid stalking from me. Andrew Bird is also someone I had to meet after his Bonnaroo set and we ended up with a great collaboration for my new comedy music album, Cho Dependent.
What do you remember most about your own performance?
I remember that it was very nice and cool inside the comedy tent. Exactly the place you would want to go to escape the brutal weather.
How does Bonnaroo compare with other festivals you’ve played?
It feels like a younger festival, just with the newest of the new, fans and bands alike. Also it’s not afraid of country or bluegrass – like with the inclusion of incredible people like John Prine and The Punch Brothers.
If you could collaborate with one Bonnaroo artist this year, who would it be?
Please god let it be Gillian Welch. There is no one else but Gill.
Looking back at your initial experience at the festival, what was your quintessential Bonnaroo moment?
Hanging onto Phish fans trying not to sprain my ankle on the rough Tennessee terrain. All the other moments nobody remembers.